Friday, November 19, 2010

A Free Day in Queenstown

Well, remember how I said I was going to go to bed early last night? I ended up going to three different bars - Melt Bar, Revolution, and Altitude Bar - on a little mini-pub crawl with Rhys, Dave, Lewis, and five or six of their friends from the Kiwi Experience bus. Let it be known that the rumours were true: Kiwi Experience passengers are indeed partiers! When I finally bid them goodnight at 1am, they were still going strong, dancing and yelling (I hesitate to call it singing) to Blur's "Song 2". You should have seen the pandemonium in the bar when Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" queued up; you would have thought it was 1981 again and Escape had just been released.

Sometimes it is good for me to go out and barhop like that to remind myself why three drinks in one night is not my idea of a good time; but as they say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", and I can now say that I have spent a night out on the scene in Queenstown.

Perhaps in pennance for my partying ways I didn't get up to anything terribly exciting this morning; I ate my free breakfast (mmm, toast with marmalade), then wandered around Queenstown trying to find the grocery store, a stationary store, and the post office. It's scary to think that if one wants to ship Christmas presents to Canada via economy mail and have them arrive in time, they have to be posted by this Monday... I guess, in such cases, early Christmas shopping is justified.

Queenstown Bay Beach

This afternoon I had a late lunch/early supper at Fergburger, a legendary burger joint where the hamburger I consumed was (no lie) at least seven inches in diameter. But oh, what a glorious hamburger it was... crunchy lettuce, mild onion, a freshly-baked bun, and a lamb patty with mint sauce. Paired with a Gladstone's ginger beer, I was well and rightfully stuffed when I finished. While I was sitting out on the patio eating, a girl approached me who recognized me from the Lord of the Rings Movie Tour I did in Wellington! I don't know if that's a sign of a) she has a really good memory, b) I made an impression on her (not necessarily a good one!), or c) I need to wear more than one set of clothes day in and day out.

"To Ferg or not to Ferg? That is the question..."

I put the ginger beer there for perspective. Yes, the
hamburger is that huge!

Burger gurgling away in my stomach, I headed over to the Skyline, a gondola ride that ascends to the top of Bob's Peak, 790m above sea level, and provides breathtaking views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. At the top is a restaurant, souvenir shop, and conference centre - a *total* tourist trap - and also a chance to hop onto a ski chairlift and ride even higher, then drive a luge down to the restaurant level (it cost extra; I decided not to bother). Adding to the picturesque view from the Peak was the arrival of TSS Earnslaw into Queenstown Bay, a 98-year-old twin screw steamer passenger vessel, known endearingly as "The Lady of the Lake". Her whistle is what initially caught my attention; so completely different from that of a steam train, but just as haunting and beautiful. The only coal-fired passenger steam ship in the southern hemisphere, she takes daily 1 1/2 hour cruises around Lake Wakatipu, which I could kick myself for not partaking in, but then again perhaps it's best if I don't extend my steam power fetish to water-based forms of transportation... rails are enough! (Okay. And the occasional road roller or Mann wagon.)

The Skyline gondola cars

Luge track at Bob's Peak. Whee!

Queenstown as viewed from Bob's Peak

I was trying to get a picture of the river, and
then this girl flew her hands up while recounting
a dramatic story to her friends at just the right
moment. It made the shot, I think.

TSS Earnslaw arriving in Queenstown Bay

Cruising back on down to a mere 340 metres above sea level, I headed back to Nomads for my free dinner (Thai-style curry tonight; actually pretty good!), and then was roped in to going out with a group of people from the Stray bus for all-you-can-eat pizza, which turned out to be a total bust (you have to book it with your bus driver, go to the bar the same night that you arrive in town, and bring your driver with you). In the end Jenn and I (the Scottish girl whose bunk is below mine) decided to go for ice cream, and wandered around the streets of Queenstown licking ice cream cones and marvelling at the early night hustle and bustle. Then it was back to the hostel for me, as I am going riding tomorrow, and with my 8am pick-up time I want to be in bed signifigantly earlier than yesterday's 1:45am. Night!

Just for you, mom.

Should I have have gotten this for Nico?


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