Let me tell you, internal body clock mess is weird. This morning I snapped awake, convinced I had overslept and missed the alarm. Turns out we were fine, and my body was responding to California time, thinking it was 10 a.m. It was actually 7 a.m. New Zealand time. So, once awake, we dressed and headed to the convention center. After some coffee and an amazing chocolate croissant, I was ready to play tourist with the rest of the group.
We boarded a bus for a tour of Wellington, which was beyond fascinating. No, that's not sarcasm, it really was. I found out why we couldn't find food last night (the city is compartmentalized; restaurants and bars are located on Courtnay Place, where all the cool people eat, apparently.
I also know now that the passing resemblance that Wellington has to San Francisco is not a coincidence. By design, English colonists visited San Francisco and brought 4 house frames with them with which to build houses in the city. Wellington and San Francisco have common traits: both are on a bay, both are hilly, and both are on fault lines. Wellington's founders figured San Francisco was doing it right, and set out to model the city after The City by the Bay. The result to me is a place that feels vaguely familiar; dynamic and quirky.
By mid day, the sun was out, if you can believe it. We stopped at the top of Mount Victoria, and were afforded some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. The natives say that Wellington on a good day cannot be beaten. I would be inclined to agree. If the sun shined every day here, they would never be able to be rid of visitors!
Afterwards, we took a turn through the opera house, which was older and beautiful. I have a lot of photos of the Opera House, and you have to see them large on my flickr.
Lunch was next and then we were off to the Te Papa Museum.
Built in 1998, and completely free, the Te Papa is one of the most interesting museums I have ever visited. Covering most of New Zealand culture, the Te Papa is a 6 floor buidling jam-packed with exhibits from native history to natural disasters to the Colossal Squid. I couldn't see it all even if I had a week. But I will definitely go back before we leave.
Te Papa reminds me of a bit of Monterey Bay Aquarium, L.A. Museum of Natural History and a science museum all in one. It also houses extensive art galleries. The funky vibe from the architecture is infectious. It is inviting and encourages wandering. It is extremely kid-friendly with a ton of interactive exhibits and "Discovery Centers" where you can delve deeper into the exhibits by doing research. It really is an amazing place. And? Colossal Squid!
Afterwards, a few of us headed upstairs to the cafe for snacks. It was very relaxing sitting in the middle of the museum and sipping a mocha. I have to say, Wellington has ruined me for coffee anywhere else, I think. They take their coffee seriously, and Wellington is home to not one, but two coffee roasteries. Pretty amazing, considering that Wellington only has 260,000 residents!
I finished my day with a walk along the waterfront, taking pictures as the mood struck. It was a glorious day, full of warmth and sun. Many people came out to jog, bike and walk babies in strollers. It is hard not to be happy in the face of that joy.
I picked JNerd up from the conference and we headed to the tweet up scheduled for the evening. Some chatting, some laughing and some beer (not necessarily in that order) finished off a simply wonderful day. I was tired, but content.
Tomorrow, a tour of the Parliament building. I hope my feet can stand up to the punishment. It is bound to be heavy on walking.
T, who is NOT leaving