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On Saturday, Rachelle, Kelly and I also went on a wine tour in Hunter Valley. We went with Boutique Wine Tours, which was a great little company to take a day trip to Hunter Valley with. The guide was knowledgeable, he took us to some neat and non crowded vineyards and kept the day moving without making me feel like we were shuffled around. I really enjoyed the pace of the day – it was just right. And that’s my review of Boutique Wine Tours! I would recommend them if you’re looking about – good value for your money.

In any case, I love valleys, they are always so gorgeous and Hunter Valley did not disappoint. It was warm but not hot and the sun peaked out every now and then so that was great. I drank so much wine – we tried about 8 or 9 wines at each stop, of which there were three.

I’m not really sure why I suggested a wine tour to Kelly and Rachelle when I don’t like wine but I thought I should give it a shot. I found some I liked. Apparently, I absolutely detest red wine (seriously, I don’t understand how anyone likes the taste of oak? Is it just me?), like some desert wines (the ones that don’t taste like pure sugar) and am a huge fan of semillon.

We went to Iron Gate Estates, which was my favourite stop because the owner came in and told us stories about each wine he created. You could see he was very passionate. We also got a tour of his production area, which was neat to see up close. Second stop was at Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard which had the most beautiful scenery out of all the places and some tasty wines. Third stop was at Ernest Hill Wines and that had some really tasty wines.

In between the second and third stop, we got to spend lunch near the Hunter Valley Garden and that was very nice. We had a lovely stroll to the Gardens but upon realizing you had to pay to get in (and us with 15 minutes left until we had to go back) decided not to. However, I snuck down neat the exit and took a picture of the Garden through the fence. You’ll see it below. Hehe. All in all, it was a good day!

Here are some pictures of our trip:

And just because, here is a 360 degree panorama view of Audrey Wilkinson Vineyard:

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The last 2.5 minutes of the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks. Absolutely unreal. This will definitely rank as one of my top New Year’s Eves ever. You can hear our friend Richard, whose boat we were on, laughing in the background. He was just as blown away as we were I think.

I’ve never seen so many fireworks in my life. Sorry, Halifax, but you got nothing on Sydney. The whole night was a wonderful time, as we pulled into the harbour sometime around 6pm, feasted on pita, dip, olives, prawns, smoked oysters and drank Gin n Tonics, champagne and red wine.

I normally get sea-sick so Tim, Richard’s brother (who you saw earlier in the previous video), was nice enough to construct motion-sickness bracelets for both wrists for me. I think they helped because by the time night fell, I was feeling much better. It was a lovely evening. The wind was low, it was somewhat warm, we saw a fantastic sunset happen right behind the Opera House and then we got to top it off with the best fireworks I’ve ever seen.

2009 has been good to me already!

Here are some pictures from the night:

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A quick video because looking at over 340+ pictures is making my head hurt. But they will be up soon, I promise, with recount of my trip. I had a lot of fun and it was amazing.

My excitement SHINES through in this video, can’t you tell? Aha.

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The tour guide is explaining about how they constructed the “sails” using concrete ribs.

Well, I finally did the Sydney Opera House tour today. I bought the tickets online for $27.50 and saved myself some percentage. However, I misjudged how long it would take me to get from my house to the Opera House and ended up running from Circular Quay to the Opera House in 33 degree heat. Arriving a sweaty mess, I got lost figuring how to get inside. Definitely missed the tour but I managed to change my ticket for an 11.30am tour so all was well.

It was a good tour – our guide was a little less engaging than I would have liked but he was a good speaker and kept us moving along quickly with little delay. I expected to see a little more, I guess, but I did enjoy what I saw. We got to sit in one of the smaller venues (of which there are three), and sit in both of the bigger venues. The first big room we went into where the symphony plays was breathtaking.

They have some kind of electrical organ (I’m sorry, I forget the actual name of it) that was massive at the end of the room. It took the entire length and width of one side of the room. Our tour guide explained that it was the biggest in the world and had taken the creator TEN YEARS to make it. And that we only saw 150 (or some small number) of the pipes in the front but that in behind the wall there were 10,000 more pipes that stretched back 80 meters and was 3 stories high. He said that once the creator finished making the organ, it took him 2 years to tune it. That was definitely impressive.

We also learned about the making of the Opera House and how the final design picked was initially rejected. Learned all about the rocky relationship Jørn Utzon, the architect of the Opera House, had with Sydney and how he had never saw his final design in person. That was very interesting to me. The plan was initially supposed to take 3 years to complete and cost $7 million but ended up taking 13 years and $105 million.

Anyway, it was a good tour and I would recommend it. And now, some pictures!

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I will upload pictures from our visit to the Taronga Zoo soon, I promise but right now a video of the feeder and some giraffes will have to suffice.

Look at that sun! Wowza, so gorgeous and warm! 😀

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I made a video!

Posted by: Emma

And I look so happy in it hahaha.

It may take a while for the video to be processed. Be patient!

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