Iqon's New Zealand Blog

Tag: Anticlimatic endings

Wine tasting, comedy and rugby

by on 6 June 2010, under New Zealand, PSV

I have been pretty bad at writing blog posts this semester; to the disappointment of a lot of people, I am sure. Last time I teased about stories about wine tasting and a failed attempt to go on a hike – but wait! There’s more! Included in this month’s edition of my blog post is also comedy and rugby, amongst other things. Very interesting indeed.

But we start at the wine tasting which at this point took place more than a month ago; proof that I have been horrible at producing these amazing blog posts people have become so used to. On the other hand, there is always guarantee for quality, fun and clever remarks. The first weekend in May was the one I spent so much time on last time: The one with air guitar, kiwi fruits and quidditch. A quick side note about quidditch: I will probably not get to see it in NZ. The people who arrange the tournament have chosen to place the matches at a school a bit away from here. I think it might look a bit suspicious if I showed up at a school, in the middle of a weekend, to watch a bunch of kids playing quidditch. But back to the wine tasting: Kirsty, Ilana (again, people from Flat 15), Max (French guy who at this point is as big a part of Flat 15 as I am, without any of us actually living there) and I chose to complete an amazing weekend by going to Waiheke Island on a sunny Sunday. Waiheke Island is located about 30 minutes by ferry from Downtown Auckland. It is (by my personal experience) a sunny island, filled with fantastic beaches and a very laid back atmosphere. The island is well-known for its plentiful wine production and is a popular place for people to go visit and taste the different wines each vineyard has to offer. It was a very enjoyable way to end the weekend. We went to three different vineyards which all had different approaches to how they presented the wines. At Stonyridge Vineyard we bought two glasses of wine to share among the four of us. We enjoyed these wines while sitting outside, enjoying the sun and the green fields surrounding us.

Tasting wine at Stonyridge Vineyard. We all quite enjoyed "Luna Negra"
Stonyridge Vineyard – it was here we found our favorite wine on the trip, Luna Negra.

Wine notes or lyrics creation...
As the the true Frenchman, Max is, he felt a sudden surge of inspiration with the first taste of proper wine. Here he is in the midst of writing lyrics for his song.

From Stonyridge Vineyard we continued to Te Whau where we got to taste the same wine from different years. Here they did do a better job of actually presenting the wines. The wine reminded Max of his home region, Bordeaux, to such an extent that he had to invest in two bottles of wine.

Te Whau Vineyard
People sitting, enjoying their wines at Te Whau.

The final stop of the day was Mudbrick Vineyard, one of the most popular vineyards at Waiheke. Here the presentations of the wines were a bit more like we had expected before the trip, with six different wines in six minutes, with a brief description of each attached. We got the abridged version of the wine tasting since a wedding reception was about to take place. That someone would choose a place like that to host their wedding did make a lot of sense – the surroundings were amazing.

Bride and groom arrives at the wedding held at Mudbrick Vineyard
Bride and groom arrive at the wedding reception at Mudbrick Vineyard.

The plan for the following weekend was to go to Taranaki to do the first hike of the semester. Taranaki is an area 5-6 hours drive Southwest of Auckland. The destination was Mount Taranaki/Egmont, a very iconic volcano which is easy to spot when looking at a map of New Zealand since it is almost perfectly shaped like a cone, meaning it appears as a clear circle (or, to be correct, a disk since a circle technically only refers to the circumference of the complete area) on the map. The plan was that Ilana, Mickey (Ilana’s friend), Tor (Norwegian whom I know from last semester and sometimes play squash against) and I had planned to leave early Saturday morning in order to go on a two day hike near the volcano and still be able to be back before the weekend was over. The trip never took place, though since the dear Subaru Legacy, which has been acting so loyal ever since Skott and I bought it last semester, chose to simply stop after having driven a couple of hundred meters. It happened in the middle of The Domain, the park Parnell Student Village is placed right next to. After having tried to start the car for a couple if hours (which among other things involved asking random runners for help with pushing the car) we had to cancel the trip. In the end the battery in the car had been so drained that not even the hazard lights functioned anymore. I had to pay 80 NZD to get the car towed back the 500-800 meters we had managed to push it through the park. The membership Skott and I bought from AA (Automobile Association) was only in his name which meant he had to be present if we were going get anything out of it. Skott and I met at my place the following Monday to get the car repaired somehow. Before we tried anything else, Skott wanted to try one last time to start the car. None of us were very hopeful, though, as it is seldom very easy to start a car with a dead battery. It worked, though. We drove it to a repair shop where we were told they couldn’t really find the problem until the car wouldn’t start again. Since then, the car has been working fine.

