Visiting the Art Deco capital of New Zealand

I achieved two bucket list items this weekend – visiting Napier and seeing one of my favourite bands live. 

I've wanted to visit Napier for the longest time, but have just never managed to get there – so many places, so little time! Years ago, I read about Napier's distinctive Art Deco buildings and wanted to go see their magnificence in person. After the Canterbury earthquakes, my interest was renewed – how does a city that's been flattened by an earthquake look after it rebuilds? 

The majority of Napier city buildings were destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent fire in 1931. The rebuild started almost immediately, and took place at the height of the Art Deco period. And 85 years later, it still contains 140 of the original 165 buildings built during this period. That's a remarkable achievement in itself – the city has ensured that the buildings have been carefully preserved – they are so colourful and interesting! 

We took a great walking tour of the city – we purchased a pamphlet from the Art Deco centre and meandered our way around, reading about the buildings' history as we walked. It was a very well-done tour that would benefit from becoming more digital – an audio tour, or even QR codes on buildings would be fun. 

One aspect of the building decoration that I found really interesting is the prevalence of Egyptian motifs. In the pamphelt, this is explained by the fact that Tutankhamen's tomb had been discovered in 1922, and interest in ancient Egypt was high.  If you look at some of the patterns on buildings, you can certainly see the influence. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Napier – it absolutely lived up to my expectations. 

11. The best trip of my life

It’s hard to pick one, they have all been so good! My two top all time favourite would have to be the Capitals Tour I did in 2007-8 with Megan and Jo – we went to England, Scotland, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and LA. It was epic and fun!

Then in 2011 for our honeymoon, Stephen and I went to England and Scotland. We spent three weeks wandering around castles, churches and abbeys. It was a year after the big quake and life at home was hard work, so it was amazing just to be out of Christchurch and the daily grind of post-quake life.

For both trips the thing that stands out is that we had not made specific plans for where we were going before we left. We booked the first couple of nights accommodation only, and then just wandered where we fancied. In 2007 this was a big leap of faith, but once I’d done it once, I don’t think I’d want to do it differently. It’s such a great way to travel – going where you want, when you want. If you get tired you can set down for a few days, and if you get bored, just move on.

Stephen and I have started planning the next big one – probably for 2018. It will be better than ever!

Day 25: Singapore – home

The first leg was very uneventful – I was very much focused on my Game of Thrones marathon, and was pleased to get through seven episodes in between snacking and napping.

We had a three-hour stop over in Singapore which was really only enough time to look at some shops, have a snack and then get back on the plane.

The second leg was a bit harder – it was an older plane with NO Game of Thrones!! So I amused myself with a couple of movies.

We arrived home around 10.30am and I pretty much went straight to bed. And then (of course!) we went to the ice rink that evening – it was the Women’s League final and Bronwen’s team was playing. They lost, but it was a great game!

Now to recover from the jetlag…


It’s the little things…

Jeez, it’s been ages. Two months. I think about blogging all the time, in fact just yesterday. I think of something to say, or about something that just happened, and then I post it on Facebook and Twitter and move on. Social media is easy and blogging takes time and effort. Sad but true.

Anyway, I did something momentous (for me) today – my first lone roadie. I drove from Palmerston North to Wellington. In a rental car. In the dark. And the rain. It took just over two hours. It might not seem like a big deal if you drive all the time, but it is huge for me. The idea of that much speed for that much time scares me. There were bridges! There was one bridge with a curve, and up hill, and a BUS coming the other way. That one made me sweat a bit. And I drove all the way through Wellington city and out the other side to drop off the car.

When I got my driver licence in 2011 (on my 39th birthday), it gave me this amazing sense of freedom. It made so many things possible that were just difficult to do before … imagine going to hockey on the bus, argh. A couple of weeks ago I thought about driving to Timaru. I’d need to bring Stephen along, I thought to myself. I can’t drive myself, I thought. There are bridges. And it’s a long way! So now I know I can. That’s really cool.

The Wellington Trip Rules

Stephen found these yesterday. They are the rules that were carefully crafted by me, him, Miss B and Meagle over the course of our trip to Armageddon in Wellington last April (read about Armageddon-it).
All road trips have their special memories, and this is the artifact of ours. Enjoy our randomness.

