Monday, October 24, 2016

A weekend in Wellington - Day 1 of 3

I’m pretty sure Jetstar is out to hurt us. 

First they lure us in with cheap return flights to New Zealand. In all the excitement, I don’t fully, fully pay attention to the flight times other than they get us in Friday morning into Wellington and Monday morning back in Melbourne. 

Until it’s a week or two away from the actual trip and I realise we’re on an overnight flight to Wellington that gives you about 3-4 hours for sleeping before you land at 6am in the morning, and on the trip back you have to get to the airport by around 4:45am to catch you 6:45 flight back to Melbourne since it is technically an international flight. 

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Cue Brad and I turning in to total zombies. 

And the sale was for July when it’s freezing in Melbourne, and therefore even more freezing in Wellington.

But really, for around $220 return, it’s absolutely worth the pain and the extra days off work to enjoy a long weekend in the most adorable of New Zealand cities. So how to spend it? Here’s our itinerary for 3 nights over a couple of posts…

Day 1

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Our bus from the airport in to town (only around $9!) gets us in as the sun is slowly creaking out of bed; the best place to watch it rise? Right out at the water, where we pass by people doing group exercises at an ungodly hour, get the first whiff of how crazy Wellington’s winds are and in our travel giddiness don’t quite realise how tired we are just yet. 

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I love how walkable Wellington is, and as the chill of the wind starts hitting home, we stroll through the city to find some sustenance. I love some of the older buildings, and the clash of old and new.

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We end up in Loretta on Cuba Street which smells a dream, as the open kitchen bustles away. The space evokes warehouse, but is made rustic and a little more homely with light woods and a whole table of sweets and pastries when you walk in. Almost the worst thing to sit across from when you’ve had no sleep and are craving sugar like a mono.

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Whilst Brad gets stuck into coffee (as we realise how tired we are once we sit down), I begin my love affair with the fact that absolutely everywhere in Wellington serves up hot lemon, honey and ginger drinks. Everywhere. Best thing when it was this cold, and you were a little under the weather. 

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Brad’s actually not very much of an earlier morning breakfast person, so opted for the granola with goji berries, blueberries, cranberries, almonds, coconut and puffed grains. Although if we went out for brunch in Melbourne Brad would never usually order something like this, this was totally up my alley with crunchy almonds, earthy puffy rice grains and a touch of sweetness. Light and delightful. 

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I on the other hand, order a dish that Brad would probably usually order if we were brunching at our usual hour - but I’m glad he didn’t, because I loved it and was quite reluctant to share. Loretta’s ‘Warm Rice’ with broken chicken sausage and thyme was sheer perfection when you’re a zombie, it’s cold out and you’re feeling a teensy, teensy bit under the weather. Oh my lordy. 

It was a bit like a soupier risotto, so aromatic with all thyme, slightly rich and fatty from the sausage and just everything I needed. 

We passed by Loretta during the evening on a number of nights to see it totally pumping, would have loved to pop in again to try their pizzas…but there are only so many meals one can squeeze!

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Once we managed to peel our almost comatose bodies off the banquette seating at Loretta, we made our way to our AirBnb, where we were so fortunate our host Kate managed to organise an early arrival for us so at 9:30am we could crawl into our gorgeous apartment and snooze until lunch time. 

Kate’s apartment made for a perfect base in Wellington, only about a 10 minute walk from the heart of town, with an amazing cafe/restaurant/bar Bresolin across the road and awesome brewery Garage Project 5 minutes down the road as well. The apartment was spacious, modern, and even had a cute little courtyard - would absolutely stay here again (provided she ever has a free date again!)

Refreshed from a snooze, it was time to refuel…again!

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This time we wandered down to Sweet Mother’s Kitchen, which feels a little bit like a dive bar, and something out of New Orleans (not that I’ve been there, but it made me think of it) with kitschy lamp fittings and lights and an eclectic collection of currency pegged above the counter. And Obama bobbleheads of course. 

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All the southern comforts can be found here, from burgers to hush puppies to jerk chicken - it’s hard not to order everything!

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Brad got the Po Boy with Creole spiced, cornmeal coated prawns, sandwiched in between crusty baguettes and crunchy crisp lettuce. Crunchy, crunchy batter, sweet and juicy prawns and so well seasoned. 

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I opted for the seafood chowder with scallops, mussels, shrimp and fish in a smooth creamy soup - although not quite the white creamy chowder I remember from San Francisco, this was warming and full of flavour. 

