Saturday, April 21, 2012

Part 1: Wellington to Nelson and completely knackered

I've been back in Wellington for a couple days now. I recharged myself with a few cups of non-instant coffee and some walking around by the waterfront. I finally feel like I can face the idea of summarizing the last two weeks. Here's the first bit.

On Good Friday I woke up at dawn, shoved a few extra shirts and granola bars into my overstuffed hiking pack, downed a cup of coffee, and ran out into the morning mist to the bus station. I looked around the busy platform. Lauren pushed through the crowd, sweaty and sleep-deprived. Her hiking boots and sleeping bag flopped from the gear loops on her enormous pack. We boarded the shuttle to the ferry and started our adventure.

The ferry was hot and packed with people traveling for the Easter holidays. A middle-aged cricket team was drinking Coronas and getting rowdy at the bar. It was 8:30 in the morning.
We hid from the crowd in the reclining chairs at the front of the boat. I tried to read a travel brochure while little kids kicked the back of my seat.
Three hours later we docked in Picton, jumped on another bus, and drove south to Nelson where we would catch the Magic Bus the next morning. The sun was shining in Nelson (sunshine capital of NZ, apparently). A girl was standing on the sidewalk wearing a body-sized sign painted with flowers and birds. She told us a backpackers called The Palace had two open beds and free breakfast. We were fried. Free breakfast sounded wonderful. We staggered up the street to the hostel, a cozy old Victorian converted into a temporary home for dirtbag hippies and German travelers.
But we were too late. All the beds were full. The manager, a soft spoken 30-something English hippie with long hair and a headscarf, ran off to check something. He bounced back to the reception desk and gave us some options. "Well. If you want, you can stay in my van. Her name is Annie, and she's only fifteen dollars a night. I just changed the duvet cover and everything." A bed and free breakfast for just fifteen bucks? Sweet as.
Here's Annie, our home for the night. She had some questionable upholstery.
We unpacked our things in Annie and wandered around. Nelson's a sweet little city with a few small shopping streets, a Gothic-style church, a couple campgrounds, and a terrific view of the Tasman Bay. We went for a run to the geographical center of NZ - a point up on a hill overlooking Nelson - and prowled the town for some cheap dinner. We managed to find cheap Chinese food to eat in the botanical garden while the sun set.

When we got back to the Palace, the staff and a bunch of semi-permanent German visitors were having a boxed wine party in the staff house. We tried to hang with them, but we were too exhausted to keep up with the Germans and their weird techno music. Our unfortunate friend Trevor couldn't find a hostel, so he crashed in our van. At midnight the three of us snuggled up in the back of Annie and fell asleep. It was one of many very romantic evenings.
Free breakfast the next morning did not disappoint. We filled up on cereal, toast, and instant coffee and chatted with some of the other folks staying there. This lady got caught up in Nelson for two weeks.
I wish we could have had more time to hang out there. The folks at The Palace were all genuinely great people, and the sunshine wasn't bad either. But the journey had to continue if we were ever going to get to Queenstown in a week. We packed up and headed out to meet up with the Magic Bus.

1 comment:

  1. Oh. Dear. God....my little girl slept in a van.

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