Monday, June 2, 2008

Wellington: Cosmopolitan national capital and gateway to the South Island.

08/07/2001 - Lodge in the City, Wellington, 1606

The bar in this hostel is unfortunately only open 3 nights a week, but it does have cable movies on a big screen all day so that's a plus.

WellingtonI'm getting pretty sick of coach travel - thankfully there's only one more to go. It's really depressing seeing so many crosses on the road sides both here and in Australia (and anywhere really). There's one I'll never forget that I saw on the way to Melbourne: it simply read "Mum and Dad". I really hope my trip back to Auckland is on a deserted coach - having two seats to yourself makes a huge difference, especially on overnight buses.

It's nice to be back in a real city after Rotorua and Napier. Well maybe not so much a city, just somewhere were there is life outside after night falls. This hostel is OK - pretty average, but nothing bad per se (except the lack of bar). The big screen TV is good.

The weather in the morning in Napier was pretty bad, a lot of showers. The manager of the hostel - the Water Front Lodge - dropped me off at the bus station which was really cool. I got up at 6am to try and see the sunrise, but it was pitch black and started to rain so I went back in a while later and got some more sleep.

It seems that most towns and cities south of Napier (and hastings) are Art Deco. It's quite a sight. Wellington is to an extent, but not nearly as much as Napier or Hastings.

The most attractive thing about Wellington is its water front, and then the huge hills/mountains surrounding the harbour. I took a cable car up to Kelburn - definitely worth the $3, From the lookout you can see Marlborough Sound through the peaks around the harbour.

Today I saw the usual capitol attractions - Parliament, Government buildings, national museum (Te Papa) etc. Across from the "Beehive" parliament there's a pub called the backbencher - I wonder if MP's have a handle or two before sittings.Five minutes away in the middle of the shopping district of Wellington is the NZ Ministry of Interior - right across the road from a Burger King. Now that's convenient.

My last night in a hostel tonight - I think I'll do some more night photography on the harbour side, and then have some more great New Zealand beer.

11/07/2001 - Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Airport, Sydney, 1735

Just under two hours before I board my flight back to Perth.

My last day in Wellington was pretty dull - I really overestimated the amount of time I'd need to see the city in, so consequently I was left wandering around the streets in the early morning with nothing to do. After two hours of window shopping I was so desperate I went and saw Pearl Harbor.


Well it killed three hours. After I just wandered aimlessly up by the harbour past Te Papa, then through Cuba St., which is great; full of cool clothes, music and book stores, as well as great food. There's only one thing I disliked about it, and that's the horrible 60's fibreglass sculpture in the middle of the street painted in Day-Glo colours that splashed water around (which reaked of chlorine).

I bought a stack of CD's, really got the Visa card going (although that was nothing compared to my duty-free massacre today, but that's another story).

Thankfully the day ended up going pretty fast, and before I knew it I was heading back to Auckland on the always deplorable overnight bus. I actually got a fair bit of sleep, much to my surprise and relief. There were some "interesting" people on the bus: a woman with a nice moustache (who also had a bizarre snore, and of course had to sit behind me), another woman who literally took up two seats with her sheer size, a man dressed like Hannibal Lector (from Hannibal, not so much Silence of the Lambs - very neat, a white hat, sunglasses and gloves); he kept rubbing his hands together constantly which was a bit unsettling. There was also an absolute stereotype Kiwi up the front: everything she said ended in "eh" and she applauded everything as "choice". (That's choice eh!). At about 3am a guy got on with a full spinal brace around his head and neck - that really freaked me out in my groggy half-asleep state.

We arrived in Auckland at about 7am - most things were still closed. Used a McDonalds for a toilet (I figure they owe me for emotional stress). Speaking of which, I am seriously getting sick of seeing those damn golden arches at every airport terminal! AARGGHH. It's always the only reasonably priced option as well.

Anyway, before setting off to Auckland airport I had a nice greasy bacon and egg breakfast. When I got to the airport I very relieving shower - just what I needed after the bus trip . Just before going through immigration I was tempted to ask one of the airport security guards why they were dressed like Canadian mounties (which they were!), but decided against it (mostly due to their size).

Not much else happened - just a lot of waiting - and a lot of spending on duty-free. I'm back in Australia, but there's still a five hour flight home. Looks like more waiting to come: that's half the fun of travel I guess.

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