July 2, 2017
For those who know me, I am pretty much a workaholic, especially when I get into my projects. And this SOFIA gig is no different. I had no idea I have been here a week already and not explored beyond my hotel and the lab. So it was time to check out Christchurch, the Garden City.
To first glance it’s quite larger than I expected, and it had the welcome feel of being back in England. That said, that could be because they drive on the left here, speak English, with many street names sound like they came out of London’s A-Z. The country does pride itself on its independence from the British Empire of yonder, although when you walk among Christchurch I could not quite shake the feeling of being back in England.
Take the old site of Canterbury College, with its Gothic Revival stonework. Most of the site is under scaffolding (another fine remembrance of British cityscapes) due to reconstruction after the devastating earthquake of February 2011 that went right through the center of Christchurch. Even after 6years the city is still rebuilding, with lots of vacant lots of what had been most of the historical brick and mortar buildings of New Zealand’s past.
The old Canterbury Collage is where Earnest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, worked for a ti,e. And he worked in den! Every scientists needs a den.
The Container Mall was a fun find, being built as a temporary location for businesses in an area of the city that had been decimated by the 2011 earthquake. From the audio tour I learned that finally those businesses are moving onto to more permament locations.
The Botanical Gardens were a lovely find, even in winter. They had a nice Victorian-era greenhouses hosting the more humid plants. I giggled as I saw many of the foliage there are common houseplants one can pick up in any garden store in the USA. The rose garden was properly trimmed back to its winter state, and the collection of ferns and tropical plants in the New Zealand garden gave me a sense that there is much more diverse flora in New Zealand than one picks up in the cityscapes.
The next day when I re-explored the city via tram with my friend Stefanie who was out to fly on SOFIA this coming week, we stumbled against the Wizard of Christchurch, a known entity who travels the city telling stories.
When I look back at the weekend exploring with no set agenda, thinking about things, reflecting on the tough year my family has gone through and still is, and thinking about how this city has survived and is rebuilding, one can take the message from the Art Gallery to heart – Everything’s Going to Be Alright.