I've been on holidays!
My husband and I had a 6 night child-free excursion to South Australia - specifically Adelaide and the Barossa Valley.
I'm a pretty organised kind of person. We both like to book early, research possible itineries online, check weather forecasts and ask lots of questions of family & friends (thank you Girl Booker).
I also like to read ahead - travel guides as well a books set in or written by people from the area we're going to.
For Adelaide the obvious choice was Kerryn Goldsworthy's city book.
I've been reading the Sydney city book by Delia Falconer for a while now, on and off (I save it up for trips into the city when I know I will be hanging around the Botanic Gardens - it seems only proper to read it whilst sitting in the heart of Sydney somehow!)
So I knew that I liked the concept of this particular series...a local author writing about the city they grew up in.
I started Adelaide over a month ago. Reading a chapter here and there, over lunch.
By the time we boarded the plane last week I only had two chapters to go.
It was the perfect choice.
Goldsworthy's personal reflections on Adelaide were littered with fascinating snippets on cultural events, historical information, socio-political comment and geography.
Looking east along North Terrace
As my husband and I strolled around the city streets I impressed him with the breadth and depth of my knowledge!!
I named statues, picked out restaurants and cafes and told him who lived where. Almost every street or square had a Goldsworthy anecdote I could retell - it felt like we were getting a private tour of Adelaide.
When we headed up to the Barossa I turned to something different for inspiration.
A new travel guide series called While Away Guides has been in store now for about a year. New titles are being published regularly. As luck would have it, the guides for the Barossa and the Adelaide Hills were due out the week before our trip.
The guides are pocket sized (or in my case, hand-bag sized) concertina snapshots of an area. The authors have obviously been to, researched and enjoyed each area that they publish (well the two that I've read so far). They pull out the best bits, the most interesting bits and provide helpful hints (like make sure you book ahead for this restaurant - FermentAsian - this winery does great reds, this one, great whites etc!)
We browsed in shops recommended by the guides, we ate meals in their recommended restaurants, drank coffee in their recommended cafes, visited wineries, farms, markets, lookouts and drove along roads all recommended by the good folk at the guide. They were spot on each time.
We will definitely use the While Away Guides again.
What a great gig - travelling the country - testing, tasting, trying out all the fun things to do then writing about it!
Perhaps there is a job opportunity more appealing than working in an Independent bookshop after all!!