Picton (Dec. 22 - Dec. 27)
After taking a 3 hour ferry ride from Wellington, I arrived in Picton on Saturday night. I slept most of the ferry ride and then listened to the little boy sitting behind me bitch for the rest of ride: "Lasagna mum? I hate lasagna. Give me fish n' chips." Fish and chips arrive.... "What mum?? I hate fish n' chips." It was quite entertaining and then eventually quite annoying.
My whole family was there to pick me up and we drove back to our bach. The bach, a quaint little cottage, was right on the Marlborough Sound. I didn't appreciate the location until the next morning. From our family room we had a huge window overlooking calm turquoise water out of which rose huge mountains. We also had a covered porch which had the same view as our family room. Absolutely beautiful. Everything about the bach was beautiful. We did Podowski yoga (a combination of my yoga classes, Alex's soccer workouts, and my mom's pilates class) in the mornings on our porch. Megan, Alex, and I all shared a room, which could only be entered from outside, below the main part of the bach. We had two single beds and one double bed, but of course we kept Podowski tradition and all three slept in the one double bed. The only night we actually used the single beds was when I had to sleep in the middle and in the middle of the night had to move because I thought I was going to overheat. We also really had to conserve water as all of our running water came from rain water collected in a basin, and it really didn't rain that much while we were there. Luckily we never ran out of water, likely due to the fact that we only flushed the toilet twice a day, if that.
Our first full day in Picton we went mountain biking on the Queen Charlotte Track. The ride was much more tedious and exhausting (grueling as my mom would describe) than any of us anticipated. However, it was an absolutely amazing and scenic 24 km of track. Almost the entire ride one side of us was bordered by a steep hill that disappeared in the turquoise blue water of Marlborough sound. The ride was about 12 km one way, where we stopped and had lunch/dessert (the only place serving food had a wide selection of cakes and pastries and ice cream, but almost no substantial food). That first leg of the ride was absolutely the hardest and took about 2 1/2 hours, as it was almost entirely uphill). The return trip only took about 1 1/2 hours. No one fell over the side, although I think most of us had some close calls. Megan did go over her handle bars, and some strangers were lucky enough to witness it, however we all missed it. My dad went over his handlebars too, but again, we didn't get to see that one either!
The next day (Dec. 24), still on bikes, we took it a lot easier. We drove to Blenheim, a neighboring town with tons of wineries, and did a wine tour on bikes. We stopped at 5 or 6 wineries, had lunch at one, and brought 6 bottles of wine with us back to our bach. The ride was beautiful and flat and very relaxing. Some of the winemakers were really really friendly, one guy even showed us around his vineyard and winemaking facilities. He was quite excited since he had just recently started his winery business - I'd be excited though, too.
Christmas day was just like any other Podowski Christmas in any other part of the world: slow and relaxing. We spent most of the day drinking wine, reading our new books, had leftover lasagna (our traditional Christmas Eve dinner) for lunch, and made a big pot of soup and sandwiches for dinner. It was absolutely wonderful!
We spent Dec. 26th kayaking on Marlborough Sound. It was just our family, our guide, and a woman on holiday from Australia (Sandra). I'm sure we overwhelmed her at first. Our family can be pretty loud. My mom designated herself as the one who decided who would paddle with who. After some intense contemplation and strategic planning I ended up in a kayak with Sandra, Megan with my dad, and Alex with my mom. The water was beautiful and for the first half of the trip was very calm. We looked in lots of little coves for stingrays, but only saw shags and some huge jellyfish. After kayaking for a couple hours up one coast, we crossed the sound and found a cove to have lunch. We were all very successful getting in and out of the kayaks; no one fell in the water. Megan did however give the women having a picnic on the shore a good show when she not only pulled off her kayaking skirt (seals you in the kayak so no water gets on your legs) but also her pants. On the way back down the coast we had to cut the trip short as dark clouds quickly began to roll in, winds picked up speed, and our guide got a call informing us that hail was about to begin falling. During the entire trip, not one of us fell out of our kayaks - we were much better in boats than on bikes.