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Lakes & Mountains, Mountains & Lakes

Queenstown, New Zealand

Let me begin with a candid rant. Don’t worry, it will get better! Or just skip the next paragraph.

While I had a lovely time in the north island and was able to see and do many fun activities, my time there was fraught with difficulties from the start. The seven-hour airplane flight to Fiji, during which I had intended to get some sleep, was made unpleasant by a toddler sitting behind me who screamed and kicked my seat the whole night through. Then during either this flight or the shorter one to Auckland, I forget now, a passenger became sick, and I worried that we might have to turn around (we didn’t). Upon arriving, my luggage took a very long time to show up at the carousel, during which there were an inordinately large number of green luggage bags with a red ribbon at the top, prompting me to fear that someone had mistakenly taken my luggage. Fortunately not, but one of the wheels was broken. The Auckland airport wifi is terrible, my international plan had not yet kicked in, and I had not thought to buy a portable wifi (Andrés, if you’re reading this, thank you for the suggestion), so I had to drag my broken luggage to a nearby hotel with wifi to order an Uber. Speaking of Uber, twice in Auckland I ordered an Uber only for the driver to show up at a location different from where I had indicated, and of course being unable to reach me by phone to tell me where to go (and I really shouldn't have to walk over to them anyway). Upon arriving to the address I had to kill four hours before I could get into the Airbnb during which I dragged all my luggage to five different shops looking for New Zealand compatible outlet adapters, going from one place to another based on recommendations from shop owners. I finally found such a thing at the pharmacy for a whopping $20. Thankfully I asked to try it before buying because, guess what, it was defective! In the end I found a two dollar store and bought two fully functioning adapters there, just as my seatmate on the flight, Ashwani, had recommended all along. Please keep in mind that first I had to find such a store in a foreign place to which I had just arrived, and I was finding my way from the cafe with free wifi that had become my base of operations. The last item of complaining business I will mention is that most stores in Auckland seem to open late and close early (10am-4pm), making the purchasing of new luggage complicated. Anyway, there were more such hiccups throughout the entire time, but thanks to the beautiful sights, the overall sense of adventure, and some really out of this world farm-fresh breakfasts, I did truly enjoy my visit.

The reason I mention all the above is that this morning, as I made my way to the airport, a sense of relief flooded over me, as though my bad luck was coming to an end. Indeed, having now arrived to Queenstown, this seems to be the case. After a completely uneventful flight I was driven to my new place of residency by a taxi driver who as it turns out is my direct next-door neighbor. For the next week I have my own private room and bathroom on the upper floor, with a common room that looks out onto a large lake with mountains in the distance. The south island is all mountains and lakes and the landscape is utterly breathtaking. During my flight mountain ranges would suddenly open up into lakes, and just as the lake started to narrow, it would veer off to the side and open up again. The beauty seems to just creep up unexpected from every corner.

After settling in I took a scenic walk along the lake to the town center. I took a little time to stroll through a gem and mineral shop and resist the urge to buy expensive things. Then it was time to try out Ferg burger, highly recommended to me by several people during my travels. Don’t hate me friends, but I ordered the Sweet Bambi, which as the name implies, is made with deer meat. I regret only that I did not eat it slower. Having finished with the burger I went a block over to another highly recommended place called The Winery. I am writing today’s post from there. Shops stay open late btw! The winery is a unique place, or at least I have never seen the like in New York City. The place contains over eighty different types of New Zealand wine, all accessible via automated dispensary machines allowing you to select from several size/price options from a tasting amount to a full glass. You get a Winery card, which works somewhat like an ATM or a laundry card for wine. You can buy cheese to go along with it, and sit around in a lounge like environment. The music playing consists of Janice Joplin, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, T. Rex, and the like. Basically, this is the kind of place I would frequent on the regular if I could, and I wish several people were here to share the experience with me. I would hope that someone starts such a thing in NYC, or lets me know if it already exists, but lets be real, it would be all too crowded. So I am making the most of my time now, trying out my different wines, and relaxing. Life is good!

As always:

And a new album to be unveiled with the next post.

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