First days in New Zealand!

Jan 28

On Jan 26th I left dear and cold Italy for the other side of the world, and I MEAN the other side. New Zealand, land of Kiwis, meaning the fruit, the bird, and the people!

The first plane took off at 5.45pm of Jan 26th, and after flight changes in Frankfurt, Singapore and Sydney, the very last one landed in Wellington at about 2pm on Jan 28. Changing constantly the time on my watch, I felt like a time traveler, in a timeless and spaceless dimension called plane, sort of like the DeLorean car of Back to the Future, and suddenly puff, it’s 2 days later. The flight went well: I got to sleep, watched loads of movies, and read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, by Stieg Larsson.

Bruce, my contact and temporary host here, picked me up at the airport, which is a 20 min drive from the city. The sun, the fresh air, the green mountains and the clear blue sea were breathtaking, and I felt in paradise. After a quick stop at his house and a shower, Bruce and I walked around the city, first along the waterfront and then up to Courtney Place, where we stopped for a glass of wine. The city center is very compact, walking from one side to the other takes less than an hour, and streets are full of nice cafés, restaurants, and all sort of shops. Starbucks: yes, Gloria Jeans Coffee: yes, 24 hours shops: yes, cheap miso soup (takeaway): yes. I’m all set!

Anyway, after our pit stop we went to the supermarket, where I bought shampoo, shower gel, and lotion. Heading back home, we met up with a friend of Bruce, Olivia, a girl about my age. She spent 3 years in Milan but, due to visa issues, she had to go back to NZ and will soon be heading to Sydney. We had dinner together (amazing soup), but at 8.30 I had to say goodnight and crashed on my bed.

Sat, Jan 29

I woke up at 8 and decided to go for a run. I put my running suit on, bought a king size bottle of water, and started running, headphones playing my workout play list. Useless to say that after 10 minutes I was exhausted! My muscles hadn’t moved for more than 2 days and were completely atrophied. A bit frustrated, after several attempts I decided to give my lungs a break and started walking instead. T

he view at the riverfront is breathtaking: colonial and rustic style houses, most of which are restaurants or cafés, ad ships of all sizes docked at the port. Beaches in Wellington are not that great and very small, but good enough go and lay under the summer sun, something I’ll soon be doing, before the season’ s over. The thing is that W. is extremely windy, which makes the weather unpredictable. What I have experienced so far is a very warm and sunny morning and a slightly colder afternoon, cloudy or not. Evenings are always cool, it’s worth bringing a jacket.

Back to Saturday, after the run Bruce and I took some friends of his to the airport, stopping at a café on the seaside for a quick lunch. There, I had my first “Flat White”, the most common type of coffee drink for kiwis. It’s like a cappuccino, but with less foam, and I would say a little less milk. It’s generally served in cappuccino-like cups, but you can order a “bowl” of it as well! Bruce’s friends are a very interesting couple. They’ve lived in London for a few years, and traveled all over the world, including smth like 5 months in South America, a month in Italy, and a few months in India. The reason why they came back to NZ is that they’ll soon be having a baby, the beginning of their greatest adventure. I’d looove to find a guy that is willing to undertake that lifestyle, which is exactly how I intend to live my life in the upcoming years (provided that I find a job first and finally start earning some money). Anyway, they live in Auckland and had come to W for a wedding. After dropping them at the airport Bruce and I went to a liquor store, where I bought a bottle of wine for the evening (further explanation later).

I sort of napped for the rest of the afternoon and then went out for dinner with a friend of Fran’s, a Neozealandese girl I had met in Montpellier. Fran was so nice to give the ctcs of some friends of hers, and voilat, here I was having dinner with one of them. Sarah brought also another friend, this hilarious guy who looks 29 even though he’s 36. We had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant, where I hade the best noodle soup ever. And here we come to the bottle story: in some restaurants, generally the cheaper ones, you can choose to bring your own beverage, including wine or beer. It’s totally cool, and you get only charged something like $4 per bottle. We drank Sarah’s red wine though, so my bottle is still sitting at home, waiting for the next party or dinner out. After dinner they showed me around a bit and we went to a couple of bars: The Good Luck Bar and The Library. In the first one, I had one of the best cocktails ever, which tasted like apple tart! Sooo delicious! Moreover, the waiter there was super cute and I totally have a crash on him. I just need to drag more people to the bar, wait and see! It was a great night, my friends are super nice and funny…there were moments in which we simply couldn’t stop laughing (especially when organizing the “hit on the cute guy” plan, which still has to come into action..it’s just a matter of time).

Sunday 30

Bruce took Olivia and me to a trip in Marinborough, an area famous for its extension of vineyards and green fields. We had to drive for an hour or so but the trip itself was astonishing, with panoramas that alternated sea and green mountains. Our first stop was Ata Rangi, where I had my very first wine tasting experience. I have to admit, I don’t know much about wine, but after watching Sideways with Bruce, I got very excited at the idea of getting a taste of different wines, with the sole purpose of feeling the differences among them, and understanding which go better with my palate. Turns out my favorites are the Pinot, especially the Pinot Gris.

