"I wanna hang a map of the world at my house. Then I wanna stick pins in the locations that I`ve traveled to.
...But first I have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won`t fall down."
-Mitch Hedberg

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wellington - Part One

We finally made it to Wellington!

Home to Parliament, the Te Papa Museum, diverse culture, the ferry to the South Island, surf, sand, nightlife, friends, and more cafés per capita than any major city in the world, “Swellington” is just too much to write about in one post. So we’ve split this amazing metropolis into a Five Part (S)Wellington Extravaganza!

Part One – Thank You Note.

My mom always taught me to write thank you notes right away before you forget, so here goes – Thank you thank you so much to Rich and Merridith, and to Joan for setting us up with them. You guys were amazing tour guides and cultural ambassadors for Kiwis – never mind that Merridith is from Maryland.

These two rock stars not only drove us around the cool parts of town, they made us feel like we were part of a “group” – a hard feeling to get on the road.

The first stop was the beautiful rugged west side of the bay where we enjoyed even more tide pool exploration, hiked a bit, snagged some epic views, and talked about travel blogging – check out their award winning travel blog to see how the pros do it.

If that wasn’t enough, they took us out to dinner and introduced Care and I to the deliciously weird Taiwanese treat – bubble tea. Even Care liked it, so that’s saying something.

Just when we thought we’d worn out our welcome, the fun continued.

Rich was all, “Oh hey guys, you wanna go check out my family’s rad bach?” (NZ for “beach house”). We tried to play it cool, so I was all, “Pssht, I guess. I mean we have a few minutes to kill...”
And Care was like, “Whatevs, yo.”

It was AWESOME. We surf kayaked (insanely fun/hard) and then got the best fresh fruit ice cream in “sunny Otaki” on the Kapiti Coast – home to the most expensive ice cream in New Zealand...per capita.

Later that night they drove us up to see the view from Mt. Victoria at night. The twinkling lights that hug the bay are lovely.

The hits kept coming when we went to a small group session for their church, ARISE, and got to take part in a fun evening with Kiwis in an apartment above busy Courtenay Street. It was so welcoming to interact like a local. Finally, we went to the Sunday night service of ARISE and got to see an active, young church in New Zealand – a real treat for us. The people in the congregation were wonderful, and we enjoyed a great afterglow dinner with some of them at a café.

Despite all the radness, the best part of our new homies was that we finally had someone to use all of our free text messages with. We got 100 free txts within NZ when we loaded up our phone, so we blitzed them with nonsense txts. “hey bff! wut r u up 2 now guyzzzzzz? LOL! ttyl, xoxo.” Sorry yo.

Rich and Merridith are stalwart travelers with huge hearts and a real sense for what it means to be away from home. The craziest thing about their selfless generosity is that they had just gotten back from their 9-month trip around the world, the day before we called them.

Who has the energy to do all that for two people they’d never met, right when they got back? Rock stars – that’s who.

It was the best way to experience Wellington, and Care and I will always see the city through Rich and Merridith colored glasses. That doesn’t sound quite right, but you get the idea.

Thanks a million guys. Hope to see you again soon.

by Shawn Forno
The best food, fun, nightlife, and culture of Wellington is found on Courtenay Street. This funky locale just off Manners Mall at the south end of the civic center houses a pedestrian thoroughfare where tourists and locals alike meander past dozens of designer shops...read more

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