Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Broken Record

Well isn’t this special! John our ‘host’ is showing his colors, deformity or not, it is not the way to run a hospitality business. When we went up for breakfast, a loosely defined term here, breakfast includes a choice of Wheatbix or muesli, a choice of toast or no toast, a glass of juice and instant coffee or tea. On the table was jam and peanut butter. I saved myself for going out and finding real coffee. However, this is where it gets hairy.

Another couple came in to the breakfast room, where the sole computer sits for guests to use. The husband was not able to connect to the WiFi, a common complaint it seems. He went to use the computer, but John shouts from the kitchen, “The computer is not to be used during breakfast. There are twenty-two hours in the rest of the day it can be used, but not during the two hours of breakfast.” What the hell difference does it make? Are the tapping on the keys going to upset someone’s crunching on their muesli? Will the distraction cause them to not savor the flavor of the plain white bread toast? But, it gets better still…

The next couple to enter the breakfast room has apparently used his laundry facilities. In a loud voice he asks them what they had forgotten in their pockets and who was responsible for the remnants of white fluff recycled paper goods that are now decorating the downstairs hallway like an aberrant snowstorm that ran amuck.

When yet another couple dares to enter the room at 8:45am, he announces “You had better eat fast, you only have fifteen minutes to finish breakfast before it is over.” OMG, OMG, what insanity is this in running a bed and breakfast like this? Our first night, we had not even been to our room yet, when John shared that an Israeli woman gave him a rating of a 2 out of 10 on some travel site “just because she could not get her computer to connect to the WiFi.” I think it is more than that now that we have had time to observe the happenings.

Needless to say, we were out early, too early as a matter of fact, because the museum we wanted to start with, Te Papa Tongarewa, the Museum of New Zealand, did not open until 10am. There was a coffee “Shag Shed” that was the name of it, honest. It was right next door. I gave thanks to the caffeine gods for sharing their java beans.

Well we beat our own personal records for staying in a museum. Entering at the 10am opening, took the guided tour at 10:15am with our docent Norrie. Norrie brought us to the high points, giving us history and background, but just enough to make us panting for more, which of course made us return to each area to read, see, and absorb all the information there was. The tour lasted for one hour, so he requested that we don’t slow the group down by taking pictures just then, but to return after the tour to take as many as we wished. After a delightful hour, we were on our own to explore. Probably equal time was given to reading, viewing, and taking pictures, but being a multisensory museum, there were a number of short films, usually documentary, about one topic or another.

We did not leave the building until 5:45pm. Our lunch was in the cafeteria, so we had a twenty minute lunch break, but all the rest of the day was going through the exhibits reading just about everything. Entrance to the museum is free, but the tour cost us NZ$12.00 each. It was money well spent. The only way to describe the museum is a combination of ethnographic and natural sciences. For children or curious adults, there are four Discovery Zones where learning activities centered on a particular area are in abundance. With the sun setting close to 9pm, there was still plenty of sunlight for a daily dose of vitamin D.

From the museum, we walked extensively covering a good part of the city. Limited time, a holiday, and a list of ‘want to see’ things made our time feel tight, prompting us to cram more in than usual. The public transport is not great, only buses, but there are no good maps showing thr routes either. After looking at the map to see what distance we covered today, it was close to 6 miles by the end of the day, but that doesn’t take into consideration the miles we walked in the museum itself. Dinner was at an Asian restaurant on Cuba Street after having a beer at the Hotel Bristol. From the outside, the hotel doesn’t look like much, but being on the heavily trafficked Cuba Street, we wandered in. Inside, it was booming with people drinking, but mostly people eating dinner. Cuba Street is about a six block long pedestrian street. It is only by accident that it is as such. At one point, the city had to close it to traffic to do repairs to the pipes under the street. The merchants discovered that they garnered more clients when there was no auto traffic, prompting them to petition the city to maintain the car-free zone. They did and it continues to be a high traffic area for pedestrians only.

By the time we meandered back, we were too exhausted to walk, so found a bus that would aid us in by-passing the majority of the hills on the way to our B and B. With a bus stop two blocks beyond where we need to get off, we walk back, but downhill. It was 9:30pm, so we just had enough energy for a movie in bed; we watched All the Queen’s Men.       
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Happy New Year

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