Christchurch

Today ended up being a park kind of day. I started off at Hagley Park. Today is a holiday in New Zealand (it’s Monday), so there were a lot of families out and about enjoying the nice weather.

 

After that I went to Mona Vale, which is a very nice garden. It felt so far away from the city, even though it was quite close. It reminded me of the Arboretum. Because it is spring, the roses weren’t out, but I imagine the rose garden is quite nice. Speaking of spring, I forgot to mention that I saw a lilac tree yesterday in Akaroa. I smelled it before I saw it. I so love the smell of lilacs. It was a special treat. The Avon River flows through the Mona Vale, and I got some good shots there.

 

The highlight of the day for me was Riccarton Bush. I felt like I was in forest when I ventured into the grove area. The area is the remnants of the Canterbury original forest. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went, but it blew my mind. It was so quiet. No city noise. Just the sound of birds and animals moving around. I would recommend this place as a much see, and it is free. According to my guidebook, some of the kahikatea trees are half-millennium-old. I really like tree trunks and I like to see old roots that seem to pop out of the ground. The roots run deep.

 

I also went to the Botanic Gardens, which is next to Hagley Park. I enjoyed it. I don’t think I saw all of it. I was started to get tired, and I had been walking quite a bit by then.

 

But alas, I did keep walking. I had been eyeing the tram even though I thought it was kind of pricey. So I decided to walk the loop map. It didn’t take me anywhere new, but it was a sure fire way to see all of the main spots in the center. I also walked it out of order as I added in the parks where they fell along the route.

 

So I took the route: Cathedral Junction – New Regent Street, Victoria Square (which is closed) – Casino – Cranmer Square – Hagley Park Corner – I then ventured off course to go Mona Vale and Riccarton Bush and the Botanic Garden – before coming back on line for Worcester Boulevard – Art Gallery – City Punting – Cathedral Square – Mill Island – The Terrace – Ballantynes – Manchester – The Crossing – High Street. So a little out of order. It was a good walk though.

 

No bloopers to report. It’s only 8:30 p.m. right now, but I feel really tired so will go to bed early. I feel like I am getting good rest. I have just been doing a lot of walking.

 

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Akaroa and the drive there

There is one other guest at the Airbnb I am staying at. His name is Johannes, and he is from Germany. The days are starting to blend, but I believe he came the day after me. When we see each, we stop and chat. When I saw him yesterday, we were talking about things we had did or things we had planned to do. I mentioned I was going to go to Akaroa (I had planned on signing up for a day tour from a company because none of the metro buses go there). It just so happens he had planned to rent a car to go there today, so I was able to ride with him. It was a blessing because I think the tours here are very expensive. For example, one of the Lord of the Rings tours in over $200. While I love Lord of the Rings, I won’t pay that about to see a location that has been extremely digitally enhanced.

 

We left in the morning, and he drove there. It is weird being on the wrong side of the street, but I get used to it. We stopped along the way there for impromptu photos. So I have a lot of great pictures from the drive there (and back). It was such a beautiful drive.

 

When we got there, we walked around, had a picnic lunch, walked some more, and had coffee/hot chocolate. We talked about a wide range of topics. After spending the last days by myself, it was nice to have someone to talk to.

 

On the way back, we took a different route for part of the way, so we were able to get some other shots.

 

Akaroa is about an hour and half away from Christchurch. The first Europeans who came to the area were from France. So some of the architecture has a French influence and some of the street names are French. It was a quaint town, and I am glad I had a chance to go. It was one of the places recommended to me by Stephie.

