Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Zealand #4

Next installment on the New Zealand trip, to read from the beginning, go here.

Hello All! Be prepared... this one is a long one!

It's a little after 10pm here and I still have to pack up as I'm heading out to Rotorua tomorrow morning. It's been a nice stay at the prison but I'm getting out on parole!
I have really enjoyed Napier and seeing this part of the country. It's been foggy and misty throughout the early mornings and evenings - there's about 1 hour of sunshine in the afternoons... but the temperature is nice and the scenery is dramatic. I love the fact at night that I as I'm going to sleep, I can here the waves crashing on the beach down below. The prison is up on a hill above the town and it's got a great view - unfortunately at the end of the day or night you have to hike it up the hill.

Yesterday, I got up and was given a lovely tour of my 'home' - the prison, the hostel owners gave it and have actually done a lot of research about the people who were held here and why they were imprisoned. Kind of interesting... kind of scary too. There were two other American girls here the first night but they left yesterday b/c they kept getting freaked out. I've been tired enough to keep the imagination in check.

Then I walked into town and ate at a cafe... I've enjoyed trying the different pies and pasteries they have here. I did the first half of the Art Deco tour and enjoyed reading about the buildings and how the town rebuilt itself after the earthquake (Lauren, I needed you to actually point out the things in the buildings that I was reading about). Then I took a break and went to the Marineland where they have a penguin rescue program... Not as elaborate as SeaWorld or whatever but I got to feed and hold the penguins and pet a New Zealand fur seal. (I knew I'd get my seals in on this trip!)

They had an Ice Cream shop here called "Lick This" (only in NZ do they get away with these graphic company names - the other one that's be great has been the phone company : Phone S.E.X. 0-800-FOREPLAY) and they sold the new Zealand Ice Cream flavor "hokey pokey" - I had heard much about this ice cream and I just had to try it. This was also within the hour or so that the sun was teasing to come out so I got a cone. It was a lovely vanilla ice cream with golden syrup frozen and mixed in it... I can't really describe it but it was good. You folks will have to come and try it yourself... it's only found in New Zealand. That's one thing that's very cool about this country... Kiwis are very proud people and they want to share what's theirs with you and they want you to like it as much as they do. The Ice Cream shop girl was very excited that I liked the ice cream and the bartenders have been very pleased when I've tried and liked their beer suggestions (although I have to admit that Kevin's Macs Gold is the best so far).

So after Marineland, I set off the complete the second half of the Art Deco tour and I enjoyed that.... walking around the city and getting a feel for it was cool. So I ended up at the Art Deco museum but everything closes up around 5PM which is something I haven't gotten used to at all! And when I say everything, I mean only resturants and pubs are open (and they all shut down between 2PM and 5PM). It's different from home and can be kind of frustrating but it's not a bad thing... I think it would be nice to be off at 5PM consistently sometimes and they also charge a surtax if they are open on the public holidays... sounds like a plan huh?

Ok, so I grabbed a bottle of water and headed back up towards my hostel with plans to climb the Bluff Hill when I hear some one whistling and catcalling in my direction. Lucky for me and them that I actually looked up to see my friends Kevin and Abbey across the road. They had spent the earlier part of the week (after leaving me in Wellington) in Auckland sorting out Kevin's Visas and whatnot (He is now a proud legal Alien of the U.S. - God help us all) then decided to head to Napier b/c Abbey had never seen this part of the country. Then they got my email and saw that I was here too!

I have to admit, as much as I'm loving being by myself and doing exactly what I want, it was nice to see two friendly smiling faces.

So, I ran (very carefully) across the road and we made plans to met up the next morning.
Then I continued on my hike up the bluff hill... and let me tell you. When a Kiwi says somehting is an 'easy trek' - Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT listen to them... these are the people who think nothing of playing football without pads and calling it rugby (I know that's not totally true but go with the story here). The hike up the hill was straight up and although the flora and the fauna was quite lovely, when you have sweat rolling down your head, blinding you, you really just don't enjoy it. Seriously, it was a nice and challenging hike and the reward was worth it, the evening fog was rolling it and it was cool to sit and watch the change. Afterwards, I made it back to my hostel, ate something, showered and rolled into bed.

Only to be awoken the next morning by the sound of Abbey's voice in the hallway... now, we had made plans for them to pick me up and go to breakfast, I was actually in that half asleep mode where you're tormenting yourself, telling yourself to get out of the bed... when I here Abbey's distinct American voice in the hall. So I laughed and shouted at them that they were early, rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes and a baseball cap and went to breakfast. No one except vacationing Americans wear baseball caps, so be prepared if you come here, that is a dead give away.

We ate at a great cafe - I had a cheese scone and tea... I'm fitting in quite nicely and I had a lovely time:)We were planning to go to Cape Kidnappers but we hadn't done our research and didn't know you had to plan the trip around the tides... just like we're on Blackbeards huh Dad?

Anyways, we came back to town and I went to the history museum while Kevin and Abbey headed to the National Park up the road a bit. Again, me being a nerd but the museum was fantastic... another thing about New Zealanders... they are proud of their country and their histroy. Napier is the hometown of gold medalist in Athens, two sisters who row together and I have been told that so many times, it just makes you want to scream!

And after a quick bite at a cafe, I was off on my wine tour...

And I would tell you about it if I could remember it...

as one fo the ladies at the cellars said, New Zealand is a thirsty country so they believe in big "sips" - thank goodness I did a tour and had a driver. No no no, I'm kidding... but they do have some fantastic wines and they don't export the best ones so it was cool to try them here. And they all have a story and history which I just eat up.

After I again treked it up the hill to my hostel and had a shower, Kevin and Abbey once again found me for dinner... we went to a great resturant on the port and I got to face the window and the sea while they had a lovely view of the docks! Whatever, do not feel sorry for them... they sat down first! And after a lovely meal, we got to dessert!

I order a brandy basket... which I was thinking was like a tart cup made of syrup with the ice cream inside of it.. not so much and soooooo much better... it was ice cream with granny somethings rolled up with cream inside of it, topped with russian fudge. (PS. I don't know why I've never had Russian fudge before but I have been neglected as a child and a sweet tooth and I'm complaining now!) I got them to trade the berry sauce for a chocolate sauce and I was in heaven... It was really rich but I enjoyed every bite of it. Abbey had some banana thing and Kevin just sat there while we stuffed our faces... he was very good at resisiting temptation.

I could make fun of them for finding me and I told them I was going to but it was good to get to spend some more time with them ( I mean, I did fly all the way around the world for their wedding! teasing teasing, you know I'm glad I came.) plus they've given me a lot of great suggestions of places to go and things to do - nothing they've suggested has been bad yet! So good on ya!

That would be my favorite Kiwi Expression... "Good on Ya' it basically means "good for you" and I had heard it a million times at camp but I had forgotten it and an American voice just can't do it as well as a Kiwi accent so it's good to hear it here again.

Alright folks, I'm wiped and I'm heading to bed so I can make my bus in the morning. Sorry, I know this one was long but I've been doing a lot and my feet hurt just writing about all the walking I've done:)

When you next here from me, I shall be in Rotorua (pronounced "ro-toe" "ru-ah" - it took me a while to get that)

Love you all!

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