Once upon a time they were mere faces on the other side of a video call. I belong to a 6-man team called Knowledge Management, which members are located on three different locations: one in Sydney, five in Adelaide, and one (me) in Metro Manila. A few times a week, we meet over Skype where we update each other about our respective contracts or argue if taco is a sandwich. I thought I won’t be able to see them in person, until our new manager made it happen late last year so that we could settle, once and for all if taco is a sandwich.
The team itself is not new, but all original members except for yours truly have moved on. This means I am meeting everyone for the first time, I was naturally excited. I started the work week at our Sydney office, then Tuesday afternoon, I took a flight to Adelaide to meet the rest of the team.
Traveling to Adelaide
Going to the airport, I realized I had forgotten to do an online check-in. To me it’s important because it decreases the chance of getting assigned to the worst seats of the economy class, the last row. The tail of the plane is where you would feel all the bumps mid-flight. I was literally begging the heavens on my way to the airport because notwithstanding the fact it is safer than any other forms of transport, flying still triggers my anxiety. But it seemed like the divine’s signal was jammed as I ended up sitting on the exact spot I feared the most. And I was like, really?
My colleague, Khalil and I took the Qantas flight. I looked out the window and saw what I believed to be the Australian bush fire that had been raging on for months.
As expected, it was quite a bumpy ride especially during takeoff. The sound of the plane engine was so loud, it made me quite anxious. Khalil was sitting two rows ahead of mine and appeared not in the slightest bit worried while I was busy imagining my demise. I don’t get scared of taking a plane anymore now that I’ve done it many times, but the turbulence was so strong on this one, I remembered my fear of flying.
I can’t be sober for this, I thought to myself. When the flight attendant came over to serve the food, I asked for wine. I was expecting a glass, but they gave me a whole small bottle of wine. The taste was not exactly splendid, but I was too jittery to care, I finished it in no time. By the way, just a side note, out of all the airlines that I tried, Qantas takes the cake for having the most delicious in-flight meals and snacks.
I was a little bit buzzed when we touched down Adelaide, but I made an effort to hide it as I was about to meet my manager, Sam, who volunteered to take us to our place of accommodation. He really didn’t have to do that as we could easily book an Uber, and he was also feeling unwell at that time so I couldn’t help but be touched by the gesture. He picked us up from the airport with his Rolls Royce. Never have I ridden one in my life and I was mighty impressed. It’s a British luxury car, spacious inside, with leather seats, and all other trappings of a vintage car. I was seated on the back of the car and made myself quite comfortable in there; crossed my legs, extended my arms on each side of the back seat, this is the life.
Adelaide is the capital city of South Australia and the 5th most populous city in the country. It was established in 1836 and named after Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV. The residents here call themselves, Adelaidean. It is not as busy as Sydney, the roads are wider, and the overall vibe is slow and relaxed. When our company set up an office there a few years back, many Sydney employees decided to move to this city.
Accommodation in Adelaide
Sam drove us to the Watsons Apartment where we would be staying for the duration of our visit. You may check my review of this place in the link below.
Working at our Adelaide Office
Wednesday, Khalil and I took an Uber to get to work. The driver stopped in front of a brick building that looked a lot like a school that I wondered if we were in the right place. I later found out that our office building was, indeed, a former school. I like that they retained most of the structure because it looks very cool.
There I met my other colleagues, Jace, Myf, and Brad and for the next two days, we had planning session and a training for the content management system (CMS) used for maintaining a knowledge base. Only Myf and I knew how to use said CMS so it was a little bit easy for us to do some of the exercises. However, I still got a lot of value from this training as I learned some functionalities and tricks that I didn’t know before.
While I was there they also made me try this very Australian thing called, Tim Tam Slam. Tim Tam, to the uninitiated is a popular biscuit from the land down under and the favorite pasalubong (travel souvenir) that we Filipinos who have been to Oz, like to take home to our families. I heard that Australians have this thing that they do to this biscuit and I made a mention of it in one of our meetings before.
Naturally, it was something that my colleagues thought I should try for myself. My boss brought two packs of Tim Tam, one is of the original flavor, the other is a double coat. Here’s how they do it: you have to bite off the ends of the tim tam then use it as a straw to drink your coffee or hot choco.
It didn’t work on my first attempt then they told me to try the original flavor because the double coat is thicker. The second time, it worked like magic. In the Philippines, we like to dunk bread or biscuit in our hot drink so I might have to ask them to try that one should they ever come visit our Manila office.
