Wednesday, February 06, 2019

New Zealand Adventure - Day 8

[Composed 1/13/2019]

Buh-bye rainy, dreary Tongariro National Park, hello sunny and green countryside! After only an hour of driving we found the weather and scenery vastly improved. Everywhere we looked we saw happy sheep grazing in postcard perfect pastures. After a quick stop in Levin, NZ we pushed on to the final city of our New Zealand Adventure: Wellington.

On paper, Wellington is my kind of city. The guidebook promises an historic cable car to the ridge above, a free cable car museum and a stroll through massive botanic gardens. Our real life experience was even better. The cable car (really, a funicular) was fun to ride and didn't trigger my fear of heights. I thoroughly enjoyed the cable car museum; trying hard to imagine what an engineering marvel the infrastructure would have been in the early 1900's. The botanic gardens were indeed vast and filled with interesting plants. We certainly didn't see it all, but Shira promised me we saw the highlights. We finished our walk by perusing a massive rose garden, with perhaps more blooming roses than I've seen at one time.

But wait, there's more! As we continued walking back towards our hotel we entered a historic cemetery. Unexpectedly, there was a large Jewish section, with many of the graves being from the late 1800's. Walking, nature, an engineering feat and even a surprise dollop of Jewish History. What more could you ask for?

For dinner we planned to hit up Monsoon Poon a South-East Asian restaurant. As we started walking the 25 minutes to the restaurant the weather began to deteriorate. By the time we arrived at the front door, it was windy, raining and cold. We stepped in and were told that it would be another 20 minute wait before they could seat us. It felt like the universe was conspiring against us. The hostess offered to let us sit in the bar and that she'd be glad be our server. Figuring the evening couldn't get any worse, we took the gal up on her offer.

We were the only ones seated in the bar, and we ended up being in a tucked away little location positioned above the chaos of the main dining area. The food matched the ambiance: it was perfect. The salmon curry was the perfect dish to get after being stuck out in the cold. And who doesn't love the buttery perfection of garlic naan? The whole evening had turned around and we found ourselves enjoying one of the best meals we'd had this trip. What a difference one hard-working hostess can make.

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