1. I’ve officially tried Lolly Cake, a Kiwi claim to fame (looks better than it tastes) and Whittaker’s chocolate, made in New Zealand but famous worldwide (and rightfully so). They are also very into meat pies here – I’m not sure how I feel about the concept, but the crusts are always flaky and delicious. 2. Fun fact, when someone asks you to tea, they probably don’t mean a nice cup of Earl Grey (morning tea is typically just a chat break from work and may or may not involve a hot beverage; an invitation “to tea” is probably referring to dinner).
3. And the entre at dinner? Well, that’s the appetizer.
As I learn about local culture, sayings, and traditions, I’ve also been learning about other cultures as well. My flatmates consist of a cosmopolitan South African (who’s been practically everywhere but has lived here several years now), a well-traveled German (her favorite show is Gilmore Girls…I think this friendship is going to last), and a vivacious Italian (hilariously fulfilling every possible Italian stereotype). Our final flatmate is Kiwi (I think) and not very social (totally fine by me). But the rest of us have really hit it off and have started sharing tea (the beverage) in the common room before bed, and last night even had a great 3 course dinner together (I made rice krispie treats – that’s pretty American, no?), followed by the game where you stick post-its on each other’s foreheads with a famous name and you have to guess who you are with yes or no questions. It’s quite a stitch even on a normal day, but when everyone has a different native tongue and frame of reference for politicians and celebrities and such, it’s plain hilarious.
Friday I biked down to Hagley Park to go for a stroll in the botanical gardens, and found that, not surprisingly, it’s much more beautiful in the Spring than the dead of Winter (when I saw it last). The park itself is enormous, filled with bike paths and athletic pitches, and there’s even punting in the little brook that cuts through the middle, but the botanical gardens are definitely the best part (quite fitting and necessary, as Christchurch is called the Garden City).
Unfortunately, I lost my lovely zen trance when I went to unlock my bike and had to struggle for about an hour to get it undone (I’m sure most passersby thought I was a really incompetent thief). Lesson learned – don’t buy a cheap Kmart bike lock. It may protect the bike from strangers, but it makes the person with the key really earn it. Saturday my flatmate and I found a much better farmer’s market (I’ll probably have to go back every week…but exercise great restraint while I’m there), and I spent Saturday afternoon test driving motorcycles (because let’s be honest, I need a set of wheels). Sunday I had a few amazing skype dates (nothing like a face to face convo with some of the besties to lift your spirits), and then took off on an ambitious bike ride to Victoria Park. It was fine and dandy in terms of distance, about 20 miles round trip, but I basically had to climb a mountain to get there. Apparently once you make it to the Summit Road (just past the park), it’s a gorgeous, scenic bike ride and relatively easy going (until you have to come back down), but I decided to spend some time hiking the trails in the park instead. I’ll shoot for a longer ride next weekend!
The weather the past few days has been amazing – upper 60s and sunny (today even made it mid 70s), but I think we’re due for a southerly to blow in tomorrow. I guess I’m overdue for some gym time and reading!