Wellington notes

As promised, notes from my Wellington trip.  They’re a bit disjointed, because I didn’t keep a proper travel diary, just noted down things that I wanted to remember to include in my blog.  Of course, I could write them up into proper paragraphs and stuff, but where’s the fun in that? 😉

Wednesday

  • There’s a whole herd of giraffes at Christchurch airport – one big one surrounded by baby ones.  Didn’t release a book there though (even though it would have been a great start to the giraffe mission) because they’re inside the terminal – didn’t want to start a security alert!
  • A very bumpy flight (they gave up serving refreshments half way down the plane because the turbulence was so bad), but we crossed through the front around about Kaikoura, so the landing was smooth – one of the smoothest I’ve experienced coming into Wellington, actually.
  • Taxi went what I suspect is the long way round the bays rather than through the tunnel – don’t mind though, because it’s a spectacular way to come in to Wellington.  First glimpse is of the city’s buildings sparkling above the water.  (Helps too that work is paying for the taxi fare!)
  • Hotel we’re staying at is seriously average.  But it’s only for one night, and it’s nice and close to Te Papa, where the awards dinner is being held tonight.  Close to the YHA too – pretty much across the street, so moving over there tomorrow will be nice and easy (a good thing, because I’m struggling to carry my bag long distances, not being able to swap it from hand to hand).
  • It feels weird being in a city with a proper city centre, active and vibrant.  So many people around!  Makes me realise how used I’ve got to Christchurch’s dead centre.
  • My room overlooks the fire station – memories of the Wellington convention 🙂  No scantily-clad firemen in sight though – it looks like they’re doing renovation work, so just builders in hi-vis in the courtyard.
  • Awards ceremony: fantastic dinner, though hard to enjoy it while waiting to hear whether we’d won – our category wasn’t announced until after dessert, so it was a long wait!  Dinner in the marae at Te Papa – the neon-coloured carvings look so much better at night – all the garishness is gone, and they’re just gorgeous.  Lots of interesting people at our table, and between us we won three awards!  In total NZ-is-a-small-country mode, sat next to someone who not only works for the company that does our web development (I recognised his name vaguely from emails, but had never actually met him), but turned out to be a friend of Harvestbird’s!

Thursday

  • Woken very early by the construction workers at the fire station.
  • Went out for breakfast with Lucy-Jane – given the quality of the hotel, we didn’t think breakfast there would be great, and it was going to cost as much as going to a cafe anyway, so we didn’t feel too guilty about charging it back to work 🙂
  • Hotel check-out at 10, but hostel check-in isn’t until 2.  At least I could drop my bag off at the hostel.  Then hit the library to get some free internet (can’t let the blog every day streak drop!)
  • No idea what I’m actually going to spend my time here doing – got a meetup planned for tomorrow night, but otherwise no plans.  At least the weather looks better than forecast, so I might just spend a big chunk of it wandering the waterfront.
  • Yeah, spoke too soon about the weather.  Just got caught in the rain, and my jacket’s in my bag, locked away in the hostel’s storage room.  Oh well, good timing to stop off in a cafe for lunch and linger over my book until it eases off.
  • NZ Portrait Gallery exhibition in Shed 11 on the waterfront – mostly set up for school groups (lots of “What sort of picture would you draw of yourself?” type info boards), but I was amused to see the portraits from What We Do in the Shadows on display.
  • Scaffolding on a lot of buildings.  Some have signs saying it’s for seismic strengthening – does this mean Wellington is finally learning some lessons from Christchurch?  Still lots of yellow stickers on buildings though, saying that they not up to building standard.  For a Christchurch person, it’s weird to see those buildings still in normal use, with everyone wandering in and out and ignoring the signs.  In Christchurch they’d be closed down straight away (and probably demolished before you could say Gerry Brownlee).
  • Wellington has the same effect on me as Melbourne – so many interesting food choices that it’s almost crippling.  I want to try them all, but can only have a meal in one at a time (and worse, only pick one thing off the menu – do I come back to the same place tomorrow and try another dish?  But then I’d have to miss out on trying that equally interesting looking place next door!).  End result, I no sooner finish one meal than I’m thinking about the next – it would be so easy to spend my time here doing nothing but eat!
  • New city, new allergens.  The antihistamines, they do nothing.

