Old Zealand

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We were back in Christchurch again to catch our flights to Sydney, Australia, which was met with a mix of excitement and sadness since it’s hard to leave a beautiful and amazing place like New Zealand. Still, more adventure ahead and I am certainly more excited than sad. I called up Mike again since we were in town on the weekend and we met up at the hostel after my first shower in ages (I bought a new towel!), dinner, and who knows what else. We went out with Katie, Meridith, and us boys and had a good time but were all fairly tired. We started at Sullivan’s, which had some pretty decent live music actually. Then Mike took us to a place called Concrete which was quiet but a pretty cool underground club. We (by which I mean Anthony and Mer) did a little dancing and hung around a bit before wandering into a place I’d spotted walking that was in an alley and also underground, somewhere along Hereford St. It was likewise slow but cool and we hung out a bit until I wasn’t the only one tired and then got some BK before calling it a night. The next day, though, Mike was taking us on another sojourn into the NZ countryside – a French town called Akaroa(?).

I got up at 9:30, just in time to grab the hostel’s continental breakfast, shower, and caption some photos. Mike offered to let me use the net at his house so I wanted to upload as many photos as I could there. This was our last full day in New Zealand too, and I had to print off my itinerary and e-ticket for my flight among other errands. But that was later. He met us and we left the hostel around noon, stopping for petrol as they call it and some groceries for the trip. Which, itself, took about 40 mins through some very nice scenery. Rolling hills and all the stuff I would be missing from New Zealand very soon. The town itself clearly had some French history but was pretty well English by now, so it was more of a novelty, but it still had some pretty sections. There is a restaurant there called C’est la Vie that’s meant to be quite famous and we were hoping to have lunch there before heading back. When we finally found the place, not knowing its name, location, or anything other than the fact that patrons write all over the walls about their experience, we were understandably disappointed to find it was closed for lunch and all booked for dinner.

I tried in horrible French to ask the chef who we could hear and see working away at prep what time they opened for dinner, and he came to the door and spoke in English to me. Whew. Embarrassingly, he’s not actually French (I’d been told they were, but maybe his wife was) but German, and I tried to secure us a spot at dinner. At best he had my number and put us down for a phone call should anyone cancel and recommended another place we might want to grab dinner (Ma Maison) in case we couldn’t get a spot. Our reservation was for 5:45 at Ma Maison and we were supposed to have heard whether a spot had opened up by 5, so that left us some time. More time than we realized, because my watch was lacking a setting for New Zealand time and the time had been an hour ahead on my watch since arriving and I forgot this when quoting the time to the others. We strolled around the town and took some silly photos, warmed up in the car and got some rest, drove around to nearby outlooks and gravel roads and driveways, went to hilltop parks of unusual quality, and basically killed time until dinner. It was a lot of fun despite having no driving purpose or deeper meaning.

We drove back into town a little before 5:00 and discovered that the placard outside which had so coldly proclaimed the restaurant full for the night now had a seating time and phone number to call. I talked to the lady inside and they had just had some cancellations (apparently the cook hadn’t felt it worthwhile to call us) and so we got a table booked. We cancelled our reservations at Ma Maison then came back for dinner. I had a nice steak topped with spinach and blue cheese and marinated in some other sauce as well. Quite delicious and definitely worth the wait. The only way to get a better steak here would be to fly in my dad. Which could be difficult given my ever-dwindling funds, but I digress. Mike also had the steak, and Chris and Brad had the venison, which was also great (but not as good as my steak). We all felt the meal was terrific and worth any waiting that we had to do.

We drove back into town and stopped at Mike’s house for me to use the internet. It turned out he had some episodes of Family Guy I hadn’t seen so he copied me a DVD (which I just realized I forgot to pay him for!) and we watched a hilarious episode while I did my internet things. Then back to the hostel and the boys went out, tired or not, and hit the town running with what is probably the cheapest wine we’ll ever buy ($4-$5 NZ bottles). We went all over and got a little more zany as the night went on, and boy did it go on. We were at the Holy Grail for a while, we went to some place on the strip, and who knows where else before Brad and Chris went for BK and Mike and I took off to the casino. As is my fashion, I did well at the start off my last $5 and then lost it all, but it was fun even if late. I got back to the hostel at 6AM, just in time to get two hours sleep before an 8AM meeting.

We had our meeting about Sydney and what was in store for our big move to Australia, cleaned out the vans, and got packed. My flight was different than the others so I went to the airport early with Katie and got myself sorted. Now I’m sitting here waiting in the Sydney airport for the rest of the group to arrive (I was supposed to arrive 10 mins after them but our plane made good time), and I’m very eager to get out of my sweaty clothes and into our condos, which I hear are good, and of course the Sydney rain and humidity. We got some nice views of downtown from the plane too, and it was exciting to see those oh-so-remote monuments like the Opera building or the Harbour Bridge just sitting there waiting. Now, speaking of waiting, I’m going to go back to it. Next time, Sydney. All it’s cracked up to be or more?

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