From the Land Down Under
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Greetings from Sydney, Australia, where I arrived from Auckland this morning and am sitting in the airport lounge killing a couple more hours before I catch a flight back to San Francisco, and then Newark. And then, at long last, home to eastern Pennsylvania.
I've been here for a little over two weeks -- eight days in Australia and four in New Zealand -- promoting The Longest Trip Home and, of course, the indefatigable Marley & Me. It's been a great trip, very busy but also with some time for fun, sightseeing, exploring and -- yes, sue me -- plenty of wine tasting. I've always admired Australian wines and after this trip I'm also a new fan of New Zealand wines, especially the country's pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.
My publishing teams at Hachette Australia and Hachette New Zealand have been wonderful, taking all the stress and headaches out of the trip, welcoming me like a long-lost cousin, and showing me a really great time. Just a few highlights: sailing in Sydney Harbor (thanks, Malcolm!), hiking the bluffs over the ocean (thanks, Bernadette and Peter John), sampling wines in the Hunter Valley (thanks, Fiona!), sampling wines while overlooking the Pacific on the north shore of Auckland (thanks, Kevin!), beers and dinner on my birthday (thanks, Matt and Fiona!), a personalized tour of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world on New Zealand's south island (where Lord of the Rings was filmed) (thanks, Raewyn!), and an introduction to Sydney's best coffee houses (thanks, Louisa!)
My tour took me from Sydney to Melbourne to Brisbane to the Hunter Valley, and in New Zealand, from Christchurch to Wellington to Auckland. It seemed like I talked to every radio and television station there was, which was the whole point. I also did a reading and signing each night, and really enjoyed meeting so many new people. Thanks everyone for the enthusiastic reception and making me feel right at home.
In between appearances, I got to hang out with two really great wine experts and authors, whose books I recommend you check out -- Matt Skinner in Australia and Michael Cooper in New Zealand. If you want to know more about the wines here, these are your (very charming) guys. In an authentic Australia moment, I went for a walk early one morning in the rolling wine country a couple hours north of Sydney, and stumbled upon a gathering of seven wild kangaroos, feeding beneath a tree. Cool! That night I looked up and for the first time in my life saw the southern constellations, including the celebrated Southern Cross. More cool!
A special thanks to my two publicists who put the entire tour together and made sure everything worked like clockwork, and quite literally took care of my every need: Louisa Dear in Australia and Raewyn Davies in New Zealand. You two rock! (And yes, you've spoiled me.)
Here is a clip of a television interview I did while in Christchurch. I thought the reporter did a good job putting it together. She even arranged for me to get a Lab fix. It's mostly about Marley & Me, but with a bit on the new book, as well.
Time to head to my gate. More to come. Maybe even some photos!
posted by John Grogan at 7:47 PM