Update from Jess
Hi everyone! Jess here, saying hey from the future. It’s Friday night here in Wellington, and I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to these past nine days as a Wellingtonian.
I’m extremely fortunate my new role with Allscripts doesn’t start until April 1st. This means I’ve been on “holiday” and allowing myself to ease into the kiwi way of life. Scott started his job right away, which means I’ve been flying solo.
The first thing I learned is everyone here walks, so I set out to explore my new home on foot. My first task was finding Wellington’s version of Target. I needed a hairdryer, as my American version was sure to catch fire and scald my face. I found The Warehouse – think Big Lots with Nordstrom prices. We quickly realized how expensive — or as kiwis would say — how dear everything here is.
And that NZ hairdryer I bought died this morning.
During my explorations, I’ve noticed that kiwi girls wear short skirts and dresses. This surprises me as at any second a giant gust of wind could blow those skirts right up Marylyn Monroe style. I’ve also noticed people have really nice legs. Like really nice legs. I’m now understanding why they wear such short skirts! Even little old ladies have muscular calves.
Which leads to my next observation: Wellington is extremely hilly! The narrow winding streets lined with Victorian style homes reminds me of San Francisco. Wellington also has similar weather. It’s already quite apparent to me where the nickname “Windy Wellington” comes from. Locals like to brag that it’s three times windier than Chicago. I’ve been told I haven’t seen anything yet. I foresee ponytails and small earrings in my future. The other day my dangly ones were almost ripped from my earlobes!
Elsewhere, I’ve braved the roads and driven our rental car a few times. I made the mistake of driving to a house showing during rush hour, and man if I didn’t flip on the windshield wiper at least 10 times! Miracle no one was hurt on my maiden voyage.
I love that Wellington is a compact walking city as I’d rather walk 30 hilly minutes than drive. Next week my goal is to figure out the busses.
A big part of my time here has been searching for a rental house. We’re in temporary housing until March 6th. After that, we’re on our own. We really lucked out landing our apartment in Te Aro, a great neighborhood and hip nightlife. Courtenay Place and Cuba Street are lined with bars and restaurants. Wellington actually has more restaurants per capita than New York City. If only eating out wasn’t so expensive and I had the metabolism of a super model.
Interesting side note about eating. There is no sales tax or tipping. The price on the menu is what you get. Also, waiters never bring the check. They don’t make you feel rushed here. Kiwis are extremely polite and everyone I’ve encountered has been very nice. There is a sense of island time however. For instance, the light in our closet was installed with motion detection lights — very convenient when you open the door, but not so great when Scott rolls over in the middle of the night and the spotlight illuminates the room. I’ve asked our landlord about this for a week now and I’m still sleeping with a sleep mask.
I’ve spent the past week scouring rental houses on Trade Me — NZ’s version of Craigslist. I have the app on my phone and I’ve managed to use a month’s worth of data in less than a week. This will take some adjustment. I’ve seen promising houses online, and upon visiting them, I want to cry. The rental market here is very competitive. It’s prime time and demand is high. One of the rental agencies told me if I found a 7 out of 10, jump on it.
Then I saw 67 Hawker in the coveted Mount Victoria neighborhood. We received great news today and expect to sign the lease tomorrow. More on this soon!
I’ve also been enjoying window shopping on Lambton Quay, walking along the Pacific Ocean, and eating fruit like whoa. It’s fun to try new food like this lamb pancake.
The other day Scott tried goat curry. He said it tasted like a delicious animal boot, whatever that means. There’s even an apple called smitten. I am quite smitten with the fruit AND chocolate. Kiwis love their sweets, but thankfully the price tag has kept my sweet tooth at bay. Whittakers chocolate is hands down the best ever. Good tip, Marko Baldo!
Earlier this week I checked out the Les Mills “extreme” gym. Extreme is watered down for this place. Walking in, I was greeted by pulsating music and three kiwis pouncing on me. I was given a tour, two free passes and set loose to workout. Each of the four floors has every piece of equipment imaginable. The biggest kettle bells I’ve ever swung! My body pump instructor looked like a young Richard Simmons, and the cheese factor was up there with Zoolander. I did get a good workout though I’m not sure the gym is worth $33 a week.
Of course, running outside is free and Wellington loves their yoga. Today I took off from the apartment and found Tenera Park. I love taking off without a destination. I ran past a community garden and saw the fog rolling into the city from the top of a mountain. One minute I’m on the sidewalk — the next I’m running through a jungle.
I’ve found keeping in touch with family and friends has been easier than expected. The toughest part is wanting to talk at night when my day is winding down, but it’s the middle of night back home. I’ve begun a morning routine of catching up with people at breakfast.
I also use that time to read a card from the very sweet box of letters my dear friend Allison sent me with. She handed me a box and said don’t open it until I land. It took me a couple days to get to it, but when I did I was flooded with so much love and support. Inside were cards from my dearest friends and family. This gift means the world to me, and I told Scott if our apartment catches on fire, I’d grab the box before him. Much love to everyone who wrote me. Also, much love to all our followers and readers. We’re both so thankful for the people who support us from afar. The connection with you all helps close that giant gap over the big blue ocean.
More to share, but that’s enough for now. Until next time!