Sunday, February 10, 2008

Logbook: Dunedin "Re-Entry"

Dunedinreentry1The ship arrived in Port Chalmers too late to disembark on Thursday evening, so I spent a final, quiet and uneventful night onboard. By nine o'clock Friday morning I was dressed, packed, fed and cleared by "The Man" -- who turned out to be a very nice woman -- to go ashore. After a few final farewells with officers and crew, I descended the gangway and met up with Charlotte and Randy who -- bless his heart -- had gotten special permission from the Captain to escort us on the short walk along the dock, through the gate and a block into town to the bus stop. There, we said good-bye to our good friend and watched him retrace his steps back to the gate and on through to the ship. As you can see in the photo, the cargo gantry is almost as big as the town of Port Chalmers, and it was with a mix of nostalgia for the past month at sea and excitement about the next months on land that I took one last look at the ship. After a quick cup of good coffee at a local cafe, Charlotte and I hopped on a local bus for the twenty minute ride into Dunedin where we got off in the middle of town -- at "The Octagon" as it is called -- and went right into the tourist info center. Because I had all my gear in tow and didn't feel like dragging it around looking for a place to stay, I got one of the center's staff to suggest and book me a room for two nights at a mid-range place with internet. Charlotte opted for a "backpackers" so we parted ways after making plans to meet up later in the evening.

It was an easy three block walk to my hotel which turned out to be a generic tourist place in what I would soon find out is the uninteresting side of town. It was still before noon and my room wasn't ready yet, so I stashed my gear and took off for a walk around town. Back through The Octagon I found the more interesting part of town, had a delicious lunch of fresh fish and salad then walked around some more on my way back to formally check in at my hotel. I spent much of the afternoon online -- as usual when I've been offline for a while -- then went out for another exploratory walk and another good, fresh meal before meeting Charlotte and going to see a real movie in a real theater. It may sound like a funny thing to do, but it was a real treat after living in foreign languages without current entertainment for such a long time. I crashed pretty hard that night, the first time I've been in a room that wasn't noisy, vibrating or moving in over a month.

Dunedinreentry2Yesterday was a mixed use day. I spend most of the morning on Skype with a client doing "other work" then went out for lunch and a walkabout, during which I found a much better place to move to, got a NZ chip for my phone, picked up a few supplies, did a few other chores and had some fun wandering around the big festival that was taking place in town. Dunedin is a very attractive little city of about 100,000 people and I have very quickly become quite fond of it. There is a lot of tourism centered here, but the town does not feel "touristy." With lots of interesting things to do both in the city and in the area I have decided to spend a week here, giving myself a really good chance for "Re-Entry" into land-based life. Because I expect to be in New Zealand for a couple of months, I have decided to do some overall "planning" of my exploration here and have started to gather up maps, brochures, etc. to piece together a rough itinerary.

I got up this morning and moved to my excellent new home for the week, then went out for a huge Sunday brunch. I continued my "Re-Entry" by walking around town, gathering info, looking at maps, catching up with myself and others online, updating the map and generally doing all the stuff that has been on-hold while I've been at sea. As you can probably tell by the way I have emphasized my meals over the past few days, I am really, really enjoying the food around here. Not only is it all very fresh, there is also a wonderful variety available. Compared with the adequate but not very fresh or diverse food onboard ship, Dunedin is an eden of eating and I am enjoying every opportunity and morsel. Although I don't feel like I've been all that busy or active over the past few days, I am feeling very tired. It may just be the change of pace, or it may be that I didn't really sleep all that well on the ship and it has caught up with me. Either way, I am in a great, quiet little room with what looks like a very comfortable, stable bed, so I am going to crash early and see how my "Re-Entry" continues tomorrow.

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