lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2015

CICLISMO

Click here to read the English version


Ahora que el verano ya parece que se ha asentado por estos lares me he quitado la pereza de encima y salgo regularmente en bicicleta. Utilizo la bicicleta de carretera de Jess, que no la ha usado ni un solo día desde que se la trajo de Christchurch, y además soy yo el que le hace el mantenimiento y la lleva al mecánico así que es como si fuese mía.

El paseo típico es desde Glenorchy hasta Bennett’s Bluff y volver, que son unos 50 km de toboganes rompe piernas por una de las carreteras más bonitas del mundo mundial, la Glenorchy Road.



También he subido hasta Coronet Peak, que es la estación de esquí más cercana a Queenstown. La carretera serpentea por la ladera de la montaña y permite gozar de unas vistas de la cuenca del Wakatipu increíbles.

La otra ruta, esta vez la más larga, es Lake Hayes Estate – Hunter Road – Arthur’s Point – Queenstown – Glenorchy. Es un paseo largo de unas cuatro horas por las típicas carreteras neozelandesas, acabando con los 45 km de la Glenorchy Road.



A mí siempre me ha gustado ir en bicicleta y me lo paso muy bien subiendo y bajando por las montañas, y ahora también por las carreteras. Pero hay un tema que me molesta horrores y es la falta de respeto de los conductores neozelandeses hacia los ciclistas. En un alarde de garrulería los zopencos compiten a ver quién es capaz de adelantar a un ciclista pasando más cerca de él. Si te enfrentas a ellos la respuesta que obtienes es que la carretera es para los coches. Un día les va a implosionar la cabeza de tanta ignorancia.



Aquí hay mucha polémica con los turistas que conducen coches alquilados y se equivocan de carril o van muy lentos. Los conductores nativos del lugar consideran a los turistas la fuente de todo mal que ocurre en las carreteras del país y dicen que las muertes en las carreteras son culpa de la falta de pericia de dichos turistas. En fin, aquí conducen peor que en Portugal así que, en mi opinión, deberían callarse y fijarse en lo mal que conducen ellos. Estaba yo con estos pensamientos en la cabeza rodando de Queenstown a Glenorchy cuando decidí escribir una carta al director para al revista local Lakes Weekly Bulletin. La reproduzco aquí, está en inglés, para que la leáis y así practicáis un poco el idioma de Shakespeare, que nunca viene mal.

The common law definition of “road” here in New Zealand essentially states that the basic right that is to be exercised on a road is that of travelling from one place to another. For some reason there are people who believe that “the law” gives individuals driving motor vehicles exclusive rights to use the road, but nothing could be further from the truth, the liberty to drive is not a natural right and the provisions in the legislation impose restrictions and obligations, rather than granting rights. We live in an era where common sense seems to be the most uncommon of the senses and we can find drivers doing what seems to be a competition to see who can overtake a cyclist in the most radical way. Once confronted the regular justification is that they do it “to make a point”. What point if you don’t mind me asking? One day a driver with road rage will pass a cyclist so close that it will hit his head with the wing mirror and kill him, and then the point made will be crystal clear. I hear all the time local drivers adamantly complaining about the recklessness of overseas drivers, but they are frustratingly unable to see that they drive like bullies and they behave as if they own the road, forgetting that the road is to be shared with others that also want to go from A to B, by car, bicycle or horse. Respect and tolerance should be exercised in order to guarantee a harmonious coexistence. Even the brightest local seems to transform into a bumpkin when driving the Glenorchy Road, showing with its intolerant driving the biggest promulgation of ignorance seen in this land since the arrival of the pakeha.”

En fin, veremos si la publican (está en el Otago Daily Times y en el Lakes Weekly Bulletin) y sirve para que la gente de por aquí deje de mirar a los demás con prepotencia y arrogancia y se fijen un poco en su mala educación al conducir.

Enrique & Marina
English version

CYCLING



Now that summer seems to finally be settling down in New Zealand Enrique’s trying to kick out his laziness and go cycling regularly. Thus it’s a good sport to practice so when I go running he can join a cycling race if there’s one held at the same event. He’s using Jess’s road bike because she’s not really using or looking after it, so takes care of the bike, takes it services and basically treats it like his own.

