rowanf: (fox ranger)

Christchurch2.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
So we have been in Christchurch for a couple of days. There isn't any great event or sight about which to write. We have seen the Cathedral (our hotel is right off Cathedral Square). There is a crafts market in the square which has some interesting artists. Today they had some young "street artists" doing a mural together as part of a city program.

Yesterday morning I had a long chat with one of the greenstone carvers at the craft market. He sells his carved stones but he also sells a lot of bone carvings and such. He says he designs those but has them carved elsewhere so they are affordable (relatively!). I bought a bone Taniwha that spoke to me. The carver said it is the fresh water kind and I think that it fits in with the water advocacy work I have been doing to have a guardian Taniwha pendant. In the afternoon yesterday, I did a fair bit of shopping for greenstone bits and finally found the triple twist earrings I had been wanting. So shopping is finished too.

I have gotten a couple of caches (and DNF'd one). We went walking in the Botanical Gardens (mostly to get a cache). All the TBs and geocoins are now dispersed and I left off carrying my caching bag to lighten my load today.

We decided not to take a punting tour down the river (they don't let you wield the pole yourself but have a professional chauffeurs in a straw boater and striped coat to pole you along) since the river looked unshaded and not so interesting. It was almost 80F today and in the sun it was very hot.

This afternoon we went up the gondola to the top of a mountain. It was fairly hazy though so I doubt our pictures amount to much. But we ate at the cafe and took in the views. I found a some cards and then a book by Gerar Toye, the "Global Gypsy". I love his work!

We grabbed dinner at a souvlaki place. As usual I was disappointed - my souvlaki tastes were educated at Icarus/Hector's in DC/VA and I think if I really want to have it like I like it I am going to have to learn to make it. I plan to start forthwith. Well, soon, once I'm back in my own kitchen. The fact that my area is deficit in Greek food means that I don't get that button pushed very often.

Then we went to the cinema and saw Juno which we had been meaning to do and it was really quite good. I would never have made her choices, but I believed in the character's integrity and spirit a great deal. I think my parents feared that I would show up pregnant at that age. I wouldn't have, my wildness went in other directions, but that was a fear my mother had for sure. I loved the conversation between the parents after she had told them. I think I will be thinking about this movie for a long time.

So, tomorrow we fly from Christchurch to Auckland and then Auckland to home. We will travel for many hours and get home before we started. Somehow I doubt that will make us feel less tired. I can't wait to get inworld. I suspect sleeping and Second Life will be in competition when I get home. There is a big literary event going on inworld that I have carefully not volunteered for anything around but if I am up to it I hope to attend. I am sure both my avatar's IMs are capped by now. It has been sooooo frustrating!
rowanf: (Default)

wellington1.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Monday was the day that Russell worked. We went over to WETA and he spent the entire day doing demos for four different groups. I sat and listened mostly. Then we caught a cache on a headland nearby where I left my Leigh Ann memorial geocoin to start its new journeys. This is the coin that went to South Africa and came back to Berkeley. It has been on my bedside table since July and I thought it was fitting that it be on the road again. Esp. after reading about a women's motorcycle journey around NZ. *grin* I had planned to leave a turtle travelbug at this cache but I opened it and a sig item on top was of a guy on his motorcycle, so I knew I had to leave the LAH geocoin there. I look forward to following her adventures.

Tuesday Russell went sightseeing and I went shopping. I didn't actually buy much but I did find a couple of caches. (And DNF'd the big one I had really be looking for. I think it has been mnuggled.) I did get a Te Tiki tshirt for myself and presents for a few people. Hopefully Christchurch will be a better souvenier hunting ground. Russell & I met up again for dinner and ate The Balti House we had noticed across from the info centre. Yum! He had chicken makhani and I had tandoori fish.

Wednesday we got up bright and early and got ourselves to the interisland ferry for our trip to the South Island. Then we spent the rest of the day on the train (which got into Christchurch at 7pm, about 40 minutes late). We just had dinner at a nearby Russian restaurant (I had borsht and pelmeny and Russell had stroganoff). There doesn't seem to be any internet in the room, so hopefully I will find someplace tomorrow to post this.

I will be very glad to get home to my waterbed, my internet connexion (my Second Life!), diet Dr. Pepper, my kitchen and my pain meds as I didn't actually manage to bring enough ibuprofen. We paid $10 for 24 200mg the other day but they are gone by now. New Zealand is nice enough but it is very expensive and whilst I was afraid two weeks wouldn't be enough time, it is plenty.