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Chuckles Curly Fries - SMK’s famous curly fries with Creole mayo are also so much fun, and also so delicious - love the lightly crusty batter and seasoning on the outside. Easy to overdose on these!

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As the weather had held out, with sun still peeking out from behind clouds, Brad and I made the walk up to Mount Victoria…which is a much more arduous walk than I anticipated! You could absolutely take a bus up, but since we just ate our weight in potatoes (or at least that’s how I felt after all them curly fries), the walk was welcome. It’s quite steep, and as you get closer to the peak, it becomes more of a hiking trail than a paved path to get up (or at least the shortest route is anyway). So wear comfortable shoes, and perhaps don a backpack, rather than carrying your handbag like I. I’m bright obviously.

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It’s well worth the walk up though, with the most stunning view, especially on a good day, of Wellington. We got up there late in the afternoon, and although I loved the view, I’m sure it’d be also quite amazing at sunset. Do rug up though, the winds were blistering up here! 

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By the time we descended down the hill, it was almost, but not quite dinner time, so we swung by Six Barrel Soda So. - easily spotted by a kaleidoscope of zany and bright colours on the corner of Eva Street. 

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Six Barrel Soda Co. was founded in Wellington in 2012, and make natural and specialty sodas, and their cosy little shop in Wellington serves a wide selection of their sodas, coffees, milkshakes and fries - really the perfect spot for a little break but not a whole meal. 

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I got the hibiscus soda, one of their signature flavours, which was exactly as described, plummy and floral - it reminded me of plum wine - minus the alcohol. But even with the rich plummy flavours, it was so refreshing and although I don’t do soft drinks, or mainstream sodas ever, I could see myself enjoying more of Six Barrel Soda Co.’s range as they’re not so sweet. 

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Brad got a flat white, that came paired with a ginger soda that had plenty of kick! I didn’t drink his coffee, so I can’t comment on the pairing, but Brad quite enjoyed it. 

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We continued down Eva Street, which is home to a variety of independent little bars, and hospitality ventures, including the Wellington Chocolate Factory, which smells like a dream when you walk in - as they make the chocolate onsite. 

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Despite dinner looming on the horizon, you’ve got to squeak in a rich hot chocolate and earl grey chocolate. Of course.

By now, the sun has set and the city is starting to buzz as Friday night kicks in. 

Obviously time for some alcohol.

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We pop into Matterhorn, which is on Cuba Street, but a little hidden, as it’s tucked down the back of a long hallway. With the wind battering about outside, slipping into the warm and cosy space of the Matterhorn is such a delight. Dark woods, dim lights, kind of feels like you’re in a sexy Swiss chalet (and funnily enough the place used to be a Swiss coffee house back in 1963). 

You can come in for dinner, or like us, slip into the bar area, perch on some bar stools and watch the space get busier and busier as the night carries on. 

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Beer for Brad, and a warmed Winter Pimms for me with Pimms #1, Pedro Ximenez sherry, apple juice, cloves, cinnamon and figs. Oh my lord. It was like a mulled cider, but even better. 

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Just off Cuba Street, on Friday and Saturday nights, the Wellington Night Markets kick into gear, where a whole array of food stalls pop up to enjoy. Although as we wandered through, we didn’t really find anything we felt like eating - but I did love the Pegasus Book Store. A haven for anyone who remotely loves books, I absolutely loved the ladders on the shelves - which made me think of that scene from Beauty and the Beast where Belle picks out her favourite book….you know the one right? 

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To cap a long first day, having eaten quite richly through the day, we finished up with a simple Japanese meal at Origami. Nothing particularly exciting, but affordable and perfectly nice - sometimes that’s all you need right? Do remember it had been a pretty darned long day! 

Keep an eye out for my next Wellington post (promise I’ll try not to take too long on it) where we meet the cutest little critters at the zoo, eat a lot (again) and drink awesome beer. Coming soon! 

181 Cuba Street
Te Aro, Wellington

Loretta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

5 Courtney Pl
Te Aro, Wellington 

Sweet Mother's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Level 1, 1 Eva Street
Te Aro, Wellington

Six Barrel Soda Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

5 Eva Street
Te Aro, Wellington

Wellington Chocolate Factory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

106 Cuba Street
Te Aro, Wellington

Matterhorn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

158 Cuba Street
Te Aro, Wellington

Origami Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato