From the hustle and bustle of San Fran to the calm and laid back atmosphere of Christchurch in the summer where even the businessmen seem to amble along as if they haven't a care in the world. Yes, it won't shock you to know that I really liked Christchurch.
Often called the most English of cities according to my Lonely Planet I can only think that thew person who said that had not been to England recently as not once did we see gangs of hooded kids terrorising old ladies, no d1ckheads in West Ham shirts singing Rule Brittania drunkenly at four in the morning, no crowded tube lines full of unfriendly faces, no .
If anything Christchurch is like an England that people assume existed back in the days or may still exist in the more remote areas of England as despite being a city of over 300,000 people it retains the air of a country village stuck in a time warp from which it can't be bothered emerging. Perhaps that's because of the tram system that strolls it's way through the city or maybe the River Avon that wends it's way through the centre complete with punts (like Italian gondolas) and pedalos floating by. Infact it wouldn't have suprised me if whilst walking around we had seen a policeman cuff a young scallwag around the head for scrumping apples before sending him on his way with a cheery wave.
Enough of that, we arrived here after a lengthy flight from San Fran which first went into Auckland for a connecting flight and was running late, leading Rhiannon to spend much of the flight endlessly muttering "we're not going to make it are we" to herself, me, other passengers and at one point I expected her to go up and tap the pilot on the shoulder to get his opinion. But make it we did and with the sun shining it seemed stupid to try and catch up on much needed sleep so we headed out for a walk.
In the centre of Christchurch is a square with the cathedral elegantly looming over it lots of cafes and bars for a cheeky pint or coffee. We were lucky enough to see the Wizard in action, he is this old guy who dresses up as Gandalf and gets on his soapbox and harrangues the crowd with his views on the world. Mainly why women are rubbish and just hold back men which I could not possibly agree with.
Finishing up with a stroll and a sunbathe in the botanical gardens all seemed right with the world. There was a bit of cloud around the next day so we caught the tram around the city, went round a museum, relaxed with a beer and generally acted like we were on holiday.
Our final day saw us get a bit more active and we caught a bus out to the Gondala which confusingly is a big cable car which take you up the side of the mountain and provides great views of the city, although worryingly it is prone to stopping unexpectedly, the whole thing was very pleasant and gave me a chance to imagine myself as James Bond battling Jaws on a moving cable car. Once up there we did a walk down the mountain (always better to go down) and got great views of a town and harbour on the otherside which I can't remember the name of now, but it was really good. Perhaps you had to be there.
That's it for Christchurch, i'd recommend it for a visit or for retiring there if you want the quiet city life, i'm not sure it is busy enough to live long term whist still young (I still class myself as young). Incidentally of the tall buildings in the city centre PWC, KPMG and E&Y dominated which may interest any accountants amongst you.
This also was the last hotel bed for a while, from now on it was campervans only.