Time in New Zealand

12 Sep

I was staying at the Windsor B & B and it was SO cute.  See photos below or previous entries for their website. 

My lovely temporary home in NZ.

My lovely temporary home in NZ.

My room at the Windsor B&B

My room at the Windsor B&B A different view of my room.

The Throne!

The Throne!

The site of the wonderful bath tub.

The site of the wonderful bath tub.

We checked in and I met this bubbly employee who gave me the full run down of how this place works.  It was very cute and quaint, but I didn’t think to find out if the bathrooms were attached to the bedrooms.  They weren’t, but it worked out okay anyway.  I got a tour of the place including the dining area for breakfast, a snack room, the shower/toliet and bath/toliet and a tiny little map of the town of Christchurch.  She suggested places to see, to eat, to walk by and places not to go.  I headed to my room (see photos) and started to settle in (as settled in as one can get in 1 1/2 days).  At this point, I realized that I was living in a very cozy (some might say small) room and should begin to adjust to life in a different way.  I didn’t want to live out of bag, so I made the room a little more homey. 

Flower Garden from Victoria Square

Flower Garden from Victoria Square

 Before heading out to check out the town, I decided to get a little nap in.  As some of you may know, I like to nap, A LOT, but this was just a short one hour power nap.  I got up, showered (and took a nice long bath-see photos of the great bathtub) and headed out on my self guided tour of Christchurch.  I wandered around and found a nice little square, Victoria Square (see photos) and then saw my first New Zealand Starbucks (see photos).  I knew that I wanted something warm, but I couldn’t see supporting the chain, so I ventured on. 

The infamous Starbucks, even in New Zealand!

The infamous Starbucks, even in New Zealand!

The georgous and cool looking fountain that we in Victoria Square.  It sat right in front of the Town Hall.

The georgous and cool looking fountain that we in Victoria Square. It sat right in front of the Town Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I continued to walk, I came across so many great little boutiques and shops.  I wanted to purchase some trinkets to remember this time, but I was still concerned about my weight limits.  I had one more weigh in to go before we got on the plane to head to The Ice.  As you can see, weight was clearly on my mind!  The tour continued and I stumbled onto Cathedral Square. 

Cathedral Square

Cathedral Square

There was ANOTHER Starbucks, a beautiful cathedral that I think is real old and well known in the area, and the Christchurch visitors center.  I headed in there and found some great postcards.  I picked up one and went to pay with my New Zealand dollars, but since the clerk didn’t have enough change, he gave it to me free, then mentioned that the necklaces he had been selling were on sale, hint, hint, hint!  I walked out with a free postcard and a smile.

I continued the tour and found an outdoor mall that had a train track running through it.  It looked interested, so I entered.  I thought the tracks were just for show until I saw signs that said ‘beware of the train’ and then I heard the engine and VERY quickly exited the tracks.  Who would think that a real train would pass thru the center of an outdoor mall?  Only in New Zealand.

Next, I came upon a wind mill in the middle of a small river running thru the town.  It was cool looking, but in an odd spot.  I headed closer to find out the story.  It’s the first wind mill ever used in Christchurch and it was used to power equipment that would mill flower. 

The beautiful park along the same stream as the windmill.

More beautiful scenery.

The Windmill

The Windmill

 

More beautiful scenery.

The beautiful park along the same river as the windmill.

I then headed back to the B & B to freshen up for dinner.  I had a hot date with some kitchen folk at a local joint for some adult beverages and socializing.  I wasn’t sure what the proper attire for this establishment was, so I made myself look pretty (yes, in jeans though).  I had a few minutes so I decided to check out the family room in the B&B.  It was this cool room with big red couches, a TV and two computers with the internet.  I met up with a few other SAP employees and chatted about the area.  I also met this really cute couple from Nelson, NZ.  They were in town for a business meeting the husband had and were staying the weekend for a little get away.  They had done this often and really enjoyed the town, the restaurants, and especially the B&B.  They gave me great advice about what to do in town and some great restaurants to try.  I added all of that to my ‘to do’ list for my stay (both now and upon my return).  I caught up on news (I guess that I didn’t miss much other than more talk of McCain’s running mate and her children’s issues) and then headed out.  

The restarurant was very easy to find with the help of the handy dandy mini map I recieved from the B&B and other USAP people’s guidance.  It was located near this really cool Art Center filled with a movie theater, a playhouse, another vegetarian restaurant that comes highly recommended, some art stores (selling beautiful pieces), and an indepenedent coffee house.  The meeting point was a restaurant called the Lux de Lux. 