His usual ride is from Glenorchy to Bennett’s Bluff and back, which is about 50 km of rolling road through one the most beautiful roads in the whole word, the Glenorchy Road.



He’s also been up to Coronet Peak, the closest ski resort to Queenstown. This road climbs the hillside of the mountain y treats you with wonderful views of the Wakatipu basin.

And his last trip (also the longest) was Lake Hayes Estate – Hunter Road – Arthur’s Point – Queenstown – Glenorchy. This was a good four hours ride on typical New Zealand roads with the last 45 km being the complete Glenorchy Road.



He’s always been a keen cyclist and loves going up and down mountains and now also up and down roads. I do too, but 1) I do not have a bike and 2) I would rather run in the mountain where there’re no cars. And why such a big concern about cars? Well, it’s well known that Kiwi drivers are not particularly respectful towards cyclist. It seems that car drivers compete to see who overtakes the closest to the cyclist. And when arguing their only point is that roads are for cars. This answer is just plain ignorance.



There’s a massive argument, particularly in que Lakes District, about tourists driving, because they drive hired cars that they’re not used to, they get on the wrong lane, drive too slow or stop in the middle of the road to take pictures. Locals feel that all the car accidents happening in New Zealand are overseas drivers’ faults and that their lack of skills causes all the deaths occurred on the road. However, in our opinion the general driving style in New Zealand is worse that in Portugal, so they should really look at themselves before criticising everyone else.  Immerse in those thoughts while riding back to Glenorchy, Enrique decided to write a letter to one our local papers. We’ve copied what he wrote. 

It’s already been published in the on line version of the Otago Daily Times and also the printed version of the Lakes Weekly Bulletin.

The common law definition of “road” here in New Zealand essentially states that the basic right that is to be exercised on a road is that of travelling from one place to another. For some reason there are people who believe that “the law” gives individuals driving motor vehicles exclusive rights to use the road, but nothing could be further from the truth, the liberty to drive is not a natural right and the provisions in the legislation impose restrictions and obligations, rather than granting rights. We live in an era where common sense seems to be the most uncommon of the senses and we can find drivers doing what seems to be a competition to see who can overtake a cyclist in the most radical way. Once confronted the regular justification is that they do it “to make a point”. What point if you don’t mind me asking? One day a driver with road rage will pass a cyclist so close that it will hit his head with the wing mirror and kill him, and then the point made will be crystal clear. I hear all the time local drivers adamantly complaining about the recklessness of overseas drivers, but they are frustratingly unable to see that they drive like bullies and they behave as if they own the road, forgetting that the road is to be shared with others that also want to go from A to B, by car, bicycle or horse. Respect and tolerance should be exercised in order to guarantee a harmonious coexistence. Even the brightest local seems to transform into a bumpkin when driving the Glenorchy Road, showing with its intolerant driving the biggest promulgation of ignorance seen in this land since the arrival of the pakeha.”

Maybe someone will become less arrogant and more respectful and polite when sitting behind the wheel.

Enrique & Marina

lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2015

NOS VAMOS AL BALLET A DUNEDIN

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El Russian Imperial Ballet está de gira por Nueva Zelanda y, en su única visita a Dunedin, representaron “El lago de los cisnes”. Marina, mujer previsora, compró entradas en julio y me las regaló por mi cumpleaños.

Así que el 27 de noviembre cogimos el coche y condujimos hasta Dunedin, capital de la región de Otago en la que ya habíamos estado hace un par de años (cuando fuimos a la fábrica de chocolate de Cadbury).



El ballet estuvo muy bien. Es espectacular como se mueven los bailarines y las bailarinas. Cuando los bailarines principales hacen sus “solos” impresiona ver la fluidez y elegancia con la que son capaces de hacer movimientos complejos que requieren mucha fuerza y equilibrio, pero cuando es la compañía entera la que está en el escenario lo que impresiona es el nivel de coordinación que tienen. Increíble.

En cuanto al público, un poco tontos la verdad. No sé yo si es que nos estamos haciendo intolerantes viejos gruñones, pero que durante la representación sonasen teléfonos móviles en varias ocasiones nos resultó molesto.

