Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Nelson, Picton, and the cruise to Wellington...

After our Abel Tasman adventures we rolled into Nelson for the night. Its about 2 hours away. Had dinner at a place called The Boat Shed. First seafood we've had on our travels. I really liked Nelson, it was not really on the waterfront but was quite a big city with lots to do and my favorite coffee shop i've yet to experience in New Zealand called Kafeine. Was just excellent atmosphere with a huge courtyard and big sails hanging over it to shade you from the sun.

Visiting all of these cafes has qualified us to form some pretty strong opinions. While i can't comment on the coffee as I can't really distriminate I can comment on the locations. Low ceilings, dark environment, pastries are generally bad and should be avoided. Big spaces, tall ceilings, outdoor areas sheltered so lighting conditions for people reading and shelter options from weather (wind, rain) should also be considered. It seems its very tough to get a place that has all variables right: service, coffee, pastries, lighting, seating, ceiling,music (not prioritized). You'll find most places in Portland and Seattle are missing at least some aspect despite their having most of them. Coffee People on 23rd had the best ceiling space in PDX but has since been replaced by YAUIR, yet another upscale italian restaurant, the current dining fad.

Back to Nelson and Kafeine: it has it all. Most places around NZ close between 4-5 pm. The owner closed up around 4 but let us stick around until we felt like leaving since he was there doing some construction anyway, we stayed until around 5:30 just reading the paper for the first time in about 5-6 days. He even brought us water after about an hour. Just a great place. Unfortunately, closed on Mondays which was the next day so we had to find another place in the morning.

Our travels to Picton took us through some of the wine country in Northern part of the Southern Island of NZ. Picton was relatively uneventful. It was much smaller than Nelson with much less interesting stuff to do. Did take a run out on the trail to Ben's Bay and look around at the maritime artifacts. Super low key place.

Our boat cruise to Wellington was a bit choppy. It started out fine but as we rolled out to sea this huge ship started rolling back and forth. There was a large contingent of seniors on board who started moving back to the back of the boat,all within about a 10 minutes period before it started to have an effect on me but shortly afterwards I recalled what I was told the last time it happened to me 'go to the back of the boat and look towards shore'. This was quite effective however to get their I had to move through an ocean of old people and the amount of vomit on the floor was amazing. They had all jumped on board, cruised the cafeteria and bought $12 meals complete with meat, vegetables, and pasta, all of which I had to walk around, through and between to get to the back of the boat. They just ended up closing the bathrooms it was so bad upstairs and one of the stairwells had vomit sloshing around at the bottom so they had to close the doors, it really was something else. While it can be laughed at or used as a 'check out how gross this is' story now...i felt like i was going to never make it through.

All is well now in wellies. We love wellington. Very windy today but beautiful. Took a 4 mile run this morning along the waterfront and think we're going to stay for a few days here and just enjoy it. A not too good place like Picton (wasn't bad...just wasn't as good as Nelson or Wellington) ends up forcing one to recover by spending some extra time in the good places.

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