You Win a Brand New Car

In my previous post, I spent so much time talking about the roads in Tasmania, but I forgot to mention the most important thing. While on the road, I saw a cow resting his head on another cow!!! AWW COWS ARE SO CONFUSED.

Back at the Fountainside Hotel, Hayden and I packed up our stuff in the morning, ate breakfast at the hotel, and headed to the airport. Driving to the airport, I stopped on a hill at an intersection and, when the light turned green, I had no trouble at all keeping the car from rolling back! I was so proud of myself — prior to our adventures in Tasmania, I would not have been so confident at maneuvering a manual transmission through city traffic. Then we returned the rental car, and that means rental car ratings!

Nissan Micra ST
  • Comfort: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Practicality: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Handling: 2.5 out of 5 stars
  • Reliability: 2.5 out of 5 stars
  • Fun Factor: 4 out of 5 stars

The Micra wasn’t particularly comfortable, it being an econobox and all. However, it was practical, and miraculously fit all of our luggage. The thing handled poorly and felt like it was going to fall apart through the turns, thus the low reliability score. But the car was a manual transmission, resulting in shifting practice and our “rally racing” game, so we had more fun with it than we did in the ASX.

Hobart Airport is really small. There were three airlines — Virgin Australia (which we were taking), Jetstar, and Qantas. The lines to check in to Jetstar and Qantas were completely full to the brim, but the Virgin Australia line was conveniently empty. We had an easy time checking in and checking our bags, and then waited in a queue of only 3 people to get through security for all of Hobart Airport.

We were there three hours early since we had thought it would take longer than it did, so we sat down, drank airport smoothies, and I worked on more backlogged blog posts. Our first flight was just a short, hour-long trip to Melbourne, where we had a few hours’ layover and explored the duty free shops. I needed more gifts for my younger Japanese relatives, so we browsed the Lego kits at a toy store. Hayden got a little carried away with the Lego car kits, and insisted that “In my completely unbiased opinion, I think we should get the Ferrari.” We ended up getting a Lego Porsche and a Lego Ferrari. Hayden acted like we’d just bought the Legos for him.

Lego Ferrari
Lego Ferrari

While waiting for our flight, we ate Asian food at the nearby restaurant, Wok On Air (get it?) Hayden bought a car magazine to read and I went back to blogging. Man, I had a lot of posts to catch up on. Hayden kept getting too excited about his car magazine and interrupting my blogging with things like “There’s this really interesting paragraph on front suspensions” and “Okay now this paragraph is about rear suspensions,” and he would shove the magazine in my face and stare at me expectantly. This went on for a couple hours.

Our flight to Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, was about three hours long. The plane didn’t have screens built into the seats, so they handed out Android tablets so we could watch movies. Hayden and I watched the first 7/8ths of The Fifth Element, which Hayden hadn’t seen before, until the flight attendants took the tablets away at the climax of the movie, both because they were mean and because we were landing soon. When we got off the plane, it was midnight in Christchurch, two hours ahead of Hobart time.

Customs in Christchurch weren’t so bad. The last time we’d come through New Zealand, they’d taken away Hayden’s camping stove. This time, we had a much better experience and they only made us wait to clean Hayden’s tent and his left shoe. One hour later, we were at the rental car pickup, with our fingers crossed that they wouldn’t give us another Nissan Micra. We were handed the keys to a Holden Barina RS (what the heck is that?) It was a hatchback with a manual transmission, on the bright side, and it wasn’t another Micra. GM owns Holden and mostly re-brands Chevys as Holdens, so we were afraid that Europcar had given us a Chevy Spark. However, this was far from the case. Not only had we gotten a brand new car, we had gotten the performance upgrade version of the regular Holden Barina. The Barina RS has a more powerful 1.4-liter turbo engine, a lower, stiffer suspension, and bigger alloy wheels. Apparently, the orange color signified that our Barina was an RS and that we were special. Hayden immediately loved our car. The Barina had such a smooth first gear and was very easy to shift. We were the lucky winners of a brand new car!

21 kilometers on the odometer
21 kilometers on the odometer

Since we had known that we would be getting in late, we had booked a cheaper hostel rather than a fancy hotel. For some reason, I had imagined that we would be getting into a foul-smelling, motel-esque building with flimsy doors and peeling paint. Dorset House Backpackers was a cute little bed and breakfast type building with the most charming double room. Someone had already set up the heater in our room in advance, and the room itself was so cute! We would definitely stay there again if we needed a short-term place to rest.

another great surprise
another great surprise

It was 2am by the time we finally went to bed. Dorset was so comfy and cozy. The next day, we would be driving via Arthur’s Pass to the West Coast, where we’d be camping in Punakaiki.


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