Rules for the Wellington Trip

  1. Megan may not eat Doritos before 7:30am.
  2. Bronwen can only be annoying between 10-10:15pm daily.
  3. Stephen can only play Bejewelled Blitz for 5 hours per day.
  4. Bebe must eat every two hours.
  5. Bebe is not allowed to say stupid shit….. Oh wait… SHE CAN’T HELP IT!!!!!
  6. Nos mo king.
  7. The first rule of the Wellington Trip is DON’T MENTION THE WELLINGTON TRIP.
  8. Megan is aloud to coulor in Bronwen’s coulering book  bitween 7.30 to 8.00am.
  9. What happens on the trip stays on Facebook.
  10. No hanky panky at any time on the train, ferry, at the hotel and on the plane.
  11. Bronwen must buy Megan, Stephen and Bebe breakfast and lunch.
  12. Rule 11 is not hapning and is not a rule.
  13. No crying what so ever, if this occurs the person crying must go on the viewing platform until further notice.
  14. It is not ‘four house’, it is ‘four houses’ or ‘the fourth house’. This rule applies to the other houses too.
  15. Complainers get sent to the naughty corner.
  16. The naughty corner is defined by those not sitting in the naughty corner. It is an area designated by said non-naughties.
  17. Puking must be contained within sickbags. No throwing up in Bronwen’s handbag.
  18. Having a tantrum and crying will not get you what you want, therefore you must remain calm if you feel sick or if you don’t get your way.
  19. If someone has been jinxed, then calling them Bebe to unjinx is PERFECTLY FINE because it is a name even if it’s not the one on the birth certificate.
  20. Rule 19 is invalid as from now. Brigid can only be un-jinxed by someone who says her full name (the name on her birth certificate) ‘Brigid Susan Thompson’.
  21. There shalt be no frivolous rules.
  22. People who make rules that invalidate other rules will get a spanking and sent to bed with no dinner. The exceptions to this rule are rule 12 and rule 20 which were passed before rule 22 came into effect and therefore pre-date it.
  23. The person that gives the spanking is evil and will receive one back.
  24. The three Frompson girls are allowed to look and wink at cute boys, even if they have a boyfriend. However, the Frompson male is not allowed to look at other girls as that would just be wrong.
  25. Bronwen will NOT move around heaps when she is in bed as Megan gets annoyed.
  26. Bronwen is alould 2 go on bb and daddys bed bitween 9.2.6.
  27. No stating the obvious, NO MATTER WHAT!

I love hotels

There is some profoundly luxurious about the crisp white sheets, the fluffy white towels, movies on demand, room service. To me, the money I spend on a good hotel when traveling is totally worth it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve stayed in my share of bad hotels. Baaad hotels. One in Inglewood, CA, I chose not to leave unless it was in a taxi – I was a bit scared of my less-than-salubrious neighbours hanging around on the street outside. So now I stay at the Marriott when visiting LA.
Sometimes it can be fun to stay in low-cost places. Staying at backpacker hostels is fun. You can meet interesting people and they tend to have better cooking facilities and free Internet.
But in general, I’m over sharing bathrooms and small dank rooms. Part of the pleasure of traveling for me is the sense of anticipation I feel sliding the keycard in the door, eager to see what’s behind it. After a long day of adventuring there is nothing better than kicking my shoes off and collapsing on a huge comfy bed.
And for a day or two I get to live another kind of life in that room, where I have a maid and cook on call and I never have to do the dishes. It’s the best, and I’m experiencing it right now. Bliss.

Where everybody knows your name

One of the things I missed the most when I was travelling overseas was the sense of connection that I felt to my place and its people. The longer I was away from home, the more dislocated I felt. I wasn’t doing the usual OE and so didn’t go somewhere like London and simply make a new place. Instead I was travelling around a lot. Always a new city, new landmarks, new people.

Eventually I landed in Temecula, California and stayed put for three months. Because I had been yearning for familiarity, I made connections quickly. I got to know all the checkout ladies at the local supermarket, the bus driver knew me by name. The coffeemakers at Starbucks missed me if they didn’t see me every day. Even the maintenance  guy at the apartment complex would stop and chat with me most days.

I was reminded of this feeling of dislocation (and the contrasting sense of home) last night at dinner, and again this morning.

Last night Stephen and I went to Tulsi for dinner. We haven’t been there for ages, but we used to go all the time. We wandered in and the Maitre d’ greeted us warmly. He gave us a cosy booth and turned the heater on for me. Then he asked if I’d like my usual…”chicken tikka and a plain naan?”. It was so lovely to be remembered. When I paid the bill, he asked if we had moved out of town, and I had to break the news that no, we had in fact been visiting other establishments. Awkward moment.

This morning, I popped in to C1 for a morning tea muffin. Obviously I’ve done this more times than I am aware of, because the woman behind the counter greeted me with, “Hi, vegan muffin to go?”. It felt good to be familiar.