Chocolate, Beer, and Bagpipe cheer

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Today is my third day in New Zealand.  I feel like I’ve already been here for weeks! On Friday my flatmates wandered down to Baldwin Street, about a 20 minute walk from our flat, to the steepest street in the world. We hadn’t originally planned to make the visit, so I was wearing flip-flops (or jandals, as they call them here).  Obviously, not the best footwear for that sort of climbing.  Every year the Cadbury chocolate company has this huge event where they roll about 25,000 wrapped chocolate balls down from the top of the hill, where hundreds of anxious children wait on the bottom.  Speaking of Cadbury, we visited the factory yesterday and are definitely going to have to take a tour before we leave.  The smell was unbelievable!

Top of Baldwin St.

Yesterday my friend from St. Lawrence Max and I met up with some other kids from our school to check out the Museum on campus.  There were tons of artifacts from the Moari, New Zealand native people, and lots of different animal exhibits.  We got a chance to see the skis they used here in 1990, and I couldn’t believe how old (and dangerous!) they looked.  Imagine just strapping your boot into leather strap and heading downhill? Sounds like somewhat of a diaster to me.  My favorite was probably the whale exhibit; the skeleton must have stretched at least fourty feet across the room.  There was also an exhibit of the history of the city, and it was pretty hilarious to see some of the happenings around campus in the last couple of years.  They also had some pictures of the devastation from the flood in Christchurch about a year ago.  I had no concept of the damage, but it was way more extensive than I would have guessed.

Max pretending to be captain

After spending probably two or three hours in the museum we headed off to the Octogon, the center of city.  We were met by dozens of bagpipers, some as young as six or seven.  The music was nothing like I’ve ever heard before, and definitely a bit mesmerizing.  After that, we went to a tour Speights brewery, the oldest beer in New Zealand (Colin, you would have loved it!).  Besides being absolutely hilarious, the guy giving the tour was actually the great grandson of one of the founders.  He told us  a story about a time that the patience team at the brewery was working on some of the underground pipes, and accidently connected one of them to the public water supply.  Obviously all of the Dunedin was in good spirits that day! Except that it ended up that the Otago daily times printed that story as an April’s fool joke, much to the public disappointment.  That sort of thing would never fly with the NY times l  you’ve got to appreciate how light-hearted and hilarious this country is.  At the end of the tour, we got a chance to try all of the seven or so beers Speight’s puts out.

Perfect pour! (not as good as Dad with the Guinness, though)

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