Thursday, November 22, 2007

Greymouth Public Library, Greymouth

A lazy, quiet evening in Fox Glacier village, then off the next day to Hokitika. The main tourist-style reason to go there is to buy pounamu (greenstone/jade). They also have a nice beach and really excellent sunsets. Greenstone is a major part of Maori culture and you see it everywhere in New Zealand.


If you’re more craftily inclined you can go to Just Jade Experience, where you can design your own piece and it gets carved for you, and then you spend the rest of the day hand-polishing it. Sort of – from what I hear the chap who does the carving is a little picky about what you design, and if he thinks it’s too complicated or whatever he may try to modify it. OR you can go to Bonz ‘n’ Stonz, which is a nicer workshop where you can design whatever you like and do all the work yourself instead of having the interesting part done for you. (There’s some entertaining drama between the two shops – go to Bonz ‘n’ Stonz and ask about it).

They let me around power tools

I met two people while I was there, and we, plus another, ended up going out for drinks and dinner that night. No terribly entertaining stories from that, but I did learn that there’s a New Zealand sheep farming board game, which sounds pretty awesome.

And the place I stayed. OH the place I stayed. This is what Lonely Planet has to say about Stumpers: “Stumpers has clean, neat, reasonably priced rooms above its café-bar. Doubles have TVs, dorms have a maximum of three beds; most rooms have shared facilities (this was pub accommodation before Kerouac invented backpackers).”

Now, how true it is that Kerouac invented backpackers I don’t know, but what I do know is that the author of that little description did not actually stay there. It’s true my room had three beds, and they had a ton of bedcovers, which was excellent. HOWEVER, as for the rest of it, they LIE.

You might want to get some tea. I’ll wait here.

Well. FIRST I went in, and there was no one at the reception desk. There was a sign saying if they weren’t there, to go into the café and ask. Fine. I went into the café and said hey, I’d like to check in. They said there was someone at the reception desk. I said no, there’s not. They said, yes there is, she just went back there. Fine. I went back to the reception desk. It was empty. And remained empty.

I rang their bell, and no one came. A chap at the internet kiosk suggested I go into the café, as the sign said. I said I had. I rang the stupid bell again, and FINALLY someone showed up. I had to write out my credit card number for security, I suppose, in case I decided to glue all the furniture to the ceiling or similar, never mind that no one else requires that. She told me that if anyone else showed up I might have to share the room, and I refrained from telling her, “Duh.”

THEN she said my room might not be ready (apparently she couldn’t be bothered to check), so I couldn’t get in until 2, which left me about three hours to kill. Fine. Whatever. I could, she said, leave my bags under the stairs until I came back and she would watch them. You know, because she’s been doing such a good job of watching the office.

I came back a little before 2 (the office was empty) and got into my room. Cramped, but fine. It had a sink, which was moderately exciting, though the foot of my bed was pressed right up against it. I unpacked the yoghurt I’d bought while waiting for the room to be ready, and went a-hunting for the kitchen. Down the hallway was a glorified closet with a sink, a very mini fridge, and some errant silverware and dishes. I went back downstairs and rang the bell.

“Is there no full kitchen?” She looked shocked. “No, this isn’t a backpackers. It’s a hotel.”

A hotel. Oh really. Go read the Lonely Planet description – no indication that that was a possibility, and nowhere on the “hotel” does it indicate that it’s anything but a backpackers.

Fine. Fine. I’ll just eat out then. See if I care.

After a walk on the beach to watch the sunset I ended up consoling myself with a very tasty steak dinner at the attached bar. And I got half a beer for free when I pointed out to them that the bottle they’d given me was two months past its “best by” date. I found myself to be a very delightful, if quiet, date.

I slept very well and woke up early, which is a good thing because one of the cleaners came into my room at 7:45am. Just walked right in, saw me, apologized, and left.

I still have yet to figure out why she was coming into the room since none of the beds had to be made up. Or why it would’ve been so hard to, I don’t know, knock. Or what the hell she thought I was doing up so early.

