2003-01 (JANUARY, 2003)


Day 1 - Damascus: We arose at 04:20 and departed our B&B (in Limassol, Cyprus) at 04:45. The taxi ride to Larnaca Airport took almost an hour and check-in was pretty swift. Our flight was delayed for half-an-hour, so we weren't actually in the air until just after 07:20. The flight from Cyprus to Damascus took only 45 minutes - immigration took a lot longer. Our first hurdle was trying to establish just what was expected of us - most people seemed to be walking around with bits of coloured card in addition to their passports, but we could not find any that were printed in English. A helpful Canadian gentleman explained the process (he was obviously an experienced Syrian traveller - he had brought his own English-language immigration cards with him) and loaned us his card to aid us in tracking down some for ourselves. I finally flagged down an official looking chap in a uniform and, after a bit of sign language and card waving, managed to convey our requirement. He disappeared into an office and reappeared with about a thousand of the English cards, which I distributed around the arrivals area (after taking two for myself, of course). That sorted (and despite a small bit of confusion about why we had bothered to fill out the cards simply to then be given them back to hold on to) we braved our first taxi ride. Now, driving in Cyprus had been quite exciting - driving in Damascus was unbelievable. The use of the car horn as a means of constant inter-car communication is as prevalent as it is in Egypt, but the arbitrary system of road lanes was a new one on us. The system goes something like this: estimate the number of cars that can fit side-by-side down any given street; double this number; you now have the number of road lanes in use; add an (un)healthy sprinkling of suicidal pedestrians and people with carts; make traffic signals (and the use of any given lane for a fixed direction of travel) optional; and you have 'Driving in Damascus'. Fun! We eventually got to our hotel (after a few stops to ask for directions) and were remarkably relaxed when informed that they had never heard of the tour group that we were supposed to be joining there. Booger. We had to wait for another half-an-hour for the manager to turn up and sort us out - the group was indeed staying at the hotel, but wouldn't be turning up for a good while yet. We then got a very nice room on the third floor with a balcony from which to enjoy watching more of the traffic mayhem. Andy was feeling a bit drained by this time so I ventured forth alone to find a bank, some bottled water and some sanitary pads (not for myself, of course). The quest for the latter proved most diverting - I'm not sure the Pharmacist had ever sold this item to a man before, let alone a non-Arabic speaking one! I returned to the hotel with my various purchases and sat quietly for a bit. At 13:30 we heard some English voices outside our room. We bailed out to see if was our tour group and, sure enough, it was (or part of it, anyway). They had just arrived from Lebanon. Most of their party were finishing up in Damascus, but five of them were staying on to do Syria with us. We found our tour guide and introduced ourselves to him and they rest of the group. They were just on their way out to the Hamidiyeh Souk, but as we were due to do that the next day, we elected to go our own way for the afternoon. We selected the National Museum of Damascus as our diversion and it was excellent - probably the most interesting collection of artifacts I have ever seen. Highlights included several rooms that were reconstructions of real tombs, palace chambers and temples as well as some truly exceptional examples of tools (exquisite scissors) and toys (tonka-sized chariots, with real wheels, fashioned out of clay). Some very keen guards/guides showed us their favourite bits before finding out that we had no small notes (suitable for tips) with us. The museum gardens were impressive as well - littered with architectural bric-a-brac from the last five thousand years. We walked back past the Tekkiyeh as-Suleimaniyeh Mosque & Military Museum (an intriguing juxtaposition) and the Handicrafts Market to our hotel. There we kicked off our shoes for an hour or two - Andy had a wee zzz whilst I wrote and read. We rejoined the group for dinner at a pleasant Syrian restaurant. The walk home through the night-time streets was great fun.

