Monday, September 26, 2011

Downtown Wellington

In June, Greg got the oppurtunity to go to Wellington, New Zealand to visit the new office that had just been set up there. The date changed about twelve times, but ended up working out so he had to stay the weekend. Bonus! Taking advantage of the situation, Laurel decided to tag along, for a semi-free mini-vacation. Here's a street view of Wellington, a main shopping artery. Stay tuned tomorrow (well it was for us, it'll probably be two weeks from now in blog-post time) for the fabled natural beauty of New Zealand.

After Greg's day at work he met Laurel, who had suffered through shopping all day, at a Belgian bar/restarurant named Leuwan's. One of Greg's co-workers recommended it to us. Unbeknowst to us, Wellington has a reputation around New Zealand as being a great food city. It lives up to the hype.

Fresh mussels + chips with house-made aioli + belgian beer = happy Greg.

The next day, Greg and Laurel set out for a fun day exploring the city. Here is a view looking towards the harbor.

There was also a roadrace winding around the harbor area, so crossing certain parts of the street was a touch tricky. Apparently, it was the Wellington leg of the New Zealand running championship. Greg thought about joining in, but didn't want to get embarrassed by the professionals.

This is the downtown public market. It's underground since the wind is always blowing so hard. It was pretty cute, with some nice little things here and there. On Saturday it's a craft show, and on Sundays it's a food market.

Note the difference in the sky in these next two pictures of the downtown city-scape. They were taken maybe twenty minutes apart, and yet in the second one you can see the clouds parting to let the sun in, and turn into (briefly) a beaufitul day. They say that Wellington is the only city in the world that can have all four seasons in one day. Holy crap are they not kidding. It would be freezing one minute, then the sun would come out and it would warm up nicely. Just as you were shrugging off your coat to bask in the sunlight, a freak rainstorm would blow in. Pretty incredible.

This was our first destination, the Te Papa Museum, the National Musuem of New Zealand.

Oops. Greg dented the sculpture. Sometimes he does not know his own strength. Sorry Wellington.

This is in the Te Papa museum, which is one of the best museums we've ever been to. This is a giant Maori wood carving of the god of earthquakes.

The entire museum is bi-lingual with all displays in both English and Maori. New Zealand seems to have a much different relationship with its indigenious population than America and Australia do. Where both of those countries for all intents and purposes did their best to exterminate them, New Zealand has embraced the Maori traditions and cultures. This is probably not entirely due to New Zealanders being more magnanimous, but that from the little we know, it sounds like the Maori were far more effective at fighting the colonialists. Regardless of the reason, it's kind of cool to see the native culture on display.

This was a really neat ampi-theatre. It played the Maori world-creation story on a continuous loop using narration and lights. All around were statues of the various Maori gods. The world was created when the earth and sky gods were forcably seperated from each other by their children. The god of wind and water, however, was opposed to this plan and lashed out with all his power, creating the mountains, cliffs, and natural beauty New Zealand is known for.

This is the sign for Cuba Street which comprises the main shopping district of Wellington. It's a couple miles long of uninterrupted shopping, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. There were tons of street performers and just activity every way you looked. Definitely a fun way to spend an afternoon.

There was a lot of cool sculptures and art peppered along the street. This was one particularly funky fountain. It consisted of a series of tubs that as they filled up they would tip over and pour water into the next level of tubs below. It was also a little unstable and would occasionally splash unprepared passers-by.

This is where we ended up for dinner, using the time-honored method of just picking a random direction from the hotel and walking until we found something we liked. Man, did we pick the right direction. 3C was delicious, delicious eating. Laurel had a duck confit with beetroot, and Greg had roast lamb with sweetbreads, washed down with a couple amazing gin martinis. And we don't even really like gin.

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