Parks and Planes

Our last two days in Nelson were very chill. Saturday was our laziest day. We took our time getting up that morning, and then made our way down to Montgomery Square for one of Nelson’s weekend markets. Things like this aren’t really the best to attend if you are traveling. Most of the things people are selling are in the home décor and goods category, which don’t do backpackers much good. But Glyn scored a kickass pair of slippers that made him look very much like a Kokiri, and we both enjoyed some treats from the food trucks present.

From there we walked the few blocks to Queens Garden. I’d gotten a quick view of the park a few days earlier when I passed through on my way to a shop. It was a good size so I planned to take Glyn there so I could finish my exploring, and of course so he could see how awesome it was. We wandered down a few paths, past flowerbeds and over a bridge into what I can only call the Asian Garden section. Glyn took a sunny bench and began to work on his elaborate Studio Ghibli tattoo design while I took a more shaded spot to get some reading done.

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I suppose this is NZ’s version of the Duke of Wellington.

We passed quite a while in the park, each working on our own things. When we felt the need to move, we wandered to another part of the park. There was an open picnic table by the river I snagged and Glyn grabbed a patch of grass just beside it. Roughly another hour went by before we both agreed it was lunchtime. Nelson has a vast array of restaurants and cafes to dine at. All we had to do was pick one. So we picked going back to Sprig and Fern.

They don’t have the largest of menus. It is primarily a bar after all. But they were running a special that day. One pizza, two beers, $30. We each got our own. I thought it was going to be a bad idea at first. I was having flashbacks to how my stomach felt the last time I was at Sprig and Fern. I wasn’t keen to recreate the feeling, but I actually managed two beers and a whole pizza pretty well.

We took our time sipping our second beers. Later that evening Glyn and I were catching a showing of Captain America: Civil War, and we still had plenty of time to kill. When our glasses were finally empty, we walked back to the flat and lounged until it was movie time. I don’t keep up with all the superhero movies coming out lately like some people do. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t say yes to an invite if I get it.

It was a pretty full showing. A lot of New Zealand theaters give assigned seats, which is very weird to me, and with it so full Glyn and ended up in the front row. Certainly not the best seats in the house but we enjoyed ourselves anyway. Like I said, I was missing a few films in the Marvel canon, but the film did a good job of filling you in, and for the rest of it I had Glyn. Two and a half hours of drama, fighting, and explosions later we were back on the street. It had gone dark. I flipped up the collar on my coat and we made the short walk home.

After our day of relaxation, Glyn and I decided it was time to get back to it and see some shit! So we started the day off by climbing to the Center of New Zealand. Since I know you’re wondering, no it’s not the actual center of New Zealand. It’s called that because it was a central survey point back in the 1800s. It would be pretty cool to go to the actual center though, wherever that might be. Somehow I get the feeling it would be in the Cook Strait somewhere.

The start of the walk isn’t far outside the city centre, and the walk itself isn’t very long. But it is quite steep, so be warned if you decide to do this yourself. There are a couple different paths you can take to the top, and as far as I can recall they are mostly all paved. So not a bad or difficult walk, just steep. The view was totally worth it. On one side of the hill you see practically the entire city of Nelson, and on the other you have lovely rolling hills covered in greenery. At least most of it was green. It was turning into fall when we were there.

After a bit of time on the summit, we were ready to leave the views and the heat of the sun behind. Today we were off to a different kind of park. A little ways north of town is Founders Heritage Park. It’s a place dedicated to the heritage of Nelson and also showcases many local artisans and businesses. The buildings are styled to look like they would’ve years ago. It’s a bit weird walking around out of date buildings while modern people walkthe streets.

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Glyn and I first passed some time sitting at a picnic table just inside the entrance, him getting some more work done on his tattoo, and me getting through more pages of David Foster Wallace. A half hour went by. A family with young kids wandered over and sat and the table next to ours. Their talking began to distract me so not long after they had showed up I suggested we move on to explore more of the park.

We started off by taking the most random train trip I’ve ever taken. An announcement went out saying the train was about to depart just after we started walking. Being the fan of trains that I am, I thought, what the hell. Let’s give it a try. While it wasn’t much of a train trip, it was Glyn’s first train ride in New Zealand. So that’s something I guess.

Back in the park, we walked the streets and checked out the different displays they had. First stop was the hops museum. There were old machines they used for labeling and filling bottles, notices from the prohibition era, and a small section of a much larger barrel used in the brewing process. A few TV screens around the building played movies of hops farmers and showed clips of the beer brewing process. We decided to stop by Founders Brewery before we left.

There was small shed with a display of old bikes at the far end of the park. Quite a few of the models made me wonder how people actually managed to ride them. Outside was a very, very long bike Glyn and I posed with. We poked around inside an old cargo plane that was parked on a large field beside the train station, walked by the bookbinders, and I took a quick peek in the old fire station while Glyn was off looking at something else.

The creepiest and most interesting display was the doctor’s office. These sorts of displays remind me how lucky I am to be living in this century. I could’ve been born in a time where a bad leg injury meant you wound up with your leg amputated. The exam tables are comfier, the instruments more accurate, and the technology oh so sophisticated. Like I said, interesting to see where we’ve come from, but creepy as to think about those instruments being used on me.

When we’d seen all we wanted to see, we stopped by the brewery for a quick drink before our walk back home. The weather had been cooperating for the most part during our trip, giving us warm days and cold nights. We still had the sun on our walk back but it was sinking lower in the sky and the difference in temperature between the sun and the shade was noticeable. By the halfway point, the walking had warmed me up just fine though.

Back at the flat, Glyn popped his head into the house to see if our hosts were home. One of them was a hairdresser and she had offered to give Glyn a quick trim. She sat him down in the kitchen and I stood leaning over the counter watching. This was the second time I’d seen Glyn get a haircut. We enjoyed a short chat with our hosts and asked them if they had any places to recommend for dinner.

We took their recommendation for an Indian restaurant just down the street. Neither of us felt like staying out to eat, so we ordered ahead and picked it up. There was a brief second where we almost walked into another Indian place in an orange building, but luckily we realized the mix up before we made total fools of ourselves. With food taken care of, we went back home, watched Zoolander, and went to sleep.

That was the end of our trip. The next morning, we packed up our things (Glyn got to practice rolling his clothes again) and had a nice breakfast before catching a cab to the airport. It had been just what I needed after finishing work. Getting out of town to somewhere new, taking some time to explore and relax, and this time I was lucky enough to do some of that with a friend. Also, there’s only one place you can fly and see Mt. Doom from your window.

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~Ren

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