This blog started as part of an elaborate wedding present. The idea was that on our trip we should blog from every country we visit, detailing the sights, sounds and smells but most importantly, the beer of what is effectively an extended honeymoon. Around two years later, I hope we have done the idea justice. We have certainly had fun writing it - but moreso, living it!
After getting married in September 2010 we decided to do the opposite of settling down; so we packed up our life, stuffed it in our parent's attic and hit the road for what is essentially an extended honeymoon! We started our trip on 29th December 2010 spending 4 months travelling overland through Europe, Russia and Mongolia to China. After many a train and bus journey we caved-in and flew from Western China to Malaysia, and worked our way north to Thailand and Cambodia. The time came for us to replenish our bank accounts, so we headed to Western Australia for work in July 2011 and lived in Fremantle until February 2012. After a couple of months back home seeing our families and friends, we headed back down-under. This time we headed for New Zealand and we are currently living in Wellington. Our blog started as part of an elaborate wedding present from two of our very good friends. The idea was that on our trip we should blog from every country we visit, detailing the sights, sounds and smells and most importantly, the beer. We have certainly had fun writing it - but moreso, living it!
It's now March and we haven't blogged about our January - dammit! Best laid plans and all that. So - January! A fairly quiet one, aside from our SUPER MEGA AWESOME TRIP TO TONGARIRO. Of which, more later, Liam assures me.
We started the new year off by going to see The Hobbit. It would have been rude not to, the excitement was palpable around Wellington for the première. So. slightly bleary eyed on New Year's Day we toddled off the The Roxy Cinema in Miramar, just down the road from Weta Studios where the film was produced. Cinemas in Wellington (for the most part) ooze glamour and quirkiness, and film-going is a very different experience to the usual corporate, soulless, stale popcorn atmosphere experience that Britain has to offer (with a few obvious exceptions). They all manage to retain a uniqueness feel, despite there being a host of different independent cinemas to choose from. The Roxy has a rather nice Art Deco style bar and restaurant downstairs, and the theatres are plush and retro. Thus in such surroundings we enjoyed (the term being used very loosely) The Hobbit. I've never exactly been a Tolkien fan (and, despite now having been to New Zealand twice, have never actually managed to bring myself to watch any of the Lord of the Rings films all the way through) so perhaps my judgement on the film can be taken with a pinch of salt. My first issue: the 3D. At one point I thought someone had stood up on the row in front to go to the toilet, but it turned out to be a character in the foreground. Some of the sweeping landscape scenes looked absolutely incredible, but in general it felt slightly over the top and distracting. I have to wear glasses at the cinema and let's be honest, glasses on top of glasses is never a good look. Second issue: the whole 'how ever many shots per second' malarkey (the film was shot with double the usual frame-rate . Thank goodness we didn't experience the nausea that some people experienced, but it did make some of the indoor scenes seem like they had been sped up. Third issue: the story. I'm sorry, what story?! Close to the end as they stood and viewed the final destination from the hilltop I had a sudden "Oh God, despite the films title the journey isn't even complete by the end of the film!" moment. Half of the 169 mins seems to be spent persuading Bilbo to man up, the rest on showy action scenes fighting myriad monsters. It would surely have worked far better as a televised series, with a different monster every week, sort of Doctor Who style?! Honestly, I can't see the appeal of this kind of movie. I'm guessing there is an element of it being an encore for lots of characters from the trilogy, giving the die-hard fans something get excited about. It wasn't terrible, it just really wasn't that good, and at that length felt rather overindulgent. OK, rant over!
We enjoyed a day of glorious sunshine on one of our days off, so we made good use of it by tramping about the tracks of Zealandia, which we first blogged about here. We saw wildlife galore, the highlight (correctly identified without looking in the bird book - 3 points to Liam!) being a California Quail who strutted about cockily on the path beside us sporting a rather suave quiff. A bird with true style. Liam was also pleased to come across a group of Saddlebacks, a bird being brought back from extinction by sanctuaries such as this. We also stopped by the Portrait Gallery again to check out a History of Musicians in New Zealand exhibition and a photography exhibition called 37, by Doc Ross. 37 featured 37 artists who had been affected by the Christchurch February Earthquake, which lasted for 37 seconds. Each artists was shot with a 37 second exposure, leading to some pretty interesting photographs, and then used 37 words to describe their individual experience of the event. It was an informative and emotive exhibition, although we wondered whether using a variety of people rather than just the artistic community could have resulted in a more interesting and varied viewpoint.
We had a grand plan of catching the train up the Kapiti one day, to spend the day on the nature reserve of Kapiti Island, and also visiting the Tuatara Brewery which had recently opened up in Paraparaumu not far from the train station. With a picnic lunch packed and alarms set early, we got up and trudged in the drizzle to the railway station, only to ring and confirm our place on the boat and be told it had been cancelled. Drat. We trudged home and ummed and ahhed for a while, then decided to catch the train anyway and check out the brewery. So we spent the afternoon here, enjoying a tour of the new brewery and a some freebie beers. Despite having done a fair few old brewery tours in our time, it was still interesting to have a pootle around here with a guy who clearly knew his stuff, and friendly staff who are willing to take the time to talk. Thumbs up all round, and worth the trip out there alone!
Rain mucking up our plans in January came to become a bit of a theme. Each year Wellington holds a 'Summer Series' of outdoor concerts in the Botanical Gardens. Wellington's weather in general probably less reliable than back home, and so naturally about half of these concerts were cancelled due to wind or rain, which was a real shame. I do, however, admire the 'gung ho' attitude of just arranging lots of outdoor events for the summer and hoping for the best. We continued our exploration of the Wellington craft beer scene and paid a visit Bebemos in Newtown (a South American themed bar) and a customary trip Zealandia to the Kelburn Village Pub after visiting Zealandia, for a platter of tasty beer snacks (and beer, obviously!). We also played host ourselves, and enjoyed having various people over for dinner in our teeny-tiny studio flat.
So that was about it for January (from what my memory and diary tell me), aside from our long weekend away in Tongariro National Park, more about that on the way!