Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia and The Italian Earthquake

Happy New Year everyone! This past month has been hectic, but really amazing. I just got back from Melbourne, Australia a short while ago. I can’t believe that in just over a month Formula 1 cars will be rocketing around Albert Park. The only real indication that it’s a circuit at all is the permanent pit lane structure that has been erected along the start/finish straight. There are no grandstands, no gravel traps and there are many cyclists going for their daily workouts on the track. One of the best things about Albert Park is that you can drive around most of it in your car, unfortunately you can’t do it at speed. My boyfriend Luca was the perfect driver for my lap around the circuit. Luca is a long time Formula 1 SIM racer as well as a Melbourne native and so he knows every twist and turn like the back of his hand. I’ve posted a picture of Melbourne from Albert Park as it looked a few weeks ago!

The city itself is very safe and there is so much to do! Aside from spending several days in Melbourne itself, we also ventured to an area nearby known as the Yarra Valley. There are hundreds of world famous vineyards there as well as an animal sanctuary. I had a wonderful time courtesy of Wild Wombat Winery Tours. They took Luca and I to five different cellar doors and admittedly by my third or fourth wine sample I was already fairly inebriated. Thankfully the atmosphere was extremely relaxed and thus when I managed to get myself locked in a toilet cubical, everyone had a good laugh! So much for being classy!

One of the things that I had been talking about frequently in the lead up to my trip to Australia was the prospect of interacting with the Australian wildlife. Everyone from Oprah to that annoying woman who lets the media exploit her eight children seems to get photographed while holding a semi-sedated koala bear. I too wanted to touch the luscious fur of a wallaby (those miniature kangaroos) and cuddle a wombat. Thankfully the Healesville Sanctuary has anticipated this desire and allows visitors to purchase what are called magic moments. These ten minute slots of time allow you to feed, touch and get up close and personal with the animals. I opted for a moment with some kangaroos. Before actually entering the enclosure a keeper gave me instructions on how to approach and interact with the iconic Australian animals. Apparently you should never touch their heads and if one grabs your hand you must not pull away. Amusingly enough I was told that pulling away could result in getting scratched or punched! The keeper ushered the larger male kangaroo away with a food bribe exclaiming “Come on Trevor!” as if the creature was his favourite drinking buddy. After the warning about getting punched, I was naturally hesitant to touch the friendly beasts as they ate various treats such as corn and carrots straight from my hand. I had visions of returning to Italy with a black eye and having to endure fits of laughter when I explained that I had been punched by a kangaroo. After a few minutes in their company, however, I got up the nerve to pat the female that I was feeding. As I gained more confidence, she came ever closer until eventually she grasped my hand with her claw. I know that the moment probably wasn’t all that magical for her, she most likely gets poked and prodded by various tourists multiple times a day and in the scorching temperatures would have certainly preferred to sleep under a tree. For me, however, it was wonderful to be able to gain the trust of this beautiful animal. Overall Australia was even better than I thought that it would be and I can’t wait to see it again when I return this summer!

After a thirty hour journey home, I arrived safely back in Italy! I returned to some unseasonably mild weather this January. Being Canadian, I’m used to temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius around this time of year and so I am running around in sweaters proclaiming that it feels like sping! We also had an earthquake that originated in Emilia Romagna on Wednesday. It wasn’t very strong and only lasted about a minute, so I don’t think that any damage has been done to the Ferrari factory. It was really strange because I always assumed that earthquakes were more of a southern Italian thing. I was at home when it happened and my whole room shook from side to side with various objects on my shelves sliding around ever so slightly. It’s a good thing that the earthquake didn’t happen during the shake down of the new car next Friday…that would have been unnerving.

Speaking of the shake down, I’ll be off to Maranello on February 3rd to see if I can catch the car launch and traditional running of the new Ferrari at Fiorano. Stefano Domenicali released a statement recently at Ferrari’s annual Wroom skiing event confirming that the launch will be on February 3rd and that the shake down will take place either immediately afterwards or on the following day. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get to see the new baby’s first steps. Attending a car launch has been a dream of mine for many years!

If I get the chance, I also plan on swinging by the site of the Enzo Ferrari museum in Modena. The museum is supposed to open in February and is situated on the place of Enzo Ferrari’s birth. It even contains restored parts of the Ferrari family’s old factory. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon!

1 comment:

  1. Do you work for a living or is somebody picking up the tab?
    Sorry, just curious