Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Zealand #2

2005 Trip to New Zealand, to read the first entry, go here.

January 30, 2005
First things First... let me apologize to me mum... I thought my parents still used the email that I had in my address book. So now I have added her and all will be well when I return home (I LOVE YOU MOM!)

For those of you who are over 25 I do not reccommend hostel traveling... I feel ancient here. But I don't plan on spending too much time here so no biggie... it was really cheap. And the Aveda products are quite nice (no Taddy, I still won't share) in the girls' dorm (appropriately entitled "The Sanctuary")

I've added the bride and the groom to the email so I have to say nice things but I'll give ya'll the real dirt when I get home. I'm teasing of course, the wedding was wonderful!
We met up with the bridal party at the nail salon on Friday and I'm happy to say that they do nails here the same way as home - I have bright red toes now:) Which is a good thing because I'm planning on wearing my flipflops as much as possible since it's SO HOT here.
After the nail party we headed to Tatum Park which is a scout camp where the wedding was being hosted... beautiful farm like setting with an old farm house and everything. I thought it was great. The wedding was held under a canopy of trees at 3:30 on Saturday and there was the perfect amount of sun and shade. It was warm but not HOT. Afterwards, hor d'eavors (SP?) were held on the lawn and then we moved inside for a dinner and reception.
(Side note: I spent a very typcial NZ day on Saturday... at least as far as my meals were concerned. I woke up, ate an egg and bacon pie, had fish & chips for lunch as a picnic and then dinner of a roast lamb. )
The food at the reception was wonderful! I'm glad I tried the lamb because it was delicious. We drank local wine - I tried the red and the white but enjoyed the refreshing white more. Plus I feared a red wine headache in the morning.
The reception became quite lively with a huka (traditional New Zealand Maori War Dance - you have to see it to believe it) and a round of alouetta - if a Kiwi ever offers to do that at any of your wedding receptions and you are uncertain.. just say no. Or depending on how much you've had to drink, say yes and brace yourself!
It was a lot of fun and I had a blast. And I've got some great pictures to show the bride and groom.
Friday was the rehersal and dinner - they threw some meat on the barbie... Dad, you'll have to teach these guys how to grill for real whenever they make their way to GA.

Today we had a brunch of poached eggs and baked tomatoes, toast with vegemite and wedding cake! Yummie!
Then, I hitched a ride with the bride and groom (they insisted!) and came on to Wellington. We drove down the West Coast into Wellington and after viewing the turquoise waters of the Tasman Sea, I was able to spot the South Island across the straight. That's was cool. We thought about pictures but I am beginning to accept my limitations as a photographer.
After I checked into my hostel and explored my room, Abbey and Kevin treated me to lunch at a local outdoor cafe... all the resturants here have outdoor seating (probably b/c the sun shines until about 10PM and I mean SHINES!) We ate a traditional Americans visiting NZ meal: PIZZA!
But I tried another NZ Beer at lunch, Mac Gold which I quite enjoyed (and for the note about Tui, I was informed by some of my more uppity NZ friends that it was "shit" beer - so much for that - they compared it to Coors Light, etc. - I've drank Coors Light... Tui is much better but is obviously not well thought of.) Mac Gold is a quiet secret that Kiwi's prefer to keep to themselves and much better.
After lunch, the bride and groom headed home to clean... sounds like a fun honeymoon, huh?

I took a deep breath and set out on my own... I navigated through Wellington to find the historic cable car which I rode to the top of the city for a spectacular view of the habor and the city. Then I took the "downhill" walk back to the city through the Wellington Botanical Gardens. This is the perfect time of year for that excursion because everything is in full bloom. Agian, I wish I was a better photographer but I'm doing the best I can... hopefully it will capture the feeling. I ended up in the city's original cemetary and enjoyed seeing the stones. Then I stumbled out onto a street and what did I see? Oh, just the TEXAS flag flying proudly in front of home in a posh residential area... them Texans, they just don't ever give up. I took a picture, it was just too much.
It was about 6PM when I finished my walk (although you would never know it according to the sun) and I decided since I had no clue where I was, I might want to find my hostel. So, having the great sense of direction I have, I started walking in the WRONG direction.... fortunately there are signs everywhere and I quickly turned myself around. I did take a picture of their honeycomb buidling for you Lauren, it's right beside the Parliament and is one of the gov't buidlings - they were both closed since it's Sunday.
I walked back towards the main part of the city, decided I might want to get something to eat so I went into a Sushi resturant... I must say, it was a good choice. The sushi was being freshly prepared at the end of the bar and placed on plates which were then placed on a kind of belt which went around the counter so the food was literally being put in front of your face. And it moved fast too! If you didn't grab it quick, you had to wait for it to come back around to get it and by that point, something else had caught your eye. I had a great dinner of shrimp, salmon and tempura oysters. They don't lack for great seafood here, that's for certain.

After dinner, I came back to the hostel to do laundry and met the girls that are staying in the same room as I am. One is an architecture student from Auckland here for school - she's taking a 6 week course, I'll have to ask her again but I think she said it had to do with carvings... maybe not architecture related. The other is a English girl who just graduated from Uni... I love that expression - she's been down here for about 5 months... just bumming around. I invited her to go out with me the Red Rocks Beach but I'm planning on getting up around 7AM (which is when the buses start running) and when I said that, she kind of squirmed and said she normally didn't get about of bed until about 9. I know you all are thinking that there is no way I've been getting up... but the time change (Georgia is about 6 hours ahead) plus the light difference has been waking me up early so I'm generally going about 7am. Which is great when you have 2 weeks to do as much as you can in a country that can take months. So I'll see if she comes along... it's a little bit of a trek. I decided against the whale watching excursion (thanks Leah) as I started to get really nervous about having to depend on perfect strangers if I did get sick. Plus I was told I can see the same thing if I go on this walk. So I want to get on up and out before it gets too hot and then spend the afternoon in the Te Papa museum which is supposed to be amazing!

I just finished seeing Finding Neverland at the Empress Theatre... one of the great old theatres here in Wellington... gorgeous marble and old style seating. The atmosphere was great and I highly reccommend the movie as well. Enjoyed it completely!

Kevin & Abbey - thanks for all the suggestions, I am really enjoying my stay.

Ok, this is long and I've run out of time.
I love you all and will write more later!

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