Oooh, Russell just came back with the wifi info and there *is* a connexion. He says it is slow (so probably no SL) but at least I can post this!
rowanf: (Default)

Wellington2.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
So after a morning of trying to do something in SL that had been rescheduled to the next day, I joined Russell for a 12km segway tour. It was a total blast. I had to do the segway barefoot because in my sandals I was holding my feet funny. We toured around the harbour area and then by Old St. Paul's church (which is a wooden gothic church and very cool looking) and around the Houses of Parliament. It was interesting the reactions we got - some people thought it was cool, some heckled us for being lazy, kids wanted to know if they could "have a go". It was indeed intuitive, though I think this is a very new model and a bit moreso than the one I tried at the IEEE reception a couple of years ago. This was my first extended ride and I really liked it. I want to take the tour of SF when I get home.

We went up to the top of the hill on the cable car to see the views and grab a bite to eat. But despite the assurances of the ticket office the restaurant was actually closed. The views were amazing. But I was in the "haven't eaten since breakfast, it is after 4pm and I've gone from hunger into stupity mode". It being Sunday night here, nothing is open so we have retreated to the hotel for room service. Which will hopefully be here soon.
rowanf: (Default)

Tasting1.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Once again Russell heroically drove on the wrong side with me as the worst passenger imaginable. The countryside was again very northern California two lane roads except that they do strange topiary hedgerows. Well, not topiary exactly but buzz cut on top and sides squared. Some of these hedges are the height of the telephone poles and I can't really imagine why one would want to buzz cut them or what technology one might use to do so. Well, going through the gorge wasn't like California either. But I really had expected New Zealand to be greener but the fields are golden brown just like ours in the summer.

We made it to Wellington in the mid-afternoon and wandered down to the harbour to find something to eat. I had hoped to get inworld in time for the library dance but there was just no way I could be done eating by 3pm my time. I had a nice spinach, smoked salmon & brie omelet (with salad, they always serve salad with eggs here it seems) and Russell had a rabbit pie. It was quite nice really.

Another bar to getting inworld is that, once again, it is $34/day for internet in the hotel... for ethernet with a $.10 per MB if you use over 50 MB within the 24 hours. Russell's calculations say I shouldn't go in SL. And I haven't yet found an Esquires or Starbucks around here. Ahhhh!!!! Need internet! Need to get inworld!

Well, for one thing I have log my caches. Two DNF's, including the multicache we spent two days on and the first one I tried for in Wellington. I was about to get a complex but I found the next one I looked for. Wellington has an amazing collection of public art and they local cachers have done a series to bring folks to see the various bits. Very cool!

I was just about to go downstairs and see if I could get a wifi connexion in the lobby when Russell called a spa he had noticed in a nearby hotel. They could do a "couples massage" in 20 minutes at 6:15, so checking internet tonight went by the wayside. I *really* needed that massage! It was quite good and reasonable cheap. Unlike almost everything else in NZ. The food here is really astonishingly expensive. But it is almost 11pm back home and so I think I'll just have a lie down instead of going in search of internet.
rowanf: (Default)

Napier3.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
The last couple of days we have wandered around the Hawke's Bay area. Yesterday we wandered around looking at the Art Deco architecture (and getting clues for a multicache) and today we went on a bus tour of wineries and a cider house. The do some nice wines here but other than a bottle of Brookfield Gewertzstraminer and a couple of late harvest reislings from Matariki Winery we didn't buy any. We're only in-country another week after all. :-)

Okay, I admit we bought a six pack of Kingston cider and a couple of bottles of Ginger Spin which is an amazing traditional cider with ginger in just the right proportion. The Filter Room, the cider house, had a choice of six tastes for $9 and I tasted six different ciders - Kingston, Ginger Spin, Ballydooly Scrumpy, Ballydooly Red Cider, Ballydooly Grannypash (an Granny Smith apple and passionfruit cider!) and Ballydooly Ballydooly cider. I liked them all but the last which had a strange aftertaste. I am going to try and bring a bottle of Ginger Spin home. I wonder if Ace would consider making something like it? Hmmm. Nah, it will never last until the next time I'm in Sebastopol. *grin*

Tomorrow we drive to Wellington and so will be out of touch until evening probably. Hopefully our hotel there will have reasonable internet and I won't be dependent on Esquires and Starbuck's.
rowanf: (Default)

enrouteAKL-NPR2.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Russell drove pretty much all day. Wow, I am sooo glad I don't have to do that - drive on the wrong side of the road with merging and road work and other strangenesses. We stopped a few times - I caught a cache and I dropped off a geocoin, we stopped and took cloud pictures, we stopped at a "scenic overlook" expecting just a view of the valley and were treated to an amazing view of waterfalls on the Wanganui River and we stopped at a lavender farm and enjoyed the wonderful smell and bought some balms.

