Oceania Travel

Christchurch

25 December 2011

We awoke at 6.15am, scrambling around to pack last minute articles. Along comes the taxi driver, earlier than expected, but rather typical. We rushed outside, and so began our commute to the airport. “Oh, Merry Christmas!” I remembered to say to our driver.

We arrived at the airport rather early, which really should guarantee you a good seat. Nevertheless, I was reminded of the stress that airports bring me. This time it was nothing too serious though — Alex’s name was too long for the ticket. Such discrimination.

Impressively, we made it to our gate without spending a single cent on food. This would be a decision we would later regret.

To our sadness, Alex and I were not sitting next to each other. Well, we were, in a way, but there was an aisle between us. This was a pleasure for the air hostesses to deal with. Serves them right, I say, for splitting up my honey bunny and I.

Due to our morning rush and our tightness at the airport, we spent the flight starving. This was mainly due to the fact that we assumed we would be getting a free meal on this flight. Not the case.

I spent the flight next to two quiet girls, watching some television shows, most okay and one terribly awful. Alex, on the other hand, had a much better time on his side of the aisle. He was lucky enough to be sitting next to a one-year-old, which he especially enjoyed, especially towards descending time, when the baby was screaming uncontrollably. It wasn’t so bad though — I think the baby was just jealous of all the attention the two toddlers rolling around in the aisle were getting.

As the plane descended, we were able to get a decent view of the Canterbury farmlands. Very pretty and very geometrical. We had finally arrived. We departed the airport and decided on the cheapest option to get to our hostel — the bus. It was delightfully warm and terribly windy, but all in all rather lovely weather. We jumped on the bus and received a mini-tour of the city, driving through the suburbs, through the parklands and into Christchurch city, continuing on the east where our hostel would be. We passed a Woolworths which is called Countdown here in New Zealand. We jumped off the bus and walked about twenty minutes until we finally reached our hostel. On the way we were able to see some of the damage the February earthquake had caused. Quite catastrophic, really, as we were able to see rooms inside buildings that had collapsed. It was quite a walk.

After checking in to our hostel, we remembered how absolutely starving we were. The man at the desk told us that the only thing open today for food was a nearby Dairy (as we call a Milk Bar in Australia). He also told us that there was basically nothing to do in the city, since the February earthquake, and that most of it was fenced up. One of the highlights he told us we just had to see was a city lane that had free wi-fi.

Starving, we headed rather hopefully off to the dairy, and to our grave disappointment, it was closed. We wandered aimlessly around the east of the city, searching, pining, for something to fill our tummies with. We decided it was probably the best way to see Christchurch, because we ended up seeing more of the city than we had planned. Most of the city is fenced up so we made our way around nearby the Cathedral Square. Unfortunately, it was fenced up too, and we were unable to see much. There were signs that said, “Enter at your own risk as if another earthquake occurs, you may die.” We wandered around the city centre which was very flat and very empty. Many abandoned buildings still stand, out of business. There really is not much to the city anymore, which is a terrible shame, as parts of the city that stand today are really lovely. We did find the Bridge of Remembrance, which is still standing.

In all this time we were unable to find a restaurant, food store, petrol station nor take-away shop open. Losing energy, we found a restaurant that looked as if it was open! But, alas, not for another forty minutes, and there was really nothing on the menu that wasn’t seafood, nor under $30 for that matter.

We kept on, deciding to turn back to the hostel as previously the receptionist told us there would later be a small Christmas dinner of potatoes and ham. We were looking for lunch and it was pushing 6pm.

We walked, and walked, and as we walked we found it. An open door! An open restaurant! Cheap Chinese food! Yes yes yes! We walked into our saviour and waited for a table. “No, no, we have too many bookings tonight,” the waitress said. The place was empty. Saddened, we continued on our journey, eventually making it back to the hostel, and there, awaiting us, was a kitchen full of potatoes, bread and beer. Our starchy dinner was very worthwhile.

We returned to our Love Shack (the room aptly named, with a huge heart-shaped mirror over the bed) and held our tummies with content. Tomorrow we are getting a car, and the shops will be open, and we will be spending an hour at Countdown showering in grocery goodness.

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