The Dux de Lux

The Dux de Lux

It was well known for their vegetarian and seafood dishes plus a great atmosphere for socializing.  I came upon the menu (hanging on a huge wall-yes, an entire wall) and just starred for five minutes.  It was pretty overwhelming, so I decided to take it slow to make the best decision.  I wanted to try so many things, but I settled on the Mediterranean Dips Platter with Flatbread and a cup of the Pumpkin Soup.  I placed my order and took a seat and started people watching.  When I initially arrived, it was about 1/3 full.  As I sat, atleast60-70 additional people came in.  It appeared as if this was the ‘hot spot.’  The dining area was small with seating inside for about 75 people, but there was also a large covered patio with heat lamps that sat another 100 people plus.  As I watched, I realized that I wasn’t the only one who had a tough time deciding on what to order.  It was quite humorous to watch others do the same thing!  I recieved my food and it was incredible!  There were five different dips; a tomato, cream cheese, and herb dip, hummus, a zesty olive tapenade, another cheesy dip that was white and delicious (but I couldn’t figure out what was in it or come up with a name for it), and a tasty avocado dip with mediterranean herbs.  The flatbread was great too.  It was like naan, all soft and warm, but it was topped with parmesan and romano cheeses and fresh herbs.   Hmmm!  And the soup was good too! 

By the time I finished my meal, I looked up and saw Leon (remember the young man from Michigan that I met in the LAX airport) and decided to join him with the other kitchen buddies outside.  I met Linda, another newby sous chef.  She’s from Miami and we are both a little nervous about why we are doing this and what exactly we are getting into.  It seems like the more we talk with others, the more fearful we become of entering this endeavor.  I met Eric, another newby from New Mexico.  He will be a production cook.  Lour, another production cook from Florida whose family owns a fresh sausage company, and then Dan, Dawn, and Mike.  Dan is my boss’s, boss’s, boss and he is the top dog here from NANA Services (the company I work for that contracts from Raytheon to provide housing, food service, janitorial services, etc. down here).  Dan is the housing supervisor.  I offered to buy him lots of drinks or make him great sweets to ensure a great room with normal roommates.  You all know my history!  And Dawn is Mike’s wing man (his assistant) in housing.  Lastly, I met Jennifer.  She’s my boss for the next month and then will be my boss’s boss and really cool.  She’s laid back, down to earth and easy to talk to.  {Side note:  Her uncle is Jake Jabs, owner of American Furniture Warehouse for those of you from CO.}  All of my new friends were very nice and I felt very comfortable with them in such a short time.  I guess the impending fear of doing this made us bond!  And I am sure the adult beverages helped as well.  I called it a night around 10am and headed back to the B&B with Mike, Dan, and Dawn.  I figured that since they’d been in this area a few more times than me that they knew the way back to the B&B, especially in the dark. 

I got a great nights sleep (in a foreign bed, foreign room, foreign country) and woke up and decided to go for a run.  I found Hagley Park that had many other runners and cyclists.  It was a perfect morning.  The weather was about 50 degrees Fahrenheitand the sun was just coming up.  The park was very flat and I was running at sea level.  It was much easier than running in Denver.  I did decidethat I stood out like a tourists early on.  As I did in the states, I run on the right side of the sidewalk or street and I did the same here out of habit.  I soon realized that I was not on the proper side when I kept finding bikes and other runners coming right at me.  It only took a few minutes then I deicided to run on the left side of the side walk.  I guess since people drive on that side of the road, they bike and run on that side as well.  It’s funny looking back, but I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb!  I had a great run around the park and back to the B&B.  I joined my fellow USAP friends for a beautiful breakfast.  I picked a table with someone I had seen, but hadn’t met yet and was shortly greeted by my server who took my order for eggs.  I visited the buffet and enjoyed the company.  There was a great selection of food and beverages and well worth not having a connected bathroom.  I learned more and more about life on The Ice from John and Dan (an airfield employee that makes sure the planes work right and safe) and got lots of tips of what to do and what not to do.  It was nice to hear all of this, but it was becoming a bit overwhelming.  I was ready to get to The Ice and see what everyone was talking about.