Day 2 - Damascus: We had a nice leisurely start to the day today and didn't get underway until 09:30. The group split up for the day as some of them had seen the sights of the Old City the day before. Amjad, our guide, herded five of us onto a minibus which then drove us round to Bab Charqi, the easternmost of the Old City gates and the start of the Street called Straight. First up was a visit to the St Ananias Chapel which, legend has it, was built on the site of the house of Ananias (of the story of the "Conversion of St Paul" fame). The underground chapel sits on top of the ruins of a Byzantine chapel which, in turn, sits on top of a Roman Temple (allegedly built to discourage Christian worship at the site). On our way back to Bab Charqi we stopped into the Palais Nassan, an "open house" for visitors to get a taste of what it is like inside the home of the Damascan upper-classes. It was most impressive - the decoration was so intricate. Our second short bus ride dropped us outside the Hamidiyeh Souk and we meandered through its bustling byways to get to the Umayyad Mosque. Once inside the grounds of the Mosque, we began with a quick visit to the Mausoleum of Salah uh-Din (Saladin) before entering the Mosque's main courtyard. The courtyard is stunning. It measures over 50m by 120m and is entirely paved with white marble slabs. It is home to the Dome of the Treasury, the Dome of the Clocks and an ablution fountain. Next we entered the prayer hall where the midday prayers were in progress. We couldn't leave the Mosque without a second turn around the courtyard to take in the splendid mosaic murals. Heading south, we came upon the Azem Palace & Museum of Popular Traditions. Each room off the magnificent central courtyard displayed a different scene from life within the Palace. By this time stomachs were beginning to rumble, so Amjad took us to a place he knew for lunch. 'The Jarib House' was tucked away where no tourist would ever have found it. Originally the courtyard of a wealthy families home, it now served scrummy food and fresh juices to those that could track it down. After some great falafels and hommus we headed back into the Hamidiyeh Souk for a more thorough look around. We wandered for a good hour. Andy bought some leggings and I bought a power plug adapter - not terribly fascinating purchases, but we were saving ourselves for a later visit. We got back to the hotel just before 16:00 and retired for a wee rest. At 20:00 we regrouped for dinner at a posher, but cheaper, restaurant than the night before. After some stock standard starters (hommus, etc.) we had a delicious dish of chicken and spiced rice for our main course. We returned home via the lively streets of the city-after-dark.

Day 3 - Southern Syria: Today we headed south of Damascus and into the Hauran Plateau. The plateau is very fertile and was once the "bread basket" of the Roman Empire. The predominance of jet black basalt rock lends both the land and the buildings built from the local stone a very sinister feel. Our first stop was in the town of Shahba, the site of the Roman city of Philippopolis (named after the only Roman Emperor to hail from Syria, Philip the Arab). Here we visited the Mosaics Museum and were treated to some of the finest and best preserved mosaics that I have ever seen - they were just stunning. We elected not to see any of the other places of interest in order to get more time in Bosra later on. The next stop was in the village of Qanawat with its Temple of Helios. Here I got pleasantly lost in amongst the ruins but in doing so missed out on an invite from a local man to have coffee in his house. Andy went, and enjoyed it very much. From Qanawat we drove to Bosra, the foremost attraction in the region. After a quick bite to eat, we entered Bosra's most famous feature, the perfectly preserved Roman Amphitheatre and Citadel. The amphitheatre dates from the early second century AD and the citadel/fortifications raised around it from the twelfth century AD The amphitheatre has 37 tiers and has capacity for 9,000 people. It is a stunning piece of engineering and unusual in that it has been built on flat ground (instead of into a hillside - thus simplifying the building process - as was more usual). From the Citadel we wandered into the extensive maze of ruins that makes up a good chunk of the rest of Bosra. Here we saw the South Baths Complex; the Nymphaeum; the Umari Mosque - the oldest Mosque in the world; the Hammam Manjak ('Hammam' = Turkish Baths); the Fatima Mosque; the Basilica of Bahira; the Cathedral of Bosra; and the Nabatean Arch. At one point we dropped in on a man hard at work at his loom and took photos of him and his family. We concluded our walk at the enormous Birkat al-Haj, a 150m long x 120m wide x 12m deep reservoir built in Roman times and subsequently used to supply the needs of the 'Haj', the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca (hence the name "Birkat al-Haj", literally "pool of the pilgrimage"). At a nearby coffee shop we sat and discussed aspects of Syrian life with Amjad. We returned to our minibus just as the sun was setting and were treated to a magnificent sunset on our drive home - the illuminated clouds looked just like fine Arabic script. We were back in our hotel in Damascus by 18:30. At 20:00 we returned to the restaurant we had been to on our first night in Damascus for dinner. Menu highlights included: "Chat O Brian" (Chateau Briand); "Chicken, Species" (Chicken & Spices); and "Cole Shaw with Gabbage" (Coleslaw with Cabbage). The rest of us were entertained by the two skinflints in the group trying to sort out the bill ("but I didn't have any water"). Most amusing.

