Friday, March 21, 2008

I will be posting all the entries in my journal that I kept on the trip to New Zealand. It is long. I kept the journal to remember what went on and my general impressions of New Zealand in 2008. It is not meant to be literature.

One of the books I read on the trip was Nancy Mitford:A Memoir by Harold Acton. She made a trip to Russia during the thirties and wrote about it to her friends "I think I must write it all down and send it to various buddies--no obligation to read."

I feel that way about this blog, you have no obligation to read it.

March 10, 2008, Christchurch, New Zealand

I am sitting now at Victoria Square, a park across the street from my hotel, the Copthorne. This lovely fountain, featured on postcards, can be seen from the balcony of my room.

The Coptherne is about my speed. The room is serviceable, clean, all all the amenities, not too dated, centrally located. More luxury is wasted on me. The bathroom, however, is fabulous.

Ken and I left the Rucker house about 6 am on Saturday the 8th. Several inches of snow was on the ground and it was snowing. We had no problem getting to the airport. More truthfully, Ken had no problem. He was driving Anne's heavy SUV with 4 wheel drive, although he never had to use the 4 wheel drive. He doesn't worry about the snow, just the other cars.

No problems on the Southwest flight to LA. When we landed the pilot said "from snow to sun." It was lovely weather. I just walked to the international terminal from the domestic terminal that services Southwest. After checking in at Air New Zealand, I had many hours to wait.

I have never been on a flight with a famous person, but, this time, Scott Hamlin, the former US champion figure skater, was on the plane from Nashville. His wife is from somewhere in west Tennessee.

The plane from LAX to Auckland had a 3-4-3 seat configuration. Naturally I had a window seat. Wonderful if you enjoy looking out at blackness.

Next to me was Seth Stanley and in the aisle seat his father Don. They also were on the Gate 1 tour. We sat next to each other on all the flights. Seth is 11 and loves penguins so his father was taking him to see the ones outside of Dunedin.

This was the best overseas flight I have ever been on. After supper I went to sleep and did not wake up until breakfast was being served.

It took almost 50 hours to get here but I feel okay.

One unfortunate thing is I lost my black Talbot's blazer, a cornerstone of my planned wardrobe. I had it with me when I got off the plane in Auckland and didn't have it when I got off the plane in Christchurch.

I checked into the hotel and went for a walk.

First I bought this journal I am writing in and a NZ magazine The Listener.

I walked to Cathedral Square, past the beautiful cathedral and past the dreadful new modern sculpture called the Chalice. On over to the river Avon where I found exactly what I wanted, Robert Scott, the Antarctic explorer. Notice I did not say the statue of Robert Scott, but it is Robert Scott himself. George Rodney told me, and, of course, I believe him, that this is the actual perpetually frozen body of Scott. An Englishman, Scott left with his party from NZ to attempt to be the first man at the South Pole. He got to the pole only to find evidence that the Norwegian Amundsen had gotten there first. Scott and his men froze to death on the way back.

I walked along the Avon trying to find the little sandwich room, where George Rodney and I used to eat a lunch of bread and butter wrapped around asparagus. Yum! I never found it.

I wound up at McDonald's where I ordered a hamburger. It cam without either pineapple or beet, New Zealand standards. That was a disappointment.

In 86, the only US fast food chain in Christchurch was Pizza Hut, one store. Now they are all here, McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, KFC, Starbucks. In Australia they call Starbucks the American Embassy.

Around the world fast food places are staffed by immigrants. Here they are Asians. It is odd to hear a Kiwi accent from a Chinese face.

I went into a small food shop and bought our favorites, Milky Bars, Chicken-flavored potato chips, and wine gums.

There are new flavors of potato chips I want to try, or maybe not. For example, roast lamb with mint flavored potato chips?

I walked along the rivor Avon for a while watching in Japanese in kayaks run into the banks.

I walked to the Canterbury Museum. I am old enough not to feel I have to look at everything I am not interested. I whizzed through the Maori section, but lingered in the early settlers part. The Antarctic section was my favorite. I am very interested in cold weather regions--the Arctic and high mountains. On the other hand I am personally very cold natured and hate to be cold.

There was a concerted effort during the nineties to clean up old scientific stations in Anarctica. They dismantled early buildings and rebuilt them at the Canterbury Museum. Soome look like huts or sheds but one was metal and looks sort of like a diving bell.

I went fast through the waterfowl and accelerated through the Chinese history section. Even Chinese porcelain doesn't interest me.

Outside I spent some time wandering through the Botanical Garden. A very enjoyable time.

I stopped at some souvenir shops and found a lot to buy but the prices are high. I will delay my buying unntil Auckland. The cheaper souvenirs are made in china while the more quality products are made in NZ.

One new product is Merinomink. This very expensive, very soft blend is made of merino wool and possum fur hairs. Possum fur is used by itself in high quality, high cost gloves, vests, and hats. It is exceedingly lightweight. I have seen it in extreme lightweight backpacking catgalogs at home. I haven't seen any of them here in New Zealand for sale.

I am watching an England-New Zealand cricket match on TV. I have no idea what is going on but from the commentary I think NZ is winning. This was George Rodney's favorite NZ sport because he loved to see them break for tea.

Oh, no tea time today. New Zealand just won. This was a three day match.

Besides the US fast food places, there are a lot of shops selling Asian food including several sushi places.


Floors are numbered as they are in Europe. The first floor is G, ground floor, the next floor is the first floor. Myt room is 329 and I am on the US fourth floor.

2. I have 10 channels on the hotel TV. Better than the two channels New Zealand had when we were here. No many how many choices you have there is rarely anything to watch. This afternoon Susan Lucci was selling her skin system and Dr. Phil was solving problems. There was s Jeremy Somebody show where they were doing test to determine who was the baby's father, like Maury Povich. Actually 32 channels are listed in The Listener, the TV Guide, of New Zealand. Hopefully I will get more at other hotels.

3. On the flight from Auckland to Christchurch, the TVs showed questions about New Zealand that I could not answer. It bothered me that there were two bad grammatical errors. One question contained a phrase like "who's name" when they obviously should have used whose. Another had a question the equivalent to "The man is whom?" I guess whom just sounds more genteel. Maybe these questions were prepared by a summer intern.

6. I saw a group of Maoris dressed in tribal outfits. I thought they were singing Maori songs but when I listened carefully they were singing"You Are My Sunshine."

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