Thursday, September 11, 2008

“Weekend” in Wellington (Part Two)

Satisfied with our glimpse of the city’s nightlife, we got up early to dive into daylife expeditions (and check out of our room on time…). Without another night to spend in town, we decided to spend our bar tab on breakfast at the pub we had discovered the night before, indulging in eggs, potatoes, coffees, a bloody mary and soft drinks to take with us. We may have been one of the first teams in history to spend the minority of a bar tab on anything to drink!

The cable car came highly recommended by everyone we talked to, but we were greeted by miserable rainy weather that is apparently typical of Wellington. We took our chances anyway and, after a five-minute uphill ride filled with college kids and commuters, spent approximately thirty seconds appreciating glimpses of what would be a beautiful view through a cloud-covered haze.

We wandered through the largely unbloomed but fairly enjoyable botanic gardens, that I’m sure appreciated the drizzle more than we did, and took a brief shelter in the tree house, whose misleading name materialized as simply a visitor’s center and gift shop.

Slightly disappointed, we moved on to another highly recommended tourist attraction, the Wellington Zoo. Although it proved more difficult to find than one would imagine for a place housing the likes of lions, kangaroos and giraffes, it existed just outside of the city center and just off the edges of all of our maps. After a few circles and one stop for directions, we arrived to breaking blue skies. We took this as a good sign.

The zoo ended up being a highlight of our trip. Although a few of the animals sat disappointingly still, the swinging spider monkeys, swivel-necked mere cats, a chattering trio of inseparable otters and a pair of leopards intent on licking each other from head to toe were full of personality. We watched with a combination of childlike wonder and adult admiration and made up stories about the dramas in their lives. It wasn’t until the wildcats began to roar over a chorus of squawking birds that we realized it was diner time, both for the animals and our grumbling stomachs.

I had begun begging for us to eat at least one sushi meal, one of the things I miss most being at my fingertips in both Seattle and New York. We were, after all, in a seaside town and had spotted a “sushi” sign on Courtney Place the day before. It ended up being the type where you grab dishes off of a rotating river in the center of the room and your prices are color coordinated by the plates left when you finish your meal. This may not have been ideal, (or fresh?), but I took what I could get and built a stack halfway to eye-level to hold me over.

We couldn’t leave without trying Tuatara, “New Zealand’s finest beer” as boasted in a local newspaper. We stopped into a small bar filled with business men winding down from a long day of work and twenty-somethings getting a head start on the weekend ahead. We chose the wheat variety on draft, not necessarily overwhelming, but definitely an impressive note to leave this beautifully cosmopolitan town.

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