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More observations about New Zealand

By on Feb 20, 2015 in Observations | 1 comment

Kitchens are compact and energy efficient. There’s a switch at the plugs to actually turn on each outlet. Water is very hot. There is lovely butter and sometimes milk with cream on top. Bathrooms are tiny with no shelving (yet). Toiletries are stored on window sills, in the kitchen, a bit under the sink or wherever (maybe just like home?). The toilets all have half flush and full flush and the towel racks are heated. Brilliant. There are usually no hangers or up to 8. Double hanging is the rule. TV is not good in this country and we used our Roku but couldn’t get Netflix or Amazon. Supermarkets are mostly just like the States with many of the same products. Thrift shops are called Ops and a good place to look for All Blacks shirts that cost $150 NZ new. Some New Zealand natives ignore pedestrians crossing even if you are in a crosswalk. It’s just as easy to strike up a conversation with people in this country as it is anywhere. People love to answer questions and have their picture taken. No refills on soda but a lovely bottle of cold water on every table. You can wear white in February. It’s summer here. It’s hot in the sun. Sorry Ohio. More wine than beer and spirits. There are tons of vineyards. Street signs are hard to find. We’ve had lots of adventures. The people in this country travel for long periods at a time. It’s common for them to go for a month, 4 months, and even a year. It’s expensive to travel from here. New Zealand is like the whole US packed into the size of California (but without the traffic): volcanoes and glaciers, big farms and forests, grazing, vineyards, beaches, BIG mountains, culture, festivals and fairs, and lots of fit...

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The crawl

By on Feb 9, 2015 in Observations | 1 comment

I’ve got a blister on my foot. We’ve been walking every day. It all began at the Auckland Museum. It’s a biggie (the museum not the blister): three floors of exhibits. We spent 3 hours there and didn’t watch the little movies. Of course, when you go to a museum, it’s not a sprint. It’s a crawl over concrete floors. The best part was the special show on wearable art. We saved that for last. It was truly amazing. These were outfits made of all types of materials worn by mannequins. The artists are juried. New Zealand has a lot of creativity. I applaud the artists. The other high point of this museum is the Maori culture galleries. There are wonderful artifacts of their fishing gear, religious customs, exploration, and war weapons. The wooden war canoe looked like it was half a football field long and took 120+ men to power it over the water. Of course, the crawl continued when we shopped downtown. Quantas crushed my luggage so they gave me money to buy a new bag. We shopped for that and other gifts to take home. Nothing like more concrete to stroll over. Along with a multitude of cafés and pubs, there are lots of clothing, shoe, and eyewear stores to look at in downtown. It’s not like the urban centers of Akron or Cleveland where it’s only restaurants. But you can’t let a little soreness slow you down when you’re in New Zealand. I covered the blister with moleskin and off we went to Waihke Island today. This is an island about 35 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland. The guidebooks list this place as a “must see” type of place. Truly, it reminded me of Portage Lakes south of Akron. Dave compared it to Put-In-Bay in Lake Erie. There were little island houses about post WWII vintage and ridiculously expensive fancy houses. These getaway homes are called “batches” here. The island has a few small beaches and a little village with a few cafes and some unremarkable shops. We spent a few hours looking around and returned to the mainland. On the walk back to our condo, we stopped at the local supermarket and picked...

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New Zealand (especially Auckland) Observations

By on Feb 8, 2015 in Observations | 2 comments

Urban Kiwi men are healthy looking. While they do dress fashionably they don’t have that skinny anemic look that Western European men have. It’s been enjoyable observing them together meeting to have tea. Along the same line, I’ve not seen any truly morbidly obese people. There is no tipping so that lessens the sticker shock when looking at a menu. A BLT will be $14.50 NZ but when you factor in the exchange rate and no tipping it’s not that much different than buying the same thing in downtown Cleveland. It’s fun to learn the names for things around here: a bacon bap is an Egg McMuffin, a flat white is a latte, a long black is a double espresso, and a vacation home is a “batch.” Of course, there is the usual adjustment of calling gas petrol, the trunk is the boot, and adjusting to ordering in grams and liters at the supermarket. We’ve seen almost no begging and maybe one homeless person. It seems that the vast number of foreign tourists are Asian, but they are bi-lingual. We are not. It is true that New Zealanders are friendly and helpful. I never feel hurried, patronized, overlooked, nosey, or stupid. It’s hard not to love a culture that thinks a good breakfast is toast and Nutella. I have no idea about date and time. We’ve gone through crossing the equator and we’ve moved ahead a day and it is now summer. I can say this with certainty however. It is far easier to adjust to traveling west from Ohio or Arkansas or California, than it is to traveling east. People the world over love their dogs. We are living with a Jack Russell/short haired fox terrier who loves to have her belly rubbed. She has no fewer than 4 beds. We all complete for her attention and she gives us all a lick down. She never jumps, sniffs, barks, humps or chews things. I would never attempt this type of trip in a foreign speaking country. Going on our own without a guide, local leader, or tour group is manageable here. It’s rugby, cricket, and soccer not baseball, basketball, and football. When people ask where we are from,...

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