Courts and coffee and hobbits

“Rule #42: All persons more than a mile high must leave the court immediately, “said the King of Hearts.  “But I am not a mile high, and I am not leaving.” said Alice.  “Sorry, rule #42, you know.”

Week three of my adventure and I am already falling behind on my blog.   So this one takes you from Melbourne to Auckland to Wellington.  And it begins with coffee, of course.   I have a new hobby.  I am going to learn everything there is to know about coffee.  Fortunately, I have the attention span of someone who has had way too much coffee so this will likely be a passing fancy.  Nonetheless, I kicked off my education in Melbourne at Seven Seeds, a local roaster and coffee house.  They do something there called cupping, which as far as I can tell, is a not very well known and someone unfortunate name for a coffee sniffing and tasting experience.   We tried coffees from around the world, starting with a dry sniff, a wet sniff, a crust evaluation and finally a taste.  While this taste is supposed to resemble a wine taste (sip and spit) most of us took advantage of the opportunity and over caffeinated ourselves.  I was able to determine that my coffee palette is not as expensive as my wine palette as I did not enjoy the $55 per pound coffee from Papau New Guinea.


One of the truly fantastic aspects of this adventure is that it is taking me to visit so many friends from around the world.  One very, very rainy and very, very chilly night in Melbourne was spent in the company of Louise and Erin.  Erin had the foresight to reserve the entire restaurant for us so that our laughter would not disturb the others.  It was either that or the cold and rain inspired lots of nights home under blankets, but I prefer to believe it was our high social standing.


And then finally it was time for an authentic Australian footy match at the G.  If you want to spend two hours watching a game that makes absolutely NO SENSE, swing by one of the mile high AFL stadiums and observe.  I am quite certain that penalties are called on a completely random schedule and that the rules are made up as they go along.  My favorite element is the random coaches (?) dressed in pink that run around the enormous field and point at other people.  I read that the players run a half marathon at each game.  Clearly, they are insane.  But I donned my Collingwood Magpies beanie and cheered on the team during one of the coldest days Melbourne has seen.  In Chicago terms, it was a pleasant autumn evening.


Then it was off to Auckland, New Zealand- my country #35.  I was strongly advised to not spend too much time in Auckland so of course, Hobbiton was the first stop.  You may know Hobbiton by its real name, The Shire.   Here, I was able to swing by Bilbo Baggins home.  It was clear the Dwarves had just been there and they were off on another adventure so we didn’t spend any time together.  I was able to grab a beer at the Green Dragon before going in search of Smaug (because who wouldn’t want to be in the company of a Benedict Cumberbatch voiced, gold loving dragon?).


A drive south of Rotorua presented a visit to Waiotopu, pronounced in way I couldn’t possibly guess, but it means sacred water and is a volcanic, geothermal site.  Here there were erupting mud pools, sulfur lakes and mini geysers.  Photos can’t possible do justice to this amazing place.  My achy muscles would have loved a dip in the hot springs, but it was time to fly to Wellington.


The main day in Wellington kicked of with….wait for it…. wait for it…. coffee!!!   My love of coffee may only be surpassed by my love of peanut butter.  If I was on death row (no current plans by the way), my last meal would consist almost entirely of peanut butter.  And there is a little shop in Wellington that makes their own peanut butter.  And they have this little window that you walk up to and they hand you samples.  Thank goodness I am not a mile high and could easily access this window to heaven.


Final stop of the afternoon was a visit to Parliament, where a session was open to the public.  Holy moly, what an experience.  A punch of Kiwis and I rolled into the gallery and sat down for what would be a highly entertaining session.  Members would ask the Prime Minister and other Ministers questions and then proceed to yell and insult each other until the Speaker called for order.  My highlight was when a rather vocal member of the Labour Party yelled out “poppycock.”  Time to invoke Rule #42- you must leave now.  Especially because I was soaked from the rain!


Next is off to wine and sheep country in New Zealand and promises to be filled with knitting and wine and knitting and wine.  Thank goodness my Antarctic friend Jessie shares the same passions!

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