Koala Steals Mrs Me’s Heart

Posted: March 16, 2014 in Cruising, P&O, Travel

Today was the day we visited Adelaide, the primary reason for selecting this particular cruise itinerary:

  1. Because Mrs Me’s son Matt spent some time in Adelaide as part of his University years;
  2. Because they had Koala’s that you could stroke and even possibly hold;
  3. Because Matt won a big Cycle Race while in Adelaide and the trophy was in the sponsoring restaurant and we wanted to see it;
  4. Because they had Koala’s that you could stroke and even possibly hold;
  5. Because Mrs Me wanted to visit the restaurant that Matt worked at;
  6. Because they had Koala’s that you could stroke and even possibly hold.

The original idea was the we would hire a driver for the day who would collect us around 09:00 and could take us first to the Cleland Wildlife Centre where Mrs Me could arrange a ‘private’ viewing and holding of a Koala before heading on to the Alphutte Restaurant [where the trophy was] and then to the Chianti Classico Restaurant [where Matt had worked] before returning to the ship mid-afternoon. The problem with this idea was that the Australian’s were asking for £500+, which seemed more than a little too steep.

Getting a taxi on the day seemed a better option but we needed to be sure we could secure one for the day and be confident that we would get back to the ship in time. Getting back late for the ship did carry the risk of it sailing without us and as such was a risk too great for me to take.

I’ll tell you what I said, ‘Let’s wing it and see what the day brings’

But, this in itself brought the risk that we may achieve nothing: that also was a risk I wasn’t comfortable with, so we needed to mitigate this somehow. The obvious option was to bite the bullet and pay the £500+ but we both dig our heels in on that one. We therefore elected to book the cruise excursion to the wildlife park (at least that way, we got to fiddle with, I mean stroke, Koalas) and see how much time we have left to get to the restaurants.

Blooming heck, I thought we were on holiday

Being on an excursion does mean that you are now time driven and need to watch the clocks. And our tour required us to assemble at 08:10 for an 08:30 departure.  This meant that I had to be up at 06:00 to get myself ready before making Mrs Me her early morning cup of tea prior to her getting herself ready: this can be a drawn out affair and one that I am best out of the way of for, [believe me] Mrs Me is not a morning person. But, ready we got, breakfast we had, and off to the coach we went.

As we boarded the coach, we met our tour guide, a Steve Erwin ringer who had the personality to match, complete with the Aussie Hat which just looked right on him. As we headed out of Adelaide towards the Wildlife Park, I noticed that we seemed to be heading along a route that would take as past, or at least very close to the Alphutte Restaurant. Spotting an opportunity, I asked if we would be coming beck this way. Yes was the answer as some people may want to get off to check out some of the shops before returning to the ship. Brilliant I thought and then explained how we wanted to visit the restaurant to see Matt’s Trophy. By the time I’d finished explaining to him what the race was, it had been interpreted and announced to the coach that Matt had won the 2nd biggest race in Adelaide, 2nd only to the Tour Down Under and that we would be driving by the restaurant on the way back so that all could see this locally famous landmark.

Mrs Me was now happy as she knew she would be fiddling with, I mean stroking, Koalas and seeing her boy’s Trophy. And if Mrs Me was happy, I knew that I could also be happy and so relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the trip.

On our way to the Wildlife Centre, the tour guide while pointing out the many points of interest, he now also pointed out the various roads, and especially hills, that were used by cyclists and particular, major races such as the Tour Down Under and the ‘Alphutte Tour’.  While facts and figures were pretty much correct, nomenclature was up for interpretation :-).

Eventually, we reached the Park. The guide and park ranger gathered us up to explain what was happening and time constraints, etc. and suggested we might want to stick with the guide to get the most out of the visit. Er, ‘No Way’ thought both I and Mrs Me who subsequently obtained the obligatory bag of food for the wallabies and of we went while we waited for the Koalas to come out to play, which by all accounts would be between 11:00 and 12:00.

In no time at all, we were in with Wallabies. Unfortunately, we were also in with the Emu’s. Now, while Wallabies are cute and cuddly, Emu’s are actually great big chickens who’ll eat anything that looks edible including fingers and hair and armed with that, slightly false, knowledge, we snuck past the Emu’s and hunted down a hungry looking Wallaby: either Wallabies are little piggy’s or they’re not fed because it took no time at all to find one that was all too eager to accept our food offering. For my part, I seemed to find the politest one in the Centre. He would sit up, hold my hand with both his paws, take some of the food and then sit there while he chewed it all up, keeping hold of my hand ready for his next mouthful.


