Sunday, January 6, 2008
Happy New Year
Season’s greetings everyone and a happy new year. Time zones being as they are, we were able to welcome the coming of 2008 before the rest of you and have had a head start into 2008. It looked like Sydney and Melbourne had pretty big celebrations, unfortunately I was feeling unwell and so spent most of the time at home in bed. New Year’s is a big holiday here because it is the full swing of summer, everybody is outside enjoying the warm weather. Speaking of warm, New Years Eve was the hottest day of 2007. It was a balmy 42C which translates to a hot 106F, YIKES. That’s a huge difference from people who are used to ringing in the New Year in Frost Bite Falls…oops in mean International Falls Minnesota.
Christmas season was a wonderful time this year. We missed friends and family but were happy to be away from the crazy-present-buying-malls. New Zealand has always been a place that we have wanted to visit and since we were so close, we decided that Christmas was the time to go there. I cannot speak about the north island, but the south island of this country is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I can see why Peter Jackson filmed LOTR (Lord of the Rings) and King Kong here. The LOTR tours are quite popular, but they looked kind of cheesy and so to the disappointment of some of you we chose not to go to Hobbiton.
Beth and I attended a Christmas Day church service and I have always thought that one of the best parts about Christmas service is the music. New Zealand has a lot of the same carols that we enjoy in the states but they have others as well. Maori (New Zealand natives) culture seems to be integrated well here. The service bulletin was printed in English and Maori and quite a bit of the service was spoken in Maori as well. We enjoyed the beautiful church and music but an embarrassing incident involving Beth, a communion wafer, a gust of wind, and the church floor caused us to hasten our departure through the nearest exit available. We have now learned the proper etiquette of fallen communion wafers. Who knew you couldn’t just hand them back?
After our excitement in Christ’s church in Christchurch, we drove the 7 hours to Queenstown. Figuring that nothing was going to be open anyway spending the time in the car seemed like the right thing to do. During this time a lesson was learned not to rent the cheapest car that you can find, if you wanted to know it is a 1992 white Toyota corolla. It was, dirty, messy, probably unsafe, and the radio didn’t work. It is a good thing that we had our ipods. Listening to the same podcast, or music is more fun than tuning the other person out, so we drove down the road each of us with one earphone in, of course being careful not to move too much so you don’t damage the inner ear of the person next to you by violently popping the earphone out.
Queenstown is a hip, cool ski town. Probably like Aspen about thirty years ago. It was mostly quiet with the exception of a few tourists walking the streets looking for someplace to have Christmas dinner. After exploring for several blocks and rejecting the cliché of Chinese food, we found a nice little Indian restaurant that looked like it had some good curry. Nothing says Christmas like Tandoori chicken. Maybe a new tradition?
Since we had booked an overnight cruise on Milford Sound, and still had several hours to drive, we wanted to get an early start. Remember that crappy car that I was talking about? It had a flat. I went to change the tire, and the spare was the small, limited speed, temporary tire…sigh. That’s fine because I still have time to go to the rental place and get a new one. As Beth found out the car rental was less than helpful and all of the cars in the whole country were being used that day. There was not a single car from any agency available. I am starting to get uptight about time because we are still not sure how long it is going to take us to get to Milford Sound, and by my calculations (granted very conservative) we should have left about 45 minutes ago. After some cajoling and creative speaking, one of the rental places changed our tyre (tire).
We will write a little more specifically in the next few blogs, just because Queenstown, and Milford Sound deserve their own space.