That week in general was pretty eventful with plans for every day. Tuesday meant yet another of my weekly salsa lessons. I still don’t really know why I did take those lessons but I did manage to survive the eight lessons I payed for (although I only showed up for six of them). After Salsa, I went to see Iron Man 2 with Skott and Vegard. I have almost completely neglected going to the cinema this semester which is stupid of me since the tickets here are extremely cheap (10 NZD) compared to what I would have to pay in Denmark. I must try to correct that mistake during my last month in the country. I feel like using the good old cliché “OK, without being anything special” to describe the movie (at least, something similar is a quite well-known phrase used over and over for movie and video game reviews in Denmark). However, that does not really say anything about it. I remember the first movie to be much better and more entertaining, resulting in a slight disappointment about the sequel; a bit too much empty-headed action and a completely irrelevant side story only used to try to setup the upcoming Avengers movie which I do look forward to, mostly because Josh Wedon has been chosen as the director. Vegard complained that the movie was too unrealistic – I’m not quite sure what he had expected when he walked in to see a superhero movie.

Wednesday I participated in a sports tournament (interres) for the second week in a row. This tournament has taken place during most of the semester and requires the different student housings to compete against each other in different kinds of sports. I represented PSV for two weeks by playing handball for them. It was very interesting since nobody down here really knows about the fantastic (Danish) invention, handball is. Those who have been following my blog ridiculously closely might remember that I in the beginning of the semester signed of for “Beginner’s handball”. Contrary to the salsa lessons I only showed up for the very first handball lesson where I realized it was a bit too much “beginner’s” for my taste. I was offered to play matches for their “Advanced” team. Unfortunately I never did pull myself together to contact the relevant person about it. I also think their matches were placed at bad times, though. The interres tournament was a good opportunity for me to get to play a bit of handball again. It was very entertaining to see people’s take on the sport. Naturally it ended up looking more like basketball than normal, European handball. Most people seemed to enjoy it, though, which I guess is the most important part.

Thursday we went to see a comedy show. It was the last week of the three week’s comedy festival so it was one of the last chances we had to get to see one of the many comedians who performed during those weeks. The biggest difficulty was deciding on a show since there were so many to choose between. They all had descriptions which basically stated that the show was funny and since we didn’t know any kiwi comedians it was very hard to tell which shows would be good and which would be bad. Kirsty and I spent a whole evening cutting down the big list of candidates to just one person. The process of elimination included removal due to unforgivable traits such as “being British” (Kirsty’s request), “being a woman”, “having a bad description of the show” or “appear so far down the list of candidates that we cannot possibly include anymore for the next round”. Of course the process did not stop here. Thorough YouTube research was applied along with the creation of a complex point system based on e.g. show length, price and extra features such as being able to sit around tables. We ended up being a group of eight who went to see Brendan Lovegrove who is apparently a fairly well-known Kiwi comedian. He had a couple of jokes which were quite funny but in general it was a bit disappointing. His show seemed to aim at the lowest common denominator (intelligence wise). Most of the jokes had some vaguely racist tendencies or included silly masturbation gesticulations. Our group had been spread around most of the room since we were told to fill up all the tables in front. They didn’t want empty spaces since the show was being recorded. Even though we had been spread out like that, Brendan still managed to pick out almost every single member of the group. He kept returning to me which wasn’t really that surprising since I had managed to place myself on the first row, directly in front of him. Unfortunately the man seemed to be too unintelligent to be able to come of with any kind of relevant jokes concerning me (that should be quite easy, I would say). He did keep returning to the subject of Denmark, clearly not knowing the slightest thing about it. At least I wasn’t accused of being in a boy band which has happened twice before (out of three times) when I have gone to see standup in Denmark. I guess that is progress.