Day 4 - To Palmyra: On the road by 09:30, we headed north-east towards Palmyra. Our first stop was in the Aramaic village of Maaloula. At over 1600m above sea level the village was well above the clouds and there was snow on the ground when we got there. We visited the moderately interesting Deir Mar Sarkis (Monastery of St Sarkis), founded in the early 4th century AD To be honest the curios in the gift shop (e.g. the plug-in crucifix) were more interesting than the 500 year old icons. The view from the look-out platform was pleasing, though. From the Monastery we walked along the cleft in the cliff referred to in the legend of St Takla (now covered in graffiti - the Siq at Petra it ain't) to Deir Mar Takla (Convent of St Takla) which has grown up around the Saint's shrine. Andy and I curtailed our visit to the Convent in favour of a stroll into the non-touristified parts of the village. We hit the highway east again and drove on to the famous(?) "Bagdad [sic] Café" where we enjoyed cheese toasties, Arab-style and sweet tea. The nearby Bedouin camp provided post-snack photo-stop amusements. Back on the highway by 15:00, we raced the sun to Palmyra. Our driver was a star - he got us into the site and to a good spot seconds before the sun hit the horizon. After the sun had fully set, we went and checked into our very grotty hotel. Our first discovery was that we had no direct water supply to our toilet cistern. We then discovered we had no hot water. Not happy campers. Andy and I decided to take a wee stroll along the main street, but there was not a great deal to see. We bumped into a few of the others and stood and chatted for a while. Returning to our hotel, we collected in the lobby with our rag-tag stash of locally brewed alcoholic beverages for a New Year's Eve pre-prandial. Amjad had organised us a night in a "real Bedouin tent" which turned out to be a right laugh (for the non-vegetarians, anyway). We were treated to some very entertaining music and dancing (including belly dancing), some fine (and not so fine) food and some downright awful Syrian alcohol - we christened the 'champagne' served at midnight 'Chateau Germaline' after its distinctive taste and smell. At midnight we also got a small, random fireworks display. We were home just after 01:00.

Day 5 - Palmyra: Andy and I had an urge to see the sun rising on the first day of the year, over the ruins of Palmyra. We got up at 05:15 (despite a pair of medium-grade hangovers) and wandered up to the Triumphal Arch, some ten minutes away by foot. We set up camp in the Temple of Nebo (Apollo) and sat down to wait. Unfortunately the very thick cloud layer meant that "sunrise" consisted of the sky going from black, through dark grey, to light grey without a single hint of colour. Bit disappointed. We returned to the hotel at 07:00 for an hour's kip before breakfast. The bus collected us at 09:00 and our first stop was at the Temple of Bel. The temple is stunning. Built during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, the temple covers an area 200-metres by 205-metres in size. The temple consists of a double perimeter of 20-metre high columns enclosing a massive central courtyard. Housed within the courtyard are the remains of a banqueting hall, a sacrificial alter, a sacred basin and, in the centre, the impressive Cella (inner temple). We did a very quick tour around these highlights with the intention of returning later in the afternoon (which didn't happen, unfortunately). Next up was a visit to the Valley of the Tombs and South-West Necropolis where we visited the Tower Tomb of Elba and the Hypogeum of the Three Brothers. The view from the top of the former was spectacular, and the frescos in the latter were exceptional (perspective drawing techniques in 160AD). We returned to the Triumphal Arch to begin our walking tour of the main Palmyra site. The Triumphal Arch's main purpose (apart from providing an impressive entrance to the city) is to disguise the fact that the city's main thoroughfare, the Colonnaded Street, is not able to run as straight as the city builders would have liked due to the fact that it has to perform a slight zig-zag around the (much older) Temple of Bel. Beside the arch is the Temple of Nebo (Apollo), where we had spent an hour-and-a-half at dawn, now little more than just foundations. A little further along the Colonnaded Street is the Baths of Diocletian with its pink granite columns imported from Egypt. Further along still is the splendid City Theatre. Buried under the sand until it was excavated in the 1950s, it is in a superior state of repair. It is smaller than the theatre at Bosra with only 14 tiers, but is impressive none the less. Beside the theatre is the small Senate Building and the Tariff Court. Much larger than the Senate, the Agora (public meeting place) gives some indication of the importance of places for social intercourse. The walls are lined with over 200 brackets where statues dedicated to civic notables would once have stood. We also poked our nose into the small, adjacent Banquet Hall. Next up was the stunning Tetrapylon which disguises the other end of the zig-zag in the Colonnaded Street. From here I doubled back to find the Nymphaeum (grand water fountain), but there was not much left of it unfortunately (I'm a bit of a fan of nymphaeum engineering). Cutting back through the Tetrapylon, we continued up a less well repaired stretch of the Colonnaded Street to the Funerary Temple. The Funerary Temple is actually an elaborate family tomb dating from the late 2nd to early 3rd century. To one side of the temple is the old Damascus Gate, now little more than a pile of stones. On the other side is the much more impressive Diocletian's Camp, a complex built on top of one of the oldest parts of the original city, possibly the Palace of Queen Zenobia who was conquered by the builder's of the Camp. Behind the camp is the eery Temple of Standards and a tower with one of the best views of Palmyra. We lingered there for a while before re-tracing our steps though the city. Our last stop before lunch was the exquisite Temple of Baal Shamin. Brilliantly restored, it displays building work from several different eras starting with the original components commissioned by Male Agrippa in 131AD. We rejoined our party for a late lunch before spending a very pleasant hour in the Palmyra Museum - the collection of funerary busts were brilliant, and still in perfect condition (many of the artworks in Syria that depict a human face have been 'defaced' over the centuries by Muslim faithfuls). At 16:00 we were collected by our bus and driven up to the hilltop castle of Qalat Ibn Maan to watch the setting of the sun. Unfortunately we arrived a few minutes too late (we weren't having much luck with our sun worshipping today). Upon returning to the hotel, I had to have a wee siesta before dinner. We had a very pleasant meal at the same place we had had lunch and retired at a respectable hour.

