Enjoying the last of New Zealand

14/2 Sun: picked up Graham then headed to Riccarton Markets, the largest markets in New Zealand. I was pretty unimpressed; some interesting crafts and entrepreneurs but lots of second-hand rubbish and what was described as antique but was mainly broken old stuff. Really pleasant atmosphere though; worth a wander.

From there we headed to Riccarton House where a Scottish cultural festival was on. There were pipes and drums, whisky tasting and people dressed in Victorian costumes. Really fun and festive.

We finished the afternoon with a BBQ back in Kaiapoi.

15/2 Mon: We drove out to Akaroa for an afternoon at the little habourside township. Famous as a French enclave in colonial NZ, Akaroa remains heavily influenced by French culture. We decided against a cold, grey afternoon on a dolphin cruise and, instead, ate fish and chips near the harbour and tasted some rather average wines at French Farm winery. It was a great afternoon.

After a brief stop at home, we headed to the airport and humid Auckland.

16/2 Tues: A day of preparing and packing and running errands in Auckland, along with a new sponsorship deal agreed and the opportunity to be on TV tomorrow. We had a great BBQ with my side of the family and a few hours writing and editing before bed.

The longest Wednesday in the world

17/2 Wed: A really memorable day, and one that stretched on thanks to the beauty of timezones. We started with a TV appearance on TVNZ’s Breakfast before running some last-minute errands (Hi Jono and Holly!) and lunch with Linda’s family.

Over the Next three months, we’re travelling with one of our best friends, Janine, so we met at the airport and headed off. A few friends came to say goodbye and we got off to a late start (as always, LAN?) at 5pm.

We arrived arround midday: Our first day in Chile! Our first steps in South America!!

Linda’s “imaginary” friend from italki, Moroni, met us off the plane and we bussed into the centre of Santiago. We had been surprised at the dry brown desert we flew in over, but were also surprised at how green the suburbs were. I don’t think water conservation is popular in Santiago.

We left our bags with Moroni’s friend and went for a walk around the centre of town: Plaza de Armas. We visited the Cathedral, a small market and saw a few other sights.

Moroni took us to meet our Couchsurfing host, Maria, at work. In a long day filled with new experiences this might have been the one we were most nervous about. After failing to handle a blisteringly fast Spanish conversation with her, we retreated to cafe while she finished work.

Things went much better after that: things were relaxed, Spanish slowed a little and our hosts proved to be super friendly and hospitable. We shared a meal together after walking through the nearby park to the supermarket. Although tired after the longest Wednesday in our lives, Linda and I stayed up swapping photos and stories with Maria Paz and Christoph until late.

Santiago sightseeing

18/2 Thursday: We slept in a little, headed to a local cafe to use the wifi, then headed into the city to meet Moroni. We visited the National Library and then climbed to the top of the fort at Santa Lucia.

There’s a small shop at the bottom selling a variety of interesting indigenous crafts but the treasure is the view from the top.

We wandered towards the Parque Forestal and into the Museo de Bella Artes. It had several great exhibition halls and I especially liked a temporary photo exhibition which was running.

I worked while Linda and Janine went shopping and prepared an awesome spread for us and our couchsurfing hosts. Bueno noche!

19/2 Friday: what a sleep in! We didn’t make it out of bed until 11. Another hour was burned online then we headed into town to wander aimlessly along the river. We went to the Precolomiano art gallery but decided to hold off until Sunday, when it’s free. We caught a bus back to Providencia — where we started — to down some beer, mango sours and mohitos before returning to spend an evening with our hosts.

This was written on an iPhone and quickly edited. There may be some weird language use going on!

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