Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Blenheim - Feb '15

We left Kaikoura happy to take our time for a change. We even managed to squeeze in a stop at another seal colony on the way where we were amused by the baby seals playing in the rock pools. Kaikoura isn't far from Blenheim so even at a leisurely pace by the early afternoon of my birthday we were in Blenheim. It was a lovely little town and we were quick to follow the suggestion of a walk along the river near the hostel. The walk took us to a lovely bar where we all felt much under-dressed yet still got great service which resulted in some rather nice wine and a delicious cheese board. Over the last six year by birthdays have all been very different and few of them have included my family (sorry family) so this was shaping up to be the best one since I lost my Jonathan. As if whale watching, pancakes, cheese and wine and my family weren’t enough there was more to come.

That evening we went for dinner at Gramado’s which has the rare distinction of a full 5 stars on tripadvisor. There was a slight hiccup at when we arrived as I had booked for 3 but they had us as only 2. They soon sorted it though and found us a table. We were then left alone for rather longer than I would have expected but we soon worked out we had a newbie serving us. This was reinforced by the fact that we had about three different people keep checking on us to make sure he was doing his job right. The food was delicious, the wine flowed more freely than usual and a good time was had by all. Even Zack got in on the fun and photos much to the bemusement of our fellow guests I’m sure. We were in no hurry to leave and took full advantage of the comfy sofas to enjoy some post dinner drinks. By the end of the night I  was extremely merry. It was definitely the best birthday I had had in years.

Of course a big night out might not be the best plan when you have a wine tour booked the next day but we were all surprisingly well the next day. In fact we were feeling so well we ventured out to the local fudge factory to see if there were any tasty treats we could pick up as souvenirs before out our. We had originally tried to book a full days tour but I’m glad we went with the half day option. Groovy Grapes may be the best wine tour I’ve ever been on. Kerry was by far my favourite tour guide of the holiday. She had a real passion for the region, the wine and her job and it came through in spades. She managed to squeeze in 5 different wineries and a last minute visit to a chocolate factory in our half day tour.

I’ve been on a few wine tours on my travels though I’m still alarmingly ignorant considering how much I’ve been told between them all. I love wine tours but it’s a great sadness to be I can only ever buy one or two bottles as I am usually travelling, well not this time. I was determined to buy a bottle at each winery and in one place bought three. For once I had a car and months to drink my purchases instead of a bus ticket and a few days in one place. It turned it in to an expensive tour but I felt it was worth it. After all it was still practically my birthday, right?!

Too soon it seemed it was time to leave the South Island, The day following the wine tour the weather was grey and miserable. We had a decent drive most of the way to Picton but once they it was too wet and cold to explore. We passed some time in the local aquarium and had lunch then it was ferry time again. The ferry on the way back wasn’t as nice as the one we’d had on the way over but we got some decent seats and since there would be no more driving sister in law and myself indulged in a bottle of ferry wine and some of our Blenheim sweet treats. It felt like the holiday was at an end so I kept reminding myself there was two more days to go before we had to say goodbye.

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