|It's Wednesday night here in Christchurch and, naturally, I'm in an Internet cafe with a bunch of other tourists who can't think of anything better to do than surf the Web while on vacation. (I mean there's the shores of the Pacific Ocean just a few hundred meters from here, for chrissakes. Get out and go for a walk!) I never realized how addicted I am to email until these past few days. If I can't get on email every day, I get all oogy inside. A local reveller outside the door actually yelled into the cafe: "Get a life, folks!" Niiiice. Like my self esteem needs that kind of talk.
It has been a few days since I've been on a computer, so I'm going to try to quickly squeeze the last few days' activities into a nice little package. First off, I have to say that today was a nice day hanging out in Christchurch because it has been the first day in about ten where I have not had to either hop into a car and drive a long distance, strap on my hiking shoes or otherwise do something. I spent the day pretty much hanging out in the city, and it has been nice.
On Tuesday morning we hit the road up to Christchurch, which is about a 6 hour drive from Dunedin. I'd heard good things about the city, and Jonathan hadn't been there in a few years so we were excited to arrive. Jonathan has a friend in town that we had originally made some tentative plans to stay with, but those plans fell through so when we arrived we needed to find a hotel. It's Tuesday night, so this should be no big deal.
Well, at turns out is was a big deal. Scene at first hotel: Us: "We'd like a room for the evening." Clerk (trying to supress laughter): "Sorry, sir, the hotel is booked. All hotels in the city are booked tonight, but maybe they could help you at the Information Center to find something either in the city or outside of the city." Huh?
Scene at second hotel: Us: "Do you have any availability tonight?" Clerk (looking at his co-workers as they both try not to crack up): "Sir, there isn't a hotel room in this city or anywhere within an hour." What is going on, we asked. Two things: First is the annual New Zealand (the Black Caps)--Australia Cricket Match. Now, I don't know a thing about Cricket, but it is big here, second only to rugby. Us coming into Christchurch looking for a hotel room is a bit like rolling into Jacksonville the night before Super Bowl XXXIX looking for a place to stay. Good luck, we came to find out.
The second thing - that bitch Cher was in town for the latest round of her Farewell Tour (which, btw, hasn't that racket been going on for about 5 years now??). Interesting confluence of audiences descending on Christchurch last night - Cher fans and Cricket fans. I figured there would be some good fights, esp. since the Black Caps lost and the fans were pissed (drunk) and, well, pissed (off). Things were not looking good for us. The advice we were receiving was along the lines of: "Try for something on the outskirts. Like an hour or so." Or: "Have you considered sleeping in your car?" Or: "Latimer Square is actually pretty safe to sleep in at night."
We happened to stop into one hotel and the clerk, I think feeling sorry for us, put us in touch with the hotel owner, a guy who as it turns out is in the practice of renting out parts of his house to travellers when there's no rooms anywhere. So we ended up staying at his place (his name is Tim) for the evening, along with a nice couple from Germany who had flown into the city and were also under the silly impression that they might find a hotel. Jonathan was feeling nervous about the whole thing at first, but it turned out to be a nice alternative. Tim was a nice guy, and had a nice house right off Hagley Park.
So tonight things are a bit more normal, now that the Cricket fans have left the city, and I'm staying at the AYH.
(Although Cher is apparently still here. In fact, I've noticed that she and I are on the same travel schedule for the next 10 days - she heads to Melbourne the same time I do, then on to Sydney the same time. Yeah, I know what your thinking: Coincidence? I think not Will, you stalker. But make no mistake: I'm no Cher fan and this is all an unhappy coincidence.)