Monday, February 14, 2011

Windy Wellington

 Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone! Today started a little earlier than anticipated since the alarm in our room went off at 6:00 AM. We’re not sure how it was set, maybe it was a cruel joke by Jai! We did have to get up earlier since today we arrived in Wellington and had scheduled a tour. We had breakfast down in La Terrazza and then it was time to disembark and hear to the pier. We had a wonderful drive/tour guide who made the trip a lot of fun. The second we go off of the ship we understood why they call it “Windy Wellington”. It wasn’t terribly cool, but the wind was really gusting. Unfortunately I was not feeling any better this morning and the cool, damp wind wasn’t helping. I don’t think either of us realized it, but this area is a hotbed of seismic activity. Almost all of the structures are built out of timber as opposed to brick just for that reason. We noticed the large number of pine logs that were in port and were told that as soon as they are harvested they replant within weeks. As we drove up to our first stop, Mt. Victoria, we noticed how homes were built right into the mountain. In fact several we went past had their very own rail for a lift up to the home. Otherwise it was a terrible climb up many many steep steps. We arrived at the top of the mountain to take in the 360-degree views of the city. 
We could also see the airport, which as one of the shortest runways we have ever seen. It was quite windy up at the top. We also saw the forest where “Lord of the Rings” was partially filmed. As we drove down from the mountain we were able to see many of the residential areas and noticed how similar it looks to San Francisco, steep hills and all. Our next stop was to going up on the cable car in the Kelburn area. 
This was a quick and steep ride that took up to the top where to botanical gardens are located. We didn’t have time to go through then entire garden, 26 hectares worth, but we were taken to the rose garden. There were just thousands of roses all around of every variety and I think I took a photo of almost every one. 

Each one seemed more gorgeous than the last. There was also the begonia house where the blooms were so large that they too looked like roses. I think we could have spent hours here. At this point the weather was much warmer and the wind had died down. We now understand the “4 seasons in a day” that one can get in New Zealand. There was a quick stop by Parliament and their famous “beehive” shaped building, but we weren’t very fond of it. 
Our final stop was St. Paul’s church. This church was constructed back in 1860(ish) and scheduled to be torn down back in the 1950s since the congregation had outgrown the structure. 
Thankfully it was saved and is truly a gorgeous structure. The outside reminds you of what you would see up in Cape Cod, but as soon as you enter you are struck by the dark wood that resembles traditional gothic revival style architecture. Again, due to earthquakes and such, the church could not be built out of stone, so the architect incorporated the style in timber. There is an American flag as well as the US Marine Corps flag which was left by the departing troops after WWII. 
World's largest timber building - made to look as though it were made of stone. 
We were then taken back to the ship in time for a late lunch. I had planned on going back into town, but the weather took a turn for the worse with winds and rain. Our afternoon was spent in the suite and we even decided to have room service this evening. We enjoyed soup and sandwiches, just what the doctor ordered. I have managed to get some cold/flu meds, so we’re hoping that tomorrow will be better. We are now en route to Christchurch and will arrive early in the morning. 

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