Soon enough however the time suggested that we were now bored with Wallabies and that we should head for Koala Land.

Come on, let’s be honest with ourselves, who doesn’t like Koalas. They sit there looking at you with those big soft ‘hug me’ eyes and a nose like that of a traditional Steiff Teddy Bear. They move about, only if they have to, a bit like an overactive sloth yet they just look at you as if to say ‘I just want a cuddle’


Well, Mrs Me was only too pleased to to comfort such Koala. It was all I could do to stop her from snatching him and hiding they poor Koala in her carry bag. Fortunately such event didn’t take place and she agreed to give him a bit of a tickle and a cuddle, though the Koala still looked unsure of her intentions.  In the end, I had to intervene and get between her and the poor Koala. Not sure but I think she was okay about it but I do know she still has feeling for the poor little creature, the Koala, not yours truly. There is also, luckily, another factor that probably saved the Koala from abduction. They are all taken away at 12:00 and placed out of harms way. Phew, safe at last, the Koala climbs a tree out of the way of Mrs Me and Mrs Me slinks sulkily away to the gift shop to buy a stuffed toy Koala. I think I know who’ll be getting the most cuddles tonight, and it aint gonna be me :-(.


At last, the time came for us to return to the coach for the drive back to Adelaide and the Alphutte Restaurant.

On the way however, we had a scheduled stop at Lofty’s Mount, the highest point over Adelaide from where you can see for miles and miles and miles. And do you know what I focussed on the most? The sea of course; cos that’s all I’ve been seeing for day and day. I jest of course, the sea was there but a long way away and here’s a picture just to prove there was land as well as sea.


Soon enough, we left Lofty’s Point and headed back into town. This is where Jan, the coach driver, really came up trumps as she drove past Alphutte, pointing out to all on the buss that this was where Matt’s Trophy was held. She then continued into town and round to the Mall so that Mrs Me & I would know where we needed to get to, to pick up the shuttle bus back home. She then drove us all back to the restaurant to let us off before returning the remaining coach party back to the ship.

After only a few minutes, Leo and Miriam, owners of the Alphutte came along to allow us inside to see the trophy.

IMG_3483 IMG_3484 IMG_3486 IMG_3487

He also showed us some other memorabilia such as a signed photo of Miguel Indurain and Tony Rominger as well as the first full carbon bike made by Colnago specifically for Tony Rominger and yes, I got to stroke it. As for Leo & Miriam, they were both so sweet. They had no need to break into their Sunday to come and meet us and yet they did: they offered us a drink and we talked about cycling, Adelaide (Leo was from Switzerland) and then it transpired that Leo had sent me a text to my other phone offering to pick us up from the ship and show us around, including their own place, which by all accounts is between the Cleland Wildlife centre and Lofty’s Point and they even had wild Koala’s in their, not insubstantial grounds, just sitting there in the trees. Ah well. Opportunities lost….

All too soon, the element of time took over the situation and forced us to beat a hasty but sad exit in order to get the last shuttle bus back to the boat (it was a 45 minute drive from the pick-up point to the ship) as missing this would mean us missing the ship. The walk, close on a mile, was along unshaded city streets with the temperature around 82 – 84f. For two not so young people from the UK and having spent more months than we cared to remember in cold wet weather conditions, such an opportunity should be welcomed but in fact, it was quite telling, especially on myself: after all, I hit 60 last year. We reached the pick-up point just in time, hot, perspiring and glowing (animals sweat, men perspire and women glow) and with very sore feet, and to make matters worse, my cancels (swollen ankles, more on them later) had returned.

Having made the ship, we dumped our stuff, put on our drinking heads and headed for the rear pool deck for a couple of glasses of wine while we enjoyed the now traditional sail away party before heading dinner, late drinks and lamenting the cancelling of the 60s & 70s party under the stars owing to too much wind. Don’t remember those years anyway.

IMG_3489 IMG_3490 IMG_3501

With that, we both retired for the night, although once again, we failed to go to bed on the same day we got up; tsk; tsk; naughty stop outs. We now had just two more sleeps before our wedding at sea. My only concern now was will I still fit into the suit and will Mrs Me fit into the dress. Only time will tell.

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