ANZAC Weekend Stay-cation

I know, I've been completely slacking with the blog, but with good reason! You're looking at the new Senior Digital Producer at a brand and experience agency here in Wellington. I'm loving my new gig, working in a fun and laid back environment and even doing my part for mother earth by catching the bus each morning. 

Not a bad view from my desk

I've got a bit of catching up to do, so I'll start with ANZAC weekend and work my way back...

Last weekend New Zealand celebrated ANZAC Day with parades, services and a 3-day weekend. This conveniently coincided with Joe's and my birthdays which are a day apart, so we planned a stay-cation to take part in ANZAC festivities and explore some new parts of Wellington. 

ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Day commemorates the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, as well as all who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. This year marked 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, and there were beautiful services at dawn all around the country to mark the time that the soldiers landed.

I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed at 4:45am for the dawn service in Wellington, and was absolutely shocked and moved when Joe and I arrived to see thousands of people filling the streets for the service. An estimated 25,000 people attended the dawn service in Wellington!

Despite the hoards of people, there was a beautiful hush and stillness in the air as we sang hymns and listened to the bugle call. I couldn't help but compare the occasion to America's Veteran's Day and wonder if Americans would wake up before dawn to celebrate our veterans - we should! Although I don't have any New Zealand ancestors who fought at Gallipoli, in my heart I celebrated both of my grandfathers who fought in WWII and the Korean War. 

After the service, we watched the sunrise... and then went back to sleep! 

Sun rising across the street from my house.

Sun rising across the street from my house.

On Saturday (in order to make it feel like a proper holiday and a 'birthday extravaganza' as my dad calls it) I booked a room at Ohtela boutique hotel in Wellington I've been wanting to try. 

This well-kept 10 bedroom hotel has a mid-century modern vibe with a tasteful hint of 'Kiwiana' and all of the modern amenities to make you feel relaxed and on vacation. 

The difference is in the details - live plants in little tea cups, clever lighting, good magazines, comfortable and stylish furniture make you actually want to stay and enjoy the room. 

Only in New Zealand will you find an image of sheep in a field wallpapered above the bath tub. 

Room service? Don't mind if I do!

Ohtel is located on Oriental Parade, just a short walk into the Wellington CBD but far enough away to escape from the hustle and bustle. The Norfolk Island Pines reminded me of my first New Zealand home on Marine Parade in Napier. 

In the evening, Joe and I tried a restaurant that a friend recommended - Sweet Mother's Kitchen.

Little did I know that the menu would be full of New Orleans style food! How perfect, considering I'd been desperately suffering from Jazz Fest FOMO. I ordered some 'Prawn' Monica and felt right at home.

PrawnMonica

I'd give it an 8/10 in terms of authenticity. The beignets weren't exactly 'Cafe Du Monde,' but still good enough to curb my craving and get me looking forward to my upcoming trip in May. 

On Sunday we explored the Air New Zealand anniversary exhibit at Te Papa, which I highly recommend. It features all of the crew uniforms that have been worn over the years along with some really interesting aviation history. Did you know New Zealanders used to receive mail by pigeon!?

Te Papa also has some beautiful art exhibits on the 4th floor. For some reason, art museums always make me feel like a traveler. Maybe it brings back old feelings and memories of studying abroad and spending hours in museums around Europe, but I just love it!

So much fun exploring our city! Now that we've seen so much of this beautiful country, we're finding creative new ways to experience new places and activities. Sometimes the best adventures are in your own back yard!