The wind is wild here. At night, as I sit here typing this: in the morning, when it crashes against my window like it’s trying to whisk me away. Sorry, but that’s a bit too aggressive for my taste; I like the subtle approach. Which is what it toned down to today as I wandered about, thankfully. I met up with Sophia for lunch, where I got to try the highly-praised Vietnamese sandwich everyone in the family had mouthwateringly described last night. It was lemongrass chicken with spicy sauce, mayo, pickled things and cucumbers, a whole lot of them. I need to do some research in an effort to recreate the beauty, oh it was so good! We had lunch in a little park in the middle of the city, surrounded by fat pigeons and a fair number of working people. I’m pleased to see a good amount of folks make it outside for lunch, because if you live somewhere beautiful and can enjoy the fresh air then why not? Lunch also spawned some great cultural exchange about America/NZ, on topics like the election, sexism, gender/marginalized group inequality and more things I’m certainly forgetting. Great way to really kick off my day.
After we split (because one of us has a job) I recalled Sophia mentioning that anyone is welcome to enter the Parliament buildings right across from the rail station. One of the Parliament buildings here is called The Beehive, and is most notable out of the 4 halls that make up their government’s home base. They offer free tours to the public, so in I went this afternoon just in time to catch the next round of tours! They had 30 and 60-minute options, and I went full for it because why not? The buildings are all relatively different from each other, with beautiful architecture, a lot of light colors and high, open spaces. The Beehive I mentioned above is gorgeous inside and out, with 14 floors favoring grained marble and cool zig-zag pattern wood. The main event room even has mural panels, painted by a local artist, representing the scenes of the country as you move between the tips of the North and South Islands. Gorgeous.
New Zealand was the 1st country to give women voting rights in 1893. How frickin’ cool? Hell, even the ‘go’ light on the pedestrian lights are in the silhouette of a famous woman here, Susan someone I believe? Unfortunately I’ve never heard the name when I’ve had something handy to write with, but I will figure out who it is. She had a bust in one of the buildings, so snazzy stuff. In the lower house room the speaker apparently always has a 9 kg gold and silver mace, which is like the kindergarten talking stick except fancy and governmental. Pretty fun.
One thing that really struck me about the governmental buildings here was how open they were. And not just in terms of a lot of windows, light-colored paint and beautiful large rooms. No, there’s also just a very casual and friendly atmosphere. 1 cop in the building, right at the front desk as we, casual every day locals and foreigners, wandered our way through their highest governmental halls. Open gates build for decor, not safety. 1 or 2 halls with card-only access. Oh to be so welcoming and unworried; such a dream compared to the way American governmental buildings operate.
After my exploration of the Beehive I was wandering to find myself some hiking shoes, and damn if it wasn’t hard. There aren’t too many stores here that do outdoor shoes like that (or I just couldn’t find them). But eventually I stumbled upon the uniquely NZ store Kathmandu, which had some mad deals and intense outdoors stuff. Til tomorrow, my friend. In the meantime enjoy this cool dog-walking man sculpture and the Platform 9 3/4 dry cleaning that rests at the entrance of the Wellington Rail Station. Prime stuff.