Day 6 - The Central-West: It was a good thing that we had managed to see Palmyra the day before as today dawned grey and drear. After a quick breakfast we were on the road just before 08:45. The conditions made the going a bit slow (not helped by a minor error in navigation just outside Palmyra). The fog made the traditional Syrian overtaking practices (summed up by the very commonly encountered phrase "inshalla" - "if God wills it") downright frightening. Our destination for the morning was Krak des Chevaliers, the mighty Crusader castle overlooking the strategically critical Homs Gap. Originally built by the Emir of Homs in 1031, the scale of the current fortress is attributed to the Hospitallers who occupied it between 1144 and 1271. Despite several intense besiegements, the castle never fell to force. When it was finally taken in 1271, however, it fell to trickery. The Mameluke commander forged a note from the commander of the Hospitallers instructing them to surrender the castle - and they did! Krak des Chevaliers is magnificent - its shear size and excellent state of repair was awe inspiring. After the guided tour, Andy and I took our torches and got wonderfully lost in the tunnels between the walls. It was very easy to imagine what it must have been like to live there, as well as how daunting it must have seemed to any would-be attackers. We had a good meal at the café across the road before hitting the road again. We continued north to Hama and arrived with just enough sun left for a quick look at a working Noria (giant waterwheel, for which Hama is famous). Hama is situated along side the Orontes River, in a natural basin surrounded by fertile hills. Unfortunately the hills have no natural form of irrigation as the river runs past their feet. Thus the Norias - waterwheels up to 20 metres in diameter that raise water up to aqueducts that go to irrigate the hillsides. Hama has 17 of them and another 6 can be found outside the city. All are made of wood and date from the 13th century AD They make a very eery noise as they rotate. We dined at a posh, but oddly lit, restaurant (primary green neon can make great food look pretty awful) before retiring for the evening.

Day 7 - North Syria: Our first mission after breakfast was to visit some more Norias, this time in full daylight. We took in 11 in all, including the 'Four Norias of Bechiriyat' and 'Al Muhammediyeh', the largest of the Norias with a diameter of 20-metres. On the road once more, we headed north-west to the Roman ruins of Apamea. Despite being in a greater state of disrepair than Palmyra, the site was still very impressive. Indeed, the 'cardo maximus' (main street) is nearly 2-kilometres long, and is thus several hundred metres longer than the one in Palmyra. We were dropped at one end of the cardo maximus and slowly walked the length of the mist-shrouded street. We were amused by the locals pretending to dig up little artifacts and then trying to flog them to passersby. Back on the road again we had to retrace our steps for a good 20km in order to go to the unremarkable 'Tourist al-Mandil Restaurant' for lunch. Next up was the splendid St Simeon's Cathedral, just 15km from the Turkish border. Once again we had to sprint to get around the site before night fell. Our overnight stop was in the city of Aleppo. Even on the drive in we could tell this was a city very different from Damascus - much more exotic in its feel. We checked in to our sumptuous hotel (Hotel Beit Salahieh - formerly Hotel Diwan Rasmy) before heading out on our much anticipated trip to a Hammam (Turkish bath). The girls went through first, so Stuart and I stepped back outside to take some night shots of the wonderfully lit Citadel on the hill above the city. On our walk back to the Hammam we were hassled by a pair of relentless young men - our only bit of unpleasantness on the trip so far. Once it was the boys turn, Amjad, Stuart and I were treated to a vigorous session of steaming, washing and massage. Afterwards we relaxed in the main warm room with tea and hubble-bubble pipes. Excellent. We dined in the hotel and retired, scrubbed and relaxed.

