Monday, February 28, 2011

The Little Vally

I know I just spent the last blog gushing about the beauty of Dunedin and Aidan's home, but I can't help doing again. His parents, Julie and Ken were so amazing, and spoiled us something silly. After spending our first day in "The Little Vally" as Julie would say, Kathleen, Keri, and I were all anxious to see the Otago Peninsula.

Aidan had already made some plans to hang out with his friends from Secondary School (High School), so it was just going to be the girls. We figure we'd take a bus out to the Peninsula, but Julie would not hear of it. She popped us into her own car and took us on a privet tour of the Otago Peninsula. We stopped three times the first was the Dunedin aquarium which is run by Otago University.

The aquarium hosts tons of baby sharks and a petting tank filled with all sorts of starfish, and shell like creatures. After the aquarium we were all a little hungry so Julie suggested a small cafe for lunch which was delicious. I couldn't resist the case of sweets and tried my first piece of Hummingbird Cake. It's a two layer spiced sponge with cream cheese frosting and pineapple and banana in between the two layers of sponge. I bought it with the intention of sharing it, but I am ashamed to admit that I definitely ate more than half of the very generous slice!

After lunch, Keri and I wanted to see Dunedin's castle. Yes you read that correctly, castle. The castle was build by William Larnach for his first wife. It was completed in 1874, and is now privately owned, but is open for eager tourist like myself who feel like walking around a three storied stone castle. For some reason I didn't think to take a picture of the castle itself, so I will have to show you one taken by someone else.
Julie'd seen the castle several times before, and Kathleen is transferring to Otago UNI so she wanted to wait and see the castle another time, so Julie offered to drop us off and pick us up two hours later. Keri and I had a ball exploring the castle, the only pictures I have were taken from the top of the highest tower, because no pictures were allowed to be taken in the actual castle.

After our tour of the castle we spent the rest of the evening with Aidan's family who provided us with a home cooked dinner of roasted chicken with plum source, rice with carrots, celery, and parsley, and a fresh salad. Needless to say I did not leave the table hungry, but the real spoiling did not begin until the next morning.

Aidan went with his friends to church, while Kathleen, Keri, and I stayed with his parents. While we were enjoying a nice breakfast of toast and jam Julie offered to give us a carriage ride. We quickly accepted her invitation.

Julie and her white pony took us up the hills and out of the Vally in order to look over the beautiful beaches of Dunedin. I got to sit in the front of the carriage, and ask Julie all sorts of questions while Kathleen and Keri sat in the luxurious back seat. Julie even let me drive the c. 1880 cart for a bit. My day had been more than complete, but little did I know that there was more to come.

Ken, Julie's husband, enjoys going to vintage car shows, and told us all about his 1920 Stanley Steamer. It's a car that runs on steam, and was made in Massachusetts, but engineered by two Mainers! According to Ken, there are only three of these car's in New Zealand, and his is the only one that is still on the road. The car is kept at his work, so we had only herd tales of the classic car. Unfortunately our time ran short and we had to go back to the bus station without seeing the vintage car. Little did we know that Julie and Ken decided to surprise us with a little detour before heading to the bus station. Instead of arriving at the station, we went to Ken's work where he proudly pulled out the steamer, and offered to take us to lunch in it. We sat in the back of the windowless car and watched people as they watched us putter through town.

I really can't thank Aidan and his family enough for being there for us while everything was in confusion and spoiling us so rottenly!

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