Wellington, Day Five

17 10 2007

The next day dawned dark and dreary.

We slowly collected ourselves, showered and went to the Mr Bun cafe for breakfast. We had wanted crepes but the crepe shop was not yet open. French toast and pancakes had to suffice.

Our original intention was to visit the botanical gardens but it was pouring down rain. POURING. We barely made it to Dixon St before we began to feel like drowned rats. It was barely noon.

Being the bold leader and expert map-reader that I am, I led the girls down side streets, up stairs and around parking garages with reckless abandon. My sole aim was to find someplace dry and warm, preferably that sold hot beverages.

After conferring briefly on a street corner we voted to find the hotel where the spa was and park it. You see, we had two o’clock massages and a facial at the Bodyhaven spa.

One more block of walking led us right to the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor. The name should give you a pretty good idea about what kind of hotel it is. Picture it- three girls, drenched, cold and dressed for a hike surounded by high heels and cuff links. Luckily we’ve got alot of attitude or we would never have carried it off.

We ordered hot chocolates, dug out our ipods, sketchbooks and the daily paper and proceeded to entertain ourselves for the next hour and a half. Rubgy on the TV helped considerably.

We headed upstairs at 1.30, figuring that we might as well be early. The flock of tiny asian women at the spa took Becca into the inner sanctum right away for her facial but Alana and I had to wait another half an hour for our massages. Read the rest of this entry »


Wellington, Day Four, Pt 2

16 10 2007

***My readers will remember that at this point in the narrative I am just arriving in the kitchen to make dinner. Alana has been there for a few minutes already slicing vegetables.***

Alana, true to form, was not just chopping a mountain of veggies, she was doing it while carrying on a conversation with two very tall men. I wandered in just in time to hear one of them ask “How big is your group.” “Just three of us,” and she saw me, “There is one of them now.”

Here we come to an interesting point. I don’t know why but when I meet new people, particularly men, I tend to curtsy. It’s nothing dramatic, just a quick bob and smile. I’m getting to be a strange duck in my old age. Read the rest of this entry »

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!***

Wellington, Day Two

13 10 2007

I woke up at around 8.20, then laid in bed reading Clive Cussler’s Dragon until the other girls were ready to get out of bed at around ten o’clock.

We dressed, gathered our bibles and headed out to find a cafe for breakfast and devo. (That’s ‘devotional’ to you non-HOPers)

Eventually we decided on Wholly Bagels but you already know about that bit. Then we were off for Cuba street and shopping.

We’d been told that the best shopping was on Cuba Street. We consulted our plethra of Wellington street maps and figured out where we were going. (Down Courtney until it turns into Dixon then a left or a right onto Cuba street.) After a spring spent practically living in downtown Seattle I have the most street smarts (frightening thought!) so I have become the chief navigator. So far I’m doing ok, though it was Alana who found the street  which Wholly Bagels is on (Tory).

The first stop was a store called Glassons and it was fantastic. It was once said that New Zealand is in a perpetual state of wanting to be in the 80’s. Unfortunatly, that’s a fairly accurate summation of NZ fashion. However, Glassons has some really great not-too-expensive stuff. I got a long black cardigan, a black and gray striped headband and a gray strapless tunic. All of which will be great for work when I get home!

After Glassons we pretty much just wandered. I tried on some skinny jeans and bought coloured pencils and paper from the $2 shop.

The only other thing of real note was this guy sitting on the sidewalk playing his guitar. I had seen him when we were walking up Cuba St and Becca and I saw him again while Alana was making a call. Something about him struck me so I walked over and put a dollar in his case. “It’s lovely”, I said. He looked up at me, matted long hair hanging in his face, his hands plucking a tune, and smiled. It was the purest, most genuine smile that I’ve ever seen in my life. As I turned to walk away I felt tears hotly pricking the corners of my eyes. This person was beautiful, and somehow true in a way that I’ve rarely experienced. Amazing.

We shopped for a few hours then stopped at a cafe where Becca got fruit salad and Alana got pancakes.

Then back to the hostel for a quick nap. Alana called her mum to wish her happy birthday (Happy birthday Alana’s mum!). We decided to try and conserve money for movies and snacks so we got rock melon, spinach, juice, sandwiches and carrots from New World for dinner.

After dinner we had time for some journaling and music listening before heading off to the movies. Becca chose Nanny Diaires and we got popcorn and soda. The girls got ice cream, but I did not. (Though I did enjoy watching them eating theirs!)

I didn’t much enjoy the movie, but I didn’t hate it either. Scarlett Johansen is endearing but the plot was thin and the romance was a perpetual afterthought. The best part of the movie was Alicia Keys as the best friend. (So pretty!)

The only problem with hostel life became apparent upon our return to the hostel- trying to be quiet while three people sleep and you’ve no idea where your PJ’s are.

Such is life.

More later!

P.S. Nanny Diaries was also where we met Victoria and Amy, two lovely girls from Scotland who will figure largely in the rest on my narrative.

And now, to bed!