9-27 Rubgy, Wine and Free Lifts from Strangers

We left Dunedin on Tuesday afternoon and made it to Christchuch late in the evening. After a very cold night (the tent door was frozen shut when I got up in the morning), we were back in a bus before 8 am and on our way to Blenheim.
Friendly canadians

Marlborough is the wine region of New Zealand and Blenheim is the heart of that. My kind of place. We arrived a little after lunch after a stunning bus ride along the Kaikoura coast. We found the campground pretty quickly but broke our tent pole in the process of getting the tent set up. We took a trip to the big box store to buy tape to fix the tent pole and stopped by a McD’s for internet. On our way back to the campsite, we passed a group of Canadians. How did I know they were Canadian? The huge Canadian flag was a good tip, as was the Canadian rugby jersey, rugby t-shirt and hat. The other three Canadian flag were a good tip, too. I asked them when the game started. They told us it was starting now and took off for the bar. We said we’d meet them there in a bit.

We fixed out tent pole and went to the bar. After a quick walk through, we realized the Canadians had saved us a seat at the bar. Front and center for the game. We joined them and spent the next hour cheering for the Canadian rugby team. Around halftime, a couple of Scots came in and joined our cheering squad. We had an hour break before Scotland played, which we took to go get a pizza. Then we sat and cheered on Scotland. It was a lovely international evening.
The wineries all had GORGEOUS grounds

The next morning we lazed around in the communal kitchen and chatted with people until the wineries opened. Then we rented bikes and set off on a 20 k roundtrip of 6 wineries. We had a nasty headwind going out but we figured that would be to our advantage for the return journey.
The wine tasting was delicious and alcoholic. I learned a lot about Sauvignon Blanc. It comes in lots of flavors! But, I also learned a little more about wine and what I like in a wine. I still like Riesling and I don’t much like Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. On the other hand, there was several wineries with Gewurztraminer which was new to me. It was tasty. I also am getting more into roses as well.
There were so many wine fields

It was fun to employ our accidentally acquired storian skills and see how effective they are in the developed world. At several wineries, we were the only ones in for a tasting. We’d get to chatting with the person pouring the wine. The first pour was small, only two swallows or so. (We didn’t look likely to buy much.) By the third wine, we were usually up to three large swallows and at the end of the tasting we were often given a pour of an “extra” wine they saved for high rollers or requests. So much good wine!

We got back to campground with an hour or so before the USA vs Russia rugby game. We made a quick dinner and headed to the bar to watch the game. We sat at a table with two older couples from England and a couple our age from Wales that had been Australia for the last three months. There were other nationalities scattered throughout the bar, all of us cheering on the USA. It was a good game and a great atmosphere. Both the nights in the bar were everything good about how sports can bring people together.
There were more sheep and this adorable lamb

The next morning, we were trying to find a bus to Picton. It would take about 20 minutes in a vehicle or all day on foot. We had to get there by 1:30 to catch the ferry. While waiting for 9 am to roll around so we could go to the information center, we were chatting with a man from South Africa. He was going the same way but catching a later ferry than us. We chatted rugby until he went back to his campervan. Half an hour later, he came back into the kitchen and offered us a ride north.

The two days in Blenheim were full of good people and spontaneous community. It was wonderful reminder that people are inherently good, even in our busy and fast-paced developed world. In contrast to Jason’s earlier post about it feeling unfriendly, those three days were full of friendly, welcoming people.

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