Windy Wellington

I think this post skips a couple of days from the last ...Unicorns flying over rainbows. No big deal. 

Current Location: Queenstown, NZ
cold + rain + snowy mountains + pretty

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So this already happened ...


The highway into Wellington runs adjacent to the water but nighttime blocks the view.  I swear that's foam on the road, knocked up from crashing waves, but ... that would mean ... how close is the water?

Our good friend GPS could not locate our hotel at 355 Willis. She directs us into a new city, throws us down one ways, hills, construction detours, and then gets us lost. If a street dead ends, can you please post a sign? Somewhere?

There are two Mercures in town and we drove to the wrong one first. Conveniently, the right one is around the block.
"And you requested a king size bed..." No, no way.
A twin. Two beds. Separate.
'Well, we can split the king bed for you.' Huh? This is where the conversation stops making sense; or, this is where the problem could have been explained in ten short seconds but was not.  I give up. And for our frustration we are upgraded to a suite. Denise and I bring all our stuff upstairs.
Um. Denise brings all our stuff upstairs. I'm broken.

Suite? How very not. I don't wonder what a standard room is like. The 2nd floor fire exit leads to a balcony squeezed into an awkward, tiny space behind four buildings.

The bed still has to be ripped apart.  Junior (Denise named him), the front desk guy, is at the door. There is no housekeeping at night and he's here to get things done. It takes him awhile though and he makes the beds really poorly. Awwdamn! Getting into a perfectly made hotel bed is half the fun!

Junior is chatty. So we chat. In case you wanted to know, he's from New Delhi and moved to NZ when he was 20. Then he lived and went to school in New Plymouth*, "a town for old retired people."
* when I got us lost on the drive from Waitomo to Rotorua by way of the Tasman Sea, we ended up just outside of New Plymouth.  Don't look that up on a map; I was having a bad day.

Junior refused to believe that we weren't going to Australia as well. 'There is so much to see! More than in NZ! Warm! Beaches!' As much as I wanted him to shut up, my brain formulated a devious plan to change my return ticket and go to Australia. Baby koalas. Want.

It's 10pm.
We went in search of food on Cuba Street, an area described as artsy and bohemian. Really, it's dirty, sleazy, and loud. I keep trying to imagine what I would think of SF if I first arrived there at night. Dirty, sleazy, and loud.

The entire population is under 30. They must have banished old people to the countryside, probably an easy agreement for both parties.

There are definitely prostitutes on the corner. We'll see what the daylight brings.

I guess crossing my fingers and wishing on the brightest star does make the rain go away.  The biggest storm in  the world settled above NZ but a pocket of sunshine is protecting Wellington.

We had a slow morning. Our new deal at the hotel comes with free breakfast and two cups of dark water, I mean, coffee.
We walk down by the waterfront. It's special and not. I've seen it before -- harbor city, boats, imports and exports, homes nested in the hills. I relish in the sunshine and listen to Kiwi english.
The Te Papa museum is a beautiful museum, not only because it's free but also because it's beautiful.  As we enter the building, there are people hovering about watching a capoeira performance. Denise stays; I walk outside.

All I want to do is sit in the sun. I do.   A runner goes by and some kids start jogging behind him. Someone is taking video.
That once happened to me.

The hipsters here tear the San Francisco and Brooklyn hipsters to shreds. The mix of American and European culture takes socially acceptable commercially acceptable urban punk rock to a fascinating extreme.

My skin is like sandpaper.

[9/19/10]
I finally get to go for a run. The weather is perfect, not even windy. There are lots of people exercising early Sunday morning-- I could be at the Embarcadero. There's even a farmers market. Stay left.

After dropping off our rental car, we grab a cab to the ferry. Final check in is 1:20.  It's 1:16 and we are still in the car. Oh. Yeah. All is well.

After we board the ferry, I walk all over trying to get outside. I follow a woman and her daughter to the bow. She warns me it's going to get cold.
It does. Very.
For three hours I attached myself to the front railing of the ship. It's not just that the landscape is captivating, but the wind took my breath. The cold air roared through the hoods of my three jackets and shook my head from side to side in its wake. Standing up to nature when it is pounding down gives me a simple, singular focus. The wind is physically agitating and mentally stabilizing.  This is also known as the best thing ever. The cold wind hurt my soul but it was worth every second. I couldn't warm up for hours. I think this is the beginning of me being cold all of the time.

Lynn, the owner of Tombstone hostel,  meets us at the ferry. She gives us the tour of Picton and brings us to the hostel. It's called Tombstone because it's across from the graveyard. Can't spook me so whatcver. No exaggeration though -- this is one of the nicest places we have stayed all trip. I love you electric blanket!

There are two cats roaming around: Smooch and the deaf white one. There is also an older couple hanging out in the kitchen when we go to make dinner. I would guess they are in their late 70's ... And they are hilarious. The woman is wearing an apron, warming her bum by the fire while her husband walks over to do the dishes. She's got him trained for 50 years!  We talk for awhile before Denise and I escape to the lounge for the last 45 minutes of Twilight [the movie, duh.]