And she did it again the next morning.

I won’t even mention how they don’t have a phone for customer use, and how when I asked to use the office phone she looked as though I was planning to call order every set of tv-based, but-wait-there's-more knives and hair products and charge them all COD. I’ve never seen someone look as frequently stricken as that woman did. Sheesh.


(Also, the most hilarious thing about Hokitika? Is this:

You know what this is?

You know what it is? I mean, obviously it's an eco center where you can see kiwi and fish and what have you, but you know what else it is? A yarn shop. I am not even kidding. You can see kiwi, and then buy yarn).

Greymouth Public Library, Greymouth, NZ

The other trip I took while in Queenstown was a day trip to Milford Sound. Turns out that Milford Sound isn’t a sound at all, but a fjord. The difference being that a sound is created by… um. What was it? I think glacier wearing a u-shaped path into the ground, whereas a fjord involves water creating a v-shaped path. But don’t quote me on that. Maybe I should look that one up. Mm.

Right. Fjord = glacier.

At any rate, for Milford Sound there are no words, so here, have some pictures (click the photo for almost all of them – I look a LOT of pictures):


I took an extra day in Queenstown to relax (also I hadn’t booked a bus ticket, so I was pretty well stuck), and then headed up to Fox Glacier. There are two neighboring glaciers on the west coast – Fox and Franz Josef. Not much of a difference as to which you visit, but Fox is a little smaller.


This is Fox Glacier village:


All of Fox Glacier village. Two dairies, a few cafés/restaurants, and an info center where you can book your preferred glacier climbing experience. One hostel. The hostel – Ivory Towers Lodge – wasn’t too bad. My (small) room had only two bunks, the kitchen was well laid out, there was a nice dog, it was clean, and the guys running it were friendly. As always, though, a hostel can vary enormously depending on the people who are staying there.


So. One of my roommates – the woman sleeping on the bunk above me – was lovely. Friendly German woman whom I enjoyed talking to very much. That being said, she not only snored, but talked and laughed in her sleep. And she, um, was not the most fragrantly inclined person I’ve ever met. If you follow. Also on the first night one of my other roommates decided to leave the window way open, and since I couldn’t figure out how to turn the heater on (at 1:30am), I froze.

There was also some graffiti on the underside of the bunk above me about how menstruation was a virus and turns women into bitches and/or lesbians, or some such thing. There are quality people the world over, I tell you what.

Oh, and two of my beers were stolen. That was good, too.

But still! A fine time. No, seriously.


I decided on the half-day glacier walk since I’d been pretty tired. Other options were a full-day walk and a helicopter hike thing. The helicopter would’ve been the best (and coolest – I’ve never been in a helicopter), but it also cost a small fortune (upwards of $275).


They gear you up with thick wooly socks (washed once a week, they said! Thanks, guys!) and boots, and offer packs and windproof jackets if you need them. Considering my penchant for being piteously underdressed, I grabbed an extra jacket, thereby ensuring that it was warm and sunny the whole afternoon. Never mind that when I was wearing it I looked like a giant black sausage (ew), and when I took both my jackets off and tied them around my waist I added a good 6” to either side of my hips. Which is very appealing these days.


AND they have you tuck your trousers into your socks so they don’t get wet. That’s hot.




Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ivory Towers Lodge, Fox Glacier Village, NZ

I don’t have much to say about Dunedin itself. It was a city. Had a museum. You know. My hostel, Chalet Lodge or house or what have you, was quite nice. No bunks, only five beds in the room (and it was quiet, so I only had one roommate per night), AND they did my laundry for $5. It was pretty sweet, especially since there was something in my bag that didn’t smell so good. They even have a ghost there, and a sign that all ghost sightings were to be reported to the manager. Only problem was that it was up a beast of a hill, but it seemed that the only quiet, smallish hostels were indeed up beasts of hills.

