February 22, 2002- Dunedin, Day Two

These repetitive rainy cycles are getting old. It was raining again when I got up today and has been on and off all day. I am very glad that I made that ride yesterday when the weather had an infrequent good patch. It is expected to be cloudy and rainy through Sunday. Dunedin is nice, but I'm not sure it's four days worth of nice.

I had the budget breakfast of two eggs, bacon, fries, toast and sausage for NZ$6.00.This was in a cafe called RHF (really healthy food), which is an interesting take on healthy food. It sort of explains the Arc Cafe, where I had dinner last night and tonight. They have a vegetarian menu, but also great coffee, a large dessert selection, including a dynamite chocolate tart, and a full bar with nine beers on tap. I guess it is just a matter of balance.

I strolled through downtown Dunedin today, a little too gray for good pictures. When I got down as far as the university, I decided to visit the Otago Museum. It was quite interesting. The museum has been recently expanded and has several new galleries. It is primarily anthropology and natural history. It had a good Maori gallery, complete with a section that described a recent archeological excavation in detail. I never knew that the Maori brought dogs to New Zealand. They also had a gallery that went through the Pacific by island group and culture and highlighted the similarities and differences. Of course it also had the usual collection of ceramics. Those Greek vases are everywhere.

There was also a nice exhibit on native fauna and the number of species that have become extinct since man arrived in New Zealand. It had examples of most of the species that were lost since the Europeans arrived, with apologetic descriptions of how they didn't know better back when they were collecting the examples. They also had a exhibit called the "Animal Attic" where they have recreated the original Victorian era museum. It is a gallery with wood panelling and beams and skylights (now muted) filled with cases of animals and birds and insects all laid out in family and species order. They said that the animals and birds were quite faded, since the original museum was lit only by the skylights, which was, of course, quite damaging.

As I walked back to town, through the throngs of students, it started to rain again, but since all of the shops on the main street have permanent canopies over the sidewalk, the only place where you can get wet is crossing the streets. Dunedin reminds me of Cambridge back in the 70's and 80's before it got mallized, with lots of small ethnic restaurants and lots of coffee bars (even a Starbucks, but why?). Every cafe also seems to offer Internet access, even the local McDonalds has a Cybercafe. I suspect that the universities here are not as wired as at home, with every student having a computer and a high speed connection. It has been the nicest city so far, from an ambience standpoint.

I finished the gray day by going the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. It is a new gallery, right in the center of town (on the Octagon). They have a nice collection of paintings, mostly by British artists who are unknown to me, but also a Gainsborough and a Monet. The nice part of the exhibit is the text next to many of the major paintings describing the history of the subject being painted and the artist. They also had a big exhibition of photographs by a New Zealand woman photographer. It was quite good, mostly black & white.

Updated: 06 April 2002