Friday, November 11, 2005

Christchurch, NZ - Take 1

I was a bit hungry and in need of a calling card and a power converter, so I set out to conquer Christchurch. This city is fantastic! Its sorta what I have always wanted from a city in the U.S. Having never been to Europe, this statement may have no weight, but I wouldn’t say it’s a terribly European city really. It kinda reminds me of New England. I guess then it’s a British city huh? Eh, the British aren’t really European anyway.

Anyway, the streets are clean, the people are friendly and happy and the architecture cleanly blends historic landmarks with a very modern style. There is a lot of glass and metal, sharp edges, you know, all that minimalist bullshit. There is also a lot of appreciation of the arts, with galleries, museums, theaters and random public art all around. Not to mention, this is all somehow well integrated into the fantastic surrounding landscape! A funny thing I noticed along those lines actually, I would claim with some certainty that approximately 5% of all business in this city is outdoors/adventure/sproting goods.

Some typical streets and buildings …

A cool looking Bar/Lounge/Café thing.

A view down Worcester Blvd. with Christchurch Cathedral visible in the background ...

The Christchurch Art Gallery ... awesome angles and curves. The first picture shows a really neat fountain on the side of the gallery.

After buying my necessities, I stumbled upon this amazing store. The place deals in antique and rare cars and motorcycles and their showroom is ridiculous. Here is just a small sample of my favorite 2 vehicles. Zarah, I’m sure you’ll really appreciate the motorcycle; you get in the sidecar ;) I also walked into one of the aforementioned outdoor/sporting goods stores. A guy working there really took to my American accent and when he discovered I was heading for pole related that his grandfather was on one of the first discovery expeditions! He also urged me to go see “the Fastest Indian in the World”, some Anthony Hopkins film showing here about a motorcyclist who breaks some speed record … weirdo New Zealanders.

An antique roadster/racecar ... I have no clue about cars, but it looks cool.

A 1940s Motorbike and Sidecar!!!

From there I wandered along the edge of the main park here, Hagley Park following the Avon River. I’m saving actually going into the park for tomorrow when I will also visit the supposedly awesome Botanical Gardens. I hope I’ll have time considering I’m supposed to also pick up my Antarctic gear tomorrow at 1pm and be briefed on my departure on Monday morning.

Some nice scenes along the river ...

The river lead me to the “city mall” along Cashel Street, featuring clothing shops, bars and restaurants. I stopped for some fish and chips and a beer at an Irish Pub called “the Bog” that was pointed out to me by another South Pole guy I bumped into. Needless to say my meal was fantastic. As I was sitting in the courtyard though, the weather turned very rapidly and all of a sudden signs were being blown down and a light drizzle consisting of huge drops started to fall. Just as quickly it passed and it was sunny and warm once again! That’s one thing I have surely noticed, the weather turns quick.

The Bog, check out the seagull over the name ... nice touch.

One thing I forgot to mention, its SPRING HERE!!! Its so weird cause when I left Chicago everything was dying and it was getting colder. Here everything is coming back to life with flowers and birds and happiness. In fact, its so spring-time-ish here I think my allergies are even acting up! Its awesome.

I wandered some more, finding a cool statue of Robert Falcon Scott. He was second to the South Pole, only weeks after Amundsen, and to make matters worse, his crew died on the trek back. As I continued I found an open-air market/craft fair being held on the grounds of a historic (late 1800s) local college. The college has been converted to a giant open public art studio, with resident artists, sculptors, weavers and a theater to boot.

Robert Falcon Scott, RIP.

The converted college arts centre.

I guess the jetlag got to me a little and I pooped out around 4ish here, so I headed home and wrote this entry. I think I’ll go back out in a little while, get some dinner and probably just stay out till dark. Hit some bars, see if I can make any local friends!


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