Here's email #3 from New Zealand - I'm still looking for pictures but I'll get them up here, I promise. To start with the first email, click here.
February 1, 2005:
I know you all were wondering when you would get to hear from me again and here I am!
I have made my way up the Pacific/East Coast of New Zealand to Napier and I'm settled into my hostel which is an old prison... I kid you not. It's very unique. I think I'll have as many pictures of the hostel as I will of the town. My "room" is actually a cell and it's called the conjugal unit b/c it has a double bed... I thought I was going to die as the girl was taking me to my room. I have a padlock for the door. It's crazy. The room across from mine is the "pysche unit" - they really take this whole thing to an extreme... there are bars on the windows... it's great.
It has started to rain which was a lot of fun walking from the bus station to my hostel... thank god my backpack is waterproof. But I made it ok.
Napier is a gorgeous seaside town which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1931 so the town was completely rebuilt 1931-1933 so there is a strong Art Deco influence, Frank Lloyd Wright's style of architecture and the whole great Gatsby feel (lauren, you'd love it here!). I'm spending three nights here (mom - that's a change in the plan) because I wanted to see the town and the wineries so I'll leave here early Friday morning for Rotorua - I've been told it's a real tourist trap so I cut out a day there and added one here. I think I'm going to be glad I did that.
So anyways, finishing up Wellington... yesterday morning I got up and went on the Red Rocks Walk - there were no seals but I had a blast. I did that early in the morning to avoid the sun (burn time here is 12 minutes). I hope I got some good pictures. Again I could see the South Island which I just find really cool. After catching the bus back to town, I went to Te Papa which is the large museum... there was SO much there but I had a good time. It was alot about the history and settlement and the Maori people and their history - I'm such a nerd but I spent a lot of time in the history section b/c I enjoyed learning about the history down here. I've never studied it or read anything about (well, other than what's in the Lonely Planet). So I spent about 5 1/2 hours there before I reached overload and took off.
I walked down to the Queen's Wharf and took some pictures of the bay... It had gotten really windy and there were sailboats out. The GlobalChallenge2004-2005 was in the harbor and I haven't looked up what it was but there were tons of sailboats sponsored by companies like Sony and BP. I'm interested to find out what it's about.
I had made plans with some of the girls in the hostel for drinks and dinner so I went back to the hostel to change and met up with them. We went to a cafe down the street called Coyote (another Kevin & Abbey suggestion) and it was great. I order the soup of the day... I thought the waittress said potato... and I got a tomato soup instead - good thing I like both of them. That whole pesky accent thing. So we ate dinner and then hung out for a while... I had put on my baseball cap b/c the wind had been so bad and my hair was a mess. I did not know that was a completely "American" thing to do... but people came up to me in the bar b/c I had it on and identified me as American. We ran into some guys from Colorado... they were nice. Most people are over here b/c they're studying somewhere but their school term doesn't start until mid-Feb.
The bus ride up here wasn't too bad... today was kind of a waste b/c of the timing of it all. My bus left at 11AM and got here at 6PM (later than supposed to b/c of the rain) but I've learned my lesson and I'll take the early bus from now on. That way I won't waste any more full days traveling. The rest of the trip is better spaced for bus travel anyway, nothing more than 3hours. So it shouldn't happen again.
Anyways, I've got to go find some food and I think that means a walk to town so I need to head out - not that I have to worry about daylight... the sun won't set for at least another 2 hours since it's only 7:30PM.
Love you all! And I'll keep you posted on sleeping in the prison:)