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Friday, October 01, 2010

We are in Christchurch New Zealand - Last Stop Before Antarctica

Earthquake damage behind our hotel

Newspaper special edition from the earthquake one month ago. They still have daily tremors and aftershocks. Note church in reflection.

Cathedral on downtown square in Christchurch. Out hotel is the one with the peak on the left - Camelot Cathedral Square Hotel

We flew into Christchurch New Zealand from Brisbane today - 1000 miles closer to the South Pole - the last stop for many going there to study. We had a beautiful flight in over the snow covered southern alps.

New Zealand is about the size of Colorado but only has 4 million people. Christchurch's latitude is 43 degrees south - about the same as Tamaqua's 41 north - except this island is strongly influenced by the cold maritime weather pattern. The temperature when we arrived today at 3 PM was around 55 degrees - very sunny - with a snappy breeze. It is now 10 PM and much colder - but people are still outside our hotel drinking at the cafes in their shirt sleeves.

At the airport we got a rental Subaru 4x4 - and I tried my hand at driving along the wrong side of the road. It did not take me long to almost get into a wreck as I pulled out in front of someone. Not a good start. There is one really quirkly traffic law here - when two cars are at an intersection facing each other - the car that wants to crossover traffic to turn has the right of way. Way back in 1970 - I did cut in front of someone like that and got t-boned - and was charged with failing to yield the right of way.

We drove to the town square downtown and walked into a nice 3 star hotel - right next to the town cathedral. It is not tourist time here - and we negotiated a room with breakfast - internet - parking - for $100 total. That is good because they wanted $40 for breakfast and $30 for internet alone. Tax is included in all prices here and tipping is not the custom. They have a 15% GST Tax included in all prices. they have this in lieu of a high income tax.

We went to an art film called "South Solitary." It is about a lady lighthouse keeper. It was made for this year's Sydney Film Festival. The theatre is next to our hotel - so we thought it was appropriate to go.

Now we are back in our hotel - watching Tallahassee news on our computer with the slingbox from home. Tomorrow - we plan to drive up over the alps to Graymouth on the west coast.

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