Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 33: Invercargill to Dunedin







Day 33: Invercargill to Dunedin

Pics: EAT, mountains next to Queenstown airport, new car at a picnic, giant fruit

Book Review: Freedom, Jonathan Franzen, Kindle edition. Well, okay, only 5% of a book review. The Kindle doesn’t do pages, it does “locations” and tells you what % of the book you have completed. Sometimes, when reading a non-fiction book with a huge index, notes, etc, at the back of the book the % complete is very misleading, as you can finish as early as 75% completed. In fiction, it is usually very accurate because the end notes are minimal: maybe acknowledgements, sometimes a bio of the author. THB has read two of the three prior Franzen books and liked them a lot (Corrections and Twenty-Seventh City – read when nobody had yet heard of the guy). Another truism (thanks, mom!): if the restaurant reviewer spends a major portion (usually at the beginning) of the review discussing the d├ęcor of the restaurant, it means the food sucks. Freedom did not go well, THB found himself desperate to start skipping ahead (not easy on a Kindle). DB had finished it already (on her own Kindle) and had refused to say anything. DB was not surprised when THB started complaining/asking: how did DB finish this book? NOT RECOMMENDED, unless you want to explore the 95% THB did not read and thus is totally unqualified to discuss. Oh, and the cover sucks, too.

Book Review: Life, Keith Richards, Audio book. THB can taste the new dawning of audio books, where text and music/videos are combined and the “reader” choosing to move away from the text as appropriate. Oh damn, it’s already been invented, it’s called a “blog”… Well, it’s tough to blog from an i-pod, especially when playing one through a usb or cigarette lighter through the car radio. It would’ve been unbelievable to have a few Stones riffs to click on as Keith meanders through drugs, sex, rock and roll, and infighting with Mick, for right around 25 hours. Fortunately, THB has another i-pod along and we can catch up later! You can’t always get what you want….Johnny Depp does most of the reading, the first 4 hours and the last 3 or so in his own voice, and in the middle 17 hours he does a Keith imitation, how bizarre! And, the last hour is read by Keith himself (or maybe someone doing Keith differently than Johnny) and he’s not near as good as Johnny. At one point, Johnny was doing Keith doing a Texas drawl, somewhat credibly. And, what can THB say about a true life caricature: Keith’s version of his life lives up to the billing. And, through it all, he’s true to his mates, most of whom have done serious jail time. Mick turns into a control freak (gosh, how did that happen while Keith was lost to heroin for years….) and Keith struggles to regain his stature as alpha male of the band. They go through many years of not really talking but, hey, they are brothers and that’s how brothers are. And, it appears Keith “wrote” Satisfaction in his sleep. Recommended if you want to soak up long hours on the road and have figured out how to bounce back and forth between the book and every Stones song mentioned. Hey, hey, you, you, get off of my cloud….

We strike gold in Invercargill: the motel recommends a place because it is Sunday morning and it is the only one open, EAT. We’re first in at 9am, and while deciding on the scones and muffins, start perusing the deli stuff, and can tell we’re in a slightly different spot. DB finds the Thomas Keller cookbook over on a shelf. This is the place! Pastries are great (passing BB Lodge for number one on SI), and we buy asian noodles and a semi-smoked salmon fillet for a picnic lunch, total for two meals: $28. If only we had figured it out and been here for dinner last night…

Today is a driving day, just a bit longer than originally planned. To avoid Christchurch and fly from Dunedin (a town of 120k) to Sydney via Wellington, we have to drop off the Apex car (no facilities in Dunedin) in Queenstown (a gorgeous drive) and pick up a Europcar. After switching cars, we picnic at lakeside, in the usual unbelievably beautiful setting, then drive through very unusual gorges full of fruit orchards and sheep to Dunedin. Probably 6 hours of driving, 5+ of it in spectacular settings.

In Dunedin, we’re staying at the Brothers, a converted monastery. Rooms a wee bit small! At least they have loosened up some of the rules as the cheerful proprietor (clearly not a former monk) offers us something to drink after we arrive and get settled in.

Mr Bubbly recommends The Reef, a good suggestion: half a dozen local oysters, a dozen steamed mussels, and chili-crabs. Really not spicy, two smaller than Dungeness crabs in a smoky, thick and chunky tomato concoction (someone’s esoteric version of cioppino?). Hard to get to the meat and worth the effort; with three glasses of above average Sauvignon Blanc, $65 (a bargain by US standards).

5 comments:

  1. We have a pic of Jenny and Doug in front of the oversized fruit in Cromwell!

    NOTE: Monks (as well as former monks) are not necessarily teetotalers.

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  2. i couldn't get through 2 chapters of the corrections. now you know how i feel...

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  3. Actually, THB now thinks that Christian Brothers lived in the hotel, as a residency, and we all know that Christian Bros Winery meant somebody was tasting the product, often!

    The Corrections wasn't for everyone, and now THB is pretty sure that Franzen is just about for nobody...even himself (tho his publicist is doing great work)

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  4. Glad you had a warm welcome from Rod at the Brothers Hotel after Jude's recommendation. Yes, I do recall the rooms are pretty small (certainly our balcony one was) but the hospitality is great.

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  5. Yes, Brothers was very good, and the views from the balcony at sunrise worth the tariff alone. And, the room in the basement was actually a larger nicer one that the top floor, just missing the balcony and a sunrise. Rod was a self-starter, just get near him and he bubbles over. The restaurant tips were very good...we said what we were interested in and he got us there! Thanks for the tip!

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