I’m torn. Torn between writing about the Christchurch I knew before, and writing about the Christchurch I know after. Torn between focusing on what was, or focusing on what is and could be in this broken, but slowly, slowly healing, city – our Garden City.
So I’m going to do both. I’m going to tell you about things I loved when I first visited (as an adult; you don’t really want to hear about my experiences as a 10-year-old, swimming at the then-new QEII aquatic centre and eating McDonald’s for the first time…I got a Birdy toothbrush in my Happy Meal!!!), and things that I loved when I last visited, after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
I used to love walking through Cathedral Square, shopping for fudge at the Arts Centre and looking through market stalls in the centre of the city. ChristChurch Cathedral was a beautiful building, iconic and striking, and it broke many hearts when it was badly damaged in February 2011. However (and I don’t wish to offend or upset anyone here, so please, please forgive me if I inadvertently do), the Transitional Cardboard Cathedral is also a beautiful striking building, in a completely different way, and I think it reflects the changes the city has been forced to embrace. And perhaps the next building will be better in more ways than we can possibly imagine.
Tall, Tiny and I spent time wandering around Re:START Mall, the container mall in January 2012, and it was fantastic. Bustling, colourful and full of hope, each container was unique and made for a special shopping experience. Many of the main shopping areas in the central city were still closed off at this stage, but being able to shop at the same time as see many of the damaged buildings was a sobering experience.
My first experience of a zoo couldn’t have been better than open-range Orana Park. I have fond memories of feeding and patting a giraffe, and being surprised at how they felt like a short-haired dog – I’d expected them to be velvety-soft.
A great place for a walk or a run, Hagley Park always reminds me of a mini (very mini!) Central or Hyde Park. It’s green and pretty, and always busy. There’s nothing nicer than strolling along the banks of the Avon River, too.
Good coffee is to be found at the Addington Coffee Co-op, while C1 Espresso does a pretty mean eggs Benedict, and has some of the coolest, quirkiest stuff to be found in a café. Special mention must go to The Make Café, a crafter’s paradise serving good food and coffee to satisfy the stomach, and beautiful fabrics and crafty goodies to satisfy the soul. I got to spend lots of time at the two latter cafés last year when I attended Around the Table and met some of my favourite and bestest blogging friends.