Sunday, November 04, 2007

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.

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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.

1 comment:

IPS Khurana said...

hi emily

i am keen to visit Fox Glacier, NZ.

I read your blog its good and useful with pictures.

I also like to Travel Places.

I am your blog follower.

Can I connect you in Facebook and Twitter too.

Regards

IPS Khurana
India

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