Sunday, 31 October 2010

British architecture … but not really British

Sunday 31st October 2010 (Happy Hallowe'en … yeah right)

MP3 track of the day: One Ring to Rule them all- Lord of the rings

Weather: cloudy and cold in the morning due to the strong breeze. Winds settling down and the sun coming out in the afternoon.

Last night I went to sleep lateish due to me watching the three girls in my dorm (who happen to be quite nice and from the UK) play monopoly … I tell you what girls can bargain, and bargain hard (they can be so cruel sometimes). Anyway so we all returned to the dorm around midnight; there was an unpleasant smell within the room and I was pretty sure that it was the old kiwi man sleeping in the bottom bunk below me … well at least he wasn't snoring. At this point I had to remind myself that I was 'living the dream'.

I was up around nine and I went out pretty quickly. I took my camera and decided just to walk around Christchurch for two hours taking photos. First destination was the main square which included a pretty cathedral, a giant chess set and a couple of statues of dead important people. After this I headed around the town taking photos of new, old and destroyed buildings; the aftermath of the earthquake, that happened here two months ago, is still very much apparent with roads closed and buildings missing walls. One nice touch is that, on one particular church, the scaffolding has models of people kayaking, mountain biking and partaking in other out door activities. This being New Zealand, out door activities play a huge part in everyday life for all.

After my walk I returned to my hostel to drop off my camera; then I head straight out for lunch and then a little souvenir shopping. I knew pretty much which souvenirs I wanted; firstly a photo book of New Zealand and secondly a green stone pennant. The pennant wasn't a problem but none of the 312 souvenir shops, within Christchurch, had any photo books. It wasn't until I changed tactics and went hunting for a book store did I find a huge collection of photo books. It took about an hour to flick through most of them and find the best one (which happened to be the first one that I looked at) which wasn't perfect as there were no good images of 'The Church of the Good Shepard' with Lake Tekapo in the background (which seemed bizarre to me).

Yet again I went back to my hostel, this time to drop off my souvenirs and pick up my camera. I took a few shots of people playing chess, in the main square, before heading to the Christchurch art gallery; the biggest collection of New Zealand art in New Zealand and, best of all, it's free. I'm not a massive art lover but I thought I'd add a little culture to my day and spend a few hours in the gallery.

Twenty three minutes later and I was done. I had two favorite bits; firstly there was a piece which was a blue square with a lighter blue line in the middle of the square (the title of the piece should have been 'I can't be bothered'). My second favorite was the explanation of one piece which said something like “... the essence of this piece has an unearthly underworld aspect...”. I would have described it as a good photo of a flower, because THAT'S WHAT IT WAS!

After this I sat outside the art gallery to have a look at my guidebook; ideas were disappearing fast and it was only 2pm; there were the botanical gardens but I wanted at least something to do tomorrow. The only thing left that I fancied doing was heading up the cathedral tower for some good views. It's ironic that the church charged me to go up their tower, when the New Zealand government hasn't charged me once for any other activity that I have partaken in (no walks or the art gallery or the Te Papa museum in Wellington charged me a cent) however, I did get a free 'chocolate fish'. To add insult to injury the views weren't that great, not bad but not great … oh and you could get a certificate of your achievement climbing the tower, but you had to pay $2 additional dollars for that … I didn't bother.

My final task for the day was a very important one; last night I had noticed that a guy at the hostel had a 1.5lt bottle of vanilla coke. I had never ever seen a bottle of vanilla coke that big but I knew I wanted one. The guy last night told me that he got it from 'Pack and Save' (our version of Lidl) for $1.73! Armed with this information, and the directions of the nearest 'Pak and Save' courtesy of the lady on the hostel reception desk, I went hunter-gathering and my prize was a 1.5ltr bottle of Vanilla Cokeyum.

Some people say that Christchurch is very British; I can see where they make that assumption as quite a lot of architecture is similar to British design. However, as Sarah explained to me when I first arrived in New Zealand, architecture here is very different from building to building and so British architectural buildings are diluted by other designs resulting in the city, to me, not feeling very British at all … though its certainly more British than Victoria in Canada. The other surprising thing about Christchurch, this being the third largest city in New Zealand, is that there isn't a lot to do; tomorrow I'll visit the park and the botanical gardens but, apart from that, I don't know what else to do.

It's Hallowe'en tonight, the worst day of the year in my book; its where I try to hide and hope that it goes away … quickly. Tonight will be no exception and I reckon an early night with my bottle of Vanilla coke is in order.

Toodle Pip!

1 comment:

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