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My personal experience staying for two nights at the McLaren Vale Studio Apartments was a great introduction to the unique and exceptional offerings of the McLaren Vale wine and dine region. Truth be told, it felt like I was holidaying somewhere far that I almost forgot that I was staycationing just 30 minutes away from my own house.
With the pandemic forcing and encouraging us to somehow stay within our own localities, I almost lost the drive and inspiration to travel elsewhere. Although I still enter a state of wanderlust from time to time, exploring my own backyard and doing domestic travel will do for now. After all, you will never run out of good holiday options here in South Australia.
Last summer, I was invited by the very gracious hosts, Carmel and Paul, to stay in one of their villas, the Wirra Wirra, at the McLaren Vale Studio Apartments. With six beautiful themed villas located within their property, the Studio Apartments offers a combination of not just accommodations, but a complete McLaren Vale experience altogether.
With two bedrooms, a lounge area, a kitchen, a dining, and a deck, the Wirra Wirra Villa I stayed at was both comfortable and spacious. As an ode to one of the most exceptional wineries in McLaren, our villa was named after one of the oldest and most premium wine maker in South Australia, Wirra Wirra. And as a welcome gift, the Studio Apartments also provided us a bottle of the Wirra Wirra Church Block, a bold fusion of Cabarnet, Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot wine.
As part of the Studio Apartments experience, they also helped arrange an exclusive premium wine tour and personal luxury chauffeur services with the affable Greg of Wine Diva Tours. Aboard his Mercedes van, Greg spent the whole day narrating and presenting to us a brief history of the McLaren Vale region.
By the end of the tour, I was happy-drunk. Migrating and living in South Australia widened my knowledge about the art of drinking high quality wines. I never knew there were so many more variations and fusions you can do with each grape type. Never knew too that the type of soil will affect the quality of the fermented grapes as much as the area’s climate. Living so close to the wine regions is indeed a blessing.
P.S. More videos about this trip will be uploaded soon!
They’re hot. They’re sexy. And they’re smart. These gorgeous and talented men surely know how to excite and titillate the South Australian crowd.
Hey Paolo: What is Alpha Men?
A diverse group of male performers with the best of the best men in South Australia.
Hey Paolo: What are your future plans for Alpha Men?
To create a group of professionals in the male entertainment industry. They also aim to make a positive change in the community by raising money & awareness to causes such as men’s mental health (Beyond Blue). The boys also have plans of touring around Australia and other countries in the near future. They also wish to solidify their goals of building a multi-faceted group of male entertainers (from modeling, acting, emceeing, etc).
Hey Paolo: How did COVID-19 affect your industry?
The group adapted to the situation and the needs of the market. In more ways than one, it has been a blessing for them too with back-to-back sold-out shows. Also during this period, they found new innovative ways to entertain and engage with their followers through the use of social media.
Hey Paolo: What are the common stereotypes for people who work in your industry?
Being called prawns. People think they have low IQs and that they don’t have day jobs.
Hey Paolo: What are the most memorable performances you’ve had so far?
Watch the video to find out.
Hey Paolo: How do you define “sexy”?
Someone who is passionate and driven.
Hey Paolo: How would you explain Alpha Men to a conservative-traditionalist person?
Alpha Men is a multi-faceted entertainment organisation that can provide many services such as male models, actors, etc. They’re not just strippers.
It was one sunny Summer afternoon when the Gelista team came knocking on my front door carrying a box of ice creams which they happily handed out for me to try.
The timing was perfect as I was craving for something sweet and cold that day. They say it’s always best not to expect so we don’t get disappointed, and so I had little expectations about the ice creams I’m receiving from them.
Although I must also admit, I’ve always glanced at Gelista whenever I pass by the ice cream section of any grocery stores. They look really gorgeous, and I always have eyes on anything premium-looking *wink, wink*. Never had the chance to buy one though, so this was a fulfillment of my dreams.
I opened the box they’ve passed to me with gusto and discovered 17 unique gelati flavours inside:
Ricotta, Fig & Honey, Strawberries & Cream, Mint & Dark Chocolate, Lemon Myrtle & Macadamia with Toasted Coconut, Lightly Salted Caramel Macadamia, Salted Caramel with Crunchy Toffee Pieces, Apple & Guava with Salted White Chocolate, Dairy Free Vanilla Bean, Peanut Butter with Chocolate & Caramel Swirl, Blood Orange & Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Coffee & Cardamom with Mocha Swirl, Coconut with Raspberry Swirl, Peppermint Double Choc, Classic Chocolate, Chocolate Almond Fudge, and their newest flavour… Durian.