Day 8 - Aleppo: Our first destination for the day was the magnificent Aleppo Citadel perched on a severely sloping hill overlooking the city centre. The splendid state of repair was attributable to the fact that of all the castles we had seen, this was the most purely Arabic (and hence most worthy of restoration monies according to the people of Aleppo). We wandered the complex in the rain and were easily convinced of the impregnability of the Citadel. We returned to the sodden city for an explore in the infamous Aleppo Souk. In contrast to the Hamidiyeh Souk in Damascus, the Aleppo Souk caters more for tourists than locals. It is filled with the most amiable sharks you'll meet anywhere. Amjad and I spotted one of our party falling for the old "switch-the-goods-when-putting-them-in-the-bag" trick, which pissed the retailer off no end. I was also intrigued by a pair of pick-pockets that latched onto our group from early on in our visit - I don't think they were pleased that, no matter how many times they disappeared and re-appeared, I was keeping an eye out for them. Sadly they didn't let me get a photograph of them. After a good long explore, during which the shop-a-holics in our party were indulged, it was time for a rest and a coffee or two. We found a locals-only coffee house near where our bus was parked and awaited the return of the rest of our party. Back out on the road for our drive south, we were in for a special treat. A recurring "complaint" about the trip so far was the fact that we had spoken to absolutely no Syrian women during our stay (whereas we had spoken to many Syrian men). To redress this imbalance, Amjad skipped our designated lunchtime spot and took us instead to his sister's house in Karanbouda. Here we got to meet Amjad's two brothers, their wives and their children. We were treated to a super home-cooked meal and got to chat to the ladies of the house. It was obvious that the second-class status of women is largely a thing of the past in modern Syria (the story is different in the more traditional parts, however). We departed after sunset for our long drive back to Damascus. We returned to the Afamia Hotel and again took dinner in our favourite Damascan restaurant. We retired to Lizzy's room for one last drink and goodbyes.

Day 9 - Damascus: The rest of our party departed well before we awoke. It was after 10:30 before we got under way for the day. Amjad had agreed to guide us around the National Museum again but had to run some errands first, so we arranged to meet him at midday and went window shopping for a while. I purchased a cheapo watch with Arabic numerals on the face. We also visited the Hejaz Railway Station (decommissioned, but pretty) and took a more thorough wander through the Handicraft Market. At 12:00 we entered the grounds of the National Museum but Amjad and Shada (another member of our party who had stayed an extra day) had not yet arrived. They found us having a pleasant coffee in the sunshine at the outdoor café. Amjad took us on a two-and-a-half hour tour - much more informative than our first visit - and it was good to review the artifacts having now been out to the sites themselves. I got to take a few sneaky snaps of my favourite exhibits, too. At 15:00, Amjad left us to our own devices. The three of us went and got a quick bite to eat before heading over to the Hamidiyeh Souk. Andy finally got to buy the ceramic tile she had been after. We returned to the hotel for a wee siesta before going out for an early dinner. Andy, Shada and I decided not to be adventurous and instead returned to the restaurant we had been to on our first night in Damascus. We were home to pack before 22:00 and had the light off by 23:00.


Day 10 - Departure: Up at 03:15 and out the door by 03:40. Our taxi driver was a very chatty old man and the 40-minute drive to the airport flew by. Check-in and passport control went more smoothly than we expected so we had a lot more waiting time than was strictly necessary - better safe than sorry, I guess. Immigration into Cyprus took forever. Coral again came out to meet us, but this time we stayed in and around Larnaca for the day. Neither Andy nor I had spent much time in Larnaca during our previous visits to Cyprus, so we decided to have an explore around some of the sites of the town. First up was the 'Hala Sultan Tekke' Mosque, built to the memory of Umm Haram, the maternal aunt of the prophet Mohammed, who died whilst on holiday in Cyprus in 647AD. She is buried in the Mosque grounds. On the drive back into town we stopped at the salt lakes on the outskirts to watch the flamingoes, brought back to the lakes by the heavier-than-normal December rains. After a much needed lunch stop we joined the Epiphany parade along the Larnaca waterfront but failed to see any of the ceremony conducted on the pier. Next up was a visit to the ancient ruins of Kition, but unfortunately the grounds were closed (Epiphany is a public holiday in Cyprus). On the way back to the airport we stopped briefly beside an unnamed aqueduct to take a photo. We boarded our plane back to Australia (via an overnight stop in Dubai and a half-an-hour stretch in Singapore) just after 16:00. The rest of our trip home was long and uneventful. Needless to say we didn't go into work that day (as we had rashly planned to do).

