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Woohoo - Baby!
In fact, about 3 months old, sitting in the seat on my right. With its mum of course.
We are in business class - got a cool seat upgrade when we checked in. Michelle's dad kept saying we would get business class meals too, but Michelle doesn't think so. I just reckon it's great being up here!
We have the very front row of seats, with tons of leg room and big chunky comfy seats. The only problem is the business class pillow is about 3× as thick as an economy, so my normal trick of using it as extra back support isn't so good. Oh well, we can put up with such discomforts, I think! I was actually hoping we'd get upstairs seats, like the check-in lady said we would, but it didn't turn out that way.
This is really luxurious. They offered us champagne with our brekky - that doesn't sound like economy meal to me. We also have our own little TV screens with dozens of channels to choose from.
The baby is bouncing and bubbling in the bassinet here - it must be as excited as us!
We seem to be arriving in Christchurch an hour earlier than we'd expected - around 12:30 or so. Cool.
Here we are in the Christchurch YMCA. Nice place. The YHA hostels here were all full. We landed at CHC airport and made it through customs safely - despite being sniffed by a big chunky labrador-type dog chained to a tough-looking customs guy.
The woman who stamped our passports was our first exposure to the Kiwi iccint.
We hopped a shuttle bus to the city centre and got out where another woman was getting off at the YMCA, because it was close to the Rolleston Ave YHA. Walked to the YHA only to find it full - the guy said, "Try the YMCA, just over on the next block..." So we tramped back with our luggage and found ourselves a room here for the night.
Dumped our stuff then off for our first real walk in NZ - over towards the city centre. Crossed the Avon River and found the first photo of the trip. Got another when we saw a huge arch thing - memorial of some kind. We walked through the central shopping mall, browsing in a few shops. In one chocolate shop Michelle insisted we get some for me - so I picked out a Black Forest, Choc Mousse, and Mint Creme chocolates. The woman there asked us where we were from - she knew we were furriners because Michelle had to inspect the change before finding the right coins to pay. Turned out the woman was originally from Adelaide! She chatted to us about the weather, saying that the present 14°C or so would only last as long as we were in Christchurch and down south a bit where we were going they were getting 30-40°! Good for Michelle, who was already feeling the Christchurch cold and saying she never thought it would be this cold here!
Oh - and earlier we had checked the hire car arrangements to make sure it was all okay - no problem, we pick up the car at noon tomorrow. Oh, earlier still, before we left the YMCA we had some lunch at the attached cafe - decent mushie pie for me and coffee and toasted cheese and tomato sandwich (that took forever to arrive and prompted me to ask the Ursula-esque woman behind the counter if it was arriving at any time in the foreseeable future) for Michelle. Then we called up the Interislander Ferry company and booked the ferry trips to Wellington from Picton. Michelle and I discussed the date beforehand:
Anyway - eventually I got it right. Didn't stop me getting other dates wrong though... (read on!)
Me: The 14th, right?
Me: Monday the 14th.
Michelle: No... it's Friday the 14th.
Me: Oh, yes, of course, Friday.
Me (to lady on phone): We want to book a ferry for Monday the 14th.
Okay, back to the chocolate shop. After leaving there we wandered a little then decided to hit a supermarket for groceries. Nearest one located on the trusty Budget RentaCar map, we headed there and proceeded to shop.
Wandering in, we were astounded by a huge plastic bin of corn flakes - like those help yourself sweets bins in lolly shops. Looking around revealed not only corn flakes available this way, but nuts, dried fruits, baking stuff (flour, sugar, baking powder, etc), bran, rice, custard powder - anything! Wow! Wild concept. There was also wine and stuff in the supermarket, like in America.
Anyway, we got the stuff we needed - nearly NZ$40 of groceries (bread, cereal, rice, pasta, etc) for brekkies, lunches, and dinners. I tried to pay by VISA credit but their EFTPOS didn't accept credit so Michelle had to fork over the cash.
We carted food back to the YMCA and caught our breaths for 5 minutes before heading over to YHA to book ahead for other accommodation. We managed to get the 2 nights in Te Anau, 1 Wanaka, 1 Franz Josef Glacier - then had to leave to meet Jonty (a.k.a. Duane) at the Cathedral. Queenstown was booked out and the woman couldn't get an answer from Tekapo.
Wandered to the Cathedral, taking a few snaps on the way, and found the "tall idiot in the glasses" that was Duane very easily. Well actually he spotted us and waved so it was pretty obvious it was him.
We wandered aimlessly for a couple of blocks until we decided on pizza for dinner and Duane thought of a good place to go. Another few blocks northwest, past the casino, found us at Spagalimi's Italian Pizzeria - which Michelle and I actually recognised from the shop-a-docket we got on the back of our grocery bill!! Amazing...
The pizzas were good and we had some chips with them. Michelle had some apple/boysenberry juice - I think boysenberries are big in NZ...
After dinner we walked leisurely to Hagley Park and wandered along the BigM Athletic track thing - a bunch of exercise posts along a jogging circuit. We took some funky photos of me and Duane attempting to balance on a fence thing. Then we went into the Botanic Gardens and looked at all the trees and plants. The Rose Garden was fantastic... freeow! Zillions of roses in all colours, all in full bloom - absolutely wild and beautiful.
From here we walked through the University of New Zealand, Christchurch campus. Canterbury College in the university is where Ernest Rutherford studied and got his undergraduate degrees, before moving to Cambridge in England for his postgraduate work, then onto McGill University in Canada where he did the work that earned him a Nobel Prize.
Canterbury College in the University of New Zealand
We got back to the YHA via an awful looking fountain with fish/dragon things and stuff. The office was closed for a while so we went across the street to a cafe for coffee/etc. I had a choc-mint slice (had to persuade Duane to have some - too rich and huge!) and a strawberry smoothie (after wanting strawberry and not seeing it on the menu and ordering boysenberry instead and being told boysenberry was out but I could have strawberry), Duane had a hot choc and Michelle coffee.
Then Duane left us and we went back to the YHA where I checked the bookings we'd already made and discovered they'd all been done for the day after what we actually wanted! My carefully planned itinerary had stuffed us up!
The woman helped us rebook as much as we could and we had to leave to come back to the YMCA to shower and sleep... tomorrow morning we try to finish the bookings and get a helicopter booking too... and then off in the car!
Accommodation: YMCA Christchurch: $50.
Food and drink: $86.45.
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