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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Art Deco, wine, & sunshine

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 27 February 2014 | Views [916]

Napier is the world's Art Deco capital. Welcome! Yesterday I got a lift to CouchSurfer Dave's house, but I'll share more about him later (don't get me wrong though, because he's one of the best guys you could ever meet and CouchSurf with). I got a lift into town easily and decided to walk the rest of the way, stopping at Hell Pizza (formerly Eagle Boys Pizza) for lunch. It's the first time I've been to Hell Pizza in years! You might wonder why Napier has such a high concentration of Art Deco structures. In 1931 Napier was practically wiped off the map by an earthquake so powerful that parts of the land were uplifted. A sizable part of Napier today was underwater before the earthquake. During the 1930s Art Deco was a popular style, and many of the buildings have remained. Recently, Napier was nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its concentration of Art Deco. As my candied eyes ogled at the colour of the various buildings I didn't have a dry eye.

Travel and places, much like a famous art museum does to an art connoisseur, brings a tear to my eye. I appreciate places that deeply, and I fall in love with the world more each day. Admidst the pastel-hued Art Deco I tried my luck at poetry busking. A lovely lady named Odette was the first to hear Kiwis, kiwifruit, & kiwi which everyone gets a kick out of. I made a few dollars; enough for some good grub. Napier probably isn't the best place to busk but there's plentiful sunshine! It's one of the sunniest places in NZ. After getting a long black I walked to the smooth-rocked beach, practiced with my camera and put my feet in the water. On the waterfront is perhaps New Zealand's most famous statue: Pania of the Reef.

Pania is an important figure in Maori mythology. She was stolen several years ago and later found in a garage, and by coincidence one of Dave's students was convicted for the theft. Pania was later placed back in her original spot by the waterfront. What a lovely day it is! The weather has been brilliant everyday! Just as famous as Art Deco in Napier is wine. The Hawke's Bay region produces some of the world's finest wine. When I called in at the New Zealand Wine Centre I got to sample a couple of the region's famed varietals.

When I lived in NZ years ago I rarely drank, therefore I didn't appreciate wine but now I can almost call myself a wine connoisseur. With my camera, I asked the girl working behind the counter if she could interview me. She asked me what I love about Napier and what my favourite wine is. Specifically, my favourite is Brancott's sauvignon blanc. Generally, I enjoy every white wine except chardonnay, and among red wines I enjoy cabernet sauvignon. As much as appreciating wine, I appreciate New Zealand much more than I used to. I feel home! Slightly tipsy from wine tasting, and with tears in my eyes due to the Art Deco, I enjoy the sunny day and fetch me some fish & chips. They were only alright; fish & chips are very hit and miss. Getting back to Dave's house proved to be a major mission. I called him and he said there's a trivia night at Puketapu Pub that starts at 7 PM. I had a fair bit of time, but a local picked me up, giving me a lift and a beer at the same time. Then I was stuck. A couple walking their dog was nice enough to give me a lift all the way to Dave's house. Now that I've filled you with stories of Art Deco and wine, I must tell you about the wonderful CouchSurfers I've met within the past few days. Dave is one of the most awesome hosts I've ever had! He's a high school English teacher originally from Sheffield, England and moved to NZ in 1996. He lives in a rural home surrounded by vineyards; it's a very beautiful area! Chaela is a lovely young lady from Sacramento whom Dave is also hosting. She has a degree in wine and viticulture and recently spent a year working on vineyards all around Australia. She's the ultimate go-to girl to discuss and share your favourite varietal. She just got to NZ a few days ago after a few weeks in Thailand and Cambodia. Joe and Emily are from Idaho and are here on a working holiday visa. Joe immediately took interest in Fearless Journey last night. Emily is Joe's fiancee and has a degree in Spanish. Alan and Vivien arrived tonight and they are from Hong Kong, and Dave is their first CS host. Drinking wine and beer before a night of trivia, we had great times and then it was time to use our brains.

On the line was a $50 bar tab for the first place group and a $30 tab for the second place winners. I came in handy with the various geography questions, and in the first round we had to identify ten cities. A couple of the smaller NZ cities (eg Whakatane) I immediately recognized. If I knew an answer for certain I'd say "100% confident" leaving no margin for error. Some of the rounds had many questions regarding movies and music but I know very little about either. In a close battle, we were just three points behind the first place winners and tied with another group for second place. The tie-breaking question was "how many Kiwis identify themselves as Maori?" We guessed 500,000 whilst the other group (mostly Kiwis) guessed 900,000, and the answer was 598,000, so we took second place! The prize was a $30 bar tab which we'll use tomorrow night. It was such an awesome day (and night). I saw a lovely city, had some great wine, impressed my new friends with my trivia skills, and enjoyed the sunshine. Back at Dave's place, Joe helped me create a Facebook page for my book. He describes me and how I'm courageous for travelling the world and got to hear some of my poetry. Tomorrow he's going to interview me with my camera. I'll be in Napier for a wee while yet during the short time here so far, it's sweet as, eh!

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