Friday it was time to celebrate Esther (another Flat 15 member) in occasion of her birthday. This was done with dinner at an Indian restaurant followed by a variety of cakes back in Flat 15. I have become pretty used to going there for cake or other baked goods.

Saturday we went to see rugby. Auckland Blues against Hamilton Chiefs. Going to a rugby match was still left on my list of things I needed to do before I leave New Zealand. It was fairly entertaining (the home team, Blues won) and it was nice having Max by my side so he could explain the rules as the game was progressing. I don’t think it is a sport I will ever really get. There are too many breaks and far too many situations with men who throw themselves into a big pile to hug each other.

Another scrum
I feel this situation is very typical for rugby: A lot of men hugging each other.

That's one popular pole!
At times the rugby players also share their love with different objects. Here they are cuddling with a pole.

Being thrown high into the air
Throw-ins in rugby are quite interesting. They are not only throwing the ball but also each other.

I am still a couple of weeks behind in telling about what I’m doing in New Zealand. I also need to post something about my thesis. But that will be another time since I have already spent far too much space writing about (for the common reader) fairly irrelevant events. I’m not certain this sudden end qualifies the post for the famous “anti-climatic endings”. But it is my blog, and I decide, so of course this is another post with that tag attached to it.

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Samoa again

by on 8 May 2010, under Uncategorized

Just to quickly completely finish the chapter about Samoa, I want to mention three irrelevant and uninteresting points which I forgot to write about the first time around.

1) One of the reasons that I had an easy time deciding to go to Samoa was the fact that I would have to renew my visa anyway in order to stay here until July. Since I’m not officially studying at the university down here (I’m not paying any tuition fee this semester) I was not able to apply for a student visa. Also, since I’m not getting paid to write my thesis down here (besides the wonderful government grant (SU) everybody in Denmark gets for studying) I wouldn’t be able to apply for a working permit either. The easiest thing to do was to simply leave the country, return a week later and get three extra months as a tourist in New Zealand. This way I also avoided paying the about $200 it costs to apply for such a visa. This just made Samoa even more attractive. Even though I had been by the immigration office before I left, to get a confirmation that this would be a perfectly legit thing to do, I was still nervous when I came back to the airport in Auckland. There was NO problem entering the country though. They just smiled and let me in. And to think I have to be held back for an hour in Chicago, just because I want to visit my sister.

2) When you walk through the villages in Samoa all the locals (especially the children) screams “bye” after you. I don’t know if it is because they can’t tell the difference between “hi” and “bye” or if it is because they just want you to disappear as fast as possible which results in an immediate farewell.

3) In Samoa they drive on the left side of the road. They used to drive on the right side, right up until 7 September 2009 where they changed. The reason was that it is economically better to drive on the same side of the road as the majority of other countries in the area. A lot of people still drive around in cars with the driver sitting at the left. It is now illegal to sell spare parts to these kind of cars.

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They have arrows everywhere on the roads to remind people which side to drive on.

I do feel I had warned about the above points being uninteresting. I will therefore disclaim any responsibility for the boredom that might have originated from reading the above. I have also chosen not to write the quotations from my Samoa trip since I have concluded that it will be extremely uninteresting for the people who haven’t already heard about the stupid things especially Max chose to say during that week.

