Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cycling New Zealand 2014 Day 14 : Of Beer & Chocolate

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                                                   AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                                
Cycling New Zealand Day 14 : Of Beer & Chocolate
Central Otago, New Zealand : 28th November 2014
Small Group Bike Ride: Around Dunedin City Centre

It's a free and easy day at Dunedin today; meaning we get to do our individual likings. Most touring should have this, a day or two where members can just go do their own stuff. Different people have different taste or march to a different drummer, so a free day allow each to carry on doing their own things without fear that they are holding the others back.
Andrew & Hui Min will take a drive up the Otago Peninsular and try to catch view of the magnificent Royal Albatross. Siew Yung and me will cycle around Dunedin a bit and see what the city has to offer.

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Our sleep at the "haunted house" Chalet Backpackers (a former hospital) was peaceful and undisturbed - no untoward happenings, no monsters under the bed. High up at High Street, from our bedroom window, we woke up to a nice view of Dunedin Harbour and far in the background, the Otago Peninsular.
First thing after breakfast, Andrew & me rode down to Pegasus Rental to rent a car which he will use to drive over to the Royal Albatross Centre which is about 30km. away.

The Octagon; the spires of St. Paul's Cathedral can be seen behind Barr House, and on the right is Dunedin Town Hall.
Siew Yung and me zoomed down the steep slopes of High Street (unbothered by the thoughts of having to climb back up again later) and headed for The Octagon, the busy centre of Dunedin. Here we chilled a bit and then popped in to view the elaborate St. Paul's Cathedral which faces the Octagon. St. Paul's, with its many beautiful stained glass mosaic windows, is the seat of the Bishop for the Archdiocese of Dunedin. (... see St. Paul's Cathedral blog).
The Octagon seems interesting, but we are on a roll for another destination, the Cadbury World where we will go on a guided tour of the chocolate factory.

We took a route over to Castle Street, the address at which Cadbury World is listed.
The silos with Cadbury's iconic purple colour seems so tall. Little did we know that later we will be inside these silos walking down stairs at a perimeter on its inner edge while liquid chocolate splashed like a chocolate waterfall down the centre.
But the entrance for the factory visit is not at Castle Street and is in fact at Cumberland Street nearer to the Octagon. Hah! So it's a U-turn back and more pedalling, let's hope they give us some chocolates to boost back our strength!
At the factory, they were very friendly and even allowed us to push our bikes through the show room and have them parked at on of the warehouses at the back.

This is Wyeth, the Cadbury Man. After a short presentation he will take us on a guided tour around the factory. Sorry, no photos were allowed while in the factory, so no other photos in between this and the next.
Nevertheless it was an enlightening tour, one in which we were shown some history of chocolates, how cocoa beans are grown and harvested and how chocolates are manufactured.

At the rear were some antique delivery vans on display.
Hmmm..... the Cadbury purple looks strikingly good, perhaps I should get a Brompton in that colour. Naw.... I will stick to Goofy who have been serving me well all these years.
(Tip: The chocolate tour entry is NZD22 and a bag of chocolates worth about NZ8-00 is given to each participant. There is a discount if you go for both the Cadbury & Speights Brewery tour.)

Goofy at the Octagon with the Dunedin Town Hall in the background.
We are back at the Octagon, chilled around there for a while watching the Kiwis going about their daily routine. It's lunch time and with many eatieries around that area we were spoilt for choices. We ended up at the KL Aroma Restaurant at George Street.
The word KL (standing for Kuala Lumpur) was the clincher, after more than two weeks in NZ, we were home-sick for Malaysian food. Siew Yung had fried rice while I had some roti pratha. Though not as good as those from back home, we did enjoy the food there.... beggars can't be choosers, yah?

"Shall we do more exploration and ride further out to the outskirts?"
"Hmm..... don't forget those steep Dunedin roads....."
"Er..... Ok, let's just ride around the town centre."
We chickened out from riding further out and instead cycled around the vicinity a bit; then it started raining and we ran (actually rode) for shelter at an awning opposite the Knox Church.
I was admiring the church from afar listening to the pitter-patter sound of the rain sound on the awning when it turned into a more forceful crinkling sound. Hah! It's hail! That's Dunedin erratic weather for you, spontaneous short showers comes and goes; and sometime it hails.

I love art and wanted to visit an art gallery while Siew Yung wanted to check out the shops around here. So we each went our own way and agreed to meet up later for the Speights Brewery tour.
And the Dunedin Public Art Gallery is just round the corner, within The Octagon octagon, so it was easy for me. Reluctant to park my bike outside, I folded it and rolled it to the souvenir counter where the graciously allowed me to leave my bike under the counter after seeing how small it folded into; the Brompton's handy in this way.
The gallery is divided into several sections, Mythos, Parallel Play, etc. Entrance is free but except for the pottery section, no photography is allowed inside. The above shows my silhouette reflection as I was about to enter the Belonging section; hoping that in trying to understand the artwork on display, I will belong here somehow. My interpretation of art must not have been deep enough or up to par, eventhough I enjoyed viewing them, somehow I could not really belong.

The ride over to Speights Brewery was up some slope; it's not a seriously steep slope and was not a problem for us getting there. Riding back down slope will be another question altogether; the bike should be able to handle it but the condition of the rider will be susceptible. See, the brewery tour includes free tasting of their beer; hopefully I will be able to cycle a straight line back after all those beers ...

 There's a section at the start of the tour with statues and posters showing the history of development of beer and the industry. Here I saw this bulky Viking statue, but if I do see him in person walking down the street, I will steer clear of him lest I end up being his drinking cup!

The tour was very informative, we were shown the ingredients that are used to make beer (barley, malt, sugar, hops, etc.). They literally took us round the whole factory, floor by floor and even showed us improvements that were required to withstand earthquakes (i.e. after Christchurch got hit by one). Of interest to me were these giant timber brewing tubs, these were the ones used by Speights during their early days.

Later, these copper domes ones were introduced.

And these days, clinical looking stainless steel ones are used.
You must be wondering what all these and chocolates have to do with cycling.
Well, I believe we should let interesting destinations be part of our cycling adventure; whether they be scenic places, places like waterfalls to break our cycling journey, delicious food or even these factories.
I will leave the pure dry cycling without any deviation for sightseeing to the exercise fanatics. Come to think of it, they might as well stay at home as use an exercise bicycle.

But then many was looking forward to the end of the tour. No, it's not because the tour was boring; it was in fact an eye-opener, interesting and educational.
What many were also keen on was the beer tasting at the end. We got to taste eight types of beer and ales that Speight's produce here. From ciders to lager to mid-ale and to robust dark ale. All were in free flow, we could drink as much as we wanted.
Siew Yung just took sips of each. I was more hearty, and downed a few glasses especially those that I found to be good tasting. It's a wonder that I could cycle after all these.

Fortunately it was a short cycle ride to meet up with Hui Min & Andrew for dinner at the Reef Steak & Seafood Restaurant. They were back from the Otago Peninsular and were unsuccessful in catching sight of the Royal Albatross, never mind that, let's just let a good dinner make up for that.
We were having a good dinner to celebrate the end of our cycling tour of New Zealand. Another day and we will be flying back, so we might as well forget about the frugal sandwiches and pies meals and celebrate in grand style.
I had wanted to try out the famed NZ oysters, but this being the beginning of summer, they were not in season. So instead I had these green lipped mussels, it was a good alternative; fresh and succulent, the mussels went very well with the white sauce.

We also had this ugly looking fella, it's a flounder nicely pan fried to perfection.
Needless to say, I did not have beer here; enough of beer at Speights!

While Hui Min and Andrew drove back, Siew Yung & me managed to slowly cycle up the slopes back to Chalet Backpackers.
Now this photo of the place was not because I was tipsy; it was because of the dim street lights. Really!
Good night....

(For more photos see FaceBook photo set - Click here)


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