“I wish Tendulkar was playing”, exclaims a cricket enthusiast in Adelaide where the hype around the India-Pakistan ICC World Cup match on 15 February next year is almost at its peak.
Nothing unusual. Recognised as one of the world’s most intense sporting-rivalry, the cricket challenge between the two neighboring nations always spreads excitement throughout the entire cricket fraternity. It’s expected that fervent fans from other parts of Australia and even from India and Pakistan and other corners of the world, particularly where the sub-continent diaspora is strong, will be travelling to this South Australian state capital city to watch the game live. Tickets are almost sold out and on the day presumably chicken-tikka sales will bypass that of meat pies, Hindi and Urdu will he heard more than any other language and streets will be flooded with people with either tri or green coloured flags in hand, all heading to the redeveloped Adelaide oval.
This world class venue has hosted cricket since colonial times. Surrounded by lush greenery, this picturesque arena along the Torrens River is widely regarded as one of the most picturesque test cricket ground in the world, with the imposing St Peter’s Cathedral rising behind an elegant Edwardian scoreboard and Moreton Bay fig trees at the northern end. Truly picture-perfect setting which I can only compare with Kolkata’s Eden Garden, another world class cricketing venue.
Being home city of cricketing legend Bradman, visiting cricket fanatics are always keen to associate themselves with his memoir. For this, the best option is to browse through the Bradman Collection on display at the Oval in a state of the art, purpose built museum. There are several photographs of him with other contemporary sporting greats, trophies, his personal belongings like bats, pads, gloves etc but no helmet or any other type of body protection gear for obvious reasons, messaging visitors the high level of courage and concentration Bradman and other contemporary batsmen had when facing super fast bowlers like Harold Larwood during the infamous “Bodyline” matches. Some of the old film footages, including snippets from that particular series demonstrate that while showcasing legend’s extraordinary batting talent.
Surrounded by rolling hills on one side and inviting sea beaches on the other, Adelaide is often touted as a big country town rather than a city. The rationale behind this becomes evident when wandering through the grid patterned metropolis, relatively much smaller in area and slower in pace when compared to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne.
In 1836, Colonel William Light, South Australia’s first surveyor general developed Adelaide in accordance with his plan of a “one-square-mile” hub with lots of green open space. Old timers say not much has changed since then, other than addition of 21st century attributes like modern shops, luxury hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars into the quintessential landscape, still maintaining a grand line up of imposing colonial buildings and sprawling parklands at its core. This blend of antiquity and modernity creates a unique urban character making Adelaide a pleasure to explore.
Taking recommendation from the hotel concierge I stroll along the tree lined North Terrace, a long and heritage dominated heritage streetscape flanking many significant institutions like the current and old Parliament, Governor’s House, Adelaide University, Art Gallery of South Australia and South Australian Museum.
Their architectural settings are awe inspiring. The museums are food for art aficionados, though due to time restriction I bypass those to spend some cool time inside the 150 years old impressive Botanic Gardens, located at the end of the thoroughfare.
The city’s most busy thoroughfare is King William Street where amongst several inspiring civic edifices, the Edmund Wright House with its elaborate Renaissance style façade is a star exhibit. This street leads to Victoria Square where the city’s heart beats to the sound of Westminster chimes rung on the hour and quarter-hour by five Loughborough-cast bells in the Post Office clock tower, completed in 1872. The 1856 built St Francis Xavier Cathedral is round the corner while the Central Market, a landmark of the city is next door. In this century- old covered shopping arena you will find luscious fresh produces and other food items in a riot of stalls.
If shopping is in your mind, Rundle Mall is the place to go. The pedestrianized zone is packed with all kinds of shopping from mega stores like David Jones and Myers to hordes of boutique outlets plus fruit and flower stalls, alfresco cafes and busker or two, adding variety to the scene.
When the cityscape becomes monotonous, take a half hour tram ride to the seafront suburb of Glenelg. Nestled on the shores of Holdfast Bay its Adelaide’s most popular beach destination, always buzzing with locals and visitors enjoying sun, sea and sand. While sipping coffee at a quiet café I watch the stunning sunset before heading off to the town where the party perhaps have already started.
Eating out is an obsession in Adelaide. The city boasts of several multi-cuisine eating options with venues around Central Market, Rundle Street, Gouger Street and Moonta Street (Chinatown) strongly touted by locals. I’m sure this is where fans will end up partying after the vital match with Shiraz and Chardonnay flowing almost as fast as the Torrens River.
Though good wines come from almost every part of the continent nation, there is no doubt among wine gurus to nominate South Australia as the capital of the nation’s wine industry. Regions such as Barossa and McLaren Vale, which are pretty familiar to wine lovers in India, are not far from Adelaide and can be easily managed with day trips.
An easy one-hour drive north east of Adelaide lies Barossa. With rows of myriad vineyards joining rolling hills interwoven with gracious little villages and hamlets and unspoiled working farmlands, the region – a visual haven – thrives on its living German heritage. It not only soothes your urbanised eyes but calms mind and finally grants the “chirpy good feel” after tasting some nice drops at few of the areas several cellar doors. They are basically visitor centres of different wine companies where you can learn about wine making, taste different variety and buy some as well, the ones of legendary Penfolds, famous for its “Grange” and Jacobs Creek, the brand which has now become almost a household name in many countries including India, being pretty popular.
As a day tripper you may also visit the Fleurieu Peninsula which is home to McLaren Vale wine region and some of the state’s favourite beachside holiday towns like Victor Harbour where it’s all about surf, seafood and stunning views. The peninsula scenery offers a great combination of blue from the ocean and green from the farmlands and the bonus is to see the mouth where Murray River, the world’s third longest navigable river loses into the sea.
After spending few rewarding days in Adelaide, like me you will also realise why Lonely Planet has ranked this spot one of the “Top 10 Cities to Visit In 2014”.
Getting There – Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com) fly from major Indian cities to Adelaide via Singapore.
Stay – No shortage of accommodations to suit budget, Hilton Adelaide (www.adelaide.hilton.com) at Victoria Square being a popular venue for business and leisure travellers.
Eating – While spoilt for choices its worth sampling spicy North Indian dishes at Jasmin Indian Restaurant (jasmin.com.au), flavours of the orient at the award winning Concubine (www.concubine.com.au) and fine dining Italian cuisine at Chianti Classico ( http://www.chianticlassico.com.au)
Tours –Life is a Cabernet Tours (www.lifeisacaberenet.com.au) and Wine Diva Tours (www.winedivatours.com.au) for private tours of Barossa and Fleurieu regions respectively and Adelaide Central Markets Tours (www.centralmarkettour.com.au) to get acquainted with the fresh produces at the Central Market. There are also regular tours available at Adelaide Oval (www.adelaideoval.com.au) to learn its history, see behind the scene sites and enjoy Bradman Collections.
More Info – Check http://www.southaustralia.com
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