My plans for the day included picking up my ECW (Extreme Weather Gear) at the CDC (Clothing Distribution Center) at 1pm and I had a few hours to spare.  I headed back to the Art Center and found a local coffee house called “The Coffee House.”  It was a great little store front selling coffee and coffee beverages as well as light lunch items and wonderful looking pastries.  I settled on a Chai since I was still full from breakfast.  I wandered around the Art Center a little more then headed back to the B&B to pick up my shuttle for the CDC.  I met up with the other USAP group and we headed out.  The ride to the CDC (next to the airport) seemed to take longer than the previous day.  I saw great houses, nice parks, and the center of town. 

Once at the CDC, we all were corralled into a makeshift theater to watch a presentation by Jennifer Jabs regarding the Community Diningroom Attendant Program.  I guess since there is such a skeleton staff on base now, they rotate all the community members thru the Diningroom Attendant positions (during main body, when the rest of the staff arrive, these are paid positions that will be filled).  I felt like I was going thru basic kitchen safety training.  The presentation was great and basic for people who have never worked in a kitchen.  I am sure that I will see all of my new friends washing my dishes over the next few weeks.  GREAT!!!

We proceeded to receive instructions regarding our ECW.  The video was very informative and made me contemplate that this next task could be my first challenge of this job, selecting appropriate clothing.  We separated boys from girls and entered our respective areas.  We were each were issued two BIG orange bags filled with our ECW and any appropriate job specific attire we needed.  The fun began.  We had to try on all of our issued clothing.  I would have never thought this could be such a chore.  I started with the Chef’s clothing.  That part was easy.  We were issued four pants and four chef’s coats (but working six days a week with the expectation of coming to work in cleaned cloths-strange hugh?).  Next, I went thru my check list of what cold gear I needed.  I recieved two pair of really thick warm socks that go up to my waist, two types of liners for under my insulated bib overalls (one thin pair and two really thick pair).  And let me tell you, these overalls were VERY flattering.  I will send photos!  I am thinking about asking if I could keep them for my ski attire!  I recieved a pair of glove liners, thick construction gloves, a neck gator, a fleece liner, pullover and jacket, bunny boots (which are these moonboots that weigh about 10 pounds each, great for walking lunges!).  They are harder to put on than ski boots and extremely less attractive.  Lastly, I found ‘BIG RED,’ the big poofy parka with my name on it.  I felt like a big red marshmallow, but I was sure it would keep me warm.  This is the free parka I have boasted so much about! 

During this whole process, there were several other women who suggested other items to pick up that would make my time easier (and hopefully warmer).  I picked up a wind jacket, a little lighter than BIG RED to be used when it gets warmer for the summer (yes, it will get warmer).  The other girls around me were so helpful and full of suggestions, it made this CHORE just a little easier, a great deal more fun.  I didn’t have to tough of a time, but there were some that were constantly struggling with finding the correct size to fit their uncommon proportions. 

Next came the packing part…we had to have one bag that would be checked through to Antarctica, on bag that was our ‘boomerag’ bag, and all of the required gear we needed to wear on the plane there would be in this bag as well.  Keep in mind there is still the weight limit of 75#.  So, I did my best to organize and rearrange, but knew that tomorrow’s weigh in might be VERY close! 

We were done for the day and I met up with John (mechanic) and Linca (other sous chef) and we took a nice little walk to the ‘Mall.’  It was only about 25 minutes away from the center of town and a very nice walk.  One the way we saw the one and only electronic store in Christchurch, many adult book/video stores, lots of clothing and trinket boutiques, and many food establishments selling a variety of cuisines, thai, sushi, seafood, junkfood, etc.  The ‘mall’ was not like any mall in the states.  It was about the size of a SAMS club or Walmart.  There was a grocery store at one end and a mini version of a Target on the other.  There were three shoe stores, one book store, a stationary store, a small food court, a jewelry store, and a few other stores that didn’t stick out as to what they were selling.  We stopped in the mini Target and I picked up some ‘snacks’ for my flight and then we headed to the grocery store to check out their stock of produce.  It was pretty weird to see all of the different produce they offered compared to the King Soopers or Safeway I am used to in Colorado.  They even had some fruit and veggies I had not heard of or had ever seen before.  I picked up some dried fruits (knowing that my fruit selection may be very limited) and we headed on.  Linda and I choose to try the self checkout.  VERY EXCITING!  Even though it was in english, the currency was not American dollars!  It was very fun!

Walking back to the center of town, we ran into Leon and he joined us for dinner.  We tried LE CAFE, the other great restaurant in the Art Center.  Over great conversation, great food, and great company, we all enjoyed our evening.  Since we had to be ready and checked out of our hotels/B&B’s by 4:15am, we decided to head home and get some rest for our next new adventure:  The flight to Antarctica.

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