Our second stop was in another vineyard, where we had lunch. Sublime cooked salmon over ratatouille, topped with a bit of lemon creamy sauce…simply amazing. They also served us fresh bread with olive oil dipping (which tastes a bit different from ours but still delicious) and a mix of seeds: you’re supposed to dip the bread in the oil first, so that the seeds will stick to the soggy bread….mhhh all so yummy! We had a table in the balcony and the view was simply breathtaking. After lunch we went to Greytown for a walk. We walked up and down the main street, full of little cafés and antique shops. I had an interesting conversation with a woman working in an Indian clothing store. We talked about traveling, cultural differences, and even though the conversation was delightful she did underline the fact that I should lose my American accent. Her attitude towards it was a bit annoying, but apart from that I really enjoyed my 10 minutes in the shop 🙂 After the digestive walk we drove home and I fell asleep.

Monday 31

When I woke up the wind was blowing so hard that I though it would take the rooftop away, but nothing alike happened so it was all good 🙂

First thing I went to Bruce’s office and got my resume printed out, a longer one to leave in agencies and a shorter one for waitressing positions. Then I went to the New Zealand Bank and set up my account. It was so easy, really! A guy named Kyle did it all for me and the whole process took about 10 minutes. Paperwork? 2 sheets total, and the assistant told me I could contact him any time via phone or email for any question. I was astonished, this is like the opposite of what would happen in Italy! After that was sorted out, I walked around the city, leaving my resumes in Saatchi & Saatchi, Clemenger BBDO, and in 4 restaurants: 2 Italian ones, an Indian one (where Bruce’s brother-in-law works) and a South American one.

And here is another demonstration of how talking to random people sometimes help. Exiting Clemenger BBDO building, I ran into a Mexican 60ish years old dude. I mean, I heard somebody speaking Spanish so I just started talking to him. I told him that I was looking for a waitressing position and he suggested I left my resume in a South American restaurant called Estadio. Well I did and guess what? They’ve been the first ones to call me back and I have a tryout shift this afternoon (Thursday)! Yayyy!

Then I went to the Tai Papa Museum, the cultural symbol of Wellington. It’s like a natural history museum, that provides a view of NZ flora and fauna, and hosts the body of the biggest squid ever found! It’s free but very well kept and modern, with a lot of interactive points and activities for kids. 2nd random meeting of the day: 2 French guys, doing an internship at the French Chamber of Commerce. One of them was about to go back to Europe, but I exchanged numbers with he other one, nice move Benny! They’re really nice guys and Tuesday night we met up with a bunch of other people and went to a Jam session in a bar called Fringe. More info later on.

Going back to Monday, after Tai Papa I met up with Emily, a colleague of Bruce’s that had previously worked in an advertising agency. We went for coffee on the waterfront and she gave me some pretty good tips on agencies or design studios I could contact, and gave me a general overview of the advertising sector in New Zealand. Basically most business in Wellington revolves around government, which is also the biggest client for advertising agencies here. Auckland is bigger and might have better opportunities, but the situation is more competitive there, so it’s good that I started the hunting over here. We had a very nice chat, cos both of us share the same passion for traveling and above all interest in the communication and marketing sector. It was like talking to a mentor, but one who’s actually younger that me. From what I see, people start their career after their bachelor’s degree, doing their masters later on. I left Emily on the waterfront and went home, but not before having a chat with the funniest Indian guy ever, who works in a food store not far from home. I bought some groceries and then spent the night watching Love Actually.

Tuesday 1

The day started in total randomness. I went running (for real this time), then back home, showered, used the internet..that sort of stuff. I went to an internet café to upload my files cos Bruce’s home computer didn’t read anything, but the moment I sat in front of the PC I received a message from the Mac Store, where I had to give my dear Mr White cos it wouldn’t charge.. I just left the internet café, went to the Mac store, and found out that I had to buy new batteries! More than $ 200 burnt just like this…oh well it’s not like I had a choice…I also received a call from Estadio, the South American restaurant, and went there for an interview. As written above, I have a trial shift later in the afternoon. Both the place and people sent me good vibes and I trust it’ll go well! Fingers crossed!

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mel on February 3, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Great start! Already making friends and connections – that’s awesome! Good luck with your job search and keep the updates coming. I’m feeing nostalgic for NZ from hearing your stories and can totally relate to the friendliness of Kiwis. Actually, a Kiwi guy named Kyle has just moved to Edmonton to work and travel. So many Kiwi connections… Be sure to keep in touch and once you start heading to the South Island, let me know because I have a lot of recommendations for places to visit!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Uncle Frank on February 3, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Benny, che inizio…! Se il buongiorno si vede dal mattino sei a posto.

    Reply

  3. Hey darling!You r already in NZ..awesome, fingers crossed for ur interview, I hope u’ll find a good job in the mktg world asap!
    Just 2 tips:
    – don’t drink coffee by Gloria Jeans, it’s really…CRAP!
    – are u crazy to for a run after a 2days-travel? it’s dangerous 4 ur health…but i know, u r young and healthy darling, 😀
    Good luck!
    Anne 🙂

    Reply

    • Hey!
      I know GJ’s coffee is total crap, but when I was in Texas (not famous for good coffee anyway) I noticed that the chocolate mocha there is better than at Starbuck’s.. oh well, it’s always crappy vs crappy.
      Fingers crossed for jobs!

      hugggggg

      Reply

  4. Posted by Uncle Frank on February 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    ogni quanto aggiorni il blog?

    Reply

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