Oct. 20, 2012 Left Picton today and we are bound for Nelson. We took the Intercity Bus line. I can’t remember if I told you we purchased 35 hours each of travel time with them. They deduct the travel time rounded to nearest quarter from the 35 hours. If we need to we will “top off” our bus pass accounts to make sure we arrive back in Christchurch on Nov. 29. It is so relaxing to just leave the driving to them. I had in my mind that this would be a straight flat road that paralleled the coastline. No, it was twisty, turning with sharp ascents and sharp descents with turns at 35 km and then at 25km per hour (approximately 20mph and 15mph). We were very much in a forested area and for only a fourth of it did we have coastline. The coastline curves and twists with rough whitecaps and lonely outcroppings of rock. A very solemn feel to it!
We arrived in Nelson and walked 15 minutes in a residential area to our lodging for the next two nights. It is called the Almond House and is the best accommodation we have had so far. For those of you who do not know, we are staying in hostels while touring New Zealand. These are not just for youth, although honestly, most are in the under 25 year old age category. You can choose from dorm style rooms, shared rooms with 5 beds, double rooms with shared baths, and double rooms en suite (with bathrooms). Dorsett House and the Villa (Picton) were both double rooms. Bathrooms were shared. We did some learning in Picton when we discovered that not only were the bathrooms shared and coed but they were also communal. Yes, just like in college with 5 sinks 3 toilets and 2 showers in one large room. Now, I’m just not okay with that. Just call me old fashion; just call Greg, ancient! The Villa was composed of a hodgepodge of buildings with the main building being a 100 year old Victorian house. We were in an outbuilding with a separate kitchen and six sleeping rooms,some of which were shared rooms (5 beds). Luckily, at least the first night, we were the only ones in that section. The next night only one other double room was filled. On our final night, a group of older (over age 60) hikers arrived to celebrate Labour Day by hiking the Queen Charlotte track. Another discovery is that some hostels cook dessert for occupants. Each night we had apple crisp and either hokey pokey (a New Zealand favorite) or boysenberry ice cream. Oh, that made our stomachs happy campers.
Oct. 21, 2012 As I said the Almond House is so far our best accommodation.
It has a chest of drawers—our first in this hosteling business. It also has a small table and two chairs. The top of the table has quickly been filled with travel brochures. I know you want to know about the “facilities”; they are coed but not communal. I breathed a sigh of relief; now it is only a matter of timing. The shower room is magnificently above standard! It is tiled with a large tile shelve at the window and shelves around the sink where you can put your beauty aids. Also, the house has recently been remodeled so it is so fresh and new. Plus, we had Pavlova, a national dessert made of meringue and fruit with heavy cream layers. It was made for the guests by the owners. And I thought I would lose weight on this trip!
Greg and I have had such a peaceful time in Nelson. It is a town of about 45,000 people and is very clean and very walkable. The downtown is about 5 minutes away and has numerous international restaurants including German, Thai, Chinese, French and Indian. We had the best Indian food last night and had lunch at a Thai cart on the street today. We also hiked to the center of New Zealand which is located on a hill right outside the city centre.
Okay, they tricked us. It is the center of the triangulation for surveying this region of New Zealand.
Still the views from the hill top were breath taking with the city and Tasman Bay on one side and verdant rolling hills on the other.
I forgot to mention that there are coffee shops all over the place and most had outside seating. So after we visited the city’s Anglican cathedral (at the top of another hill with the most ugly bell tower I have ever seen),
we sat on the street below it, drank coffee, and listened to music.
Later, we walked by their flowing river back to the Almond House.