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Irrelevant update

by on 9 April 2010, under New Zealand

As my previous post probably insinuated I don’t really travel around a lot at the moment to “experience New Zealand”, when I have time to sit and watch a one year old Danish standup-show on a Friday night. It is of course because I don’t feel I need to rush to see a lot of stuff this semester (I apologize for using “a lot” twice and “stuff” at all – they are such vague terms – but it is late and I really don’t want to spend too much time formulating proper sentences). I was pretty efficient last semester. Obviously that doesn’t mean that there aren’t numerous other places I still want to see before I leave, and that is definitely also the plan. However, sometimes it is nice to just have a relaxing weekend at “home” instead of going on a 22 km hike across mountains, jump from planes from 15000 ft and celebrate the end of the week by cutting your foot on a surf trip. My wallet agrees. Øystein, Tor, Laura and Stefani will know that this is not a description of a set of random events but I didn’t join them for that trip so I really don’t have anymore to say about that.

The above does of course not mean that I will spend my entire semester in Auckland. Tomorrow I will leave for Samoa, one of the islands in The Pacific. It is placed in the middle of nowhere and I assume it just lies there, looking gorgeous with its tropical climate and nice beaches. It will be fun, although we still don’t have any idea about what we are going to see or do on the island during the seven days we are there. I’m sure we will figure something out, though. I also plan to do a couple of hikes before too long; the hiking boots I invested in last semester needs to be used again soon.

Now that there doesn’t happen too much exciting stuff I feel is worth telling about on the blog I might as well explain a bit about the project which I have gone to New Zealand to write (hm, even when I translate it it is an extremely bad sentence). Unfortunately I have chosen to finish this blog post just minutes before I have to go to bed in order to be “ready” (if that’s possible after less than five hours of sleep) for the Samoa trip. The story about my project will therefore have to wait for another time. That’s twice in a row I have posted a blog post without any pictures. I will make up for it next time, I assume. Anticlimatic endings” tag achieved once again.

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Since NZ

by on 7 March 2010, under USA

I have now spent a couple of month talking about what happened a couple of months ago. “What has happened back home in the meantime?” I hear the impacient reader asking. “Nothing special”, is my answer, “but I can tell you anyway – and I will also stop writing my blog as a weird, imaginary conversation since it becomes tiresome to read extremely fast”.

After a couple of days of Christmas hell in New York I went back to Denmark which at that point was covered in snow, ice, coldness and darkness on one of the very last days of the now so (in)famous climate meeting in Copenhagen. Yes, I was in the Danish airport at the same day as President Obama arrived! Wow! Christmas was celebrated in the traditional way. Afterwards I returned to the apartment in Copenhagen I have been living in for more than four years now. This time, however, I had to live in the smallest of the three rooms since the two others were occupied by one of my brothers, Rune, and Robert the German who had rented a room while I was abroad. During January I worked as a teaching assistant in a course (Mathematical Programming with Modelling Software) at my home university, DTU – so now I can check that off my list of things to do. I also spent January enjoying being back in my small homemade nerd world, with the big tv, video game consoles, Blu-ray movies and I-don’t-know-what. To the collection I also added a new Mac Mini which now functions as a mediacenter which makes it possible for me to watch Danish TV from abroad plus a fancy remote which can control everything at once, replacing my collection of five-six remotes that I needed before. Very interesting, I know…

That is an example of how you can tell about two months: Brief and precise – something very atypical for this blog, and if I know myself the blog won’t continue like that in the future either. Therefore, let me start to tell you about the last couple of week in much more detail just to show the contrast (don’t worry, there will be some photos mixed into the text in a minute as you have probably already noticed unless you are equipped with unusually focused eyes with no peripheral vision – or if you just haven’t scrolled down yet).

I went abroad once again on February 15 (or is it the 15th of February, 15 February or something completely different? I can never really figure it out in English – and nobody ever answers these questions I pose in my blog posts). This time to (initially) visit my sister in Boise, Idaho. I had managed to get my hands on some fairly ok tickets, especially considering I only booked the flight about a week before I left Denmark. A seat at an emergency exit (lots of room for the legs) in the plane between Copenhagen and Chicago where I had a short stop before continuing directly to Boise – it could hardly be more efficient. It is always an “experience” to arrive in the States since their border control (or whatever you call it) can seem ridiculously strict at times. Upon my arrival in Chicago I was led into a small room, mostly filled with Spanish speaking people it seemed. Here I had to wait for an hour since they found it strange that I was visiting my Danish sister who is now living in the US. In the end they let me continue my meticulously planned trip which suddenly didn’t seem as well planned as I had thought in the beginning. I had to get through the fairly large airport in Chicago in less than half an hour.

