Sunday, May 30, 2010

From Auckland to Wellington

I woke up and checked my watch. I was late for my bus!

And then I woke up. Silly me, it was still four in the morning. Plenty of time to sleep and catch the bus later. So much so that when my alarm started going off I ignored it, and turned back to sleep.

I woke up and checked my watch. I was late for my bus!

This time it was no lie. The dream knew. The dream knew!

This time I found myself throwing the few things still outside my pack into it, grabbing my gear, hoping I had everything, and racing up the stairs. I grabbed my shoes, threw my keys through the hole in the office door, and then rushed up to the top of the street, getting there just as the LinkBus (to take me to my inter-city bus) was pulling into the stop. Rushing across the road, I hopped on board, and with a huge sigh of relief sunk into the cushioned seat.

For the next ten minutes I travelled without fear down to the city centre. Getting off there, I grabbed a drink from the corner store, and continued to make my way to the main stop. Having caught that bus out of luck, I now had some spare time on my hands, and when I got to the right spot, I was able to kick back and relax for ten/twenty minutes as the others made their way down.

By eight o'clock we were all on board, and I had myself a sweet seat right at the front to look out the left window, and look out the front. First order of business? Fall asleep.

There's not much to see leaving the city and if I was going to use any time to catch up on much needed Zs this would be it. And then there was some reading. And then we were out on the road.

The New Zealand south island played out in front of me: rolling grassy hills, often times rocky cliffs leading down to vast waters, and sheep. Sheep everywhere.

The landscapes were beautiful, even if only seen through the window, but I was disapointed finding myself thinking – well, it's a little like the Scottish Highlands, and it's a little like Ontario. I wanted to see this as New Zealand, and New Zealand only, but it seems as if that had been taken from me.

We made one stop letting people off, picking people up. And I was not guarding my territory enough. For the next hour, until the new passenger got off, I was crushed, and cramped in my seat – too uncomfortable to rest, not enough leg space to stretch out enough to read. It was not a fun hour. But it did allow me to pay attention as we made our ways winding along the coastline. And that was something spectacular. If only one could stop the bus, get out, take some pictures.

But we were on a mission – Wellington or bust. Only one time to stop, and that was in Rotorua. Stepping off the bus for our lunch stop I was assaulted by the heavy scent of sulpher. The thermal pools lead to making the city smell the way it does, but they have embraced it, in a sense. Their local paper is called “Thermal Air.” They know they can't hide it – why not be proud of it? I wonder how the air smells to people when they leave this town, after living here? And then how would the thermal air smell upon their return?

Lunch was an overpriced sandwich, but a good one. And some carrot cake. And a meat pie. Meat pies are important, I've been told time and time again, and to have not had one would have been such a shame. Strangely enough, they actually tasted pretty good too.

A few more hours on the bus, between reading (A Spot of Bother – did not like it when I gave it a first shot, but now? Not too bad.) and sleeping and I was rolling up to the main train station stop in Wellington.

Getting off the bus, and grabbing my gear, I was met by the lovely Angie ( who showed me around the main streets and pointed out one of Wellington's most delightful sights, the Cuba Street water sculpture. Buckets of water get filled, they splash down into other buckets, those buckets spill. Sometime the buckets splash onto the street, but mostly – and delightfully – they splash onto the drunk people wandering by, trying to reach over and grab it. Nothing like a place where the people are trashed by 9:00pm. It's like the anti-Iceland.

Food was had at Burger King, where there's a deal called “the steal.” It's a cheeseburger covered in mayo with small fries for two fifty. This is one of the cheapest things you can grab here in NZ, as food? Pretty pricey.

But – fun fact – the reason it's covered in mayo? Because these burgers are not flame broiled as much as they WERE flame broiled, and are now microwaved. Hey – seems like a cost effective way to clear the unused patties.

After some food, and some wandering, we headed back home and I was told of the many wonderful things that Wellington has to offer. Tomorrow? The museum.

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