Travels – Travails

TUESDAY. June 19th had finally arrived and I was more than ready to set off for yet another globe-trotting adventure. As Mick Dundee would have it, I went “walkabout”. Yeah, my life is not half-bad.

The only really hard part of this was leaving behind my friend/life partner, Moe. Hopefully she will write me a few emails so that we can stay in touch while I am away. Fine… maybe not. In reality, I suspect moe will spend her time doing a lot of this…

THURSDAY. I arrived in Australia at 9 in the morning, about 1 hour later than expected due to some aeronautical hangups and an unusually strong head-wind coming into Sydney. My brother picked me up at the airport and took me shopping… for a stand-alone heater… it is cold in Australia during the winter. We spent the rest of the day watching  trashy movies while he avoided going into work (all in the name of taking care of his little sis!)

FRIDAY. The next day, bro and I went on to campus where I was introduced to all of his friends. The highlight of this was D conclusively finding out that I am taller than his best Australian friend – “little-T” – who is all of 1 inch shorter than me. Despite the small difference in heights, my brother thought this was just the greatest thing after sliced bread and made a point of laughing audibly and repeatedly patting his friend on the head. He later made this up to me (I don’t really like having my height pointed out to me) by allowing me to buy him what has to be the most delicious iced-coffee I have ever had the pleasure of slurping back (note: coffee ice cream is an AWESOME addition).

I headed back out to the airport in the early afternoon and loitered around waiting for my delayed flight to Wellington, NZ. Strong tail winds out of Australia had pushed back the day’s flights by about an hour but sped up our inbound flight by almost 30 minutes. We arrived at midnight and I caught a cab into my friend H’s place in Newtown, a boho neighbourhood about 3k from the capital’s bay side urban centre. My  fondest wish at this point was that one of H’s 6 housemates was awake because the process by which I would enter the house otherwise was perilous and, some might say, unlikely to yield a positive result. In addition to the generally confusing directions that H had given me, I was also uncomfortable with the prospect of wrestling with Wellington’s famous gale-force winds that were attacking from every side when I arrived in Newtown. Good news! A few people were indeed up and huddled around the gas heater in the sun-room by the front door. They were very welcoming, plied me with wine (a NZ thing it would seem) and shuffled me off to bed once they noticed I was practically asleep on my feet. Fun fact – H sleeps in a very high, very precarious loft bed that nearly brought me to my untimely end when I woke up at 4am and tried to step out of bed the non-loft way (i.e. without the aid of a ladder).

SATURDAY. Still suffering from the effects of time-zone hopping, I woke up around 10am and made my way down to the house’s kitchen for breckie with the apparent horde of housemates. Everyone was very welcoming and I spent the morning talking protocol-testing with a political radical named R. That afternoon I was taken along to dinner at another of the “famous Newtown houses” – places filled with 5-8 friends that litter the area like a collection of communes/youth hostels. There I was treated to an AMAZING vegetarian dinner courtesy of N and a few more glasses of red (see, a NZ trend is forming). After dinner was polished up and plates were cleared, we caught a cab into the city-centre and went to the Southern Cross for drinks and a music festival featuring 10 or so live bands playing 3-4 song sets for a wonderfully diverse crowd. Fun Fact #2 – denizens of the “famous Newtown houses” know absolutely everyone in Wellington. I think I met close to 50 new people that night and was beyond burned-out by midnight (jet-lag may not have helped). I have to say I was amazed by how friendly and welcoming everyone was and how willing H’s roommates were to take care of me (a total stranger) while H was away at a conference.

SUNDAY. Knowing H would arrive late in the evening, I decided to spend the bulk of Sunday exploring Wellington. I took some good advice from one of H’s roomies and headed to Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. There I learned a bit about NZ history and marveled at the similarities between Te Papa and the Royal BC Museum in Victoria (Mammoth exhibit featured in “Vote or Face My Wrath” post). After exploring the (free!) museum, I spent some time soaking up the sunshine in the bay before walking back up to Newtown in the late afternoon. (p.s. get ready for some super pro photos from my phone’s top-notch camera).

H got in around 7pm and we spent some quality time catching up before catching some shut eye (she had to wake up for work at 6:30am… yikers!).

MONDAY. H was up and gone by 7:15am but I managed to drag out my sleep-in until  10:30 before finally rolling out of bed (not literally, I learned my lesson that first night). I was greeted with a message from one of H’s roommates, T, which is just funny enough to be copied in full here:


Ms VV rang – please call her 11111111

She’ll be In+Out of the office so if she doesn’t pick up you’ll know that she’s out and you should send her an internet fax. If you feel like film society @ 6.15pm @ paramount, that could be a fantastic time.

It’s a beautiful day > a walk along some coastline/waterfront is recommended by the entire Ministry of Defence. Or a walk up Mount Victoria whilst singing the Sound of Music, followed by the theme to Aladdin, and finishing with the opening of the Lion King.

This proved good advice and I set off around noon (yeah, running a bit behind the old rowing schedule) for a nice long stroll through the park near their house, from Newtown to the bay via. Mt. Victoria. I took some pictures (again with my most-excellent Camera Phone) but none of them really do justice to the gorgeous weather and general splendour of Wellington when it is not windy, cloudy, and raining. Enjoy nonetheless:

A few minutes (at least it felt that way) after returning home from my walk, I got a call from H on the house phone asking me to walk back downtown for the Film Society showing at the Paramount Theatre – a cool old theatre that has been partially restored for events like the one I snuck into. H had a spare pass and so I got in free to a showing of a german silent-film rendition of Hamlet complete with a cross-dressing danish princess and live pianist. You can read all about this screwball version of the famous tragedy and its famously effeminate? (a matter of opinion, I suppose) hero(ine?) here, here, and here.

We finished off the night with dinner at a New Orleans inspired diner (mmm… fried-oyster po-boy) just down the street from the theatre. H and I were joined by her last roomate (I had met all the others at this point), an architect based here in Wellington.

TUESDAY. Wiped out by lots of travel, walking, and a good amount of jet-lag, I have every intention of spending the day lounging around, reading, and eating Kiwi Fruit (just for the novelty of Kiwis grown locally by Kiwis!).


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