I started my first full day in Wellington just walking around my new neighborhood – Aro Valley. Aro Valley is a lovely little place, but let me tell you – it, like so much of Wellington, is NOT flat. It does make for some pretty spectacular views, and I am not very far – less than .5 KM from Aro Street – the hub of the neighborhood. Aro Valley has a few “famous attractions” and I am eager to try them – especially while I am so close! The Garage Project is a local craft beer brewery with some very interesting types of beer – I do foresee spending some time sampling their wares! Arobake is a lovely little bakery, and right next door is the Aro Fish and Chip Shop. Aro Video is also quite the landmark – and it is a real, legitimate video rental shop – pretty cool. Aro Valley is a trendy, artsy neighborhood and I think it will just be lovely to explore!
At the end of Aro Street, headed to the center of Wellington you run into – Willis Street – so I don’t think I will have a hard time finding my way home, as Willis Street is one of the main streets leading from Aro Valley to the CBD (Central Business District).
These are just few cool sights I found on my way to try and open a bank account.
For lunch the “Female Fulbrighters” – Beth, Sherry and myself met for lunch at a place called Burger Liquor – which, as the name implies, has burgers and, well, liquor. We had a lovely meal, caught up on our travel stories and arrivals, and then went our separate ways to explore more.
At this point I got my first taste of the unpredictableness of Wellington weather. It was suddenly very cool, windy and rainy – but I had exploring to do, so I continued on my way (we all know I won’t melt!)! I explored the Wellington Public Library – and I will be able to get a library card in the next week – so that is quite exciting! Then I walked to the waterfront, and even though it was chilly and a little icky – I enjoyed the view, and I can tell that this will be a great place to hang out while reading, writing and blogging on pretty day.
I continued my walk around the Waterfront until I was just too cold to keep going and popped into Macs Brewbar (convenient, right?) to warm up, grab a drink and relax for a few. I tried the Macs Sassy Red Amber Ale, which was quite yummy.
Scattered all around the city are these really cool pines –
Norfolk Pines (Araucaria heterophylla). These trees fascinate me – you can learn more about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Araucaria_heterophylla.
After I left Macs, I decided it was time to start the walk to the Warehouse (from what I gather the NZ version of Walmart) to get a sleeping bag for the Marae stay, shampoo, conditioner and other essentials. I rounded the corner from Macs and ran smack dab into my “earthquake damaged” flat – have I mentioned how lovely that location is?
After a quick picture with the flat – I continued up through Courtenay Place to the store – this was a tour of some of the worst of the earthquake damage – lots of abandoned buildings and construction work on what you can see was a main thoroughfare. I made it to the Warehouse, did my shopping and then headed home, where Joanna had prepared a lovely dinner – have I mentioned how lucky I am that they are letting me stay with them? They are just lovely, engaging people!
- Wellington Coffee is the BEST – and we know I know my coffee!
- Kiwis are lovely, friendly people!
- I will be walking a lot – bus service is an option, but for now, I am really enjoying walking around this lovely city, hills, stairs, hidden pathways and all.
- However, the challenge to look right then left is real! – my natural American instinct is to look left then right before crossing is just hard to overcome. I find myself having to consciously rethink that every time!
- Kiwis seem to love a southern accent – it is a brilliant conversation starter, and many of them start with – “I think you are American, but I’ve not heard an accent like yours before”
- If I had any hope of escaping the US politics while abroad, that will not be the case – New Zealanders are very in tune with global politics and eager to have conversations about it. However, their well-informed, global perspectives, not driven by fake news or party affiliation (on either side of the aisle) and genuine desire to understand recent events is a breath of fresh air. I dare say many Kiwis are better informed of US politics than some Americans are.
- So far Wellington is living up to the name “Coolest Little Capital in the World”, and I can’t wait to explore more!
The next blog update will be all about the Fulbright NZ orientation and the fantastic Marae stay.