Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The weather certainly isn't like Scotland

Wednesday 3rd November 2010

MP3 track of the day: passage of the marshes - Lord of the Rings

Weather: Sunny and hot … seems like the weather isn't based on Edinburgh

Once again I found myself unsure what to do in the city that I was based in; actually there is plenty to do, however I don't think my budget can stretch to most of what is on offer
(as I've spent a fortune recently) so I opted for the cheapest idear (actually it was free) which was a self guided walk of Dunedin.

Yes indeedy the YHA here had produced it's own 'walking tour' leaflet of Dunedin which you pick up and walked yourself. This was good as, like I said above it was free, secondly I could have a lie-in this morning and start the walk whenever I felt liked and b) it allowed me to see all the best bits of Dunedin in the one day that I have ... magic.

The first port of call was the old Union Bank which was built in 1874; an impressive building which had now been turned into a strip club. I tried to get in but it was shut. After this the walk sent me towards the center of town passing the old council chambers, post office, Cargill Monument (named after the co-founder of the Otago settlement in 1848) and the old bank of New Zealand.

Just before taking a sharp turn right I reached a set of steps which were rather odd due to the design looking like the stairs backtracked over themselves. Heading away from town I reached the 'Queens Gardens' which had a statue of Queen Victoria (how original), a war memorial and the cenotaph. Across the road was the 'Otago Settler's museum which my leaflet guide stated would be a good place to look around. I missed it, because I had only just started my walking tour of Dunedin, but I decided I would come back and have a look if there was time at the end of the day.

Once past the police station, prison (both built in 1896) and the law courts (1902) I was back at the railway station and this time I had a look inside. On the first floor I was met by a mad English woman who had seen a sign saying 'Alert!' and though it was very funny and started saying “... look out for a lert, get it a lert?...”

I hadn't got a clue what she was on about but I humored her before getting away from her as fast as possible … fruit cake. Also on the first floor there were two stain glass windows each with a train on; from up here you had a good look at the foyer down below which was very nice indeed. Did you know that Dunedin Railway Station is the most photographed building in New Zealand.

After the railway station the walk took me past Cadbury where I could smell the chocolate … yum ... and on past the fire station (which had an old fire engine in a showcase class viewing area) and through to the university. Just like any university in the world it was full of students who were trying to live for twelve days on nothing but 'instant whip', students trying to withdrawn $3.70 from an ATM and generally people who should be trying to getting a job. I stayed within this area only to have a look around the 'Otago Museum' located within the campus.

Just like two days ago I wasn't in much of a museum mood so I went through the exhibits like a knife through butter. It's a shame because this museum was really good and well laid out; the only thing is that it covered many aspects I had already seen in other museums. The most fascinating thing for me was located in the 'Animal Attic'. It wasn't any of the stuffed animals that kept looking at me, it was the actual room that they were house in, with it's high beam roof and old panels of glass letting the light in … it looked very early 20th Century.

After walking around the museum I went to the nearby botanical gardens to have a short sit down, drink my bottle of water and eat a little chocolate. The gardens were lovely and they make a very pleasant place to sit and while away the hours. Unfortunately I didn't have hours and my walking guide pressed me forth on a long stroll to 'Baldwin Street', the Steepest Street in the world (according to the Guinness Book of World Records). It was quite a long walk to this road but, when I arrived, I was glad to see that Dunedin hadn't sold it's sole to the 'tacky souvenir' world that we now all live in. This is the steepest road in the world and it would have been so easy or Dunedin to have, say, a cheap tacky sou

venir shop at the bottom selling rubbish certificates to say that one had walked up the steepest road in the world; no it was nice to see the people of Dunedin had kept there self respect and made sure that this world record was kept 'low key'.

Okay, okay so of course they had a tacky souvenir shop, however I wasn't bothered about that, I headed straight to the road and I climbed my way up it. It actually looked worse from the bottom than it actually was and I was at the top of the road, a little out of breath granted, in no time at all.

After this I went back to the botanical gardens and picked up the path my walking guide told me to; we were now getting towards the end of this tour and I was glad as I was starving. I went into a church to see some stain glass windows (lovely) before reaching the main shopping street. Being so hungry I went into the first fast food restaurant I could find, which happened to be a McDonald's. It was 1:55pm and, between the hours of twelve and two, McDonald's had a promotion that, if they didn't have the customers food ready, within sixty seconds, then the customer was entitled to a free Big Mac. I was tempted to order a burger, but ask for it without mayonnaise or tomato (as that means they have to cook a fresh burger and surely that would take longer than sixty seconds) and a milkshake as it takes longer to pour than a fizzy drink ... until I realized that I didn't even like Big Mac's. I ordered my standard chicken nugget meal but I did have a milkshake as it was so hot … 58 seconds it took them, damn!

After lunch I finished the guided walk by visiting ' the first church' (which actually wasn't Dunedin's first church) and then the Octagon where I took a few snaps. As my feet hurt I decided to head to the 'Otago Settler's museum' which I saw at the beginning of the walk, however it was shut for maintenance.

With my feet hurting I decided to call it a day, I went to 'Countdown' supermarket to purchase tea which, to my joy, is a can of 'Chunks' … yes my stable food source in Canada is in New Zealand too. Not sure what I'm going to do tonight; my bus leaves for Oamaru at 7:45am tomorrow so it's another early night for me, however maybe a film before bed … I've noticed that the hostel does have a copy of 'about a boy' … maybe this time I'll watch it to the end.

I like Dunedin, the city has some of the countries best architecture and, just like every other town on the east cost of the south island, it has a giant chess set in the pedestrian center (why New Zealand has so many public chess sets I don't know). However I have to say that I've seen some fairy strange people here; this morning I saw a youngish chap with a great big bushy beard, a waistcoat, knee length shorts and nothing on his feet … walking down the street … and this guy isn't the weirdest person I've seen here.

Toodle Pip!


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