nz / au mcd’s field report

One of my many weird personality quirks is that I like to eat at McDonald’s in every new country that I visit. Hey, since American “culture” is our biggest export, I figure I may as well check in on it and see how it’s doing in other countries…

First up, the mcd’s at MEL. They were no longer serving the Aussie burger, much to my disappointment, but they did have a tandoori chicken wrap! How odd. The flavor of the chicken was actually quite adequate, but there was a lot of disgusting mayo in there too. Blech.

Today, I dined at a combination BP petrol station / mcd’s in Wellington, NZ, and of course, I got the Kiwi burger, which is essentially a burger with a fried egg and a huge slice of pickled beet, which is perhaps the oddest combination of flavors I’ve had thus far in my experiments. Not being a huge fan of beets to begin with, I must say this was not my favorite burger. But if you like beets, I suppose it’d be good.

These are added to my list of other burgers I’ve eaten: the McRosti in Switzerland (a burger with basically a hashbrown on top, which is supposed to represent rosti potatoes) and a McPalta in Peru, which is a burger with avocado. Yum.

In Mexico, I ate some weird refried bean, cheese, and jalapeno pepper combination served on top of english muffin halves for breakfast food. Surprisingly, not too shabby.

One thing I really appreciate is getting proper ketchup while out of the country. I’m not a heavy ketchup user to begin with, but when I do use it, I’ve found that I really like the Heinz recipe. Other countries tend to add too much sugar or do other things that make the ketchup taste weird. Thanks to the McDonald’s corporation for going through the effort to spread good American ketchup across the world.

hello kiwis!

single cone summit (2300m)

So it turns that Kiwi immigration laws aren’t so conducive to a devil-may-care attitude to travel.

During my checkin attempt at MEL, the ticket agent asked for my return flight information. My response of “Um, I only bought a one-way ticket because I don’t know when and where I plan on flying out of” resulted in the forced purchase of a return ticket at the counter. Whoopsie.

And it turns out when the border official at CHC asks you, “what are your plans for the next three weeks?”, that is not the proper time nor place to impart your romantic notions of wanderlust upon said official. Trust me, leading off with “I’m not really sure yet” and a charming smile… well, my smile must not be as dazzling as I’d thought, and only results in alarm and concern in exactly the one person on the planet at the moment who you are trying very hard not to alarm. My bad, New Zealand.

In the end, they let me in anyhow, so +1 Alex. Whoo.

Alas, the struggle to travel unencumbered and carefree is foregone. In what is becoming a disturbing trend in my holiday travels, I’ve hired a car with which to zoom around the island.

Yes, someone is going to give a 1000 kilo metallic missile to the guy who was complaining about not even being able to figure out how to walk properly in this country. Good thing New Zealand doesn’t read my blog.

My time in Christchurch was short but idyllic, having spent it with my hostel roommates, an unlikely combination of two French, two Germans, and YT, yammering away in the international language of globe-ish, wandering around the city generally enjoying life, and wrapping it up at an even unlikelier Chinese restaurant called “Luck” where the owners were from Taiwan, and I was able to manage enough Chinese to order a fantastic meal that included delish veggies from their own garden. Not too shabby.

The small bitey beastie population of Christchurch seem to have a penchant for eating Chinese too and have discovered a new favorite hangout, namely me.

Now I turn my face south and aim towards Queenstown to meet up with some old climbing friends I met on the slopes of the Peruvian Andes so many years ago. After that, who knows, so please don’t tell the New Zealand Department of Immigrations.

akka dakka

Spent the past few days wandering around Melbourne. After checking out of the expensive but crappy hotel that HP paid for, found a real gem of a hostel, called the Nunnery. Resplendant with religious relics, but I’m still undecided as to whether they’re ironic or genuine. Regardless, ’twas a good find.

One day, spent a few hours wandering around the Royal Botannical Gardens (everything is more magnificent when prefixed with “royal”). Another day was whiled away at the local rock gym (thought process: climbers are cool, I’ll go where they hang out — “Hi! I’m an American and I don’t want to invade your country! Wanna be friends?”). The few hours remaining ere boarding the flight to CHC were used to explore the Fitzroy section of Melbourne (far and away coolest part of the city; wish I’d discovered it earlier).

An observation: the shortcut approach to figuring out the cool part of the city (aka, where all the interesting people hang out) is to find the district highest in density of such things as all day brekky cafes and used book stores. Record shops and vintage clothing stores appear as corollaries, but aren’t as strong a predictor. If that sounds like too much work, just ask where the gay district is. Seriously. It works.

Your Aussie colloquialism for the day: AC/DC is referred to as “akka dakka”. I’m McLovin’ it.