El resto del tiempo lo dedicamos a pasear por la ciudad, ir a una galería de arte y, lo más importante, ir a nuestros súper mercados favoritos: Pack’n’Save y The Warehouse. También fuimos a desayunar al Ironic Café, que le quitó el premio de Cafetería del Año a Jester House en 2014. La verdad es que tienen el premio bien merecido, pero nosotros seguimos prefiriendo Jester House.



Otra de las cosas que hicimos en Dunedin, al disponernos a volver a Queenstown, fue dejar mis gafas graduadas en el techo del coche, por fuera. Así que llevo ya dos semanas como Palomino, con gafas de sol incluso de noche (suerte que tengo gafas de sol graduadas). Suerte que tengo unos padres que me quieren y que me han enviado otro par por correo.

Enrique & Marina
English version

GOING TO THE BALLET IN DUNEDIN



The Imperial Russian Ballet is on New Zealand tour performing the Swan Lake and playing just once Dunedin. I got two tickets in July, gave them to Enrique for his 28th birthday in August but still the event wasn’t taking place until November.

After a few months of waiting, on the 27th of November we drove our Hyundai to Otago’s capital and the chocolate capital of the country, since the Cadbury factory (which we visited a couple of years ago in our first ever visit to New Zealand) is there.



The ballet was unbelievable. The movements that the dancers make are impressive. When the main ballerinas perform solo their movements flow gracefully even when doing complex movements that require a lot of strength and good valance. And when it’s the whole group dancing you would think it’s an only living form moving because this is how well coordinated they move. Seriously amazing.

Just a little complaint about the public attending… We may be getting old and grumpy but during the act we heard a few annoying phones ringing. Really? That did bothered us a bit.
We spent the rest of our time in Dunedin wandering around the city under the rain and, the most important part, going to our favourite shops: PacknSave y The Warehouse. The gardening section of the Dunedin Warehouse is incredible and we wanted to buy every single plant we were missing in our gardens.

Also, we went for breakfast to the Ironic Café which won the New Zealand Café award on 2014. They are really worth the prize since the place and their menu are very very good but we still like Jester House better.



And, the last thing we decided to do in Dunedin just before heading to Queenstown was leaving Enrique’s glasses on the car’s roof, outside. So he’s been about two weeks like the Men In Black wearing dark glasses even at night because they’re his only prescription lenses left. Luckily, his caring parents sent him a new pair of exactly the same glasses and it should be here soon.

Enrique & Marina

lunes, 14 de diciembre de 2015

DE BUROCRACIA A WELLINGTON… Y TAMBIÉN A CENAR BIEN

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Con los pasaportes a punto de caducar no se puede estar, eso lo aprendimos en Tonga. Por mucho que el pasaporte tenga una fecha de caducidad determinada, la gran mayoría de países lo considerarán inválido si se encuentra en los últimos seis meses de vigencia. ¿Por qué? Pues no lo sé, ¿Por qué separado se escribe todo junto y todo junto se escribe separado? Pues lo mismo.

En fin que fuimos a Wellington a renovar los pasaportes y también a ver a Javi, nuestro amigo gaditano que nos acogió en su casa, igual que la primera vez que estuvimos en la capital de la Tierra Media.

Wellington volvió a gustarnos mucho, es como un pequeño Melbourne inmerso en un huracán constante. Y Melbourne nos gusta, no habríamos vivido ahí durante casi un año si no nos gustase, creo yo.



Paseamos por la zona hipster de Newtown donde Marina encontró la tienda de ropa de segunda mano de sus sueños. Entramos y, cual soldado herido en una batalla, se sumergió en una montaña de zapatos y me gritó “¡Sigue sin mí, sálvate tú!”



Acabé esperándola porque de tanto caminar con botines a los que no estoy habituado se me hizo una ampolla gigantesca en la planta del pie izquierdo. No en un dedo o en la parte de atrás del talón, en la planta. Y claro cuando te sale una ampolla en la planta del pie pues empiezas a caminar raro. Y el resultado de esos andares extraños es dolor en la cadera, en el trocánter para ser más exactos. Y el miedo de desarrollar una bursitis está ahí, susurrándote al oído. Y, años después, cuando alguien te pregunta por qué usas el ascensor en lugar de subir por las escaleras, no quieres verte obligado a responder “porque hace años me salió una ampolla en la planta del pie”. Y todo esto lo pensé en un microsegundo. Así que me quedé en la tienda viendo como Marina, con los ojos inyectados en sangre, alcanzaba el Nirvana zapatero. También se compró un cinturón.



