Saturday, February 11, 2006

Day 3: Queenstown

Today was great! Started off with a coffee at a local shop, coco's, which i've become fond of after trying a few others. Did some reading there and headed off to brunch with Stacey at Vodo Cafe. After that, we headed to our rendevous with The Rung Way. This is a BVI course, which while i can't remember what the letters means: its a set of rungs drilled into a cliff, a very long, tall cliff . The guide claimed the Swiss used this to cross the Alps during WWII, but I didn't ever think the Swiss fought in any war and am an ignorant American thus I really have no knowledge of history and couldn't confirm/deny. Our guide was from Monroeville, PA, which is rather ironic since I'm here in NZ and he knew more about the house my mother grew up in than I did since he lived like 3 doors down from it. But back to the BVI course, its a set of rings setup that allow you to climb straight up a rock face with a climbing harness and some caribiners to attach you to a cable should you fall. It was rather scary in some places. There were 3 large sections to this course and by the end I felt very comfortable. Its hard to trust the gear in those situations though. I'm always afraid I'm going to space out and forget to attach something somewhere or some other krap and fall to my death hundreds of feet below. Yes, we climbed hundreds of feet on these rungs. I would have NEVER been able to do it top roping, just not skilled enough without the holds. I greatly underestimated Stacey who at the end said, 'yeah, i liked it but i wasn't really scared enough', which tells me she's ready for the 180 MPH jet attached to a rope we're going to do later.

Tonight we went to a little pizza joint the guide recommended called the Cow. Because there were only two of us they put us into a table with another couple (apparently in NZ this is FINE). They were very friendly and we chatted the whole time about NZ, Europe, the US, etc. Its always fun to have these conversations. The kiwi's are aggressive at recruiting people, particularly in technology, so they spend a good deal of time giving you a sales pitch. It was clear why they are having trouble recruiting. At any rate, twas a good conversation.

Cultural tidbits: trim is skim milk, flavored lattes are not common-they tend to come straight. i haven't figured out the short black, tall black, and 'white'. I believe these are like the starbucks short and tall but straight-up coffee and the white is with milk however it is steamed or something. french people think it is okay to take the menu off of YOUR table without asking. most people have asked before they take a chair, others have just taken the chair...i haven't figured out when each is more appropriate.

Restaurants are very different here. In general, you order at the counter and they watch where you sit, then they bring you your order. At some you pay at the counter, at others you pay in advance. Service in restaurants is close to non-existent because they are not compensated in the same way as the states. It has its advantages because there are always tables available, however when it is busy you are always sitting at a table that hasn't been bussed yet and won't likely be bussed anytime soon. This is quite different for americans who consider it kinda gross to sit at a table with dirty dishes and it is usually taken care of quickly. Also, tipping is basically built into the bill and this affects the service. Closer to the international hotels there is a tip line on the receipt but in the main part of town it is not. credit cards are in use everywhere however i feel a bit unhip because i get this grumble due to the singature requirement, apparently the kiwis have moved to PIN numbers sometime in the last century and I just show how backwards I am as they scrable under the counter to find a pen.

I'm curious: what your your favorite pubs, coffee shops, hangouts, here in Queenstown?

Its raining a bit outside now...probably head somewhere inside to read a book or play some games.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ummm...the guide said it was the French who used the Rung Way to cross the Alps..and it was WW1...