Ha, well, going to bed early last night didn't happen... I was banished to the lounge to write my blog entry, and just as I had finished writing the entry the hotel manager came upstairs and joined me, and she ended up talking to me for 1 1/2 hours until 1am. It sounded like she'd had an exhausting day, and needed someone to listen (I guess I was filling in the role of her spouse, who works out of Christchurch, so they don't see each other for four nights of the week). She told me that the tourism industry has really died down in Kaikoura; it used to be a popular stopping point for tourists making their way down to Christchurch, but now everyone is avoiding Christchurch like the plague and travelling down the West Coast of the South Island instead. Case in point: we were the only guests in the (albeit small) hotel that night.
And just as an aside -
I HATE the sound of my mom flossing her teeth across the room. It drives me insane. I'm not sure why; it's one of those things that I can't stand, like the feel of cotton squeaking between my teeth. Maybe it's because she flosses for about five minutes until I'm sure she's trying to rip her teeth clean out of her mouth. Then again, she likely HATES the sound of my fingers clickety-clacking away on the keyboard when she's trying to sleep, so maybe she's just trying to get her own back.
We left Kaikoura around 10am this morning and drove up the highway toward Blenheim, stopping briefly so dad could take a picture of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. I was scrambling down to the beach to take a closer look at one of the rocks when I almost stumbled over a New Zealand fur seal! Thankfully it was feeling more sleepy than angry, and simply gave me a look of annoyance before turning away and hopping down off the rock into a nice cushy pile of drying seaweed. We took a few pictures of him hopping and sunning himself, and then got back into the car and drove on.
In Blenheim we stopped briefly at the New World grocery store (this particular New World can probably claim the title of "worst-designed car park and traffic flow corridors in all of New Zealand") to pick up some luncheon meat and such for a picnic lunch, and then continued on SH6, heading for Nelson. We traversed our way across the Marlborough region's "Golden Mile" of vineyards, and once in the hills stopped at Pelorus Bridge for sandwiches, hokey pokey cookies, and a little L&P to drink. I'm slowly introducing my parents to classic Kiwi foodstuffs, although I've yet to have them try Marmite or pavlova... I'm thinking the latter might go down better than the former. :-P
After a long and windy descent over the mountains (much loved by my mom.... I put my head down and had a nap) we arrived in beautiful, sunny Nelson; it was just as beautiful as I remember it being when I was here just over a month ago. We checked into our B&B, a grand old heritage conversion called Sussex House, where each of the five guest rooms is named after a composer; we're in the Beethoven room. My mom and dad went out shopping this afternoon for a new suitcase so they don't have to keep hauling everything in plastic bags, and also bought new slip-on sandals apparently make right here in Nelson, which have been giving them blisters for the rest of the evening (my mom said they'll break in... I hope she's right). I stayed behind here in the room to work on my blog; I finally have the post up about the Taieri Gorge Railway from two days ago.
For dinner we wandered downtown to Café Affair, which wasn't actually all that great in my mind, but proved to be an interesting meal as my mom ordered a steak cooked on a stone slab: they bring out a square piece of stone, about 15 x 15 cm, heated up super-hot, and then one cooks one's own steak or kebabs on the stone at the table! It certainly was more tasty than my lifeless Thai beef salad.
After dinner we went to see The King's Speech, as my mom wanted to see it in Dunedin but there just wasn't enough time. Armed with a small package of Jaffas, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie; I can't believe it was almost two hours long... the time just flew by, I was so engrossed! Granted, I don't see many movies, but I thought this one was beautifully written and acted and certainly deserved the Academy Award for Best Picture. Colin Firth was simply stunning in the role of Prince Albert, and Geoffrey Rush's performance as Lionel Logue was perfect as well. The art of elocution is something sadly lacking in modern speech, and for that (and because I am a linguistic English nerd) I certainly enjoyed an entire film devoted to curing a stammer.
Anyway, it is past midnight now, and tonight I'm really going to try to go to bed before 12:30am. Really. Goodnight!