Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christchurch, New Zealand

Our first stop in Christchurch, under slept & desperate for caffeine, was the Antarctic Center. I have to admit that I could not focus well, I was barely functional after getting up at 3:45am! But, one of the key events at the center was the storm room where you put on a parka and expose yourself to a simulated spring storm in Antarctica. It was sort of like a blustery winter day in big deal to me...but the southerners were quite impressed! They have a penguin feature where they care for injured and disabled little penguins. So cute! I believe that that is the blind Lothario of the rookery being fed. He is the most popular male with the larges harem.
The center of Christchurch is the cathedral and the cathedral square. As you can see, the weather was pretty gloomy when we were there! It rained quite a lot. I had a 2 day cold, runny nose et al, while running around in the rain.
One of the first things I did was go buy some fine merino shirts at end of the season prices to help me stay warm. I also found heavy wool tights! A delight!
Christchurch is a real art town. They have a wonderful contemporary art museum and many galleries...most of which I went to. I saw marvelous things. The old college (name escapes me) has been turned into an art center with galleries, studios and restaurants. Sadly, it was severely damaged in the earthquake that hit several weeks after we were there.
There were several peak experiences in Christchurch. Don James and I attended evensong at the cathedral and heard the boys choir. Just beautiful! Another surprising highlight was Eyris Blue Pearl Gallery. I am not particularly big on jewelry, but their presentation on the blue pearl was great and I did buy a Maori pendant of carved bone. But of special fun was their daughter , Magda?, who had lived in Taiwan for sometime. We shared stories of Taiwan and the devotion to family that she experienced there.
Another highlight was the rainbow that seemed to follow us around on our big bus tour day! It was persistently bright over Littleton Harbor, which I painted from a brief overlook. The hills were like green velvet in the mist and water almost Mediterranean blue.
Another peak experience was our home stay. Susan, Robin, Don and I stayed with the Hannefin's. What gracious hosts. They live not far from the shore, just out of Christ church, under the Red Cliffs. Their house was somewhat damaged in the earthquake, some cracks, a dry stone wall around their property demolished and some boulders off the pictured cliff, presumably onto their drive. They got off lightly. Their daughter's home sounded like it was totally destroyed.

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