BUT, the good part about Dunedin was that though the magic of the internet I got hooked up with S, who invited me over for dinner with her family two nights in a row. She and her husband C have two kids who think that visitors are the coolest ever and did I want to see this pokemon game and look at this dance and it was all very entertaining. S even let me embarrass myself heartily on her spinning wheel. It trounced me and I was demoted to spindle practice.

As a quick aside I’d like to note that if there’s anyone out there with an entrepreneurial spirit, you should think about bringing bathroom ventilator fans to this country. In lieu of fans they just leave the bathroom window open. Now, I’m all for saving the planet and whatever, but one of the main places I want warm is the bathroom, thank you very much. So, you know, if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it.

Right! Anyway. After the second dinner with S and her family, we went to my first knit night. It was small but friendly, and nice to be around so many knitters. I managed to almost finish a sock, which got completely ripped out the next day. Alas.

From Dunedin I went to Queenstown, a place I was steeling myself to have to endure rather than relax in. Lonely Planet had it described as adrenaline-junkie, party-animal town, which, as you may have gathered, is not so much my scene. Fact remained, however, that there were plenty of athletically-inclined things to do there, from bungee jumping (oh HELL no)1, a canyon swing (a “bungee variation,” according to Lonely Planet), jet boating, white-water rafting, river surfing & sledging (sledge = sled), skydiving (NO), and plenty of other things, all of which are quite expensive ($100+).

I decided to be frugal and pick two. With the canyoning ticket, the trip to Milford Sound, and the hostel I was spending $350 for 2.5 days in Queenstown. Ouch.

That being said, canyoning was awesome. And terrifying at points. I didn’t know much about it, and actually have no idea why I picked it over all the other non-height-based options, but after I got the brochure (after I booked it) I started to get worried that I wasn’t going to be fit enough to do it. There was noise about how you should be an active adult, and considering I couldn’t make it up the bitch of a hill getting to my Queenstown hostel (well done, self, picking hostel on a worse slope than the one from the night before) I wasn’t feeling terribly “active,” and there were noises about climbs and other things that I wasn’t fully sure I was able to do, and what if they had to stay behind because of me? Augh, that would be so embarrassing, and maybe I should just cancel now and hide under my bed for the rest of my trip. Or intentionally sprain an ankle or something.

I did go, and the first thing they did was to suit us up in the appropriate protective gear – oop, no, the first thing was to have us sign away our right to sue them should they screw up and break our legs or kill us or whatever. Woo hoo! Love those. Right. So, full body wetsuit, socks, booties, head sock, harness, life jacket, and helmet. I felt like the queen of style, right there, let me tell you.


After a brief hike through the woods they had us submerge in glacier water 6º C, or –595º F – the water we would be spending the trip trudging through – and then climb a ridiculously steep hill to a zipline. I haven’t done a zipline since middle school, and all I remember was that I spent most of it backwards and trying to turn myself the right way around. This go around was about the same.

Then they had us abseil/rappel down a vertical (vertical) cliff. For those who aren’t In The Know, abseiling involves attaching yourself to a rope and having someone lower you down the cliff while you walk backwards, perpendicular to the rock. Ha.


The trip involved a couple of slides, and at one we couldn’t quite see what we were in for, but followed directions just the same. They held our life jackets, we crossed our legs and arms, and they let go. Next thing you know it’s not the easy drop you were thinking, and your sinuses are packed with water. Mine felt larger when it was over, and I haven’t been nearly so congested since. Scrambling to the surface and looking back you realize the it’s actually quite a fall and what were they thinking and GOLLY that was cool.


Some (easier) slides and jumps later there’s the option of climbing up to a ledge, what I estimated to be about 4 meters high, and jumping off into the water. Being a little delirious from having an unstuffed nose for once, I decided to go. After climbing up a vertical cliff face involving clipping carabineers to safety lines and hauling oneself up with ropes and things, you look out what is, in fact, a six meter drop, eeeeee.

It turns out that my comfort level for jumping into water is at about four meters. When I’ve gone that far and still haven’t hit the water I panic. Lived to tell the tale, though, and enjoyed the adrenaline rush.

