We Live in a Van....down by the.....Parking Lot
Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
58Trip End Jun 20, 2011
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Jill's Interjections in Italics
October 25 - Day 8
After a quick breakfast, we're on the road heading to Wellington. During our drive, we passed Tongariro National Park, famous for its 3 snow-capped peaks. The most famous one, thanks to LOTR, is Mt. Ngauruhoe, which was Mount Doom in Return of the King. Tongariro Park itself was the setting forthe evil Mordor-r-r-r-r. So there's your LOTR geek tidbit for the day.
After some sweet dollar-store shopping in some forgettable town, we popped in for lunch at a Subway (the unmistakable smell wafting in the air of Subway bread being baked lured us in....damn you Subway)
Joe had begun reading my novel outloud on this stretch of the trip. It kept me so preoccupied that I forgot that we were going to be entering our biggest city since Auckland and that it would require quick driving decisions - from the left hand side of the road! As we entered Wellington, I was quickly reminded as overpasses, merge lanes and somewhat heavy traffic now surrounded our little van - yikes. Having a mini internal freak out, thank goodness Joe's navigational skills were becoming rather honed by this point and we managed to get to our hostel without too much stress!
Being that Wellington is the capital city, there aren't many camping options near the city center. After much deliberation, we decided on a place called Rowena's City Lodge, which was right on the outskirts of the small city and had tent sites available....hmmmmm....not in our trusty Lonely Planet book, but let's give it a shot. We're pretty proud of ourselves when we find the place quite easily. We drive up this steep hill and stop it in front of the "Reception" sign. When we walk up the stairs, we are "greeted" (and we use the word very loosely) by a crusty, old dude who barked a few words at us. We understood that we can, in fact, have a spot for our campervan there. Once the deal was done, we drove the rest of the way up the hill to arrive at our "campground"....a small, sloped parking lot in back of the decaying house, with houses flanking all sides and a clothes line.....SWEET!! Welcome to Wellington!
Jill managed to find the least sloped spot (an issue when you are actually sleeping in the van) and then we went inside to prepare our dinner and wash up
Jill collected various ingredents from our cooler and food baskets to whip up a tasty pasta dish and as we're finishing up and sipping our wine, she notices that the internet just popped up on one of the computers in the dining area. Given that you had to pay to get online access here (as is the case almost everywhere in NZ), we jumped on the opportunity to get free internet and caught up on some emails and other stuff. Another bottle of red later on in the van....and it was lights out for the night.
Now if you've been paying attention that was two bottles of wine later... note to self: when staying in a grungy hostel parking lot, it is not the best idea to have yourself waking up in a stupor, in the middle of the night, having to make your way across an unfamiliar parking lot to a dodgy hostel washroom
October 26 - Day 9
After a surprisingly good sleep in a tilted van in a parking lot, we headed into the "cheery" hostel for some breakfast and to make some plans for the day. We read that the hostel had a free shuttle into the other end of town, so we figured we'd take advantage of it and then make our way back walking through the city. We asked the crusty, old manager about it and he told us curtly that we'd have to wait until 12:30, so we hung out in the lounge working on our journals. At about 12:15, another pissed-off older dude with long, straggly, greasy hair and a wool hat walks in and barks out "WHO'S SUPPOSED TO BE TAKING THE 12:15 SHUTTLE?!?". We tell him that we're taking it but that we were told it was at 12:30. He muttered a few things about how he was about to leave and that there was supposed to be a 3rd person. We shrugged our shoulders, got into the little mini-van and were on our way.
First stop...Parliament....as mentioned, Wellington is the capital city of NZ. We initialy just intended on taking a look at the buildings - as one of them is structured in the shape of a beehive - but then Jill mentioned that they probably give free tours to the public, so we went in
Happy with our dose of Parliament, we head out to explore the rest of the city
First stop was the red cable car, which clinks up a steep slope...starting right on a main street in the middle of the city and ends a few stops later to one of the suburbs of Wellington. Weird little method of transportation for both city dwellers and tourists. Great views of the city from up there and was a nice walk down. Spent the rest of the afternoon with Moses exploring the city, including cool cafes and bars of Cuba Street. Picked out a decent place for dinner after much deliberation and back to our van in the parking lot.
October 27 - Day 10
Walked back into town this morning and stopped in at a cool record store
The rest of the afternoon was spent being complete nerds. [I was just going to support Joe.] We went on a movie tour, which included being shown the exact locations of several scenes from the LOTR movies, most of which were on Mount Victoria, overlooking Wellington. Our guide Ted was pretty knowledgeable and brought his laptop to show us the specific scenes in the movies that corresponded to the locations we were looking at. Of course, he also brought props and we quite cheesily posed for photos in re-enactment of those specific scenes. My friends Iain and Lynn are currently arranging a beating for me I'm sure. See pics below.
A walk around the waterfront and an excellent Mexican place for dinner later, we were on our way back to our hostel and our van, which we are surprisingly growing to love
When we did arrive back at our parking stall abode, I went to retrieve our towels (and my underwear) from the clothes line but they were gone. Jerks, I thought to myself, they stole our towels and perverts too, taking my underwear. Oh wait, as I got closer there was my underwear. Ok, so just jerks. Oh and hold on, there is a towel on the ground. Windy Wellington indeed, our towels had been blown off the clothesline! One had landed just below the line, the other was unfortunately over the fence and in the neighbour's yard. I felt awful for immediately jumping to conclusions, but really it was just the vibe of the place. Joe's first manly deed of the day tomorrow would be to climb the fence and retreive the towel as we wouldn't want to startle the neighbours late at night.