Wine Tasting in Hunter Valley, Australia

Hunter_Valley_wine_tasting

Ahhh wine tasting.

My favourite hobby on a Friday night.

Thus you can imagine my excitement at the thought of spending a WHOLE weekend tasting wine. This post will not be all that informative…we did not learn a whole lot about wine and often times the wine we liked the most was the cheapest of the lot. We did not do a winery tour nor did we go inspect the grapes or whatever other bizzarre things tourists come here to do. Our mission was to drink as much wine as we possible, and we did a mighty good job!

Our group consisted of our tour guide for the weekend and fellow couchsurfer Warren, Dariuz from Poland, Gloria (G-Tran) from the U S of A, Linda from The Netherlands (although you would swear she wasn’t with her perfect English and lack of Dutch accent) and little old me.

We left Sydney at the crack of dawn Saturday morning (ahem 9am but still way too early for my liking…!) and headed towards the wonderful Hunter Valley, arriving just as the wineries opened at 10am. Morning brunch was of the liquid variety, namely 2 reds, 3 whites and some dessert wine. Mmmmm dessert wine..ya got to love that Botrytis Semillon.

Warren had us on a strict schedule…no more that 25 minutes in each winery in order to see as much as possible. Some people would call this rushed, we looked upon it as a marathon, a wine tasting marathon, and we were very happy indeed.

We continued on to winery after winery, from Tempus Two, Harrigans, Pepper Creek, David Hook, Oakvale and Keith Tulloch to Tyrells and many more. Some shared the premises with Sky-diving centres (a few glasses of wine and anyone would jump from a plane I guess!), others with churches and convents. The wildlife was also abudant as we discovered in Hope winery where we proceeded to scare away about 10 huge Kangaroos!

 It was one of the best days of my Ausralia trip. It was great to be out of the city with an awesome group of freinds spending the day drinking absolutely delicious wines. Oh and did I mention it was all for free?! All the wine tastings are free (up to 6 wines in each winery but they always offered us more!!). Whenever we got hungry we would detour to a cheese factory or chocolate shop. We dabbled in champagne and sparkling wines and even ended up in the Blue Tongue Brewery where we tasted 6 beers, of which we all agreed the ginger beer was the best.

 By 6pm Saturday we were absolutey exhausted so we headed to our home for the night, a nearby campsite. Once in the door we decided to chill out with..you guessed it..a bottle of wine, one of the many we had purchased. We brought 2 more along to the BYO Thai restaurant that evening but as hard as it  is to believe, we could not finish the first bottle between the 5 of us. Bed was calling.

Up bright and early Sunday morning we again opted for a liquid breakfast. We’re hardcore like that. We fitted in about 7 wineries before lunch including the beautiful Bimbadgen estate, Lindemans, Rosemount, Mcguigans cellar and cheese shop, Peterson Champagne house and Debortoli. Phew. We were welcome wherever we went and were never made to feel uncomfortable for not purchasing (although to be fair we did buy A LOT of wine!!). The wildlife was amazing, the scenery stunning and the wines…don’t get me started on those mouth watering wines…

So in summary over the 2 days we went to 17 wineries,a  smelly cheese shop, a chocolate shop, a brewery, champagne house, tasted over 84 wines and lots and lots of delicious types of olive oil, basil dips and other delicacies. Go wine tasting in the Hunter Valley…its one of the best things you’ll ever do. Ever. 

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FREE HUGS SEOUL

I have now lived in a country for over 4 months and have not participated in a FREE HUGS day. This is a new record for me. What in the world is FREE HUGS I hear you non believers ask? Well you can read the full story here but let me give you a little summary.

The FREE HUGS campaign was started by Aussie native Juan Mann (a pretty fitting name, I’m sure you will agree) a few years ago. He wanted to share the love and spread happiness to strangers simply by giving out hugs to people on the street. It sounds a little strange, sure, and a lot of people say “but of COURSE hugs are free , who in their right mind would PAY for a hug” but this strange concept has made its was around the world to every city large and small and has brightened up millions of people’s lives.

The man who started it all

Spread the love

How do I know this? Well it has brightened up my day on a number of occasions and has even spurred me on to give out other things for free such as 500 hand-made cards on Valentines day. Giving out the free hugs is ten times as rewarding as actually getting one. Seeing strangers run up to you with a big grin, then embracing them in a big bear hug is something very special. It will make you smile, laugh and maybe even cry. I can remember hugging one old woman in Dublin who said she had not been hugged in years. This is a very sad thought as everyone should be hugged, in my opinion, every day.

My first free hugs experience was at a couchsurfing event in Edinburgh, Scotland. The weekend, dubbed “Edinburgh Rocks” included a world music night, bbq, scavenger hunt and game sin the park. Then on the final day I was told we were doing “Free Hugs”. I was totally new to the idea, laughed at the idea of it but was excited to see how it would pan out. To this day it is one of the best, most rewarding, most memorable few hours of my life. It helped that the 40 or so other couchsurfers were full of positive energy and love for life and that Scots loved receiving our hugs.

Free Hugs in Edinburgh

Valentines Day, Dublin Free Hugs

After such an awesome experience I organized a FREE HUGS day in Dublin, the first of many followed by “Free Hugs for Christmas”, “Free Hugs for Valentines Day” and “Free Hugs in the park”…all a great success. The next summer, while in Toronto I jumped at the chance to give out free hugs at “Pedestrian Sunday” in Kensington Market and a few weeks later found myself standing outside DEMF, Detroit Electronic Music festival giving out hugs to party goers and homeless people alike. Lastly, I had the opportunity to give out free hugs in Hyde Park in Sydney earlier this year, another awesome day out.

So now Korea, my love, its your turn. I’m interested to see people’s reactions and I really hope they wont be too stand offish as I realize hugging culture is not as big in Asia as it is in say Europe or America. So, if you fancy spreading some joy come along to FREE HUGS HONGDAE this saturday! :)

Free Hugs Toronto

Free Hugs...coming to a place near you!

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