El plato estrella, y nunca mejor dicho, de nuestra visita a Wellington fue el regalito que nos hicimos. Nos vestimos bien, por los pies, y nos fuimos a cenar al restaurante Hippopotamus donde hacen un tipo de cocina muy parecido al nuestro en Blanket Bay.

Escogimos el menú degustación de cinco platos y postre, que pasamos a describir por eso de poner los dientes largos a la amplia audiencia de este blog.

Llegamos al restaurante, situado al lado del museo Te Papa, junto al mar. Es nuestro museo favorito de Nueva Zelanda. No porque la entrada sea gratuita, que también, sino porque tienen una exposición permanente de animales marinos muy bonita. Fuimos también a la exposición sobre la batalla de Gallipolli de la primera guerra mundial en la que, de los 4000 neozelandeses que fueron, murieron 3900. Los dioramas están hechos por la empresa Weta, que pertenece a Peter Jackson, y es la que hizo todo el atrezzo para El Señor de los Anillos y El Hobbit.

Vuelvo al tema de la cena, que me he distraído. Todos los camareros eran franceses y tenían un gran sentido del humor. Empezamos la cena con un Amuse Bouche consistente en una panacotta de espárragos, con crujiente de chalotes y jamón parmesano. Para acompañarlo nos dieron un té de jengibre, piña y limón.

El primer aperitivo fueron migas de olivas Kalamata, queso Feta, remolacha en vinagre y gel de limón. La remolacha estaba buenísima, pero claro cualquier cosa en vinagre está rica. Como los boquerones, el atún o los mejillones.

El segundo aperitivo consistió en salmón curado, segmentos de naranja y pomelo y puré de coliflor. A ninguno de los dos nos gusta el salmón cuando estamos en España, pero la verdad es que aquí, en el hemisferio sur, el salmón tiene un sabor distinto. La textura no es tan aceitosa y el sabor es suave.

El plato principal de pescado fue jurel con hinojo curado en coco, puré de calabaza, croqueta de anguila ahumada y patata. Estaba muy bueno aunque se pasaron con el humo en la anguila.

Para limpiar el paladar antes del plato de carne nos trajeron un sorbete de fresa con espuma de coco y menta que estaba puesto en un cuenco con hielo seco en el fondo. El camarero le echó agua y aquello empezó a humear que daba gusto. Buen espectáculo.

El plato de carne consistió en venado con salsa de caramelo salado, suelo de caco y chile, ciruelas escalfadas, remolachas y salsa de vino tinto. Estaba riquísimo. El chocolate y el caramelo salado iban muy bien con el sabor intenso del venado.

El postre fue un poco pobre, pero nos gustó igual. Fueron dos profiteroles con helado de chocolate blanco, una tuille de sésamo y salsas hechas con diferentes chocolates.

Muy buena cena, la verdad. El resto de comidas y cenas también estuvieron muy bien. En concreto unas hamburguesas que nos comimos con Javi en un “restaurante” en un aparcamiento cuyo dueño empezó hace años cocinando para los surfistas en la parte de detrás de su furgoneta.

Nos despedimos de Wellington y volvimos a Queenstown en el vuelo más movido de nuestras vidas. Tanto que el comandante nos avisó, al despegar de Christchurch, que las asistentes de vuelo se iban a quedar sentadas durante todo el viaje porque caminar por la cabina iba a ser arriesgado. Menudos saltos que dio el avión.

Enrique & Marina


English version
SORTING OUT PAPERWORK IN WELLINGTON… AND TREATING OURSELVES WITH DINNER



It’s very inconvenient to have your passport about to expire, we learnt that when going to Tonga. Even though passports have a fixed expiry date, most countries take travel documents as invalids when that date is in six months or less. Why is that? Who knows.
Anyway, we went to Wellington to organise some new passports for both and also to visit Javi, our friend from Cadiz who opened his house for us like the first time we stayed in the Middle of the Middle Earth.