And I might’ve come out and hugged the rocks, laughing and wide-eyed with terror.

The other zipline offered a little more responsibility than I was happy about. We ziplined over the deepest pool, then unhooked our safety ‘beener, pulled on the rope that was keeping us in the same place, and lowered ourselves down to the pool.


As soon as I undid the knot that would allow me to get down my lifejacket shifted right up under my chin, which was very attractive, which is, of course, when the camera got pulled out. Foxy lady!


The final jump was about as high as the previous big jump, but more exciting because you had to be specific about where you jumped so as to not hit a rock, and had to bend your knees, because the water wasn’t tremendously deep. I almost didn’t do it, but did, and may have yelled “ OH FUCK!” on the way down. I also jumped wrong, but managed to keep from injuring myself.

The wrong way to jump

My serious OMG face

(My “oh my god I’m alive I just might vomit” face)

A few more easy slides and the group emerged the freezing water fast friends. The fear and cold bonded us together. They don’t have you wear gloves because you need to have good grips on the rock (I guess), and their recommended method of warming up your hands is to straighten your arms at your sides, hands flat and pointing out, and pumping your shoulders up and down. I came out of a pool at one point to find four of my compatriots standing in a line, arms straight down, hands out, bouncing their shoulders. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time, and I told them they looked like a chorus line. One guy started can-canning.

My fears about being too weak were denied, though it’s three days later and I’m still sore. Two women didn’t make it through – they (or maybe just one, and her friend joined out of solidarity) was too freaked out by the heights and who knows what else.

A German woman on the trip, K, and I decided to go out for a coffee after the trip, and we found a café and sat as close to the fire as we possibly could to warm up.


We ended up getting dinner as well, and I splurged because it’s not often I actually allow myself to do that. It did involve some measure of plugging my ears and going LA LA LA LA NOT THINKING ABOUT MONEY LA LA LA.

During dinner we discussed tattoos, and I learned that the popular tattoo for women these days – the one on the coccyx – what some of us in America call the “tramp stamp” is, in Germany, called “arschgweih.” Literally, “ass horns.” HA!

We went to a bar afterwards (LA LA LA LA LA LA LA) and played no small amount of pool. A Dutch gentleman who was being summarily ignored by his two young companions was watching us play, and I think my lack of natural billiards-ability was causing him actual physical pain.

In the end I was reminded why I don’t go out to loud, busy pubs at night, and was happy to head to bed early. I took two Sudafed to keep the snoring/7am sneezing down, and while my body felt like a sacka hammers, I couldn’t sleep. I saw 4:30am and was awake before my 7:30 alarm. Nice.

1 When I told my mom that I was headed to the bungee-jumping capitol of the world she said “Don’t do it,” in that mom-to three-year-old-with-a-hand-in-the-cookie-jar voice. “Or at least don’t tell me about it.”

Ivory Towers Lodge, Fox Glacier Village, NZ

About Oamaru Lonely Planet says “At first glance, it might not look like there’s a lot going on in Oamaru.” This is true. It took me about two days to find little interesting spots as they’re not often well marked. Oamaru was doing decently well in the 1920’s, and the town seems to have not evolved since. Indeed, some people still wear Victorian clothing to work (really), your purchases are often wrapped up with brown paper and string (seriously), and there’s a yearly penny-farthing bicycle race in town. A penny-farthing bicycle, by the way, is the kind that has a giant front wheel and a tiny back wheel.


As a result the town is used as a filming location pretty frequently. In fact, while I was there they were filming some movie called “Wife’s Flight” or something, in which some women leave Wales(?) to come to New Zealand to be with their husbands. Or something. In the scene I watched being filmed, a guy got onto a bus. But it was set in the 1950’s(?) so it was very exciting.




The main thing to do in Oamaru is to see the penguins, so I got myself a ticket and got myself on the proper bus. First stop is to see the yellow-eyed penguins, who are the rarest penguins.