 

No bloopers for today, so I will share one that happened on the flight down. Now mind you, I was tired. Before I go to sleep, I lock my backpack. The key is supposed to be in the small travel purse I wear around my body when traveling. I can cover it with a blanket when I am sleeping. Anyway, long story short, the key was in my backpack when I locked it. I had a moment of panic because the address to the B&B and instructions on which bus to take to get there were in it. I asked one of the flight attendants if he had a pair of scissors. I was willing to sacrifice the bag. He said he would check. After a while, Stephie and I started trying to pick the lock, which was not working (which is not a bad thing). Anyway, longer story short, Stephie was able to play with the zipper and get the backpack to open enough for me to squeeze some fingers in to unzip the pocket the key was in and pull it out. That is not a mistake I will be repeating anytime soon. Always make sure the key is where it should be before locking luggage.

I will edit when I get home :).

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Sumner, Taylor’s Mistake, Godley Head

Today, I opted to take the bus to Sumner, which is a beach suburb. It was supposed to be a nice quiet day at the beach, then what had happened was…

 

I started the day at the beach in Sumner. It felt nice to be on the water on a very warm day. I walked along the beach. Listened to the waves. Took pictures. Saw Cave Rock.

 

My guidebook mentioned a place called Taylor’s Mistake that was an hour walk from the Sumner beach. In my head, this walk was flat and along the water. It was not. So I started walking toward it, and I realized I was heading up hill. I made eyes with a jogger, and he stopped to help. He said the path goes uphill and confirmed that it would take about an hour to get there. He told me I could hitch a ride there because that’s what all the local kids do. But he did assure me that the walk would be worth it.

 

Now I have been watching ION television Saturdays when I clean, and they have a marathon of Law and Order SVU, and I sometimes end up watching way more episodes than I intended. Then on Sundays, they have a marathon of Criminal Minds. I am pretty sure that is how one of those stories start. I was like, yeah, no. I will call this today’s blooper. If I ever were to have a reality television show, part of the show would have to be playing out the thoughts that go through my mind because the thought of hitching a ride brought so many shows to my mind.

 

I love to walk. I love to walk on flat areas. There were many, many times, I thought to turn around because I hate cardio and I hate walking up steep places. But I kept going. Then I would pause and catch my breath. I finally made it to the top to discover that the trail going down had been closed because of the earthquake. So I walked down using the sidewalk then side of the road when the sidewalk ending. I will have to say, it was worth the journey. So he was right, as was the woman I saw later who confirmed I was heading in the right direction. There were less surfers and people there, so it was more peaceful. But the waves in both places were amazing.

 

Now I realized I needed to walk back up the hill to get back to the Sumner beach. This is why the next part of the story makes no sense.

 

So the guidebook also mentioned Godley Head. I am not sure how I ended up walking up and down, then up and down some more on that pathway. It was there, and I did it. So then when it was time to walk back up the hill to get back to Sumner, I was double tired. And thirsty. I half-heartedly walked along Sumner’s streets of shops and restaurants. But I was really just looking for somewhere to buy some Gatorade. I am not sure how long I hiked. It was hours, and I know I will sleep very well tonight.

In general, I did not plan to do any hiking, but I find myself having hiked two days in a row.

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Lyttelton, Diamond Harbor, Gondola

When I rode the metro bus from the airport to the stop near my B&B, I noticed that the station was playing a lot of 80’s music. Today when I took the metro bus to Lyttelton, I noticed the same thing. Gotta love 80’s music.

Lyttelton sounded like an interesting place to do a day trip, mainly because it is a port city. It is about 7 miles southeast of central Christchurch. The first stop was the wharf to take a ferry over to Diamond Harbor. I wasn’t sure on the timing of the ferry, but I ended up having to wait 50 minutes. So I walked around and got some pictures of the port activity. It is so nice to see a working waterfront. I took the ferry over to Diamond Harbor. I did a little bit of walking around and started down this trail before it was time to return to catch the ferry back to Lyttelton. I am considering this trip prep for the Seattle half in November. Once back in Lyttelton, I walked around for a few hours. I walked up and down hills looking at different streets. The main street was London Street and there was a square called Albion Square. Originally, I thought about going tomorrow because they have a market, but I have plenty of market pictures from my travels. The homes there are on the slopes of Port Hills. I imagined I would be driving up and down them if I lived there. I walked by a church that had a funeral service happening. There was overflow into the courtyard, and I heard a little bit of the words. It felt very intimate. I could see were Lyttelton could be a place to come and relax for the day. It is very small and compact.

