fishing for words

(and tossing out random thoughts)

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the best day ever

More details later, but put Rotorua on your “places to go before I die” list. This was by far my favorite day so far.

We saw a working sheep farm where they also grow feijoa (my new favorite fruit) and kiwifruit and olives. They’ve also got alpaca and llama and cattle and a few pigs. It was just so much fun there.


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Rotura, New Zealand (part 2)

I’ll post details that I’ve written later when I can get Internet access on my laptop. I just wanted to let you all know that we’re having a fantastic time here and have absolutely fallen in love with the area and the people. We toured a Maori village yesterday and then saw the boys perform with a local high school choirs.

Today we’re out doing touristy things again.

Details that I had written, now posting (on June 22 at 8:45 PM):

We went back to yesterday’s lunch restaurant for breakfast. The place is called Relish, and it’s fantastic. Good food, good wine, and good service. If you’re ever in Rotorua, look it up and go there.

After breakfast, we walked to a yarn shop in town so I could get some knitting needles to replace some that broke and then walked back to the hotel to get the car so we could drive to Whakarewarewa, the Thermal Village. This is a Maori village where about 30 families live, and they have guided tours and performances and shops and nature walks all around there. We spent about two hours taking the guided tour and then browsing in shops and taking the nature walk. It’s pretty awesome to think that the people in that village can still live the way their ancestors did, living off the land and using the natural resources. They still cook their meals in steam pits in the ground (Maori crockpot, I called it) and take baths in the super-soft mineral water in the center of the village.

We had quite a bit of downtime at the hotel before heading out for dinner and the boys’ performance at St. Luke’s. We stopped at a little corner “hamburger shack” for dinner–which was really delicious and cheap–and met a young man from Germany who is backpacking–by himself–through New Zealand. He started in Brisbane (I think), Australia, and has been to Sydney then through South Island and now working his way up the North Island. Really nice, super polite, very interesting to talk to.

The performance at St. Luke’s was the best ever. Our boys performed several numbers first, and then the girls choir from Western Heights High School girls choir did three numbers. Our boys performed again, including several solos (Joseph and Forrest). Next, the Western Heights girls and boys did another three. Those kids are so great, and their town should be proud of them. The evening’s performance ended with the GGBC “California Medley,” which got lots of laughs and applause.

Mom and I walked back to the hotel in something like 5- or 6-degree weather. Boy, are we walking a lot!

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Rotura, New Zealand (part 1)

Let me just say this right off the bat: The people here are just so nice and helpful.

We drove straight to Rotorua without stopping. I was just a bit focused on the driving to try to figure out how to get to the Waitomo Caves. Maybe we’ll hit that the next trip to New Zealand.

Mom’s taking a rest right now, and then we’ll take a walk into the town. We ate a huge lunch just when we got here, so neither of us is hungry.

Which brings me to nice, helpful people: The waitress/manager at the restaurant where we had lunch (can’t remember the name right now, but I will definitely post it when I find it because the food and wine choices are stellar) immediately got that we’re American and told us she and her family are going to the US for their vacation at the end of August. So we had a nice exchange. She told us which Maori experiences to choose from, and we told her definitely Disneyland and California Adventure over Knott’s. They’re also going to San Diego, Las Vegas, and New York. That’s covering a lot in one trip, if you ask me.

Anyway, back to Rotorua. We haven’t yet had a chance to look around, but we have a fantastic view of the lake from our room, and the sulfur smell is not bad at all. The Sudima Hotel is where we’re staying–beautifully refurbished recently, from what we understand, and very nice and quiet.

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last full day in Auckland

Just a short update as I’m on an Internet cafe sort of thing and have limited time. I’ll post the update I wrote yesterday later in the week.

Driving on the other side of the road and the car, one has to ignore *every* instinct one has and do exactly the opposite. I got us to the church for Mass, to Kelly Tarlton’s, back to the church for the concert, and back to our squishy little parking spot in the hotel car park. I’m feeling rather accomplished by now.

