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May 31, 2006

a taste of winter

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It seem a little unfair to me that while Canada is moving into summer and Toronto is hitting temperatures of 30 degrees, that here in the South Pacific we creep closer and closer towards winter. You may be asking yourself what winter in Auckland looks like. Well apparently it looks like rain and rain and rain.

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It's a rain that pours down suddenly, fiercely and turns the streets regularly into rivers. Luckily, it doesn't seem to rain continuously. Being a maritime city, the weather can change from sheeting rain to bright blue skies in less time that it takes to walk into one of the many cafes and order a flat white (with soy, thank you very much). I must admit that I still giggle at Aucklanders as they shiver and shake when the thermometer plummets to lows of 14 degrees. I enjoy watching their eyes grow wide as I regale them with tails of temperatures well into -40, frostbite warnings on Ottawa radio stations, and jumping off my roof as a kid into big piles of soft snow.

Come to think of it, a few months of rain isn't so bad. Especially when I can step onto my balcony and the cloud cover has created such incredible displays as this:

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As it is still autumn and not quite winter yet, today was a gorgeous +16 and nothing but sunshine. And apparently I can hop on a flight to OZ and be swimming in an ocean and enjoying +30 temperatures within a few hours flight. Hmmm... perhaps I should do that very soon...

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~~~~~~~~~

P.S. If any of you were on the lookout for cheap flights to New Zealand, I got this info by email:

CHEAP FLIGHTS TO NZ FROM THE STATES

$705 -- Fly to New Zealand in June (Roundtrip)
http://www.travelzoo.com/Top20.asp?id=101241263
Source: Air New Zealand


CHEAP FLIGHTS TO NZ FROM CANADA

Price: from $808* per person
Destination: Auckland, New Zealand
Sales Period: Sale ends 05 Jun 06
Travel to be commenced between 01 and 27 Jun 06

You will not see another deal like this any time soon. Book now for travel in the month of June and take advantage of this fabulous fare to Auckland, New Zealand. But hurry, this offer will expire on the 5th of June, 2006.

Canada to Auckland, New Zealand
From To Price
Vancouver Auckland $808
Calgary Auckland $898
Toronto Auckland $988

May 14, 2006

as promised

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I meant for this to be a short little blog with a few more photos of Christchurch, but it just keeps growing and growing.

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I really liked this small flat city. Despite the chill in the air (or maybe because of it) it felt quite homey to me. The air seemed fresh and crisp. At night, as the many fireplaces are lit in people's homes, the smell in the air was as close to Canada as I've found so far. I can't wait to visit again in September to see the bits that I missed the first time around.

In the heart of the city is Catherdral Square (named after the building that dominates it), with its many souvenir stands, cafe's and landmarks, it is an excellent place to begin to familiarize yourself with Christchurch.

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This figure closely guards the 125 year-old Gothic Christchurch Cathedral.

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The 63m spire (see above) offers up a rather impressive view of the city. If you can manage the never ending winding staircase.

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Living along the banks of the Avon is Christchurch's Botanic Gardens. May is a bit late in the season to see the Gardens in full bloom, but even in autumn the 30 hectares of cultivated foliage remain impressive.

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The Arts Centre (formally Canterbury College). Here you can find many arts and crafts, sculptures, shopping, theatres and yummy cafes.

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Christchuch's Aerial Sculpture. If you click on the photo to enlage you may be able to see the almost invisble wire holding up this unique sculpture.

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Tanz was kind enough to take me for a drive on my last night to the hills around Christchurch for this spectacular view of the city.

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The photo below shows Lyttelton (pop 3100) on the top left side. This quaint city lives on the other side of the hill from Christchurch and the very bright light you see is their port. If you ever find yourself in Lyttelton be sure to drop in to Satchmo (8 London St.). The brusccetta especially is divine.

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May 8, 2006

Subscriptions and more...

Rumour has it that a few of you have had trouble subscribing to my blog. If you want to subscribe but can't get the subscription function working, drop me an email or leave a comment and I will put your email address in myself. I can do that as I am lord of heatherland!!!


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Once in a while, there also seems to be a few hours of lag time between when comments are posted and when they actually appear on the site. Not sure why this happens, but just thought I'd let you know so you don't wonder what happened to your post. If you go back another day and its not there then please re-post as obviously something went horribly wrong.

Flew home today from Christchurch. Definitely one of the most scenic flights I ever been on. Below is a photo of Mt. Taranaki (Egmont) (more links here and here). A dormant (not extinct) volcano on the North Island. This 2581m landmark last erupted 350 years ago. You can climb it in the summer and ski it in the winter. If I'm lucky I'll be able to do both!


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More photos of Christchurch to come...

May 5, 2006

population 331 400

Am too sleepy to share my thoughts of Chrischurch this evening. Not to sleepy to post some photos though...

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This river is the Avon. It winds itself lazily through the town.

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Fitzgerald St.

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Central City

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May 3, 2006

Flying away once again

I'm very excited because tomorrow I fly to Christchurch to visit my friend Tanya. She's moving to Australia in a couple of weeks to perform with a circus and then work on a new play, so this is my last (and first) chance to visit her in her home town. She is the best hula-hoop dancer I've ever seen. I saw her perform for the first time a couple of months ago in Wellington. In honour of this (or maybe its just a good excuse), I thought this would be a good opportunity to jump back in time to share with you some of my pictures and impressions of the Windy City that puts all the other so called Windy Cities to shame.

I traveled to Wellie on March 2nd on the overnight bus and arrived completely bleary eyed at about 7 in the morning on a Saturday. It was actually quite a magical time to arrive in a new city. Most of the city was still sleeping, and because daybreak had only recently settled on the city, the morning had a sense of newness and wonder to match my sleepy-eyed enjoyment of this winding delightful town. Well, city really. The population is 205 500 strong.

After a wee bit of rest at the hostel it was time to get out and explore. The best thing to do, I decided, was to get up on top of things and get some perspective on this new place. I took the cable car to the top of the largest hill (not mountain, mind you) in Wellington.

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The guidebook didn't lie. It is a gorgeous view.

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The best way back into the city is to wander through the lush 26-hectare Botanical Gardens.

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I was very lucky that the weather held off for as long as it did because when the wind and rain finally started, there wouldn't have been much of stopping to smell the roses. Wellington is a much more artistic and vibrant city with its endless cozy cafes, tiny boutiques and never ending festivals, but the idea of living there in the winter quickly became a very unappealing thought. When the wind and rain began I whipped out my trusty umbrella to protect me. I think I actually heard the weather gods laugh at me as the wind quickly turned my umbrella inside out and then furiously pounded the shaft of the umbrella back into its closed position. I've heard that Wellington is the only city where you'll see perfectly good umbrellas tossed into the rubbish bins in disgust.

Luckily Wellington does offer some wonderful indoor activities like the beautiful Te Papa Museum.

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It was in this museum that I learned that New Zealand gets more storms than anywhere else in the world. Somehow that information didn't surprise me when I read it.

( ...to be continued... )