Communion Of Dreams

Scenes from a trip: a bit of the ‘old country.’
November 25, 2011, 6:00 am
Filed under: movies, Music, N. Am. Welsh Choir, New Zealand, Travel

The cold & wind of the night before was part of a front moving in. So the morning came with a brilliant blue sky with few clouds and a significant wind chill.

* * * * * * *

Breakfast was . . . a disappointment. There was plenty of everything, but all of it was lukewarm. Here’s what I noted on Facebook at the time:

Bright & surly this morning. Our hotel specializes in gorgeous views and somewhat tepid breakfast. As this included the coffee, I’m not sure the trade-off was worth it.

One got the impression that the Peppers Resort wasn’t really set up to handle groups.

We packed up, loaded up the bus, popped down to the shore of Lake Tekapo where there is the Church of the Good Shepard, a popular tourist spot. It’s quite picturesque, and good images of it can be found here, but it’s also in the distance in this image I took the day before:

We’d hoped to be able to get in to see the church interior, perhaps for the choir to have a chance to sing in such a beautiful spot. But the local caretakers weren’t willing to open it up for our group. Surprisingly. So we had to settle for just looking around the outside, sheltering from the cold wind as best we could.

The bus was warm and welcoming.

* * * * * * *

We drove southeast, through the Mackenzie Basin, a largely empty place popular with tourists, particularly people who like to do gliding (air currents from the Southern Alps make it ideal some times of the year). It’s probably best known outside New Zealand for being the ‘land of Rohan’ from the Lord of the Rings movies.

* * * * * * *

Dunedin (pronounced “done Eden”) was our destination. We rolled into the town in the early afternoon, during a rainstorm.

After getting settled in our hotel, Martha decided to just rest a bit in the room. I opted to go out and about with our friend ML, exploring the city.

We headed down the main street, towards ‘the Octagon.’ Which features a large bronze statue of Robert Burns. That, and the bagpipe-playing buskers, kinda give some indication of the history of the city. Yeah, it was settled by Scots in the middle of the 19th century, and it has maintained a strong Scottish identity to this day. Lots of restaurants and pubs have a Scottish/Gaelic flavor.

ML and I walked pretty much the full length of the main commercial street, pausing to look into this or that shop. I was on the lookout for some nice greenstone (Pounamu – a kind of jade native to the South Island – more on this later), and ML was looking for some (more) fabled NZ woolen yarn. Between us we managed to enjoy a couple of hours walking and shopping.

* * * * * * *

After a bit of rest back at the hotel, Martha, ML, and I went in quest of some dinner, and to give Martha a chance to check out the central city. We stopped at St. Paul’s Cathedral on the Octagon – the location of the choir’s performance the next evening. The rain from earlier in the day had cleared off, and while it was chilly it was quite nice for an evening walk.

We settled on dinner at a pub near the hotel. They had good local beer on tap – I found out that it came from the brewery literally around the corner, and made a mental note to stop in there when I had a chance the next day. The pub-food we had was all very yummy, and overly generous in portion size. That was one thing we noticed at most pubs and mid-level restaurants: portion sizes were always quite large, at least as big as the (too big) portion sizes you get here in the U.S. At more upscale restaurants this wasn’t the case (also as you usually find here).

We crashed relatively early. All the travel was starting to take a toll, even as enjoyable as it was.

Jim Downey

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[…] the New Zealand nephrite jade which is also colloquially called ‘greenstone’. I mentioned that I had been on the lookout for some of this stone while in Dunedin. But Helen (our tour-guide) […]

Pingback by Scenes from a trip: beyond standing room only. « Communion Of Dreams

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