To see them you get to spend an hour on top of a cliff in the cold wind – in a blind, if you wish, which blocks NO wind, thank you very much –

Me & Jaclyn, freezing our asses off

and wait for them to swim out of the water, toddle along the beach, and disappear.


They say that the penguins then climb the cliffs to their nests where they meet their mates with dinner, but since it’s a hella steep cliff and I didn’t actually see them climbing up, I’m pretty sure there’s an elevator in there somewhere.


We only saw four or five, but that’s about average for nighttime viewings.

Then off to the blue penguin colony where they have stadium seating, and a guide who, J and I decided, moonlighted as a children’s storyteller. She was very emphatic and exuberant, you see. After some chatting she directed our sights out to sea where you could see a small, dark cloud of water working its way towards the shore. From the waves spilled perhaps fifty tiny penguins, who wobbled their way up a cement ramp, over the road, and over to their nesting boxes. They immediately started chattering in that “Hi honey, I’m home!” kind of way. Sometimes they paused in the road for a “Same time tomorrow, Fred?” “See you then, Bob,” exchange.

Then they went into the boxes, came out of their boxes, wandered around, got into scuffles with each other, and wandered around some more, yammering loudly the whole time.

We weren’t allowed to take pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine tiny, snuggly blue penguins.

I have several million photos to upload, so this might take a while. Bear with me.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fraureisehaus, Christchurch, NZ

I’m at a loss of things to do until my 3pm bus to Oamaru (oma-ROO), so onward and upward.

This is actually my third stop in Christchurch. The first I didn’t think I’d stick around, but at 6:20pm I was browsing the internet for local swing dances and found a big workshop happening that night, starting at 6:30. I checked my watch, booked it upstairs to get my shoes, and took off into the night.

Two lindy hop workshops later I learned there were more workshops and a dance the next night, so I decided to stick around. Budgetary concerns kept me from the next workshops ($20 each adds up, even when hostel living is relatively inexpensive), so I just went to the dance. It’s a small scene, but generally friendly (for the uninitiated, it’s much easier to get into a dance scene if you’re relatively competent at the relevant style of dance).

J told me that I had to go to Cave Stream while I was around. I had no idea what it was, but apparently it was one of the coolest things to do. Unfortunately, and naturally, you can’t get there without a car, and it’s a fair bit of trouble getting there by bus as you’d have to ask especially to get dropped off nearby, and then walk. But! He might be taking the lindy teacher who was there for the workshops next Tuesday, so if they went and I was around I could tag along. That, combined with my offer and acceptance to teach a workshop for the Charleston Stroll at the classes the next week, and my interest in seeing Akaroa, led to me heading to the Information building the next morning.

I got there, bags in tow, at 10:05am, and asked for a ticket to Akaroa. The woman’s face fell – the last bus had left at 10am. Superb. I bought a ticket for the next day instead, and hauled my things back to Fraureisehaus. A whole day now at my disposal I checked my email, and learned that the leaders of the local swing dance couldn’t make my workshop happen, and so they were sorry but they had to cancel. Things were going my way!

(The view down to Akaroa)

The bus ride to Akaroa went off without a hitch and I settled myself into Chez La Mer backpackers. I booked myself for a Swimming With Dolphins tour for the following morning and wandered up and down the one main road in Akaroa. J sent me a text and said Cave Stream was on for the following Tuesday if I was interested.


Swimming With Dolphins was cancelled in the morning due to bad weather (just as well since it was freezing cold and cloudy), so I rebooked and went back to bed for another two and a half hours.

It was sunny and warm the next afternoon when I got suited up for dolphin-related adventures. The company takes a picture of you in your wetsuit before you head out, and takes another picture of the boat heading out. It was far more successful than my last venture. They managed to find two Hector’s dolphins who seemed interested, and they dumped us in the water, and we bobbed around as the dolphins wove in between us.

