Wandering around Wellington

Huffing and puffing, I increased my speed and started to gain some ground on the fast departing car. Waving and shouting at Diarmuid in the driver’s seat, he seemed blissfully unaware of me racing behind him trying to catch up. Thankfully, there was an intersection at the top of the hill and I was able to jump into the passenger seat. As I gulped in air to ease the burning in my lungs I managed to get out, “It’s a no go, the place is fully booked.”

Rosemere Backpackers was the second hostel we had checked out since we’d arrived in Wellington, we weren’t impressed with the first place so had decided to check out Rosemere. Diarmuid was going to find some parking for the car, since we couldn’t leave it outside the hostel while I checked ourselves in. When I asked if they had any rooms, the girl at the counter asked “Have you booked?” Not all that worried, I replied in the negative. It hadn’t been a problem anywhere else we’d gone. She smiled at me in a bemused way. “Sorry, we’re fully booked. You really need to have booked, especially for the weekend.” She suggested a few other places and pointed them on a map. I grabbed it and then headed out the back to where the car was. Diarmuid was just pulling away, hence my uphill race.

We started to look for Nomad Capital, as we tackled the one-way system of Wellington. Unfortunately we couldn’t find it, so we pulled over and parked to go look for it. Having paid for the parking, I took two steps to cross the road when I saw that Nomad was right across the road from us. Diarmuid wanted to stay in a Dorm to save some money, and in truth, anything else in Nomad’s was far too expensive for us. I didn’t particularily like the Dorm experience, I prefer my own space, and sharing a room with 9 other people doesn’t quite provide that possibility. Add to that the fact that 9 people go to bed at different times ranging from 22:00 to 06:00 can provide for a disturbed sleeping pattern. Nomad’s itself was a very clean and nice place, obviously recently renovated from being an old hotel into a hostel, but it’s quite cold in style and not extremely welcoming, too modern and the facilities weren’t excellent, particularily the kitchen which felt cramped. I didn’t bother to use it the few days we stayed there.

Once we’d checked in and sorted out the car, parking it in a nearyby carpack and getting what little gear we needed, myself and Diarmuid then started to explore the streets of Wellington. We quickly found what we were looking for, an internet cafe. It had a familiar name to us, iPlay. While it function in much the same way as the iPlay in Auckland, they are in fact two seperate companies. Diarmuid was suffering from computer game withdrawal symptoms and quickly got himself hooked up with Battlefield 2. He stopped for a while to move the car and eat some food, but ended up playing to 05:30!

While I left Diarmuid in iPlay, I went off to try and find Courtenay Place, where the main cinema is and I had heard was a popular spot at nighttime. I spent the next two hours wandering around Wellington, not quite lost, but at the same time, never sure where I was and I didn’t find Courtenay place. It was fun though to just wander through the dark streets. Street lights don’t seem to be a big thing in a lot of Wellington. Over the next two days this happened to me several times, there was something that just confused me about Wellington. Although I did eventually figure where most places of interest to me where, this didn’t always guarantee that I could make my way there without first heading in the wrong direction.

On Courtenay Place itself is Reading Cinemas Courtenay Central cineplex. This has got to be the most luxurious cinema I have ever been in. I went to see King Kong on the Saturday and was delighted when I walked into the theatre. It was huge and I had managed to get a really good seat in the center of a row, that while I would have thought was too close to the front back home, was perfect. Each seat is in fact an armchair with enough legroom to stretch my legs out. The guy sitting beside me started chatting, and we discussed the King Kong premiere which had taken place a few days beforehand, and of course where I was from and what I was doing in New Zealand. As it got closer to the movie, I started to get worried that he’d be one of those persons who talked throughout the movie, but he soon quieted down. By the by, I thought King Kong was an excellent movie, though perhaps the T-Rex fight went on a little too long. I also went to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe again. The sound hadn’t been brilliant in Napier so I wanted to see it in what for me was now the best cinema I’d ever been too. I enjoyed it just as much as the first time I saw it.

