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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Days like this are why I moved to New Zealand

After an early morning Skype with the parents (and a little nap), we got a late start for bicycling. I have no recollection of any tandeming this winter, but the 19 degree sun was calling to us. A beautiful ride along the Tuki Tuki River ended Clifton, where we had coffee and scones at an outdoor table overlooking the ocean. We took the short route back (incidentally, that's pronounced root here, unless you want some giggles), and stopped at:

1) Elephant Hill Winery. Wines, ehhh,,,especially for the price. The restaurant (which we did not eat at) has possibly the best view anywhere.

2) Askerne Winery. Very nice man talked to us for an hour and a half. Inexpensive estate grown wine; good enough for us to carry home a couple of bottles.

3) Te Mata Cheese Company. Always worth stopping if you're going by.

Total distance: 36 miles.
Total time: 6 hours.

Nico is supposed to be making a pizza now...

Friday, August 27, 2010

6 months in...

Or 6 months and a few days; it's hard to keep track, as you lose a couple of days flying, then a couple of days to jet lag. Anyway, we got here towards the end of February, and I quickly started work on March 1st. The culture shock everybody talks about never really hit...perhaps because, in the greater scheme of things, pharmacy is pretty similar everywhere in the industrialized world [and the personalities of persons in the profession are not too different either--which is good, as I don't know a whole lot of people outside the hospital].

Nico, on the other hand, took considerably longer to find a job. There is a myth that New Zealand is short of teachers. It is just a myth. She's now working in a customer service sort of position...after about two weeks she was promoted to management. We're not making huge money, but we seem to be in the black each month since she joined the ranks of the employed.

In case you haven't been reading, we did all the normal stuff you do when you move somewhere new: rented a house, bought a car, a TV, and a slew of other appliances. It took about 5 months for my beloved PT Cruiser to get here and clear all regulatory hurdles. She's nice to have, but it is very seldom that we need two cars.

RE rented house: I don't care for it. It is poorly insulated (if at all), and is heated by a wood burning stove [A wood burning stove is an enclosed fireplace; the witch from Hansel and Gretel might have one]. We've been half-heartedly house hunting most weekends, and have put offers in on two houses. (First one was so low that the seller removed the house from the market after seeing it; currently awaiting a response on the second.) Houses here are cheap if 1) You come from Southern California and 2) You brought a lot of money with you. We didn't bring enough money...

What else: We've done a lot less sightseeing than planned. We've been to Wellington once and Auckland twice (including our arrival), and to Taupo for a half marathon. We've explored quite a bit of Hawke's Bay, and I'm slowly taking up tramping (or more correctly walking, as I have yet to undertake a two day walk). Even though I work a lot less than I did in California, 40 hour weeks still seem to take up a lot of time.

Winter: It was colder than I expected, and our house was even colder than that. It was getting dark way too early in June and July, and there's not a whole lot of night life. Not that I was ever much of a night person, but knowing that a giant mall was open until 9 PM was somehow comforting. Fortunately, we've just about made it through winter #1; I'm thinking I need to buy a sailboat before summer...and a kayak...and a stand up paddle board...and can someone lend me some money?

Friends and family in the US: Still no plans to come home, and you are all terrible at Skyping. (Ok, I'll give my parents passing scores; everyone else: terrible!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Capitol City

Weekend trip to Wellington for a live performance of the Great Gatsby. Pretty good production, though Gatsby's American accent came across a bit like Christopher Walken. Nico won a flapper contest, which prompted a woman from the Wellingtonian to take several pictures of us. Keep watching that link, and maybe they will be published.

Things to do in Wellington in the rain (all are free unless otherwise noted):

1) Take a tour of Parliament.

2) Visit the City and Sea Museum.
3) Visit Te Papa...it's a National Treasure, so you probably should do this even if it's not raining.
4) Afternoon tea at your hotel ($19.50 NZ per person; quite a bargain).
5) Photograph a cable car. $3 to ride the cable car. The museum is free, and there's a cool movie about the 400 private cable cars in the city.

6) Catch a blues band at the Lido Cafe (I guess it's usually a jazz band. Admission free; food and beverages are extra.)

Things to do when the sun finally comes out:

1) Walk around Oriental Bay...take a picture of the city.

2) Climb Mount Vic...take a picture of the city.

3) Walk around the marina.


PS: Restaurants in Wellington are wonderful. We were supposed to eat at an Argentine restaurant, but it was unexpectedly closed on Saturday...so we ended up in a Cajun place; surprisingly good. Breakfast the next morning at Beach Babylon...also very good, though it's hard to mess up breakfast.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Two thirds of the way there

Alternative title: I guess I wasn't last

First ever duathlon this morning. I opted for the long course (4.5k run, 21k bike ride, 4.5k run). My transitions were laughably slow, the headwind was brutal, and my legs were rubber by the second run. Total time of 1:36:45, much faster than I had expected, but still slower than the 11 other men on the long course. The guy I beat did not finish...