And so I did!!1!11!oneone

I will let the above linger (I don’t know if you can let text linger but I will anyway) for a bit so it is possible to calm down a bit after all that excitement.

You can enjoy a photo of Obama on the road to help you calm down before we continue:

Obama on the roadThe Obama figure in my sister’s car had its picture taken plenty of times during my visit in Boise.

I arrived safely in Boise. My baggage chose to stay another half day in Chicago since it apparently didn’t think we had seen enough of the city. I stayed in Boise with my sister, Mie, and her husband-to-be, Keith, for almost a week. Here I was introduced to the two hyperactive dogs, Lucky an Java who proved to be brilliant models for my new, nice camera which I chose to invest in during my visit to the Sttes (Nikon D90 with an awesome18-200 mm lens if anyone cares).

My extremely photgenic sister
The very first photo taken with my new camera. It is easy to see that my sister is used to working with portrait photos. She knows exactly how to show off the best side of herself when a picture is taken. Being extremely photogenic is something that runs in my family.

Lucky, a happy dog
Lucky, my sister’s polar bear.

DSC_0186
Java, playing in water/mud.

DSC_0124
Lucky, the happiest dog in the world.

DSC_0153
So you say that a dog has and its owner are alike, and this might prove it. Notice how photogenic Lucky is (the saliva actually hangs all the way from his mouth to the ground) and compare it to my extremely photogenic sister.

I also got to ski for the very first time in my life which I was extraordinarily good at (I will try to put a more positive spin on my blog in the future after I have noticed that the most used tag on my posts is “Me complaining”, albeit I for the most part am fairly sarcastic whenever I complain on this blog). My sister was especially impressed of a situation where I, after having lost one ski after a spectacular stunt, managed to place myself in such a position that I started sliding backwards down the mountain on a single ski. I am definitely a natural at skiing. It was just such a nice feeling to see all the small kids speeding by me as if it is the most natural thing in the world to attach two extremely smooth (or whatever the word is) long planks to your feet and race down a steep mountain without any thought about what danger they put themselves in – while I was once again lying in the snow with my skis spread all over (or at least in two different places). I think that I, with just a bit of practice, will be able to participate in the next Winter Olympics. It should not be that hard to perform that much worse than the other Danish participants. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of my amazing achievements on the mountain so you will have to imagine those yourself.

Now when I am talking about skiing I remember that I haven’t been talking about my ankles for a while. Those who have been following my blog closely (which I think can be counted on one, normal, five-fingered hand) will probably remember that I have mentioned my ankles a couple of times but never during my seven part story about my trip to the South Island. And I even did a couple of hikes on that trip which should have put my week ankles at extreme risk. The thing is that I never did twist/roll my ankles on that trip. Paradoxically (I love a good paradox) I instead managed to twist my ankle on the middle of a street in a completely flat street in New York – something Skott and (a bit later) I thought was quite funny. I also did manage to damage my ankle on my skiing trip, actually a bit more seriously than I usually do. Everything seems fine now, though, thanks for asking. And that will be the last time (for a while) you will have to read about my ankles.

I also got to see a random basketball match in Boise. The best part was the entertainment in the breaks. Most of the time it was small kids performing stuff (crawl through hula hoop rings, drive around on plastic bikes or perform gymnastic moves) but the biggest standing ovation (during the ENTIRE night) was provoked by six free Domino’s pizzas which were handed out in one of the breaks. The crowd went nuts and the lucky winners seemed to be the happiest people in the world when they received their free pizza – I love USA.

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It might be a bit hard to see on the small picture but I will tell you what to look for: The woman calling somebody to tell that she just won a FREE pizza… and the man trying to do the Mexican Wave all by himself.