I also brought them pasalubong, dried mangoes and polvoron, which they snacked on during our sessions. They offered me some but I told them there’s a lot of those from where I come from.
I saw my former fellow Manila writer, Kristel, who had been relocated to Australia. I was quite surprised when I saw her because apparently she had been keeping a secret (which I won’t divulge as it is not my business to say). I gave her a bottle of Tanduay Rhum and ube polvoron from back home. I still remember what she told me years before that she liked the vibe in Australia and that when she got a chance she would move there. Well, she got exactly what she wanted and I couldn’t be any happier for her.
Things to do in Adelaide
After work, we would go out and engage in some team bonding activities that our manager, Sam, arranged for us. I have published several articles to discuss them in full so I have linked them all in the list below for reference.
Lunch at Maggie Beer Farm
That Wednesday, we drove to the wine region of South Australia, Barossa Valley. Our first stop was the Maggie Beer Farm, the farm of Australia’s beloved chef. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy delicious, organic food. See my article below for more information.
Wine Tasting at Cellar Doors in Barossa Valley
This activity is where I credit my current interest in wine. With a great number of vineyards and cellar doors in Barossa Valley, it would be a sin not to visit at least one of them. We went to Penfolds and Rockford, and you can check out my story about this activity in the link below.
Fish & Chips at Glenelg
After our Barossa Valley adventure, we spent the rest of the afternoon, gazing at the beautiful beach of Glenelg, a beach-side suburb along Holdfast Bay. The place has numerous restaurants, a park with a Ferris Wheel, a marina bay area, and a jetty road. I looked at the sea, nobody was swimming; I figured the water might be freezing.
Australians can cap off a day eating food that Filipinos would describe as a snack, like the fish and chips. The chips, by the way, are French fries. It’s a huge serving of fish fillet with tartar sauce and fries cut into thick strips. Hard as I might, I couldn’t eat them all while my colleagues finished theirs to the last bit. There were many seagulls flying about, and I thought of sharing with them some of my chips. I’d thrown some and there was this one seagull who could catch the fries with its beak. I was both shocked and impressed, man, this guy is even better than some of the dogs that I met in my life.
I was having so much fun feeding them when my colleagues told me that my little feeding program would attract more birds than I could handle. With great regret, I had to stop and took home my leftovers instead.
Barbie and Wine for Dinner
Sam asked me whether I wanted to go to the market or join their family over barbie. It doesn’t refer to Martel’s classic doll, barbie means barbecue (Aussies have a thing for shortening words). I thought it would be great to meet my boss’s family and to have a time to just relax, share amazing food, and engage in lively conversations, hence I picked the barbie.
We went to Sam’s place, met his lovely wife, in-laws, a family friend, and his adorable kid. They set up the table on the backyard where I helped myself with some tacos while waiting for the food. Sam said that he had something for me then handed me a paper bag. Inside were the burnt fig jam that I kept coming backing for at the Maggie Beer Shop and a bottle of White Frontignac, the wine that I loved the most when we visited Rockford. I felt so grateful by his generosity.
Sam took care of the grill and I stood there watching as he placed meats of different kinds on top of the cooking surface. The oil splattered but Sam didn’t even flinch, and I was there cringing, feeling all the pain he didn’t seem to be feeling. I mean if it were me, I’d have to wear a hazmat, I’m not kidding. When I wasn’t busy watching my manager cook, I was on the backyard playing with the kid or eating the nachos.
The dinner was fantastic. The barbecue was delicious, but I think the one that enjoyed the most was the pavlova that Sam baked himself. I made no mention of my keto diet, because there was no way I’d miss all those delicious treats while I was in Australia. I ate until I could no more, and almost died inside when I saw my colleagues helping themselves with the second serving. I just looked on, longing for all the food I could no longer eat.
It was my last night in Adelaide, the next day I flew back to Sydney where I took the plane to Manila. I said my goodbyes to the wonderful people who were once upon a time, just mere faces on the other side of the screen. No longer do I feel like I didn’t belong, no longer felt so disconnected that were the usual sentiments of people working virtually. I am thankful to all, especially to my manager for making this trip possible. We’ve done a lot of things but we forgot the one thing that we would ask every new member of the team. We were not able to determine if taco is a sandwich.