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Published: November 16th 2016
Well, this is a first - we are now in New Zealand and I haven't finished blogging our South American adventure! My excuse is that we decided to move house almost as soon as we arrived home from our last holiday in April and the time spent preparing our house for sale, selling, searching for a new house, buying a new house, moving house and making it feel like home resulted in zero time for sitting down to finish the blog!! For those who want to know how we spent our last few days in Patagonia you might want to scroll back to previous blogs. I am making a concerted effort to finish recording our last holiday simultaneously with writing about our time in NZ.
Gidget and Finbar started their holiday yesterday when I dropped them off at The Cottage Kennel and Cattery out in Plenty. As per usual they went off with their handler without a backward glance. It's hard leaving them at kennels but at least we can console ourselves with the fact that they always appear unconcerned about being left.
Our holiday started early this morning with us having to set the alarm for about half
an hour earlier than usual. Not too bad I guess, at least we didn't have to get up before we went to bed!! Kerry arrived at 6.30am to drive us out to Tullamarine. So much easier for all of us now that we live in Preston rather than Hallam!
Woo hoo, we have plenty of room for souvenirs on this holiday. We have a 30 kilo bag limit each and weighed in this morning at only 40 kilos between us. With our luggage checked in we sat for a moment to fill in our departure cards before proceeding through the doors for International Departures. We sailed through security with neither of us being singled out for a pat down, a hand luggage search or a bomb 'sniff' screening. It was our first time using the e-Departure Gate where we scanned our passports and then we dropped our departure cards in the box and we were on our way to Qantas Club.
We queued briefly at the Tourist Refund Scheme counter. Bernie was shaking his head at himself wondering why he hadn't processed the claim on-line. Oh look, I said, there's an app for it why not do it
now and we can swap over into the other, shorter queue for those who have completed their application on their mobile. Just as well we did that because we discovered that our claim was under the $300 minimum required to make a claim. That would have been a big time waster, not to mention embarrassing, if we had reached the head of the queue only to be told we were ineligible!
As we cruised through the duty free stores I spotted a gorgeous purple 'weekender' bag. Now that I don't buy a new duty free Swatch each time we go overseas I could treat myself with a different duty free purchase! New purple bag in hand we found our way to the Qantas Lounge where we settled in for a belated breakfast.
Boarding commenced a little later than scheduled and when we reached our allocated seats it was to find other people already sitting in them. Um, excuse us, but are you perhaps in the wrong seats? Yes, their mistake not ours - they very apologetically moved to the row behind. It's always a little disconcerting to find your seats already taken.
Even though we have been
to the movies a bit less than usual there still weren't many movies on offer that we hadn't seen. We did manage to watch 'The Secret Life of Pets' though which was hilarious. I also managed to fit in three episodes of 'Modern Family' that I hadn't seen before. I don't watch 'Modern Family' at home - I'm not sure why - but usually manage to see a few episodes on plane journeys.
It was a little bit turbulent in a couple of spots over the Tasman and we were buffeted around by the wind as we made our final approach into Windy Wellington. Despite the wind our pilot got us onto the ground pretty smoothly. We disembarked and, after a comfort stop, we made our way through the e-Arrival Gates before proceeding to the baggage carousel. As we waited we passed the Beagle inspection before towing our bags to the Customs checkpoint where we were cleared by the Customs Officer to exit via the green channel.
We found the bus that would take us into the city without any trouble, paid our $9.00 and took our seats. As we drove into Wellington we could see the trees
blowing in the wind and the white caps on Evans Bay. Brr, it was looking pretty chilly! From the train station it was a short, but very, windy walk to the Rydges Hotel on Featherston Street.
With our bags stowed in our room it was time to stretch our legs with a walk over to The Beehive, Wellington's controversial parliamentary building. On the way we saw an abandoned umbrella - a rather sorry looking victim of Wellington's well known windy weather! As we looked around the parliamentary precinct it started to drizzle. We turned our steps towards the shopping strip in steadily deteriorating weather, but at least heading in that direction we had the shelter of the shop awnings. We looped back toward the hotel using what shelter we could find. We managed to stay pretty dry until we reached the corner opposite the hotel. Damn, we were so close and it started to hail sideways with a particularly nasty squall passing through. The lights changed and we made a run for the shelter of Rydges.
Fortunately the hail shower passed fairly quickly and we were able to venture out to dinner without getting wet. We ate at
the Leuven Belgian Beer Cafe ... as you do when you've just arrived in New Zealand. So, we didn't eat lamb for our first meal in the land of a million sheep! Bernie had the oxtail, beer and bacon casserole and I had a venison pie. Both of our meals were served with stoemp which was some sort of mashed vegetable combination - we thought maybe carrot and swede?? Checking on Google it says that it is mashed potato with another root vegetable, so maybe potato and swede? I don't usually do vegetables mashed together but, the stoemp was OK.
While we were out and about this afternoon there was some evidence of damage caused by Sunday's earthquake. Parts of the facade and steps of Bowen House had fallen off and there were other buildings with scaffolding and orange cones around them. When we went to buy water at the supermarket nearly all of the still bottled water was gone. Panic buying?? Sitting back in the hotel room this evening we're pretty sure we felt what could only have been a little after shock? The whole room vibrated for about 10-15 seconds. We hope nothing big happens while we
are here - there are ten floors above us!!
Steps 11,799 (9.12km)
Tot: 0.125s; Tpl: 0.012s; cc: 10; qc: 23; dbt: 0.1047s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.1mb