I was beyond delighted as their ice creams look so interesting to taste.
I immediately opened the Durian flavour (aside from the fact that I also miss eating the actual fruit back in Asia) and was pleasantly surprised that it was really smooth and easy to eat. For those who haven’t tried any form of durians yet and are automatically turned off by its potent smell, I’m betting my life that this will be manageable to try. I actually loved it.
As I’m also trying to watch my weight these days, I quickly scanned their product bar code for my macro tracking. It was only 25g of carb, 2g of fat, and 1g of protein per serving. Not bad! Also, I enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t too heavy, not too creamy, and not overly sweet. Just about right.
As I had tons of Gelista ice creams to try, I invited my friends to come over the following weekend to share the fun.
My personal favourite by a mile is the Salted Caramel with Crunchy Toffee Pieces, but hey, they do have tons of flavours to choose from. Whether you want something fruity or chocolatey, you’ll definitely find something that’ll suit your taste buds.
As they often say, “you can take the world in a good suit.” For Matt Eberhart, a.k.a. Rundle Mall’s favourite Banana Man, entertainment can come in all forms — even while dressed up as a giant walking Cavendish banana.
Hey Paolo: What’s the story behind the Banana Man?
I was working as a civilian manager in a Japanese-American military base until Dec 2017. With enough money saved up to sustain me for a year of travel, I went around the globe to busk in my yellow jumpsuit with a small amp and a concert ukulele. During a Halloween party back in 2018, I bought a banana costume for a party which I have then since used as my usual get up for all my future street shows. The Banana Man first arrived in Adelaide in 2019.
Hey Paolo: Where have you performed so far?
Before the Banana Man came about, I have already performed in Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Seoul, Korea, Israel, Germany, Poland, Ireland, USA, and Australia. As the Banana Man, majority of my performances have been done in Australia (Sydney, Melbourne, Albury-Wodonga, Brisbane Cairns, Perth, and Adelaide) and the USA (Las Vegas, LA, San Diego, Honolulu, Austin, San Antonio, Jacksonville, FL, Saint Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Washington DC, and New York City).
Hey Paolo: What are the most memorable stories you’ve had as a performer?
During the beginning of Adelaide Fringe 2020, a mentally ill man broke and pounded my ukulele on the ground and I injured my head while busking in Rundle Mall. This was the worst I have been attacked. But the upside was, a lot of people in Adelaide came out to support me. I cannot be grateful enough how Adelaide still encouraged me to keep performing after this incident.
Street performances can be dangerous: I have been punched in the nuts while in Hawaii, I have been robbed back in Sydney, and I have been thrown a bottle of alcoholic drink to my face while performing at Hindley Street.
The most positive memories I have are hearing the stories of people who remember seeing me in a completely different city or country.
While busking in Hawaii, I was performing the song “Fire on the Horizion” by the band Stick Figure when the actual creator of the song walked past by. It was awesome to meet him in person.
Hey Paolo: Who is the Banana Man when he is not wearing his costume?
When the Banana Man is not performing, I do a lot of traveling. I feel most free when I am on the road bringing with me all of my worldly possessions. I was born in Germany and was raised in Japan by American parents. I am conversationally fluent in Japanese and I love to socialise with friends at a bar or in a club. I have a strong desire learn something new from people of different races, backgrounds, and creeds.
“Around the World with Mozart the Banana Man” aims to educate and inspire children four to 10 year olds about four different countries: Indonesia, India, China, and Ethiopia. My partner, Rich Jay, and I created this show to inform and entertain Australian kids about geography, population, language, and culture with music and dancing as a medium.
“Musical Improv: The Immature Amateurs Troupe,” on the other hand, is a group of five artists and one multi-instrumentalist who will perform an improvised musical based on audience suggestions. No show will ever be the same; any audience member can suggest a song title and we will perform it.
Dear Aunt Vicky, let me tell you the story of my friend Koreena.
She left Adelaide for Melbourne 1 year ago in search of greener pastures. But she keeps coming back.
Well firstly, because of the wines. Secondly, because of the wines. No, she’s not an alcoholic. Just a wine enthusiast.
Visiting wineries is comparable to visiting museums. It’s an introduction to the arts — the art of being drunk.