On the way to Lyttelton, the bus stopped at the gondola entrance, which was an aha moment. So I abbreviated my time between Diamond Harbor and Lyttelton to get off at the gondola stop on the way back since going there was in my plans anyway. In case we have not met, I do not like gondola rides. For me, they are up there with zip lining, which I did once…totally out of my comfort zone. On this ride, it stopped for what felt like two minutes toward the top. It was rocking, and I was like, “Why, Lord, why?” I didn’t panic though. Lol! It was beautiful. Very nice views of Christchurch and Lyttelton/Diamond Harbor (it was cool to look down and see where I had been). I did a bit of hiking. I followed the trail to the Cavendish Bluff Lookout. I went a little further before turning back. The saying, “What goes up, must come down.” Needs to be reversed. “What goes down, must come up.” This is especially true when talking about hills. But certainly worth the view.

I need to do an article of travel saving tips. I can think of a few from this trip. Like there is a shuttle that leaves the Botanical Gardens that goes to the gondola. But for half the cost, you can take a local bus. Now granted, the local bus will take longer because of the number of stops, but if you are watching your dollars and not constrained for time, it’s one of the costs that could add up. I also want to write an article about balancing travel. For me the sweet spot is three nights, at least, in each city. More if you want to do day trips from the spot. But one or two nights per place is exhausting, and I have done that before.

I would like to add a bloopers part to the travel blog posts. These stories will lean toward the funny. The thing about the blog is that it is the highlights. It doesn’t capture things like missed buses, wrong buses, wrong gates, or funny things that happen.

Today’s Blooper:

When I got to the gondola, I was told what time the last ride down available was. No problems. I had plenty of time. So then what had happened was, when I got back, the gate leading back to the building was locked. I tried walking around the corner to see if there was another entrance. There was not. So I had no choice, I had to climb the fence. I had not climbed a fence in a long time. I opted for the wooden part, not the wire part. One day, if I ever run for office, I am sure there is a video of me climbing that fence that will surface. I had to hike up my skirt and climb over. It was not graceful or pretty. I kept thinking, I am going to create an international incident with “breaking and entering.” But I made it over. Lol!

I actually wanted to write more and give more detail about yesterday, but I feel the bed calling. Last night, I went to bed at 9:30 and got up at 8:30, so I am still tired from the trip over. Depending on what tomorrow bring, I may have time to write more. I also wanted to post more pictures. But I need to go to bed.

As always, I will edit when I get home.

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Christchurch – Day One

I made it safe and sound to Christchurch.

 

I left Tuesday evening and arrived Thursday morning. Christchurch is 20 hours ahead. So, it makes for an interesting dynamic in terms of jetlag. It’s kind of like traveling to the east coast, only it’s the next day.

 

I had a pleasant surprise when I got to the airport. My colleague, Christine, was also there. She too was heading down to Southern Cal but on a different flight.

 

On my flight from LAX to Auckland, I sat next to a woman younger than me. She had spent three weeks in the states touring. It turns out she is from Christchurch, she gave me some ideas of things I can do here and perhaps some day trips.

 

Christchurch had two big earthquakes. One in 2010 and the other in 2011. They are still rebuilding. There is construction everywhere and a lot of buildings that are partly standing, damaged. There is also a lot of open spaces.

 

The first place I went was Cardboard Cathedral. It is a transitional building for the neo-Gothic Cathedral that collapsed during the 2011 earthquake. It is made of cardboard, wood, and steel. Part of the structure reminds me of the paper towel tubes. I went back later for a choral evensong of the men’s choir. Both times, I met very kind and engaging people.

 

A street away is an art piece that has 185 white chairs and stools. They represent the 185 people killed in the 2011 earthquake.

