"Ca vaut le coup" (French) = "It is difficult but so beautiful it's worth it."
We arrived mid-day in Nelson to find the Saturday produce and craft market just closing up for the day. We bought tons of fruits and veggies and a couple bracelets before having a picnic on a hill by the Cathedral. There was a great climbing tree right next to us and a bridal party came by to take photos as we ate our lunch. We each took turns napping, exploring the Church, and also wandering back into the shopping area for bathrooms.
Nelson is so charming: it's in the sunniest place in the country and has a great relaxed beach town feel to it. It's larger than most of the South Island cities but never actually felt like a large town.
Around 5pm we headed to our hostel: The Palace Backpackers (http://www.thepalace.co.nz).
It was recommended to me by my friend Aliza Brinton who traveled through New Zealand for three months just before we arrived ourselves. The Palace was SO incredible we stayed for four days - we couldn't pull ourselves away! It was this great villa on a hill overlooking the city: it's possible the best hostel I've ever stayed at - it's only competition is Sir Toby's in Prague (http://www.sirtobys.com). We had our own private room with a huge window that we could climb in and out of onto the wrap around porch on the second floor. The whole hostel had huge ceilings and chandeliers and books in every language and a spa and DVD room and the best kitchen ever.
After we dropped our stuff we ran to Church at 6pm: I was really interested to see what Catholics in New Zealand would be like. They stare just like they do in the US, don't worry. They did change a lot of the words and some of the prayers, but provided these projection screens so you knew what to say next. It was interesting.
We made an epic meal that night: Crepes! Filling options: apple, bananas, strawberries, plums, blueberries, blackberries, cheese, honey, peanut butter, peppers, cucumbers, tomato, brown sugar, butter, mayo, and a hot fruit butter/sugar mix that we made. I think I gained 10 pounds. Tim spent time trying to explain "That's what she said" to our new French friend Cindy. It was probably the funniest thing I watched unfold in a really long time. I took a long hot shower after dinner and fell asleep in a comfortable warm bed.