We found Wellington great again, it always feels like a little city of Melbourne immersed in a constant hurricane, bubbling with culture and smelling like freshly brewed coffee.



This time we visited the hipster neighbourhood of Newtown where I found the best op shop in the world. The profits were going towards animals and, besides the usual stuff, they even had a section with leaflets about Maori history and other politics related information. That was actually pretty handy since I like second hand clothing and Enrique like history, so the shop was the perfect match for us.



I have to say it took me longer to browse over all the wonderful dresses and shoes than it took Enrique to have a look to all the papers. However he waited for me. Not only because he’s such a good boyfriend but also because after all the walking we did he got a blister in the sole of his left foot. Not in one of his toes or the heel, in the sole which is very painful and awkward. Thus, at this point, he was starting to walk a bit funny and who wants to get an injured hip because of a blister in your sole. For this reason he didn’t complain about having to wait for me, he was too busy complaining about his pain instead. But what really matters is that I bought an awesome pair of wedges for $5, a skirt for $4 and a belt for $1.



But what really was the main course of this trip (literally) was a little gift that we made ourselves. We got dressed up and went for dinner to the Hippopotamus where they serve fine food similar to what we serve at Blanket Bay.

We choose the 5 course degustation menu, we’ll tell you what we got shortly just to make you jealous.

The restaurant, which belongs to the Museum Hotel is located in front of the Te Papa, by the sea. Allow us here for a little digression. Te Papa is our favourite museum in New Zealand, not only because there’s no entry fee (which we love) but also because it’s got a permanent exhibition on marine animals that we really like and always visit. This time, there was also a display on the Gallipolli battle set during the World War II in which 3900 New Zealanders out of the 4000 tropes sent died. Peter Jackson’s owned company, Weta, had done the dioramas and that’s the same company that did the atrezzo for The Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit.

Back to the main topic now. In the restaurant all the waiters were French and had a great sense of humour. We started our dinner with an Amuse Bouche of asparagus pannacotta, crispy shallots and Parma ham. It came matched with a ginger, pineapple and lemon tea in a tiny glass.

Our first appetiser was feta cheese with Kalamata olive crumbs, pickled beetroot and lemon gel. Enrique loved the pickled beetroot but of course he loves anything that it’s been sitting in a ton of vinegar, like anchovies, tuna, mussels or even beetroot in this case.

Our second appetiser was cured salmon with orange and grapefruit segments and cauliflower purée. Neither of us likes salmon when in Spain, but here in the Southern Hemisphere, it honestly tastes different. It doesn’t have such an oily texture and the taste and definitively the smell is milder.

Then, our main fish course was kingfish with coconut cured fennel, pumpkin purée, smoked eel and potato croquette. We loved that meal although we thought that the smoky flavour was taking a bit too much over in the croquette.

After that we had a palate cleanser preceding the meat main course. That was a delicious strawberry sorbet with coconut espuma and mint served on top of a bowl with dry ice. Our waiter poured some water over the ice and the little plate started smoking hard. It was a great performance.

The main meat course was venison with salted caramel sauce, cocoa and chilly soil, poached prunes, beetroot and red wine sauce. It was amazing. The caramel and the cocoa worked really well with the rich gamey flavour of the venison.

Finally, the dessert was a bit scarce but not less delicious. We got to profiteroles with white chocolate ice cream, sesame tuille and two different chocolate sauces.

Summarising, it was a great dinner. The rest of our meals during those three days were great, too. Javi took us to a burger place located in an old carpark. The owner started cooking burgers at the back of a van and selling them to the surfers in the beach and eventually he moved his business to the city and made a rather interesting and ever-changing place.

We said “see you next time” to Wellington and went back to Queenstown in the bumpiest flight we’ve had in our lives. It was going to be so rough that the captain told all the passengers just after leaving Christchurch that the flight attendants will remain in their seats with their belts on because walking around the plane would be unsafe. And it sure was when the plane was jumping up and down in the air like a frog.

Enrique & Marina