Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Life in Wellington

Upon reflection, I have firmly concluded that moving to Wellington -- rather than another New Zealand city -- was the right choice. This city is a fascinating combination of metropolitan luxury and picturesque nature complimenting each other marvellously. It puts the "civiliz(ed)" back in "civilization", complete with an enormous number of caf├ęs, art galleries, theatres, and of course, stylish clothing boutiques of every description. (Don't even get me started on the absurd amount of shoe-shopping here... that's a whole blog entry unto itself!) And, all this fits snugly into an area that, from end to end, is about a two-hour mosey.

Also, unlike Christchurch and Auckland, Wellington feels the least like a Canadian city. (Which is kind of the whole point of moving away, no?)

My experience in Auckland gave me the approximate visual of being stuck in an endless Toronto suburb punctuated occasionally with chain-store strip-malls. The roads were large, crowded, and very wide; at one point, on the main intra-city highway, I looked about to notice that the scene was not a bit different from that of the Ottawa Queensway. It was quite disorienting, to see something so familiar in a place so far away.

Christchurch, on the other hand, is small, new, and picturesque in a way that would be best compared to Saskatoon. In fact, I have since met several Saskatchewanites living in Christchurch; they love the city because "most days, we don't even know we're not in Saskatchewan!"

Aside from all that, however, I was not entirely sure of how I might convey the "True Wellington Experience" to you. But then Dave was emailed this list, and I figured it was as good a way as any.

(For those of you unfamiliar with this kind of list, there are similar ones for cities all over the world, such as "You know you live in Winnipeg when you know better than to drive down Lanark st, and everyone you know makes fun of Transcona.")

So, here goes the Wellington equivalent, with my explanations in (*)'s:

You know you live in Wellington when...
1. You can wake up during an earthquake and think that it's just the wind that's shaking your house. (*this has actually happened to Dave and I) ^_^
2. You can say "Wellington is full of ferries" and not be considered homophobic.
3. You can recognise half the city's population when walking down the street.
4. You can afford a $1000 suit but still flat in a house that requires 3 sets of clothing and two dehumidifiers to stay warm. (*...even then, the term "staying warm" is being used in its loosest sense!)
5. You see someone travelling 100kph on the motorway and you complain how fast people travel these days. (*especially on our street, which is a main feeder for the main highway)
6. You walk from the Railway Station to Willis Street without ever checking for traffic. (*that's about 10 blocks through main downtown)
7. "Just turn left at the first StarMart (*NZ equivalent of 7-11s), walk down the street till you get to the third StarMart, turn right, go 3 StarMarts up and you're there."
8. Seeing the Brooklyn Wind Turbine not turning is a newsworthy event.
9. It takes you 20 minutes to drive around the block in peak traffic due to the 'one way system'.
10. Boarding a Stagecoach bus is a hazardous activity. (*especially when there's umbrellas involved!)
11. You take a bodyguard down Courtenay Place in case you bump into a drunk politician. (*kinda sounds like Ottawa...)
12. The centre line is negotiable, especially on the Brooklyn & Hataitai hills where parked cars can take up 80% of the road.
13. You get altitude sickness going from your car to your front door.
14. You have to leave the city to do your shopping.
15. Any wind that doesn't threaten to take your roof off is just a 'bit of a breeze.'
16. You can detect 27 different shades of black suit. (*...and 19 different shades of red shoe worn with said black suit)
17. When an earthquake hits, instead of hiding under your desk, you hold a bet with your workmates on the force, focus and epicentre.
18. When giving directions to tourists, you point up.
19. You go out for your $5 coffee with friends and complain how expensive Auckland is.


Speaka said...

I love Wellington! We live in the suburbs..with mountain and forests and valleys and tons of parks...and yet we are a 10 minute train ride downtown.

Karla said...

Absolutely -- Ngaio is sweet! But I was definitely thinking of you guys with #12, all the crazy car-parking taking up the road... right next to blind corners, even! (eep!) ^_^

Speaka said...

right now its even crazier cuz there is construction taking up half the road...and people still park there....

mayor of funtown said...

Hey Helga, do you miss the Peg?
Guess what?
There is no mosquitoes.
Don and Marian
PS. What color is your hair?

Karla said...

OF COURSE I miss The Peg -- where else can you hang out in your backyard, start up the firepit, and hang out with such a wacky/cool gang o' neighbours?
;-) Give my love to the fam!