When we travel we always try and fit in some time to relax rather than spending all of our time rushing from one place to another trying to fit as much into the day as possible, sometimes you see more by not rushing around.
We apply this philosophy whenever we travel for work and leisure, especially when the two are combined. We like stay in one place for several days, unpack our bags, find the best coffee place we can and make that our first stop each morning. We like to find a relaxing bar close to our accommodation to wind down in before we head out for dinner somewhere.
When we visit a wine region it is nice to have a base to go back to at the end of the day and visiting a winery in the morning, having lunch at another and then stopping in at a third winery on the way back is a pretty good balance.
Our latest trip saw us stay in Hobart, Tasmania for six days and visit the southern wine regions. Tasmania has an eastern coast wine region and another based in the north around Launceston but we chose to take in in-depth look at the southern region. This in turn consists of three sub-regions, Huon Valley, Coal River and Derwent River areas; we spent a day in each and stopped at a winery or two as we passed through Coal River on our way to Port Arthur.
Of course there is more than wine to taste, Hobart is home to the stunning MONA art museum, has a great central shopping district, a beautiful waterfront with bars dotted around the piers and the historic Salamanca Place precinct. We stayed in the Somerset on Salamanca apartments, about two minutes walk from some great bars and restaurants. Salamanca Place is home to the famous Salamanca market that is held every Saturday, this is the place to try all sorts of ethnic food and buy local artisan produced products like honey, peanut butter, fresh crusty breads, fresh fruits and other treats.
On day one of our visit we arrived mid-afternoon and checked out a couple of coffee shops and bars on the waterfront, tried some fresh-shucked Tasmanian oysters and a couple of local beers before heading to our favourite deli in Hobart, the Wursthaus Kitchen, where we stocked up on fresh bread and a couple of cheeses to have in the apartment.
One thing that struck us early in the trip was how any places have only Tasmanian wines and beers available. Hospitality venues of all types are hugely proud of the fact they support and promote local products.
The other thing you should know about Tasmania is they have very well sign-posted roads so if you have a rental car like we did it is very easy to find your way around. We rented a GPS device with our car and didn’t use it at all, it stayed tucked up in its carry case the whole time we were there.
If you stick to the main roads that are all four lane highways in and around the city it is very easy to work out where you need to be. In our case we got by with an inner city map and a wine touring guide we picked up from the airport brochure rack. The rental car company gave us a more detailed touring map that we didn’t need to open.
One of the most important things to remember is Tasmania has lots of red light and speed cameras so stick to the generous speed limits and the drink/driving limit is .5 so it is best to just not drink and drive. When we visit two or three wineries in a day I always ‘taste and spit’ and make sure we have a decent lunch.
Inner city parking is strictly enforced. Parking meters dispense vouchers for you to display in the car and they are so tough we got a parking ticket while we were in a shop buying something so we had some change to feed the meter – $35 thank you very much! Parking meters only take coins, no text-to-park or credit card payments and parking is strictly limited to either ¼ hour, ½ hour or two hour parking and costs $2.80 (as at Nov 2014) an hour. Makes our dollar an hour seem cheap.
Parking lesson learned we filled up the meter and headed to a bar!
Jack Greene Bar on Salamanca for a huge range of craft beers on tap, perfect margaritas on the rocks, the best onion rings and fresh burgers. The bar staff are real beer freaks and can talk beer all day if you give them the chance.
Cargo (next to Jack Greene) for wonderful pizzas (think duck with hoi sin sauce and chilli, fresh seafood marinara and other treats) and a pretty good wine list.
Wursthaus Kitchen around the corner on Montpellier St for outstanding fresh breads and deli foods produced in-house as well as a nice range of Tasmanian and French wines and cheeses.
Salamanca Fresh to stock up the apartment fridge – fresh fruit, bottled waters, fresh breads, deli style salads, smoked fish etc.
T Bar on Elizabeth St Pier for fresh-shucked Tasmanian oysters
Connect Jack Greene, Cargo and T Bar all have free wifi.