I admit we didn't see much of Napier yet. We checked into the Masonic Hotel (what a trip!) and then I went to Starbucks to try to get inworld. I ended up chatting with my mother (in IM) and briefly with [livejournal.com profile] taltosdama and [livejournal.com profile] elvisomar inworld. And I bought some hair at the amazing ETD sale. Then we went to Acqua Seafood Restaurant and had "blue nose" with miso and noodles and vegetables. It was a firm white fish and quite yummy. I have no idea what it might be.

Now I'm up in the room writing this whilst Russell reads. I'll try to process my photos so that when Starbucks opens in the morning I can properly illustrate this.
rowanf: (fox ranger)

aucklandharbour.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
So we had a lovely dinner with [livejournal.com profile] taltosdama at the Orbit Restaurant Monday night. There were absolutely no views as we were socked in with clouds (and the tower was high enough to be shrouded. But the company was excellent and I'm really glad we had the chance to visit. We talked so late she missed her bus and her family had to come collect her! Ooops.

Tuesday morning we headed out for a harbour cruise and tooled around seeing the sights from the water. After that we took the ferry to Devonport to walk around looking at Victorians but Cyclone Funa struck again with torrential rains. As they slacked off I was able to charge out with my umbrella and get a cache before the tourists had left their huddle under awnings, so that was okay with me. *grin* We had lunch at the Devonport Mecca and I discovered the local Brightstone Dry Cider which I like very much. Not as dry as Strongbow and a bit light and fruity but quite acceptable. Since there is no diet Dr. Pepper to be found anywhere it is good to find *something* I like to drink!

Today we are heading off to Napier, a long drive across the island. (Somewhere between 5-1/2 and 7 hours depending on who you believe). I've scoped out a couple of caches on the way. *grin* We'll see what connectivity is like there. Hopefully, I'll report in a dozen hours or so.

Hmm. I notice that Lj is doing California time. I'm a day ahead, of course.
rowanf: (fox ranger)

maori-carving1.jpg
Originally uploaded by rowanf.
Today we got up and headed up the hill to a cafe with free wifi and checked our email and ate breakfast. Then we got to the sightseeing bus and headed out to the Auckland Museum. Russell rememebers visiting this museum on his 1979 visit. We saw the Maori "cultural experience" which is half an hour of chanting and dancing. We viewed the Maori galleries and looked at some of the NZ fashion area which had some fun garb from the 1960's including a dress made of orange feathers. I hope my picture of it comes out! And a dress with that famous Aleister Crowley portrait on it. Really I can't imagine what we were thinking wearing pink, orange, lime green & yellow clothes in those days. There was a pantsuit that brought it back very strongly.

We headed back to town and wandered a bit and found a cache and bought some groceries. Our hotel room has one of those washer/dryer things so we are doing a spot of laundry and vegging a little before dinner. Tonight we're having dinner with [livejournal.com profile] taltosdama at the Orbit Restaurant in the Sky Tower that looms over Auckland. It has been rainy and overcast all day so I don't expect the views will be all that they might be. Russell would love to see a good sunset from there. We shall see!
rowanf: (fox ranger)
After a crazy Friday of running errands and using the PC at Russell's office to download some open source maps of NZ to my GPS we caught our shuttle at 3pm for the airport. The Air New Zealand flight was 13 hours along (12:12 in the air and the rest mostly taxing around SFO *sigh*). The movies in the back of the seat in front of one rock - I saw The Jane Austen Book Club which was a consumate chick flick and I loved it, Ratatouille which hasn't as embarrasing as I had feared, I started Across the Universe but lost interest and went on to New Zealand travel show episodes before falling into a doze at about 10pm my time.

The plane got into Auckland at 5am Sunday morning (losing Saturday altogether from our point of view). We dropped our bags at the hotel and wandered around the harbour a bit before catching a sightseeing bus. It dropped us at the museum to catch a satellite bus to the zoo but we had an hour to kill and saw some hot house gardens. Finally we reached the Auckland Zoo. The zoo reminded us a lot of the Oakland Zoo in size and style. We didn't see many native critters as the focus seemed to be largely African. There was a rainforest area but it was inaccessible do to a concert set-up going on for music at the zoo tonight. We took a tram to the transport museum (MOTAT) and saw all sorts of things including an exihit on the history of computing that was very reminiscent of the Computer History Museum trip a few days ago. There was an area of historic Victorian buildings, a collection of historic trams and an exhibit on special effects in the movies which had a lot of blue screen set-ups which the kids were enjoying acting in front of immensely.

We got back to the hotel and checked in at 4pm. It seem much later! We are trying to be on local time. I am dragging a bit though, I admit! I assume we'll find dinner somewhere and try to stay up to a reasonable bed time. It is a theory anyway.

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