To stretch our travel time as far as we can, we’ve put ourselves under a fairly strict food budget.
What this means is that we cook all our food, use dinner leftovers for lunch the next day, and eat as frugally as our twenty-something backpacking companions – with the slight difference that we might eat more vegetables than instant noodles.
Going to a wine region under these conditions is a dangerous proposition. Often, there’s a sense of newness and discovery, “Oh wow, this is a new wine. It can only be bought here? Well, then I should buy some”, factored with weakened defences from all the wine sampling and before you know it, your budget has gone Chernobyl.
Aware of these high stakes, we bared down, vowing to hold to the rules of our accounting ledger, and meandered our cheapness into one of New Zealand’s prime regions for Pinot Noir – Martinborough.
We pulled into our campsite, feeling proud of ourselves for our budget mindedness – though even here we were deluding ourselves since most accomodation, including hostels in which you can smell every year past, costs an unhealthy chunk.
Interestingly enough, we met another thirtyish year old couple here doing a similar flight from their lives – (we’d met a previous couple too) – and after comparing notes, felt that we were probably doing okay, since fellow budgeters were also choosing the same spot to stay.
Another sign that something decent was happening here was that we met some guys camping here from Beaune, France, who were studying wine and getting involved in the harvest that had just got underway. Presumably seeing how the other side of the world tends their grapes.
We launched into the area pretty easily since it only really consists of one road of wineries with a few others here and there.
Our first snub to the wine region was to avoid bike rentals. Reacting to extortionist prices – (which I’m sure we’d have paid without blinking if we lived here, and were visiting for a weekend, because why walk when you can bike?) Rose and I kicked off la revolucion by electing to walk.
We then continued. After going to one winery, who asked us if we’ll be staying for lunch, we lied: “No thanks we’re okay”, as I made a show of adjusting the shoulder strap of my bag containing our packed lunch, as if to say: “Fresh vegetables and meat sourced from the surrounding area? Hah, m’lady. Why, when we’ve got leftovers made mostly from a can?”.
As we left the soft sounds of classical music delicately playing overhead the well-nourished customers in comfortable lounge seating, Rose and I sat cross-legged on a patch of grass on the side of the road in front of a vineyard, opened our meal in a plastic container and listened to the soothing sounds of cannon blasts behind us.
Designed to scare away birds from eating a vineyard’s fruit and anybody who values ambience, cannon blasts didn’t sway Rose and I as we held strong to our budget, and hung tight to our food container, because the cannon shots were startling.
Normally if we’re touring around several wineries, we don’t drink all all the wine, but have a small taste and move on. Under austerity measures? Bottoms up.
Of course the fortunate side effect of this strategy is drunkenness, which only becomes unfortunate when you have things to do.
( You can see where this is going, n’est-ce pas?)
Well, we now had to go grocery shopping, and Rose was teetering down the walk, saying the following in a variety of arrangements:
“NAP”. “I HAVE TO SLEEP”. “BAD IDEA” “HAH, IT’S SUNNY OUT”
Had we a shopping cart, I might have suggested Rose take a seat in the top cart. Thankfully the grocery store didn’t, and we made our way through with a modicum of respectability, minus a stirring moment at the cheese section, where Rose said: CHEESE!, and didn’t move her gaze from a block of camembert for an uncomfortable amount of time.
Safe and sound, we’re heading South. Next stop Wellington, before a ferry ride to the South Island. Hope everyone is well.