big city, small town

with a population of almost 400,000 i have found wellington to have almost all the big city things i would want – arts, entertainment, sports, restaurants, shops, etc.

but what i’m really happy about is the small town feel. most weeks i’ll have some small town experience that will make my day.

some examples:

  • i’m at a family run shop in the cbd buying some preszzies (presents) for the jboss’ birthday. i take 3 items to the counter. the owner rings them up and says “oh my – that’s too much!” she has rung up the correct prices, but she then rings them up again but this time totaling $30 less. “that’s better!”
  • there is a popular coffee shop right outside my office that i stop at a few times a week. within a week of me starting to get my coffee there victor the owner knew my name and what i always get – large flat white, blue milk (2%) and no sugar. note that there are hundreds of people who get their coffee from victor every day and victor knows them all and what they order.
  • [note: i officially condemn the following unless it benefits me] i usually chat with victor the coffee guy while he’s making my coffee. i’ve noticed that if i show up and there are several orders ahead of me somehow victor gets confused and my coffee comes out first… bad victor, bad.
  • one day i’m scooting along on my vespa and it just conks out. i call aa (the nz equivalent of the aaa in the states) and soon the aa truck pulls up and the aa guy starts trying to figure out what’s gone wrong. the service guy is a big dude with giant hands, and the engine compartment on the vespa is tiny, but he’s hard at it and within 10 minutes has me on the road again. he explains what he has done and suggests i take to the vespa shop soon to have then check over his fix. it’s been a long time since i had my vehicle actually repaired roadside. next day i take it to mr. skoot for a full checkup. when i pick up up he explains that my spark plug was cracked and that he replaced it and the connecting wire. he asks if $20 is ok? $20 for service including parts.
  • maybe once a month i have lunch at a small family run malaysian cafe. none of the plates match. the paint on the tables is faded. mom & dad in the kitchen. daughter #1 at the register. they know what i usually get and when i walk in just gesture for me sit down and soon bring over my lunch.
  • during our summer holiday last year i lost a small (but critical) part for my 10 year old mountain bike. i stopped in one of the bike shops near work and explained what i wanted. they guy pulls me back into the repair shop and starts digging through a big box of used parts similar to what i need. soon enough he finds one that will work. back to the register and he asks “is $2 ok?”
  • i get my coffee beans at one of the 5 coffee roasters within 2 blocks of my office. the price is per 100g (3.5 oz) so i usually get 500g to last the week. i’m buying them directly from the coffee roaster dude who always fills the 500g bag so that not another bean could fit. he always puts it on the scale just to be sure it’s at least 500g, but i’ve never see it weigh in at under 600g despite him only charging me for 500. my experience in boston would be them putting the bag on the scale, it saying 510g and them then removing beans to bring it back down to 500.
  • the bus driver waving to me as i step off the bus.

city to sea – aea ot ytic

today we completed the longest and most challenging of the wellington city walks – the city to sea.

19.8km (12.3 miles) along the western ridge line from parliament to the southern coast.

except we did in reverse starting at our house, heading down to the island bay coast and then heading into the city.

5 1/2 hours after we started we arrived at parliament and caught a bus back to island bay – quite exhausted.

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from the elevation map you can see that there was quite a climb.

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starting our climb to the hills overlooking island bay. looking out at cook straight with taputeranga island in the foreground.

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wildflowers lining the track. the jboss at the top of the ridge. many miles to go…

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the jboss takes in the view of the island bay and the southern coast. in the unexpected category, a buddhist monastery in the hills overlooking island bay.

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cricket and a kite

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looking back to the southern coast – and then north towards the city and inner harbour.

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the ultimate volvo with it’s own garden.

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