I landed yesterday about three in the afternoon local time. It depends exactly when you start counting, but the trip took somewhere in the neighborhood of 36 hours, which I think is a record for me for continuous airport time.
One of the first things you have to think about, in a new city on the other side of the world, is your sleep cycle. Since three in the afternoon is not the right time to go to bed, I took a long hot shower and went out for an initial walk around.
Many shops were closed, it turned out to be a holiday. As a result, downtown Wellington was almost eerily deserted. It was a nice temperature, the very definition of “sweater weather,” and the skies were overcast.
I felt jangly and buzzy inside, post-airplane, and I know that colored my first impressions of the city. Those impressions for the most part centered around “nice” and “unremarkable.” This morning, after an unexpectedly good night’s sleep, the unremarkable part is fading, and the nice part is amplifying itself.
The oldest buildings date back into the 1800s, but this is very much a 20th century city… Good and bad. This is part of the Parliament complex, which looked worth a visit.
There’s a very nice war Memorial with especially interesting cat-like lions, but I didn’t find an angle that avoided the unremarkable office tower right behind it. It was easy enough to filter out the office building with my eyes, but not so easy with the camera.
I walked up and down “funky” Cuba Street, just near the hotel, but, maybe because of the holiday, I thought they really needed to turn up da funk quite a bit. I walked along the waterfront, which is a pretty standard mix of half-empty and half-filled with overpriced but good restaurants and touristy shops in giant redeveloped blocks. I did get to climb some steep hills, many via outdoor staircase, and found myself on the campus of some university or other. I think as I spend more time here that I will realize/remember how actually remarkable that combination of hills and water really is.
I was hungry, but had an unusually hard time figuring out what I wanted to eat, and I caught myself walking around the same few blocks several times not deciding. I ended up in a place called Mexico, where I had a good, if conspicuously vegan, roasted pumpkin quesadilla and a bottle of Pacifico, which is my favorite among all of the utterly indistinguishable Mexican beers.