Wellington, Day Four, Pt 1

15 10 2007

We were awoken by Alana throwing open the curtains (which just happen to be at the foot of my bed) and going “It’s sunny! Wonderful!”

This is the part where everyone who knows me/has ever spent the night with me cringes.  I am a pretty sweet person usually but if you wake me up watch out. I sprout fangs like a cobra in a hamster cage and beware the rodent who makes any sudden movements. Needless to say I spent much of the morning repenting.

But I hauled it out of bed, got dressed and showered and was ready to go at the prescribed 10.30 deadline.

The plan was to go to Lambton Quay, visit the botanical gardens, see Old St. Paul’s and stop by Kirkolde and Stain’s. On our way we stopped off at the Mr. Bun cafe for breakfast. Good french toast, lousy maple syrup.

It’s about 20 city blocks (give or take a few) to Lambton Quay and there is heaps of shopping in the interm. Needless to say there was more Esprit and JayJay’s than roses and shrubbery.

I bought two lacy tank tops (bright pink and cream), a “Goonies” shirt, a black shrug and I agonized over a black fedora but decided to think it over.

We must have spent three solid hours shopping and the botanical gardens were, of neccesity, abandoned. But we did get to Old Saint Paul’s and it was beautiful. It’s an unassuming white building, dwarfed by the apartment high rises and businesses around it and tucked in amongst some lovely trees.

It’s utterly enchanting, with dark wood and ornate stained glass. We bought some souvenirs (better to support a church than a lousy tourist shop) and talked to the workers. Old Saint Paul’s used to be an Angelican church but is now only used for ceremonies.

Also, they have a tribute to the U.S. Marines on the left side of the church called “A Friend in Need”. Very cool.

Oh! I forgot about our first church of the day…

As we came out of what I think of as the Cuba St. shopping area we were faced with a steep hill and an ornate cathedral. It’s architecture seemed, to the untrained eye, to be gothic, though the stone was light in colour. I begged that we should go in and the other girls were all for it. Some fancy J-walking, a few pictures and a couple dozen stairs later we were in. It was about 20 minutes until noon mass started, so we took several pews and I used the time to pray. Alana took pictures and I could see Becca sitting very still about halfway up the church. Some elderly ladies (nuns?) were setting out communion.

After sitting briefly I went back out. I get nervous that I will disturb. I left just in time to watch a very smartly dressed young business man come in, dip his fingers in holy water, cross himself and enter the church. I peeked through the door to see him walk up the aisle, drop to one kneww, get up and take a seat in one of the pews. I’d forgotten about the catholic rituals, though I did remember to bow towards the altar before leaving. I don’t mind the little rituals and I can understand how people would find comfort in them. Though, at the same time, I knew that that bow was an outward expression of a belief system that I don’t neccesarily believe in. Nevertheless, I did it out of respect for where we were and I do not regret it.

The girls soon joined me and we kept on walking.

Lunch was at a little cafe where the food recomended itself mainly because it was cheap. I did have a green olive on my sandwich, which I unexpectedly enjoyed.

Then came Old Saint Pauls then around the block to New Saint Paul’s. Now, I’ve never been to Aurope and up until nwo the biggest church of this kind I’d been in was the one at Brooke’s wedding. (City Church doesn’t count because it’s more a glorified town hall than anything else). This place was immense and soaked up to it’s knuckles in tradition.

I signed the guest book and took a good wander (which took a while). Though more modern, with a pastel colour palette, thsi place had all the scope of Notre Dame. The entire church was filled with light softly diffused by stained glass. They even have a chapel within the cathedral which is called The Lady Chapel or some such. All dark woods and soft carpeting. All over the church were plaques that said “For the Glory of God and in memory of…” I loved them! That the glory for a life should be forever given to God was wonderful to me. They also had stones from European cathedrals and one particular stained glass window that I loved. It was of Jacob wrestling with the angel (one of my favorite stories) and Isiaih and I think Ezekiel. The effect was wonderful.

I greeted the parish priest who looked very kindly and dapper in light blue.

The outside to the parliament buildings.

I think it’s pretty cool that New Saint Paul’s is right across the street from Parliament. That has to mean something. Of course, you can’t get into the actual Parliament buildings. (Apparently the British Commonwealth has vivid memories of Guy Fawkes). However you can take pictures of the outside, which we did. The Kiwi’s win for architecture and sculpture. It made me wish I was a better photographer. My pictures tend to be statements of fact, rather than artistic interpretations of what I see.

After all of this we were pretty pooped. We took our tired feet and depleted budgets and headed home.

Though, if truth be told, we did stop off at JayJay’s on the way home. I walked right up to the counter and the skinny guy working behind it and said “can I see that fedora?” He smiled and handed it to me. I put it on and I could feel a huge grin spread across my face. He caught my eye and smiled back. “I’ll take it! I’ve been looking for another one since my boyfriend sat on mine in the 9th grade and ruined it.” He took the tags off for me and handed it back. “Hey,” he said, “if you like fedoras I have a $130 one that I never wear. If you come in tomorrow you can take a look at it and I’ll give it to you for $40.” “I’ll come back,” I answered holding out my hand “my name is Meghan, by the way.” “Tom.” “Nice to meet you, Tom.”

I never did get back to see Tom about that hat, but he was a lovely chap and I was glad to meet him.

Back to the hostel for our traditional nap while Alana went to New World and bought supplies for dinner. We had decided on stir fry, which I was more than happy to cook as long as I didn’t have to go shopping.

I napped, showered, and headed down to the kitchen in my pj pants and Goonies t-shirt.

*** I am totally exhausted right now. I’m going to leave off here for now and do the rest later. Have a big day!***