a day at the V&A

I didn’t want to stay home another day off after Easter, especially when the sun was out and shining all day. Thanks to my work at the RA shop, I have a pass which lets me in to if not all then most of the galleries and exhibitions in London for free. Yesterday, I decided to go and see “David Bowie is…” at the V&A.


As I had suspected, it was crowded. I didn’t think there was so many people, just we were all cramped in a few small exhibition rooms and there wasn’t much space to move anyway. At the entry, I got an audio guide which was automatic. It was causing some chaos whenever I moved, because not always it was catching the track it was supposed to catch. Sometimes I had to listen to something from previous room or different display cabinet. So these were the negative sides of the show. I tried not to let them throw a shadow on the whole experience and content. It was great to see Bowie’s handwritten lyrics, stage move notes, amazing stage costumes and jumpsuits. I think my favourite were the coats designed by Alexander McQueen. It’s understandable that the most exciting for me were things related to my own first ‘meeting’ with Bowie. I stood a bit longer at the glass ball and other props from Labyrinth and the boots Bowie wore when he had a 3 minute cameo as Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.

That was quite a time travel and since I was already in the V&A, I went a bit further in the past and visited one more exhibition at the same Museum, Treasures of the Royal Courts – a display of various gifts exchanged between Tudor and then Stuart families and Tsars. The gifts survived thanks to the fact that they were in Russia, otherwise they would perish during Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth. Yes, I love the history of Great Britain…

Anyway, I recommend visiting both exhibitions once you are at the V&A.

Rotorua Museum and Lake Rotorua

SATURDAY, 15th October

I had made some plans about what I wanted to do while I was in Rotorua and one of the top points was a visit to Rotorua Museum.

Why? In the Museum, there’s a cinema and you can watch a short documentary about the eruption of Mt Tarawera and I knew that young Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords is in it. He looked like from the cover of his solo album, Video Kid: Prototype. Unfortunately, his character didn’t end up well. The film was very interesting and expect some shakes when the earthquake starts in the movie. 😉 Oh, and Tem Morrison makes an appearance there too. He’s from Rotorua, by the way, as well as Anna Coddington.

Mt Tarawera is a volcano near Rotorua which erupted quite recently on 3 February 1886. About 120 people died and you can visit Buried Village with excavated houses. The geography of that region had known by then was changed. The biggest lost were White and Pink Terraces. In the Museum, there was a gallery with paintings of them and you could try to imagine the beauty of 8th wonder of the world.

Apart from that, there was a great exhibition about Maori tribe living on those lands, Te Arawa, a very moving documentary and an exhibition about the 28th Maori Battalion fighting in the WWII, rooms of an old Bath House, which the Museum used to be and a temporary exhibition about rugby with an interesting short film Warbrick (2009). And a photography exhibition The Vault.

On the top of the Museum there was a view point and I could see hot pools by the Lake Rotorua. I also saw that it had been raining.

Government Garden:

The weather was changing from one minute to another. I took a walk by the lake after the visit at the Museum. First, Sulphur Point with stinking, smoking, bubbling and hissing pools. Sometimes I thought I was in a kitchen listening to a boiling soup.

Then there was a bird sanctuary with gulls, black swans atc. In the middle of the lake there was Mokoia Island

And it started to rain harder and harder, so I gave up on Kuirau Park, had kebab on the way back to the hostel and dropped off when I got there. I woke up after about 2 hours, right on time to go to the Funky Green’s owner who lives next door to watch semi-finals. I was again sorry to see Wales losing playing such a good game. French rugby was boring, but the Welsh was so exciting. It was hard to watch their missed kicks.

Anyways, I got to know then the first team playing in the Bronze Final.

Te Papa

I spent my last two nights (from MONDAY to WEDNESDAY) in Wellington at the Cambridge Hotel. I was spoilt by the YHA and I had to experience some cheaper backpacker life reality. The room was stinky and someone opened my milk, even though it was labelled. Oh, and they finished my muesli I saved for my last breakfast. Luckily, I had bought a scone just in case that person decided to finish my milk, but I guess muesli had to go first.

