TRAVEL THURSDAY: Sleepless in Wellywood

Mt Victoria

First of all, I need to apologise for being so terrible at keeping up with the weekly features this week. There’s been no Top Ten Tuesday OR Top Five Wednesday, and for that I’m sorry. Luckily, AJ has been keeping up with his work, though. So it’s time for another Travel Thursday episode.

“Why did I order a bus? What the hell is wrong with me?” These thoughts kept creeping up on me while waiting for the Intercity bus to Picton to arrive.

Wellington Ferry sign
Leg one of the journey starts here!

I needed to be in Wellington by evening, and instead of getting a plane for $60 more, I opted instead to be cheap and catch the bus. Problem? I had work the night before and didn’t finish until 3am. My bus left at 10am.

As fate would have it, I didn’t doze off until 5am that night. By the time my alarm went off at 8am, I was in such a state that I couldn’t remember my own name. “I should have taken the plane,” I told myself, eyes stinging and the bitter taste of espresso lingering in my throat.

It’s these moments that the travel books don’t tell you about. The severity of sleep deprivation is systematically suppressed sometimes. I kept myself awake by talking to some Swedes about the only topic likely to keep me awake: football. It’s not often you meet a Swedish Fulham fan! Naturally the bus didn’t show up until the conversation started to get going, but as I intended to sleep through the short trip I bid farewell, wishing Fulham well (with fingers crossed behind my back).

Petered Out in Picton:

I am a cursed man. I’m so envious of people who can sleep whilst travelling. I have distinct memories of being the only one in a group of 40 awake on a 5 hour bus ride back to Sydney. So, of course, my grand plan to sleep on the bus failed. Thankfully our driver had dreams of being a comedian. Their jovial comments over the PA system kept me entertained enough to not feel like a total zombie.

As we arrived in Picton, my first stop was unquestionable. I popped off to the famed Seabreeze Cafe, grabbing myself around coffee. With two hours to kill until the ferry to Wellington, my eyelids felt as though they had anchors on them. I could have sat and watched the glittering waves gently rock the plethora of boats, but that would have made me fall asleep, and I didn’t want to miss my ferry! Instead, I popped into the nearby EcoWorld Aquariam. It was informative, sure, but all the letters were blurring into one. I spent a lot of time staring at the Water Dragon, who was getting increasingly aggressive (typical Australian).

Dracarys: Hanging out with my new Water Dragon friend before my ferry

Waiting in the terminal for the ferry was torture. Almost napping on three separate occasions, I sparked up a conversation with two British tourists to keep me entertained. There were spending a lot of time chasing three Ethiopian children, and – honestly – I was watching them for a while before talking to them. It took me longer than it should have to realise that they were adopted. It wasn’t an “I should call the police about these white guys kidnapping children” situation.

Ahoy! Wellington!

The ferry went faster than ever before. In truth, I was asleep for 80% of the journey, perched on a bench with my rucksack as a pillow. When we got to Wellington we had the typical issues, however. The wind was blowing so hard that it was moving the entire boat, making it difficult to attach the disembarking ramp. An old man behind me in the queue did not understand this at all. He kept claiming we could leave the boat via the stern, the way we boarded. Sadly, the terminal at Wellington could not reach the stern. Despite being told that “if you go out there, you’ll end up in the water”, the old man kept pushing his case. Apparently it’s more safe to drown than to wait around to disembark!

As I left the ship, I was greeted by the warm embrace of the German backpacker I met in Whangarei. We checked into the room we’d share for the next three days, then went for a wander up Manners St. The beauty of Wellington is just the plethora of coffee shops, small food joints, and the multitude of pubs and bars. Grabbing a pizza at Scupa Caffe Cocina (cannot recommend enough, it was incredible), we then went for a Cosmopolitan at one of my favourite bars in the city, The Residence. Last time I went there they were playing Bingo with music, but this time was more relaxed.

Roses (Not) In Bloom

The second day brought rain, but we were still keen to explore. We viewed the “things to do” board at the hostel we were staying at. After some deliberation, we decided to take the Wellington Cable Car from Lambton Quay to the hillside suburbs 120m above us. From there, we walked to the Botanic Gardens. On a sunnier day, closer to the heart of spring, it would have been beautiful. The day we arrived was drab and dreary, the sky fifty shades of grey and the ground damp with puddles. A shame, however we still found a way to have fun. The playground was devoid of offsprings, so we could freely tap into our inner kid. We then walked through a stunning rose garden… Devoid of roses. Wrong time of year, sadly.

Rose garden
A rose by any other colour is not in bloom

Immediately, we were stuck with the stark reality of death. Our botanical walk took us through the cemeteries. The moss covered gravestones perfectly juxtaposed with the rose garden prior: the beauty of life, the colour, vigour and growth that it provides, being immediately followed by a reminder of its finality. This, in turn, was followed by a reminder of how replaceable we all are, as this was one of the graveyards which had been paved over by a highway. Bit hard to rest in peace when there’s four lanes of traffic buzzing above you…

After that, I decided to take my friend into a pub called The Churchill. You guessed it, it’s themed entirely around Winston Churchill. “Fuck you, we won the war! Have some chips!”. I wasn’t allowed to choose our location for food anymore, and we grabbed the most amazing hot chocolate from the pizza place where we ate the previous night. After that we had dinner at the incredible The Rogue and Vagabond Mexican restaurant, where they offered $2 tacos (!!!). We then visited the Bowlarama, where we bowled (she won), played foosball (she won), and had a game of book (she didn’t win). Finishing the night, we drank jugs of sangria at The Horn.

Mountain Climbing and Beach Naps

We didn’t sleep well at all the night before, so our last day was incredibly tiring. (Alyce edit: I wonder why that was? 😉 ) We opted out of visiting Weta Workshops (my friend wasn’t a Lord of the Rings fan), and were running out of ideas. Naturally, when you’ve not had enough sleep, the natural decision is to climb a nearby mountain. Thankfully Mt. Victoria wasn’t very tall, and as soon as we reached her lookout we had a cheeky public sleep.

Mt Victoria
The view from Mt. Victoria

Following our nap, we walked to Oriental Bay, grabbing a delicious lunch at Beach Babylon, a Hawaiian themed cafe and bar. I introduced my friend to the Mojito cocktail, an absolute must try. Afterwards we sat on the bay, watching rowers sail past us (before having another quick sleep on the beach).

The end of the adventure came too quickly, and before long I was sleeping on the fifteen-minute flight back home. It was an incredibly tiring adventure, but one that I’ll remember for a very long time.

Your friendly neighbourhood travel man

Thank you, AJ, for another great blog post. You don’t need to tell me how tiring travelling is: I’ve experienced that myself this week