Hector's Dolphins

A tip, should you ever go swimming with Hector’s dolphins (unlikely, since they’re only found off the coast of New Zealand, but just in case) – bring along two small rocks to clack together under water. They think it’s the most fascinating thing. They also seem to like bright colors which does no one any good since you’re likely going to be wearing the tour’s black wetsuits. Different species like different things. Dusky dolphins (which are found in Kaikoura, which I almost got to swim with) like it when you squeak and hum and generally make a ruckus into your snorkel. Bottlenose dolphins like quiet. Who knew?

Hector's Dolphins

On the ride back in I chatted with a fellow scuba diver (he’d brought his own suit with bright green on the sleeves – he was very popular with the dolphins) who told me I absolutely had to dive the Poor Knight’s Islands, which north of the north island. Suddenly I’m thinking three months isn’t enough time. And we saw a penguin. It was cute.


There was little other excitement in Akaroa – it’s just quiet and calm and lovely there. Monday I went back to Christchurch and to Fraureisehaus. I asked J what to wear for the trip, and he said shorts and a t-shirt would be fine. Shorts. Great. I didn’t have shorts. Well, I did, but they weren’t terribly flattering. So Tuesday morning I raced around Christchurch trying to find a not-awful pair of shorts that didn’t cost $100. Not as easy as it sounds.

(Outside of the cave)

At noon I met up with J, and we picked up S before heading off to Cave Stream. Cave Stream, it seems, is an underground cave with a stream and a series of waterfalls running through it. You start at the exit (really) and climb through the water, up the waterfalls (1-1.5 meter high) before climbing a ladder and emerging at the other end. Seems backwards to me, but what did I know? I read the sign outside that said you should wear a long sleeved shirt – I didn’t have one – and a hat – didn’t have one of those either – and recommended closed shoes with thick socks – I was wearing sandals and feeling woefully unprepared.

The entrance of Cave Stream

We pranced down a steep hill to the mouth of the cave. It should be noted that it’s a mountain stream, and with the warm weather the snow on top was melting. And heading into the stream. T-shirt and shorts. What a splendid idea.

The first pool is the deepest, and where you gauge everyone’s comfort (according to the sign) and the feasibility of the tramp (slosh?). Normally the pool is waist deep. When we were there it came up to J’s armpits. J is not a short man. I’m short. We aborted the walk.

Instead we walked to the other end to see how going was from that direction. At the entrance is a waterfall maybe 3 meters high with a ladder at the side for clambering purposes.


J made it all the way down the ladder before deciding that the force of the water was too much, so we wiggled back out again.



A quick clothing change later and we went to Castle Hill where they filmed parts of Narnia and wandered through the surprisingly big stones. People climb them apparently. Know why? Because they’re crazy.



Jeff trying to climb the rocks
(J trying to climb the rocks)

The next night I went to another swing dance in Christchurch. It wasn’t thrilling. It was Halloween and apparently a memo had gone out that costumes were encouraged, and they could choose from 1. devil, or 2. angel. There were also two lions and two witches. Someone should’ve gone as a wardrobe. HAR!

I took off Thursday for Akaroa again and didn’t end up doing any of the tours I was thinking about doing (or hit the walks as much as I’d intended), but got a lot of sun. My poor nose is peeling away, and if this keeps up I’ll end up with one similar to the nouveau Michael Jackson.

I’m tan, though, which is very exciting. I mentioned this to P, a chap I met in Akaroa. He noted I was still pretty pale. “Pale!” I squealed, ever graceful under pressure, "I have tan lines," I yelled, pulling up my sleeve and wielding a bare shoulder at him. “Look at me! I’m the tannest I’ve been in years! I’m like toast I’m so brown!“

He didn’t buy it.

Now I’m back in Christchurch for the third time, a place that I hadn’t even intended to spend three days. And today I’m leaving, thank you.

Fraureisehaus, Christchurch, NZ

In lieu of my usual thrilling stories here are some things I’ve noticed about New Zealand.