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Pepsi! I don’t even drink it that often but it was just an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

Sunday I sadly had to leave Mie, Keith, Lucky and Java and continue towards New Zealand. It was a trip which did not offer as much excitement as in the airport in Chicago. However I did have to spend 10 hours in horrible LAX (which was planned from the beginning, though). Also, I had a fairly random short stop in Rarotonga, one of the Cook Islands in the middle of the Pacific. My guess is that it must be one of the smallest airports in the world (the population on the island is less than 15000) and I don’t even know if it can be classified as an airport. It did seem like an incredibly nice place and definitely not the worst place to have a small break, although it was only about an hour in a small closed off section of the “airport”.

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Rarotonga airport.

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Rarotonga definitely looked like a place worth visiting.

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Rarotonga from above.

Here, just before my arrival in New Zealand, I will leave you, dear reader, craving for more stories from my amazing journey. Since I know that I am slowly becoming somewhat of a “Master of Suspense” (one person has found this blog via Google by searching for “anti-climatic endings”) I can tease that my first week in New Zealand among other things included intense flat hunting… and, a bit more down to earth and closer to my everyday life: me waking up in a burning building. But that will have to wait till next blog post which hopefully will be put up before too long.

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The return of the blog!

by on 17 December 2009, under Julekalender, New Zealand

As I promised in my last blog post I have held a long break from writing anything on this great blog. Now, I can’t keep that promise anymore. I have been traveling around New Zealand for almost a month (finishing with a couple of days in New York) and there is a lot to tell about. Of course I don’t want anyone to miss out so the next week will be filled with exciting new and frequent blog posts if I can pull myself together to actually write them.

There might be several reasons why you read this blog in English:
1. You might not have found out yet that you can change the language of the blog on the right hand side which would make me kind of sad since the function of those two flags should be pretty self-explanatory.
2. You might have found out that my English versions of my blog posts contain even more nonsense (such as this whole paragraph – you would have no idea it existed if you read the Danish version) and for some reason you tend to prefer that.
3. You prefer my English formulations.
4. You simply don’t understand Danish (which I feel is the least valid reason for reading my blog in English. Personally I have been able to understand and speak Danish since I was very young, so why shouldn’t you?).

Anyway, if you belong to the (very limited) group of people who read my blog in English due to Reason 4, you might not know what a julekalender (Christmas calendar) is. Which means I will have to explain it to you, even though Wikipedia does a pretty good job. It is a Scandinavian invention (apparently the Swedes were first with the idea in 1960, followed by the Danes in 1962). It is basically a TV show split into 24 episodes (kind of like 24 with Jack Bauer, just not as action packed, and usually with a bit more Christmas mood and more child friendly) aired from the 1st of December till the 24th where we celebrate Christmas in the evening here in Scandinavia. It is actually a pretty good tradition and it makes sense it is Scandinavian since we really don’t have anything else to do than to watch TV when we come to December – it is way too dark and cold to go outside.

Now you can add:
5. You get amazing lessons about Denmark/Scandinavia.
to the list of reasons to read my blog in English.

But now you know what a julekalender is, and you accept that it doesn’t have to be a TV show but can also be a written 24-part story, we can return to my blog post as I was translating it from Danish:
My blog can now be seen as a kind of julekalender, even though it won’t be in 24 parts, there is no guarantee that the finale will come on the 24th (which basically was my complete definition of a julekalender, but you must learn to live with it), there will be considerably less interested people following it and way less uncertainty about the final outcome than usual. Still, it is a story in multiple parts written and told during several days in December so it has a bit to do with a julekalender.

At the moment I am sitting at a hostel in New York and I am just about ready to return to Denmark. I am leaving tomorrow and I hope that my parents will be able to get through the climate chaos (not only due to the Climate Meeting ending and Obama having to leave the country from the airport but also since it apparently snowed in Denmark which I am not too fond of) so they can pick me up at the airport.

But I should stop here – if I don’t I will fuck up the chronology of my blog, and we can’t have a julekalender which starts with the end (no matter how anti climatic that end might be). Talking about anti climatic endings: At this point I was considering giving you some teaser for what you can expect in the upcoming blog posts but I won’t.

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