As the kitchen didn’t encourage me to do any cooking, I ended up for the most part returning to Burger King. I don’t fully understand this, since I would never go to Burger King but here I’ve been to it on a fairly regular basis, especially in Auckland and Wellington. I guess it’s because it’s cheap and quick. I don’t know if free refills is typical everywhere outside Ireland, but it’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing making it back home. Not that I normally go for a refill, but it’s good to know the option is there.

On a much more tastier and better note is Crepes A Go Go, which is a small shop on Manners St. which serves real crepes made by a French woman trained in Brittany. She also serves Galettes, savoury pancakes which are a Breton speciality. I managed to have a small conversation in French with her, but I really need to practise speaking. Understanding French is not a problem, but I’m quite slow at times when speaking. Two of my breakfasts were provided by Crepes A Go Go and I still remember with watering mouth the one I got on Sunday overflowing with cream and raspberries.

The last day in Wellington was eventful. We were booked on the ferry that evening, but my day started a lot earlier than that. Parking was a bit of a problem in Wellington, though Diarmuid did find a carpark where we could leave it for the weekend and it was comparatively inexpensive compared to the other options. There was however a catch, as there always is, which meant that the ticket needed to be renewed at 05:30 in the morning everyday. For the first two days, Diarmuid had done the needful and in part was why he had stayed up so late that first night playing computer games. It was my turn that morning, the only problem I had no idea where the carpark was, Diarmuid provided some concise directions the night before but based on my previous experiences in Wellington, I was far from confident. 05:15 arrived with the blaring of my alarm from my mobile phone. Groaning I quickly switched it off and got up. I’d only gone to bed around midnight and it had taken me my usual half hour or so before I’d drifted off. Completely on autodrive and nowhere near awake I headed out the door and out into the morning light.

The next 45 minutes were spent wandering once more around Wellington, this time close to the docks. Diarmuid had said it was only a short walk away opposite a petrol station, so anytime I saw a car park, and especially when it was close to anything that looked in anyway like a petrol station, I checked it out, but none of them proved to be the right one. Still half asleep and much discouraged I headed back to the hostel and woke Diarmuid up. “I can’t find this place.” He groaned and in an annoyed tone gave me the exact same directions. Myself now quite annoyed, headed out once more and decided to keep on walking until I found this damn carpark. I laughed when I did see the petrol station, if I had taken ten extra steps instead of turning back I would have seen it. With my duty fufilled I headed to iPlay, it being still too early for breakfast.

Just after 09:00 I headed back to the hostel to finish checking out when I found that I’d lost my keycard for the room. Thankfully I’d already taken all my gear out of the room and left it at the car, but I’d now lose the $10 deposit. So really disheartened and by now very hungry, I made my way back to the car again, retracing my steps and looking for the little rectangle of white plastic. I didn’t find it. So I explained myself at the counter and checked myself out. Starving by now I went in search of food.

By this time it was 10:00 and I needed something substantial. I wanted a fry! A nice plate filled with sausages, rashers, beans, white and black pudding, toast, grilled tomatoes and if I was lucky some mushrooms and hash browns. I popped into the cafe next door to the hostel since they seemed to provide cooked breakfasts and I figured in my, by now, near delirious state, that they must provide some kind of fry. Having sat down and looked at the menu, I realised that they didn’t in fact serve anything that I wanted in their breakfast menu. The side orders however, had most of the ingredients I needed. “You don’t exactly have what I want, but your side orders have everything I need.” I then listed off what I wanted. I think the waitress was amused, but I didn’t care, I was starving.

My coffee arrived quickly and having drunk some of that I felt a little better but the actualy food was a while in coming. When it did arrive, I couldn’t help but smile. I was obviously in the wrong kind of place. The sausages were fairly narrow, almost dainty in size, the tomato was really only heated, not properly grilled but what really made me laugh was the toast. It was two small slices of ciabatta. It was actually quite nice and I wolfed it down but it just wasn’t right. I thought that it wasn’t their fault, they’d done their best, they just had no idea of what a proper fry was.

One Response to “Wandering around Wellington”

  1. Gunnar Karlsson Says:

    hi there Gerard! Gunnar here.. massive reading .. You have done a lot and written about everything it seems.

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