TUESDAY, 11th October was my last full day in the capital. I wasn’t sure about the weather. It was warm, but cloudy and I could smell the rain in the air. I decided to finish exploring Te Papa.
From 9th to 14th Oct., you could see The Webb Ellis Cup in the museum. Not sure if it was the real one, because I thought it would be behind the glass and better protected.

My favourite level at Te Papa was level 4. There was a large exhibition of Treaty of Waitangi…

…a lot of Maori artifacts, like stuff which belonged to Te Rauparehu (the guy who created Ka Mate)…

..funnels used to feed men who were being tattooed.

And I felt very warm at heart when I saw this there

In the afternoon I had to do some planning and booking, so I went to the library again to use the Internet. I didn’t want to leave Wellington. I started feeling settled there. The photographers were the same at almost every concert so thanks to my camera, they remembered me. I became friends with one homeless guy called Pete. The longer I stayed, the longer I wanted to stay, probably, because I wanted to keep the memories from last weekend fresh, but time is running out and there’s still so much to see in New Zealand, that there had to be one day when I hit the road again.

After supper at the hotel, I went for my last walk along Courtenay Place and Cuba Street. On Courtenay Place I went to the Library Bar, had a Rum Hot Chocolate, listened to live Spanish music. Going back to the hotel I saw a group of young people playing rugby on the streets and having a laugh every time the ball hit a parked car, which wasn’t very cool, but no one seemed to care.

Hamilton Gardens

WEDNESDAY, 7th Sept.

J. droped me off by the Transport Centre on her way to work in the morning. The weather was beautiful and I thought that the best place to go first would be Hamilton Gardens. I took a bus number 10 to the Gardens. The distance wasn’t that big, but I didn’t know the way to get there.

I took the plan from the information centre and head first to Paradise Collection. I think my favourite gardens were Italian and Japanese ones.

In Productive Collection, you can see Te Parapara, a Maori Garden.

Fantasy Collection was under further development. I really enjoyed walking through Cultivar Collection and was sorry that it was too early for roses to blossom. I’ll have to go back there later in October or November. (I’ll also have to visit the Hobbiton before 5th October, because later it may be closed till 18th November. I can’t tell you why 😉 ). I spent a couple hours walking around the gardens. There was a sun clock and some of the dates amused me. It takes time to get used to things like that.

I left Hamilton Gardens at about 2 p.m. and went back to the city centre walking along Grey Street and then along the bank to Memorial Park, saw the remains of an old boat of 19th century settlers’

crossed Victoria Bridge (Waitomo River just flows through the city almost as if bot being noticed).

I turned right after leaving the Bridge, went up the road and visited Waikato Museum. You can see Te Winika, a Maori war canoe there, a gift from Maori queen Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu. At the moment there’s also an exhibition about rugby in Waitomo and the impact the region has had on the whole country.

After the museum, I took a walk along Victoria Street with many bars, pubs and restaurants, which was quite nice and you could see everyone getting ready for the beginning of the 2011 RWC.

At around 4 p.m. J. picked me up. We went back to their place and again spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my hosts. This time we had fish and then Goody Goody Gum Drops ice cream for dessert. It tasted like a bubble gum and had jellies inside. I felt like a kid. 😀

Auckland Museum

Thanks to ear-plugs, I could sleep in. I feel like I’m a kid at a camp again with all those people around in my room. Mostly I hear German or Italian. One girl said, she had an aunt from Poland. She knows two words in Polish, “Na zdrowie” and “K… mać”, which mean “Cheers!” and the equivallent of “F.ck”.

After breakfast, it was still raining, so I decided to stay indoors. I took Inner Link (a green bus) to Auckland Museum ($5 for backpackers) and spent most of my day there visiting three levels for a couple of hours. There are lots of Maori artefacts, some Pacific Islands and New Zealand history, NZ wars, Kiwis in WWI and WWII and natural history.

I left the Museum at about 5 p.m., the weather got better. I walked through Auckland’s Domain. It was cold, like late autumn in Poland when your nose gets cold and you feel that winter is coming. Here’s the opposite, it’s leaving and you can spot spring flowers, like daffodils.

There was still some time to the sunset and I thought I’d manage to go to the Sky Tower and see the sunset from there, but when I finally got to the Tower it was pretty late and I’d have to stand in a queue to buy a ticket, so I decided not to risk and try the next day, if the weather allows.