Yesterday was Valentine’s Day in the States. You had my pity.
My Valentine’s Day wasn’t that bad in terms of the usual, “I’m single; I hate Hallmark; people in love are stupid and annoying,” as much as it was miserable because I wanted to spear my workplace and light it on fire. (Of course, I wouldn’t do that. But no one better steal my stapler.)
Monday, however, the day before Valentine’s Day, was SO MUCH FUN. I hiked 30K (~20 miles), got some great views like this:
(you can view more pictures here)
and I had the most amazing dinner.
So, the hike. Most people spend three days doing this one, the Routeburn. I could have done the entire thing in a day, but my flatmate and I just went to a summit called Connical Hill and then turned back. Since the hike is not a loop—it inconveniently deposits you 32 km from where you start, from whence you’ll be charged $50 to get a taxi to get back—we went halfway and turned around.
The drive to Glenorchy, where the trail starts, is winding and awful, and the mixture of caffeine from my morning coffee, the early hour, and my flat mate’s incessant talking about starting his own tramping business was incredibly nauseating. It made me light-headed for the first three hours of the hike.
The hike itself was neat, though. The first 6.5 km are pretty easy, and they take you through Jurrassic Park like foliage. Moss everywhere. Giant beech trees. Running water. Oooh! And swinging bridges!
After the first hut, a place where people have to reserve and pay to stay overnight (which is only a 1.5-2.5 hour’s walk—WHY BOTHER?) the ascent steepens. It levels out around the alpine area, and then from Harris’s Saddle to Connical Hill is the artery-bursting, try-not-to-slip-and-die-on-these-rocks part.
I forgot to mention, I was convinced from the beginning we were going to get rained on. The weather in Queenstown had been absolutely gorgeous the previous two days, so I figured the sun would still shine on Monday. But when we were driving to Glenorchy, we saw the entire mountain trapped in a cloud. It was misting when we started walking. I was upset we wouldn’t be able to see anything, and I’d get completely soaked. I kept saying things like, “Well, it seemed like a good idea,” and “I guess if nothing else we’ll get some exercise, eh?” Then some lady on the trail said, “The weather forecast for today said sun—yesterday we had absolutely perfect conditions—but now they’re saying it will be foggy all day with possible showers this afternoon. You should have been here yesterday.”
Shockingly, given my luck, the rain held off until we reached the car again. The clouds even broke for a while so I got to see the scenery in both sunshine and clouds, and honestly, the clouds made it a little more fun.
There was the “alpine” area that made me chant LOTR LOTR! Craig pointed out where Isengard was superimposed. I took a picture in a cave that I’m pretty sure Gollum lived in.
By the end of the hike, my shoulders were hurting from my backpack, my quads were hurting because I’d run down a mountain (some would call it a “hillside”) the day before, and my IT band was hurting, probably because of all the downhill running. I was a bit of a wreck, so I was thrilled. I got to the car and passed out immediately—well, I inhaled two granola bars, and then passed out.
As soon as I was home, I asked Simon, my best food friend who caters to my every whim, if he was up for Winnie’s pizza. I’ve heard Winnie’s makes a good pizza, and I felt hiking 20 miles earned me one.
Simon = in. Done. “Brilliant” as he would Britishly say.
Bruschetta as an appetizer
a large tossed salad
a large pizza
- half Zucha (oven-roasted pumpkin, baby spinach, red capsicum, feta, toasted almonds)
- half Montanara (Fillet of chicken, sundried tomato, brie and spring onion, drizzled with sweet chilli sauce topped with pistachio sour cream.)
I thought I’d died and gone to pizza heaven. The pumpkin rivaled that of the Manly Sweet Potato pizza in Sydney.
The waitress, seeing the plates completely scraped clean, asked doubtfully if we wanted to look at the dessert menu. I paused. Simon said, “That means yes.”
EVERY dessert looked good—from cranberry apple cinnamon crumble pie to date pudding in butterscotch sauce a la mode—but we settled on Banoffee Pie.
There’s a drink here called the money shot, and I thought it tasted like a cappuccino or maybe a pumpkin pie (because they obviously taste the same), but I was told it was supposed to taste like Banoffee Pie. What the heck is Banoffee pie?
Banoffee Pie: an English pastry-based dessert made with softened biscuits layered with gooey caramel and ripened bananas topped with fresh cream and french vanilla ice cream.
It looks like pumpkin pie, but more caramel colored than orange, and oddly, people here have never had pumpkin pie. I claim this is their version. It tastes quite similar, but I have to say, the Banoffee has a bit of an edge. Simon went to the little boys room and told me to finish the rest and lick the plate.
I came very close—I did the finger scrape and lick—but I made the waitress take it away before I embarrassed myself. She looked at me with a sort of awe and wonder, as though she’d never seen a girl my size (or the size of a Volkswagon, for that matter) eat so much. I left her a tip and hoped she wouldn’t judge me.
Then I came home to two packages from Mom and Dad. One was a care package that included pajama pants without massive rippage, granola bars, Splenda, and strawberry shortcake gum (!!), ANNNND the other was a Valentine’s Day package. It was filled with flowers, a box of chocolates, and all the fruit I could ask for: bananas, blueberries, peaches, plums, apricots, mangos, grapes, and nectarines.
Therefore, my thoughts on Pre-Valentine’s day: