Vineyards, Sting concert, and costume parties!

February 19

I’ve just realized that while I did post pictures of the past two weeks, my blog has stopped to my first 7 days in Wellington and needs major updating.

Well, weekdays are spent pretty much distributing resumes all over the city. I keep creating new contacts, but nothing concrete, as companies are not hiring at the moment and don’t even have enough work load to take an intern for free. As sad as it sounds, I don’t give up and I’ll keep knocking on doors, sending e-mails, and creating new contacts!

Let’s come to the fun part, the experiences that are making my staying in Wellington actually unforgettable.

The past two week-ends have been amazing! On Saturday 5 Sarah and I went downtown for the 7s party! During the whole week-end people walked around dressed up in the craziest ways, day and night, just like Carnival. The occasion is the 7s rugby tournament, which is called that way because teams are made of 7 players instead of 15. A great number of people actually go to the games (which are held on Saturday afternoon), but for most of them the tournament is just a pretext. What really count are the parties held on Friday and Saturday night! On the second night the whole Courtney Place area was fenced and closed to traffic, and all restaurants, clubs, and bars stayed open till late to host a ridiculous amount of people, ranging from 16 y.o. to late 50s, all out to party. Sarah and I hadn’t even thought about dressing up, but inventiveness and 15 minutes in the dollar store proved to be enough to create our costume. The theme was Italian Mafia Girls, and as you can see form pictures, the disguise consisted of black hat (I still use mine!), white shirt/top, black tie, black pants, black/fish-nut tights, and sexy shoes/black boots. Accessories: colorful whig (red for Sarah and hot pink for me), fish-nut gloves (even though I forgot mine at Sarah’s), crazy sunglasses and lots of make-up! I went to Sarah’s with make-up and wine and we got ready together for the big night! We went to The Republican, where we met some friends of mine, and then to Estadio, where they played Latin American music. Walking on the street, I noticed that there were four main types of costumes: the team related ones (people dressed as players, cheerleader, or as something symbolic of the country of a team), the slutty ones (not surprising at all), the men-in-tights ones (I know that deep inside you like it boys, or are in some ways attracted by the idea of wearing tights!), and the I-just-go-crazy ones, with no limit to fantasy. My friends were dressed as olympic runners from Kenya, bodies completely covered with brown painting. It took us a while to find them, especially because I DID not know that they were going to be all black in the first place 🙂 A group of guys dressed up as mimes tried to catch our attention on the dance-floor at Republican, but they were actually acting as mimes, and after 5 minutes of “we-are-trying-to-impress-you-with-mime-like-performance” Sarah and I decided to leave, letting them carry out their silent conversation by themselves. We went to Estadio, where we stayed till 3 am. Here’s the picture: Latin American live band, Latin American guys, including people wearing ponchos and huge sombreros, and some Latino-wannabes (kiwis wearing colorful clothes or t-shirts of the Argentina soccer team). At 3.30, after dancing the danceable, we headed off to our homes, exhausted but very happy. I had a great time and I know Sarah did as well, especially because we hadn’t really planned it, we just wanted to have fun and see people in customs. In the end the evening exceeded expectations.

On Sunday afternoon I met up with the two Sarahs and other girls for brunch. It was a pleasant afternoon: excellent meal, ok weather, and interesting people. The funny thing was that all of us were connected by the same person: Fran. Before leaving for Wellington, she had given me the fb contact of four of her friends, and we all finally got to meet up for brunch. Sarahs already knew each other, but had rarely or never met the other girls, as Fran had known them in different contexts at different stages of her life. A very girly rendez-vous, it was, and after hours of chatting and laughing we all tottered to the respective homes, stuffed with food.

Skipping to last week-end, I spent 3 days in Hawke’s Bay in company of couples in their late 50s, which turned out to be a quite interesting and entertaining experience, especially because we all went to see Sting perform live in a vineyard! At 8.30 am on Friday morning Bruce and I were hitting the road to Hawke’s Bay, an area on the east coast about 4 hours away. Bruce was actually born and raised there, and the concert was an occasion for him to meet up with his old pals, who of course came with their wives. We all met up for lunch in a restaurant in Napier, a city close to H B. You can see pics of the whole party on fb. There were two couples (all men went to Uni with Bruce) and another guy, who is the owner of the beach house where we spent the week-end. His wife is in Bali now, managing their factory of ballerina shoes/wear (scusa se è poco!). The restaurant was furnished and decorated with a very particular taste, a mix of Latin American and Asian style (Maori too? I couldn’t really tell), wood, iron, and bright colors textiles everywhere. I liked both the environment and the food, and was impressed by the service. When they brought my dish, I noticed that the bottom of my quiche was rather cold, so I asked them to warm it up (in a very kind way of course). After a while the waitress came up to me saying that they were going to bring me a new one, as the chef didn’t want to provide “second hand food”, AND she offered me a glass of wine too! I was positively, absolutely astonished. That’s what I call good service and customer care! After lunch we went to the beach house, unpacked, and took a stroll on the seashore. The weather was too cold to go for a swim and too windy/cloudy to lay on the beach, but the view was breathtaking: clear blue sea, surrounded by green hills and mountains, pure air, and a surfer trying to catch some waves, (rather unsuccessful I must say). We made a barbecue for dinner and spent the evening chatting and reading. Bruce’s friends are quite cool: most of the boys are managers of some sort and their wives are..well, one is a doctor, and the other one..I don’t remember really. They’re all quite high class and a bit posh, but in a genuine and very literate kind of way. Anyway, I was pretty exhausted that night and went to bed quite early. On Saturday morning “the girls” and I went out for a walk in the woods behind the house (yes, here in NZ it’s pretty much always like that: sea in front of you, green hills and mountains behind you), then a group of us went to Napier for lunch (and some good window shopping). How did we get there? With a roaring convertible, radio (ipod) playing Frank Sinatra, the wind blowing our hair (but not in a Bridget Jones way), the sun shining, and green hills all around us. We looked like a bunch of dandy pals, but who cares? It was a great ride. The guys stayed around the car, reading, whereas Julie and I went widow shopping. Napier is considered the capital of Art Deco, since most of the city was rebuilt after an earthquake in the 1930s. You can see colorful buildings, with names of shops painted on the wall, and a lot of concept stores, all defining a high class style that mixes modernism with a colonial taste. Most of them sold both clothes and items for the house, or very kitch and expensive jewelry, along with all sorts of lotions and perfumes (sort of like a posh and original Zarah Home). One of the stores even had a café in the back, all in colonial style, which I found very cute. Some stores in Milan are starting to adopt this strategy, let’s see if they’ll have success. Anyway, we didn’t really buy anything, but my friend was very keen to purchase two skulls of goat, with horns and all, to put in clear vases in her living room. I thought she was joking when she asked the saleswoman for their price, and was totally puzzled when my friend started telling me how she could get them at a cheaper price (they were more than $300 each!) just talking to some friends of his husband, who are shepherd or butchers. At a certain point I stopped trying to explain that the idea of having skulls of dead animals in one’s living room was just too far from my ethics and from my concept of beauty, art and furniture, and started nodding instead. Lunch break was amazing though. J. and left the men at an ice-cream shop and went to a café that could be defined “tea time with your dolls”, “love, harmony, and friends”. Imagine a room full of flowers, white, embroidered tablecloths, and u endless number of china teacups and teapots, each one different from the others..and then flowers again, all coming from the garden of the owner/manager of the place. We had a delicious quiche and a little sweet treat, which also came with flowers! The other side of the café was actually a shop, selling very expensive clothes and all sort of accessories. You have to see pics on facebook to have a better idea of the place! When we left, I felt in complete harmony with the world, very happy and a bit giggly (little, soundless and pointless giggles). We went grocery shopping, then back home, where we made some sandwiches and then off again heading to the Mission Estate Winery to see Sting and the NZ Symphony Orchestra performing live! We got there at about 5.30 (quite a walk from the car to the actual place), just in time ti find a decent spot to set our “camping equipment”. The concert was in a green open area, basically a hill surrounded by vineyards, populated by 25000 fans, all sitting on the ground with their blankets and sandwiches. We were quite uphill and the ground was very steep, but Bruce’s ingenuous friend had brought a hoe, which he used to dig holes so that the chairs would be in horizontal position. The whole situation was quite comic actually: after digging our chairs’ graves, we saw quite a few people in the same situation and started passing the hoe around, which came back to us some 2 hours later. After the cover band (not bad at all) played for a couple of hourse, at about 8 Sting appeared on stage, accompanied by some 50 orchestra artists, including an amazing singer, who sang with him in almost all of his songs. I am not a very big fan of him – I mean, I recognize him as a world music celebrity and an icon in the history of music, but apart from a couple of his songs and hits by The Police I really don’t know much about his music and couldn’t train enough with my ipod – but his performance with the orchestra really gave me the shivers. The last song was Message in a Bottle and EVERYBODY was singing, dancing, shaking light-sticks, and at the end of the concert 50000 hands were clapping and waving for this exceptional music event. We all went home tired but happy. We didn’t do much on Sunday: packed, had a light lunch, and headed back home. It was a sunny and relaxed day, a perfect end of the week.

I could write about how much effort I’m putting into the job search, but this is neither entertaining to read nor pleasant to write so I’ll just skip all the CV handing part. Instead, I will write about my new friends here, so that y’all know who I’m talking about when I’ll mention this or that person.

There are Sarah Ag. and Sarah Al., who I have already written about. They are both friends of Fran’s (see explanation above) and some of the very first people I met here. Sarah Ag. has lived in Spain as well and we often speak in Spanish, mostly when we don’t want other people to understand us 🙂 The three of us get along very well and we meet up for coffee or drinks once or twice a week.

Diego is Italian but has lived here for the past two years. He works at WETA Digital, making special effects of movies like The Hobbit, Happy Feet, and Avatar. Cool guy, met at the random Italian Community party a couple of weeks ago. Here I mention also Filippo and Raffaele, met thanks to Giulia (the girl I randomly ran into in front of the Mediterranean restaurant). Filippo and Giulia have lived here for 5 years and are about to get married!

Victor is a French guy I met at Te Papa Museum on my 3rd day here. He is doing an internship (CRUI MAE) at the French Embassy and will stay here for 3 or 4 months.

Isabella is a ballerina with sicilian roots. I’m not sure of how much Italian she speaks, but definitely more than only “Ciao, come va?”. I ran into her twice but we haven’t really had a proper chat yet. She seems funny and enthusiastic, and will be coming to dinner tonight (more about it later on).

Olivia is a friend of Bruce’s who spent three years in Milan. She attended IED school and wants to work in textile design. She’s a really cool girl (and lives in the same building as Diego..Wellington is so small!) but will leave for Sydney at the end of the month. Sob sob.

Finally, there is Corrado, a guy from Como/Milan who works at the Mediterranean restaurant (and NO, I do not work there, not yet at least..misunderstanding btw the managers there). He spent last year in Australia and has come to Wellington with his French girlfriend. They’ll work here until November, when their visas expire, and then will be traveling throughout Asia before heading back to Europe. We are the exact opposites, in terms of character, musical/cinema/fashion, and point of views on many subject matters, but this is why we get along so well!

We are all meeting up at Sarah Al.’s tonight and will cook an international dinner! I love dinners and house parties (and organizing them as well) was basically my thing when I was in France (with a proper training in Finland and Spain hehe)! All guests seem pretty excited about it too! We’ll make some tapas and Benny’s pasta with saffron and cooking cream, and it will all come with liters of sangria of course! I’ll post pictures within next week.

I could write long pages about the evening I had a glass of wine with some friends on a meadow under the sun (and how the evening actually ended at like 2am), or about my first time to the beach here (yaaay fially sun-tinned..and sun-burnt too unfortunately), but they are all episodes that need to be lived and have no justice on a few lines on a blog… you just have to see pictures and use your imagination, that’s it!



One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Kjelsie on March 22, 2011 at 4:13 am

    Mmmm, Benny’s pasta and international dinners, how I miss them both!!!


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