Australia Day Weekend - Adelaide, Australia

Andy & I slipped away from work a little early on the Friday and jumped a plane to Adelaide (via Melbourne). We met Paul & Marketa off their flight and together went to collect our hire car. Paul's sister had kindly offered us her house for the long weekend, so our first mission was to go and collect the keys from his parent's house. I had been looking forward to meeting Paul's Dad ever since I'd heard that he was building a wooden boat in his garage. What I hadn't been aware of was that he was doing it 'by eye' (not from a kit or plan) - I was pretty impressed. He had fully built the frame and was a third the way through the marine-ply cladding. I was glad I had brought a book on boat building with me as I came away from their house much inspired. We bailed into Paul's sister's house (a fabulous little inner city apartment - quite my style) and went straight to bed.

We arose later than expected on Saturday, and swiftly sashayed around the corner to a great little breakfast spot. We were on the road by mid-morning and got into Auburn (our base for the next night and day) just before midday. The extreme temperatures forecast for the weekend were already making themselves felt (the air temperature hit 47°C later that afternoon) and we were very glad of the air-conditioning in the car. We checked into the exceptionally quaint 'Rising Sun Hotel' and were back out on the wine trail. I volunteered to be the designated driver for the afternoon, so I can not pass first-hand comment on the quality of the wines. The sparkling Shiraz from 'Knappstein' got a big thumbs up, but 'Tim Adams' didn't seem to get anyone too excited. During our drive around we also stopped at a hilltop lookout with a fine view over the valley adjacent to Clare and at a olive and honey farm. By mid-afternoon stomachs were starting to rumble so we stopped for lunch (and a tasting, of course) at 'Penna Lane'. We had an utterly scrumptious pair of Ploughman's platters with some of the best cheese I've had in Australia. After a long, relaxed lunch the wine-tasters elected to pursue a spot of "sleeping off the heat" back at the 'Rising Sun Hotel'. We reconvened just after 19:00 and went for dinner in the hotel restaurant - gorgeous. Our post-dinner stroll was under a pitch dark sky - the stars were magic.

Sunday (Australia Day) dawned hot and we breakfasted in the hotel restaurant. First up was 'Pikes' where we bought a pair of the 2002 Riesling and a single 2000 Shiraz. Next up was 'Mount Horrock's' where we had some exceptional 'Cordon Cut' dessert wines. Our stop at 'Mitchell's' resulted in our single biggest purchase (2 x 2002 Riesling, 1 x 2000 Grenache, 1 x 2001 Shiraz). Our lunch stop at the lovely Skillogalee yielded some fab food as well as 2 more bottles 2002 Riesling and a bottle of their fine Cabernet. Our final stop in Clare was at the stunning Martindale Hall, a magnificent folly built in 1841 to house the Bowman family (and the indoor set for the movie 'Picnic at Hanging Rock'). The others went in for a good look around, but I chose to sit outside in the sun instead. We drove back to Adelaide late afternoon and relaxed until dinner time. Paul & Marketa went out for a walk on the beach, whilst Andy & I sat and read books quietly (we were both quite done in by the heat and the wine). We walked up to Rundle Street for dinner, but had only a limited set of eateries to choose from (Sunday on a long weekend in Summer). We ended up at a very average Turkish place (my fault), but enjoyed ourselves none the less. Our walk home was just what the doctor ordered.

On Monday we went our separate ways - Andy & I out to Henley Beach, and Paul & Marketa to do the family thing. Henley beach was beautiful and we spent a very pleasant morning and early afternoon sunbathing, swimming and going for walks along the endless stretch of sand. We lunched at 'Bacchus'. Andy & I returned to the airport late afternoon and dropped off the hire car. The flight home was direct and uneventful. Our 13 bottles of wine and us were home by 21:00.