 

I went to Cathedral Square and saw the ruins of the Christchurch Cathedral. The cost to rebuild seems to be cost prohibitive,

 

There is a niffy mall called Re:START mall. When they were starting to rebuild, they used a lot of shipping containers. I have seen a lot of containers in the city in general.

 

I also went along Victoria Street, which is supposed to be a happening neighborhood. There was a church I wanted to see, Knox Presbyterian Church, but it is only opened until 12:00. I did see a cool Victorian Clock Tower along the way. Another trending neighborhood is New Regent Street. I think the goal is to recreate places where people can come and be social.

 

I basically did a lot of walking as I was trying to figure out where everything is and how everything comes together. A lot of streets end and then begin again, so it’s kind of weird.

 

For this leg of my trip I will be staying at an Airbnb. The hostess is extremely nice and friendly. The place is in a great location very close to the city center.

 

It is only 8:30 p.m. here, but I am looking forward to laying my tired head down. I did get some sleep on the plane, but it is not the same.

 

As always, I will edit when I get home.

 

More later

 

love. hug. xoxo. ltb.

Victoria, Legos, Eclipse and Painting

I went to Victoria again to visit Alice over Memorial Day Weekend. Alas, when I went to download the pictures from my camera, my computer screen went blue. When I was able to reboot, the pictures were gone. The only pictures I have are the ones that were on my phone.

I went to the town of Duncan with Alice and Karen to visit  the farmer’s market. It was cool, and we had brunch at a nice spot. We also went to a farm so Alice and Karen could get some fresh eggs. Denise and her husband bought the farm some years back. It seems like a nice way to retire.

We returned to Beacon Hill for the great ice cream and went to Clover Point.

 

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I also discovered Legos for good or bad. I am a little thrifty, so I won’t go crazy. I do want the Maersk vessel and the Death Star. I am glad they are pricey otherwise there would go more “discretionary time” and “discretionary income” gone when there are so many other things I should be doing.

 

 

I saw the partial eclipse. In retrospect, it would have been cool to journey to see the total eclipse. Something for the future. I heard there will be one in 2019 in Chile.

 

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An unexpected treat during a work team-building retreat was doing a painting of a container vessel. It was fun and is my ninth painting.

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Photos, a marathon, a trip to Victoria

I once again find myself horribly behind in blogging!

One of my goals for the summer is to take my camera out to practice taking photos. While it is a used camera I bought from a coworker, it is new to me. I’ve had it sometime. It was actually the camera I took with me to South Africa, but alas, I did not bring the correct lens so was unable to use it. I am enjoying using it.

I have been taking it with me and going on walks. I have been keeping a list of places I want to visit. So far I have been able to go to Kerry Park (I do want to go back in the evening), Volunteer Park, Pioneer Square, and just wandering about here and there on the waterfront, Capitol Hill, I.D. and Central District. You can find the pictures I took in the link below. I will do an Instagram post of some of my favorite murals from my wanderings soon. There have been so many popping up around the city.

 

https://latonjab.shutterfly.com/

Password: italia

In June, I did the Rock and Roll Seattle. It was my sixth half marathon. Next stop is the Seattle Marathon. I am still tracking to do two a year. I wouldn’t mind finding ones that are flatter though. I live in the wrong place to detest hills as much as I do. But it is part of my overall health journey: walking to witness.

 

In May, I went to Victoria for Memorial Day. My friend Alice has moved back to North America, so it was nice to see here. I was able to stay with her, and I plan on returning this summer for another visit. It was nice to have some downtime and catch up with a great friend.

I was able to drive up to the Vancouver area with Kim and Katherine to take the ferry over to Victoria. We left Friday late afternoon to catch the last ferry, but alas, we missed it. We expected the border to be crazy, but also kept running into traffic. We ended up staying the night in Vancouver. I need to go there soon because I forgot what an awesome city it is. It has such a great vibe.

 

You can photos in the same link as the Seattle photos.

I will try to get better at posting! I posted articles from the July issue of the Scroll.