With 2009 not so much creeping up on us as thundering towards us like stampeding behemoth*, we decided it was about time to get some real information out to people, which meant getting on with a bit of research. So yesterday lytteltonwitch, rarsberry and I met for breakfast (after a bit of a false start when lytteltonwitch and I were both running late, and poor rars thought she must be at the wrong place) then spent a very constructive morning touring the backpackers’ hostels within walking distance of the convention venue.
We’ve decided to recommend Base as our preferred hostel. It’s in the Square, so only 10 minutes walk from the venue, and close to restaurants and touristy things, was incredibly clean (even though we were touring it before the cleaners had been round), and had very helpful staff. Oh, and the important stuff from a bookcrosser’s point of view: they’ve got a book exchange shelf, and the internet was cheap ($5 for the first hour, $4 each additional hour). And they’ve got wireless access for those with laptops. They’ve got a bar, and were honest about the noise, saying it can get a bit loud on Friday and Saturday nights, but they said they try to book people who ask for quiet rooms into the upper floors as far from the bar as possible, and they do have a noise policy after the bar closes that seems to actually be enforced.
One thing that impressed us is their “penthouse”, a suite of dorms designed for groups. The three dorms in the penthouse sleep 21 in total, and have their own private kitchen, lounge area and bathroom. So we reckon if we can get together 21 people who want to do the backpacking thing, it would be perfect for “bookcrossing central” (I’m actually tempted to stay there for the weekend myself!)
The other thing that was really cool was their Sanctuary, a floor reserved for women only. The rooms are a bit more expensive than the standard dorms, but they’re a bit nicer, safer for women travelling alone, and you get little gifts like a glass of bubbly on arrival and shampoo and conditioner samples.
For those who want to stay somewhere closer to the venue, we’re recommending two places near the Arts Centre. YHA Rolleston House is the closest to the venue, but is a pretty small hostel (there’s only 2 private rooms, plus a few dorms), and in an older building, so the facilities aren’t as good as Base (they don’t have a bookshelf, for a start!). We didn’t get to look round the rooms (because there was only one person on reception, so he couldn’t leave it to show us round), but YHA’s have a pretty good standard, so we feel reasonably confident about recommending them. The other place is the YMCA, which had really nice single and twin rooms (some with fabulous views over the botanic gardens!), but no kitchen (there’s a cafe), and only coin-operated kiosks for internet.
Oh, and most importantly, we checked carefully, and all three places have doors on their toilets, and actually let you flush them!
We were going to go on and look at motels and hotels, but decided that there are some good independent websites with reviews of both, so we’ll just provide maps and links to the ones closest to the venue, and let people make their own choice.
So now all I’ve got to do is turn all this into a webpage and get it up on the convention site, ready for the next edition of our newsletter.
*Can behemoths stampede? Or are they the ones that live in the water? Can you stampede in water? No, I remember now, leviathans are the ones that live in water, so behemoths must live on land. So they probably can stampede… unless they’re some sort of slug creature, of course…. [Futurecat goes off into a reverie populated by stampeding slugs]
After we’d finished looking at backpackers, we rounded out the afternoon by wandering around second-hand bookshops working out which to include in Friday’s bookshop tour. We’ve got to include St Christophers, of course, with its famous 20c table (that’s actually now a 33c table), and we’re negotiating sponsorship with a proper bookshop selling new books, so if they’re suitably generous we’ll include them in the tour, but we needed to find some in between second-hand shops. In the end we picked on Liberty, Smiths, and Pacific, which each have their own spin on quality second-hand, and which are conveniently close to each other.
So that’s one more task ticked off our list. This convention is starting to actually feel achievable.
And now for something pretty.
Despite still having a trunk full of unfinished embroidery projects, a sudden surge of impending babies among friends and family has given me an excuse to start something new:
(That should keep you guessing for a while :-))
Currently reading: Impassioned Clay by Stevie Davies
Currently listening to: The Valley by Di Morrissey