1. If you’re just wandering around a shop you’re not browsing, you’re “having a browse.”

2. Apparently I am very obviously a tourist, though twice I’ve been mistaken for being British.

3. Construction workers often wear shorts. Sometimes rather short shorts. It’s unnerving, like stumbling into a photo shoot for a special edition of Playgirl Magazine: The real men next door!

4. It is damn hard to find healthy food here. There’s plenty of fish, which all the newspapers and gossip magazines tell me is good, but 3/4 of the time it’s fried in some way. Which isn’t a bad thing, to be sure, but doesn’t add much to the health benefits (never mind the ambitious serving of fries or “chips” that are added to the side). Aside from that there’s a lot of fried, a lot of eggs and bacon, pies, cakes, breads, and not a whole lot in the manner of “vegetables.” I’ve spotted a few salad cafés, but only in Auckland and Wellington. AND gyms seem to be exceptionally rare, even in the cities.

As a result this isn’t a “thin” country. I’d call it rather curvy, actually. And yet in clothing stores (not of the department variety, but of the fashion variety) the largest size is still just a 16. But on the local television shows they employ a lot of “regular-looking” people rather than the standard strong-jaw, slim-legged, glasses-free actors that are so popular in other first-world countries.

There’s also at least ten stories per newspaper/magazine/news hour about how New Zealanders are overweight and are eating poorly. There’s a big fuss now about how processed meats are being linked to colon cancer. I don’t think it’ll change much for BBQ season.

5. It's really not "pedestrian friendly" here. They will mow you down. When they have to wait for you to cross the street they'll creep up slowly as you walk past, and zip by as soon as they can clear your heels. I'm pretty sure there's some kind of reward system for hitting someone not in a car. But I could be wrong about that.


In the meantime I’ve been staying in hostels and it’s been decent. A good technique is to be the last one to go to bed. Cuts down on the number of people who will come in and bash around while you’re trying to sleep. Having a few beers beforehand doesn’t hurt either.

I went to Akaroa last week and stayed at Chez La Mer. The first night I lucked out and got a dorm room to myself. As nice as it was to spend $25 on a room to myself, having four empty beds in the room felt lonely. Bitch, bitch, bitch, that’s all I do. It filled up fast enough, and every now and again there’d be good conversation.

I didn’t get the best reception from one of the owners, though. Our first meeting was when she yelled at me for having my towel on the heater. Then she rushed off and the only time I saw her direct any happy feelings towards me was when she was waving me goodbye. Nice!

I’ve also spent more than a few nights at the Fraureisehaus Hostel in Christchurch. When I’ve told people that it’s women only they get all flustered and say they wouldn’t want to stay somewhere like that. I didn’t think I would either, but the fact is that the kinds of people who would stay at a women-only hostel are not usually the kind of people who stumble in drunk at 3 in the morning and do unspeakable things to the floor/bed/whatever. They’re more the kind of people who tuck up in the evening and watch a movie. And who are considerate and respectful. I can see why some people wouldn’t be into that.

This hostel is really cushy. Big screen tv, a plethora of videos to choose from, a garden to lounge in, resident pets, free coffee/cocoa/bikes/laundry/use of nice hairdryers, and no more than 4 beds per room. It’s wonderful.

Except that one morning when I woke up absolutely covered in bug bites (they changed my sheets and didn’t see anything, and suspect a spider had gotten in and thought I was delicious and/or threatening). And this morning when I had a very confusing series of interactions with one of the women who works here. When I dropped off the DVD of Frida that I’d borrowed for a bunch of us to watch she was very friendly. I was sitting in the garden some hours later and she came out of the building lugging my big bag which I’d left tucked in a corner of the hallway (under a sign that said “Leave your luggage here if you’re checking out before 8am” which makes no sense to me. If you’re leaving then you’d have your bags with you, and you surely wouldn’t leave your luggage there the night before). She asked if it was mine, and said it was to go into the shed until I left. She was downright frosty. There was nothing to indicate that that was protocol, and I hadn’t thought to ask. Silly me.

Other than that it’s been great.

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