Kelly Tarlton’s was entertaining for the 45 or so minutes we spent there. Probably more fun for kids, but we enjoyed it just Mom and I. The boys sang beautifully (what else?) at Mass and at the performance in the afternoon, as did the Auckland Boys Choir and the Auckland Girls Choir. I certainly hope we have the opportunity to reciprocate with at least the Boys Choir sometime.

Other than those little things, walking was the activity of the day. We walked from the hotel down to Victoria Park Market and then down to the Viaduct for dinner. Except the walk down to the Viaduct took longer than it should have as we missed a turn and went to far down toward the water and had to backtrack and then walk and walk and walk. I’ve walked more in these past three days than I have in the last year. Good for me, though!

Tomorrow, we check out of the New President and say goodbye to Bruce, the desk clerk extraordinare, and off we’ll go to Waitomo Caves to see the glow worms and then on to Rotorua to check into our next hotel. I hope we have free Internet access there, ’cause this $10 here and $5 there is not cutting it. I’m learning a lot from this first trip.

The people here in Auckland could not be nicer. Every person who waits on us is helpful and smiling and courteous. I highly recommend coming here and hope to do it again myself, but next time with my husband.

Later all. Stay tuned!

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first full day in Auckland

Written on and regarding Saturday, June 16, 2007; posted June 18, 2007 @ 5:06 PM

We completely slept in this morning. We were in bed by 8:00 last night and asleep by about 8:30. Both of us woke up at about 4:00 in the morning. I stayed awake for quite a long time before falling back to sleep…until 11:30! I haven’t slept that late in, like, ever!

Anyway, our reservations at Orbit were for 1:00, so we got moving and were there about 20 minutes early. We got to wander around the observation deck (and I took some pictures) before heading up to the restaurant. While there, we ran into Lamar and Billy, dad and brother of one of Adam’s B1-mates, so after we were all done eating, we went back down to the observation deck for another wander around. There we saw a wonderful exhibit of photos of Mohammed Ali dating back to 1963, I think was the oldest one. Great collection of pictures.

We all decided to walk over to St. Benedict’s, where the boys were rehearsing. We didn’t stay there long, just while they warmed up, and then the men sang one song. It’s a beautiful church, one mile exactly from our hotel, built in the mid 1800s. The cathedral congregation is having Mass there while the cathedral is being renovated.

Lamar and Billy walked back toward our respective hotels and split off to find out what time the movie started. Mom and I walked back to the hotel for a pit stop and then walked 15 minutes down Queen Street to the harbor and the ferry building. We’d just missed the ferry to Devonport, but there was another one in 30 minutes, so we got coffee from the vendor and a muffin and sat and read New Zealand women’s magazines.

Once over in Devonport, we wandered up what appeared to be the main street, but all the shops were closed already. It was 5:30 by then and dark as it’s winter here. We looked in the windows all up the street and then found a restaurant that looked nice. We stopped in for some refreshment. I got a bowl of tomato lentil soup with wholemeal grain toast–delicious and perfect for a winter day. Paired with a nice glass of New Zealand Chardonnay, it was a nice light dinner.

After we finished, we walked back to the ferry and got there just in time to catch the boat back to Auckland. Then we walked the 15 minutes back to the hotel and called it a day.

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in Auckland!

We’re here! We were a little sweaty and grimy and had spinning heads for the first part of the day, but by almost 5:00 PM, we’re feeling pretty good.

We landed at 5:30, were in the Customs line for over an hour, and finally had a little breakfast in our bellies and our rental car by, like, 9:00. I managed to get us from the airport to our hotel in the north part of Auckland. It’s a clean enough place. We’re about two blocks from Sky City, so after we cleaned up a bit, we went over there and walked around and had a snack. We’ll go back there tomorrow at 1:00 for lunch.

Driving on the left side of the road and in the right side of the car is only mildly weird. Mostly I just have to think harder when I’m making turns. I also had to park in the swishiest little space in the hotel garage (or car park, as they call it here).

I’m loving this adventure and loving spending the time with my mom.

More later!