Monday, September 21, 2009

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world

Wellington was a blast. After the sightseeing, we went to a great Mexican restaurant, The Flying Burrito Brothers, where we had enchiladas, Monteiths Golden (good local beer), churros and chimichangas, and treated ourselves to a tequila tasting board each.

Tequila to me has always been piss-poor stuff that needs salt and lemon to go down, and hasn't been anything I've had on any kind of regular basis. This was completely different. Three different ages of the same tequila, one that burned, one that went down smoothly with a sharp licorice aftertaste, and one right in between. There's a place in Stockholm that specialises in tequila, might need to go there to do some research...

Then on Saturday we took a Lord of the Rings tour, going around Wellington and the surrounding area for four and a half hours. Turned out it was just me and my brother taking the tour, which was cool. We took in the locations for Helm's Deep, Minis Tirith, Rivendell and others.

Aragorn realised Aglarond wasn't exactly what it was cracked up to be

It would have been hard to actually see that the scenes had been shot there if the guide hadn't brought lots of film clips on his laptop where he could point out trees and rocks that were in the frame. He guided us to spots where we could stand and see the specific views the cameras had over the scene, and showed us plenty of clips in the van while driving around, setting it all up. Very effective. 400 kronor well spent, if you can live with forever seeing in which parts of the Minas Tirith scenes that Pippin is a doll.

The only real downer was that the previous day, when we went sightseeing on our own, we did have some plans to see some Rings sites, but realised they weren't properly marked on any map and so we scrapped those plans. Then we got a little lost, and had to pull into a parking lot to check the map and get our bearings. To our left a big white van was parked, and behind us, across the road, was a quarry. The next day we sat in that same van in that same parking lot while the guide pointed to that same quarry and said "Helm's Deep is right there". D'oh.

After the tour we spent the afternoon at the Te Tapa Museum, checking out exhibits of Maori artefacts, New Zealand art through the years and some natural history stuff (kiwis, wetas, whales, etc). I built a squid. His name is Beardonaut. Check out what he's up to here (click "Enter Squid's name" down the page).

The coolest thing was a Chinese earthquake catcher, constructed in the second century AD, which determines the direction of an earthquake through a pendulum within a large jar knocking a ball loose to fall from a dragon's mouth into a metal frog. Of course. Western science sucks.

Benji the frog insisted he could catch the ball every time. Liar

Saturday ended at the All Blacks vs Wallabies rugby test. Calling it a test is evidently important. Nation vs nation is a test. Team vs team is a game. This was New Zealand vs Australia, a real grudge match. I have just about zero experience watching rugby, and since I'm a football guy I really didn't know what to expect. It was faster than I had anticipated, and while a lot of the rules are as incomprehensible to me as football rules are to an outsider, I think I grasped some of it. Thirty thousand fans and a couple of beers helped put us in the right mood.

Bruce wondered why his mate's hand felt so good right there

And for any Americans or indeed football fans reading this, I doubt there's a single football player that could survive a rugby game, even if they did know the rules and had mastered the techniques. We felt some of the full on body hits up in the stands, and these guys make do without any gear on except a teeth guard and a cup.

Then yesterday we boarded the Overlander train and spent twelve hours going from Wellington to Auckland, the reverse version of the trip that took us fifty minutes on a plane. The landscape was spectacular, with wooded hills, deep valleys and snow-capped volcanoes. The trip was at least four hours too long, but well worth doing. Once.

Now I'm back in Auckland for a couple of days of just hanging out, before going up north to Paihia to stay at a BnB run by relatives, write and look out over the ocean. The next few days won't contain a lot of adventure, but I will probably write some anyway.

1 comment:

missTv said...

I'm sorry, but I think I broke your squid...