Friday

  • Went to the Tyrannosaur exhibition at Te Papa – well worth the $14 entry fee.  Lots of big (and small) dinosaur skeletons, and some seriously clever interactive exhibits.  My favourite was the big touch-screen table with dinosaurs running all over it, that you had to try and herd into the correct places on the evolutionary tree.  I think it was supposed to be for kids, but it ended up with three adults playing with it and trying to solve the puzzle while the bored kids wandered off.  We got very excited when we finally got the last dinosaur to run to the right part of the table!
  • The shadow of the big T-Rex skeleton was fun too – it looked like the skeleton was just casting a shadow on the wall.  But every so often the shadow would move – doing a little dance, or biting the head off a passer-by.  Everyone entering that room got a fright from it, I reckon 🙂
  • I felt sorry for the father who only got as far as the first room of the exhibit when his little girl (who looked about 4 or 5) announced, “I think this is too scary for me Daddy, we should go home”.  You could see the conflict run across his face – “I just spent all that money for tickets”, “She’s upset, better take her home”, “But I really wanted to see the dinosaurs”.
  • Wandered around a few more art galleries, just for the novelty of being in a city with actual art galleries.  The City Gallery was pretty boring though – just a few video installations, and a whole room devoted to a single Ralph Hotere.
  • A busker was blowing giant bubbles on the waterfront – had lots of fun taking photos of kids dancing through them (offered to send a copy to one of the parents, because I suspect I caught a really cool photo of his daughter – won’t know for sure until I get home to see them on a bigger screen).  Everyone in the area was laughing and smiling, even just the people walking past – there was something so infectious in the sheer joy of the kids chasing the bubbles.
  • Meetup tonight with Sherlockfan, Edwardstreet and Chicklitfan.  Many books being passed around the table and much catching up of news.  Plus some really useful leads for work (wonder if that means I can charge the dinner to expenses… yeah, probably not…)
  • There was a stag party going on at the the restaurant – luckily in another room so we weren’t too disturbed by the noise.  It looked like they were in for a big night – as they were arriving we spotted they were carrying at least two bottles of wine each.
  • You know you’re getting old when you go into the bathroom to brush your teeth before bed, and it’s full of young women doing their makeup before heading out for the evening…

Saturday

  • So windy!  The wind is rattling the roof above my room – woke me up at some horrible hour of the morning, and I every time I started to drift off again another big gust would hit and rattle it again. Hope it dies down before I have to fly out this afternoon!
  • Ok, so the hostel lets you store bags in their storage room before you check in, but not after you check out?  Had to hire a locker instead.  The people ahead of me in the queue were very confused about how the lockers worked – couldn’t get their heads round the fact that you had to finish locking one before you could open another.
  • Met Edwardstreet at the ferry terminal – she’s going over to Soames Island for the day.  Original plan was for brunch, but in the end we’d both already eaten so just hot chocolate in the least posh of the posh cafes.
  • Spent a very long time walking up and down Victoria Street looking for a gallery that sounded interesting.  I wrote down the address, but the building doesn’t exist – it’s just an empty carpark.  If this was Christchurch I’d assume they’d knocked it down. [I checked later, and I’d just written the address down wrong – as I’m sure you’d already guessed.]
  • Usual paranoia about getting to the airport on time, so caught a bus probably an hour before I needed to.  At least now that I’ve taken the big bandage off my finger and replaced it with a couple of plasters I can carry my bag a bit easier.
  • Plane delayed, presumably because the incoming flight isn’t here yet – no sign of it outside the gate, anyway.
  • Incoming flight has arrived, and Gerry Brownlee the first off the plane, scowling all the way (don’t think I’ve ever seen him with anything but a scowl on his face, though) – wonder if he caused the delay by trying to bypass security again?  Or was it just the plane had to stop and take on extra fuel? ;-p
  • Right behind Brownlee is a notable Christchurch actor – theoretically domestic flights don’t have a business class section, but they still put all the important people up near the front of the plane!
  • At least the wind has died down a bit – now just normal Wellington windiness, not gale-force.  Still pretty bumpy though – they’re serving refreshments, but notice they’re only filling the glasses half-full (and still I almost threw my water over my seat-mate in that last bump!)

Photos will follow another day…