Here in South Australia, we’re not limited to just just your normal Shiraz or Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll be spoilt for choice: Cabarnet Franc, Montepulciano, Grenache, Graciano, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Albarino, Fiano, Viognier, Riesling, Prosecco, and other wines I can’t even pronounce
Yes Aunt Vicky, we have limited choices here in #BoringAdelaide.
Young South Australian content creators, Linda Huynh and AlexHuynh, found their own niche on Tiktok while entertaining over two hundred thousand of their followers from all corners of the world.
Hey Paolo: What inspired you to start producing creative content on Tiktok?
Linda: We discovered Tiktok two years ago. I first uploaded a Tiktok video secretly and I didn’t tell Alex about it because he might think I was lame. I started getting likes and followers. Later on, he joined me and we started creating more proper and serious content.
Alex: I decided to jump on Tiktok because I thought there’s potential for growth. I thought it was really fascinating and fun. It’s like Youtube but in a shorter format.
Hey Paolo: What are your most popular videos?
Linda: I did a dance video where I accidentally stepped on my dog. It might have hit around two million views already at the moment. My dogs have become really famous on Tiktok. They’re Dino and Sora and the hashtag #DinoSora has over four million views. We do weekly vlogs about our dogs because everyone wants to know about them.
Hey Paolo: What are the types of content that you produce?
Linda: We call ourselves lifestyle content creators and we produce a variety: from fashion, vlogs, challenges to dance videos.
Alex: You can follow the journey of our relationship too and seeing things that we enjoy.
Hey Paolo: What is the importance of social media in today’s world?
Linda: I love and hate social media at the same time. I think it’s a very important aspect in everyone’s life especially the younger generation. It’s important that social media can inspire and educate people. We just have to be careful of what we put out and consume.
Alex: It has a big influence on people especially since Tiktok has a younger audience. People can learn more things now compared to what we could have learned when we were younger.
Hey Paolo: What keeps you motivated?
Linda: I’m very lucky to be managed by Born Bred Talent in Sydney which helps me find jobs and campaigns for Tiktok. Other than that, I get motivated by the encouragement from our followers, whether they give comments or likes.
Alex: What motivates me the most is seeing other people’s success while doing what they love.
Hey Paolo: How do you explain Tiktok to a nonuser?
Linda: It’s a 15-second to 30-second video platform showcasing dances, fashion content, or even cooking videos with the sole purpose of entertainment and education.
FOLLOW THIS COUPLE: TIKTOK: @lindarhuynh. INSTAGRAM: @lindarhuynh and @alexander.huynh.
When was the last time I wrote a blog post where I wasn’t bound by any content-specific restrictions and timelines? I can barely remember.
The South Australia-wide lockdown these past few days helped me concentrate a little bit to complete a few personal tasks and chores which I wouldn’t normally quickly finish if I wasn’t “forced to stay at home.”
You bet, I’m a home buddy, says nobody.
A few days before the lockdown, I was up and about hanging with friends by the beach, eating pies in bakeries, and sipping glasses of wines in various vineyards the next day. Thank god I’m not in any way involved in the state’s contract tracing activities, otherwise my very own “cluster” would have involved many individuals. Well, probably an entire community.
Can’t blame me — people in South Australia have been living an almost normal life for many months now. Last week’s disruption was indeed a shocker for everyone. It never crossed my mind it can actually happen again.
Life’s ironies: just a few days ago before the lockdown, I thought I was in the planet’s safest space.
Normanville has a long stretch of soft, white powdery sand set against a calm almost turquoise-coloured sea and gentle rolls of glistening waves. And when the sun’s up, grabbing a cold one is is always a great idea.
Growing up in Southeast Asia, we have been very spoiled with the best beaches in the world. Can’t help but compare what we have here in South Australia. For one, you can’t really swim far from the shore as sharks here are plenty.
But by far, among the SA beaches I’ve already visited, Normanville has become a new favourite (Silversand is now a close second). Having access to cafes and a small town are a major plus. Also, Normanville is just a one and a half hour drive from Adelaide. Easy peasy!
It has always been a challenge organising an excursion for a group of people, more so if they are much younger, if they come from different cultures, and also if you barely know them. But heck, having fun shouldn’t be that hard, right?
I’ve waited far too long for Summer to arrive, and now it’s just around the corner. Hopefully COVID will shoo away by then. Calling Astrazeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna to join forces please.