Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Lord, the Lion, and the Wolverine Are Not Here No More

Queenstown is magnificently beautiful sitting on the water with the mountains parading in the background makes it the perfect setting for visual banquets. Walking down to the center after breakfast was delightful. We had two choices of YHA hostels: Lakefront or Central. Although the central would be in the center of the city, this is idyllic for its view. The walk to town is not at all tiresome because the scenery along the way transposes time into another dimension.

With great luck, today was the weekly crafts market. Tables of vendors were spread all over the waterfront selling the projects of their labors. One woman had bouquets of roses on long stems all woven from flax. One man had a limestone type material with hammered copper squares of local lore stamped into them. They were quite lovely and a set of three was reasonable, but there is always the question of luggage room followed by the weight at the airlines. Instead, I settled for a kitchen hand towel that has a Velcro over strap to go over a cabinet handle. It is decorated with sheep of course. There were these girly-girl miniature charms for a bracelet shaped like ice cream cones, flip-flops, and cupcakes. I think Ron’s great nieces will love these; we bought three for each of the girls. One woman impressed me the most. She was a little old lady who was selling leather thong jewelry. Most of it was nothing special, but there was something about her that felt almost magical. I had to buy something from her. For decades, I have worn something on my wrist, but have not for years. She had simple single leather thong bracelets with a single turquoise bead where symbols on it represent wealth, prosperity, and health. There is one on my wrist now and I am only NZ$2 short for it.
We needed to be back for our Lord of the Rings tour. When we booked it at the tourism office yesterday, we were told they also covered The Wolverine and Chronicles of Narnia. Honestly, I have never watched the Lord of the Rings movies, nor have I read the books. As a young teen, I had read The Hobbit with youthful lust and then started to move on to the trilogy. After three chapters of the first book, it absolutely held no interest for me at all. Never have I returned to Hobbit land. When the movies came out, my interest lasted for about twenty minutes before I left Ron to view it solo. Alternatively, I have read the Chronicles of Narnia, watched the first movie and have seen every movie Hugh Jackman has ever been in including The Wolverine. Why you may ask would I choose to do the tour when I have allowed myself to be deprived of the primo fantasy that has successfully captured billions of others worldwide that LTR has done? It is simple: peer pressure. The scenario in my head went like this.

Someone: “You were in New Zealand? Fabulous! How lucky for you to be where they filmed the LTR trilogy. You did do a tour, didn’t you?”
Me: “No, we didn’t.”
Someone: “You didn’t? What are you crazy? You went all the way to New Zealand and you did not do one LTR tour? How could you? What were you wasting your time with anyway, glacier walks?”
Me (Internal dialogue): We should have done the tour. Why didn’t we do the tour just to say that we did it? Now I wish we had done. How stupid of us to not have done it. What idiots. Ron is the idiot. He should have insisted we do the tour. That’s it. It is Ron’s fault. He should have insisted. What a wussy he is for not insisting. Ron, Ron, Ron!

I always think about picking and choosing my battles. It was easier to do a damn tour than it was to explain to dozens of people why we didn’t do the damn tour. It was also easier on Ron. Sometimes he does not insist when he should, so I have to protect him against me. I did it more for Ron’s sake. This saved him tons of anxiety and grief.

The tourism office told us our option s for tours. There were three different companies that had an offer, but the basic differences were the prices, costs, and fees. Oh, there was a time element too. I could be bored to death for a half a day or a full day in which they would throw in a tedious lunch with a few more hours of riding in a comfortable van as opposed to a 4x4. All of this was only NZ$100 more. We survived Tanzania and Kenya roads; we can deal with a 4x4 and have crackers for lunch. So I am expecting Hobbit house or at least the holes where they used to live, even if they have since been evicted. What more was I expecting? I am not really certain knowing this was not Disney World or Rome, Italy where you could see the sets of the television series Rome, but I was expecting something movieish. Movieish is not in my dictionary, so I am creating it. Remember, you read it here first. Whenever it is used from now on, I want royalties.
Another fantasy was shot to hell. Thirty million sheep in one country makes it really easy to pull the wool over one’s eyes it seems. Yea, we had a very nice guide Craig, who drove us kilometer after kilometer explaining a zillion things, yea, of which billions were not movie related. Yea, we saw parts of the area we would never have seen on our own. Did we see one Hobbit hole? No! Did we see one tree running around on its roots? Nope! I would have settled for Hugh Jackman’s beard trimmings from Wolverine, but that didn’t happen either. What did we get to see? One incredible work of nature after another, but with Craig stating “See that forest there? In one of the LTR movies, so and so ride a horse through those threes.” Or “See that area there? That is where they come riding the oliphants.” They were digitally mastered in so nothing like an elephant or oliphant ever touched the shores of New Zealand in the making of this film. I really wanted to see how Hobbits decorated their holes, but that was not in the cards. “See that island over there? There was a scene filmed there for the Narnia series.” Craig also has a hobbit of saying “Yea” ad nauseam.

By the way, it seems the movie studio destroyed all of the sets used here for "patent issues" from what Ron read, but according to Craig it was due to "environmental concerns". Who knows?

This comes with a warning label. When you look at the photos for today, don’t blame me if there are no Hobbits, witches, lions, or wardrobes. If there was anything associated with Hugh Jackman you can bet I would not share with so don’t even think about it. Fine, there was nothing for me or for you. All you will get to see is more beautiful scenery. Rotten luck I know.

After Ron made a delightful chicken dinner with frozen stir fry veggies and instant rice, we walked down to the waterfront. There were crowds of people enjoying the summer Saturday evening. Ron had read about a particular café that supposedly had the best ice cream and coffee in the city. Having to test that theory I had fig with pistachio and dulce de leche; Ron tried the cookies and cream with white chocolate and hazelnut. Enjoyable, but when it makes a guest appearance later on my waist, I will weigh in to tell you if it was really that delicious.
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