The train was late last night. We did not arrive in Wellington until about 9 PM, just in time to meet the crowd leaving the cricket match between England and New Zealand. The Kiwis prevailed and the streets were noisy. We headed up Featherstone Street in hopes of getting away from the crowd and finding a cab to the Holiday Inn. The hotel is three blocks from the train station. The travel gods are still with us. We got a nice room with balcony on the top 17th floor. Katy is extremely happy with the accommodations so far and at the net outlay of $0.00, so am I.
It was a misty morning but warm and we walked to the Queens Wharf and down the harbor to the National Museum. It is a beautiful harbor ringed by mountains and islands. It feels like we are at the end of the earth, but tomorrow we head south on the ferry for our true adventure, the South Island. Today is the Day of the Rat, but the Chinese festival is suffering from rain and driving wind, keeping the crowds down and I wonder about tonight’s outdoor entertainment.
The voucher mess up was squared away. They were originally caught by a spam filter and I now have them printed for the ferry and train from Picton to Christchurch.
The Kiwis are very warm and friendly. We talked to a restaurant manager for about 20 minutes this morning and got most of the burning questions answered. No snakes, only one poisonous spider and lambs are young sheep, although I still think a lamb is bred for meat and a sheep for wool. And when at a barbeque there are mozzies, (mosquitoes) but they are not as big as birds and not a real issue. I wondered about pork. I still have not seen a pig or hog since touching down, but the bacon this morning rivaled that I had in Scotland last fall. It was fantastic.
Culturally, unemployment is a 3.4%, real estate prices higher than Australia and there is a net migration to Australia for higher wages. The Sunday paper characterized Kiwis as “take it as it comes” and to get ahead the young ones have to move on. Physicians are paid almost twice as much in Australia and it is an issue here. The drought is so severe; the farmers are digging mass graves for the weakest of the livestock.
If it wasn’t for the accent and driving on the wrong side of the road, we could be in America, although the people seem warmer. There is no culture shock, but a wireless connection is hard to come by at reasonable prices. The hotel wants 68 cents per minute. I think not. We haven’t paid that much for 5 nights hotels.
On a 1 to 10 scale, Ms Katy gives the trip so far an 8, because of the people, including me, the scenery and accommodations. We are only lacking the spectacular vistas and today we miss the sun.
PS: Sorry we missed the mistake fare of Las Vegas to Addis Ababa for $0 plus taxes. It was companion fare requiring two travelers on the same itinerary, in coach class and did not award frequent flyer miles. At $300 per person in fees, we do not feel a great sense of loss.
Tomorrow, the ferry, and train to Christchurch.