Saturday we took a ten minute bike ride to downtown Hamilton in the rain. We had planned this outing during the week and a little rain wasn’t going to stop us. Thankfully, it was just a drizzle when we left the house and we had on our heavy duty raincoats. (By the time we got there though, our legs were soaked…)
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Downtown Hamilton, the Central Business District (CBD) of the city, is a mile stretch of Victoria Street and its surrounding area. Located in this area is the Waikato Museum, the central library, city council, the Centre Place mall, the Waikato river and much more. With shops and restaurants occupying both sides, Victoria Street reminds me of a more historical Mill Avenue (in Tempe, AZ), sans the “college town” feel. As we walked down the street it is apparent that many of the businesses have found homes in older buildings. I love seeing restored buildings mixed in with modern ones. Here we parked our bikes next to the ArtsPost Galleries & Shop, an old building with a new purpose.
From here we walked down Victoria checking out the cafes, restaurants, and shops (and the buildings they were in).
And we also checked out one of Hamilton’s claims to fame: a life-size Riff Raff statue from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Richard O’Brien being a former resident). You can spy on people walking by this statue here. Maybe you’ll see us doing the Time Warp some time.
We were getting pretty hungry and there were a lot of places to choose from but one restaurant caught our eye: MEXICO. Here the waitresses wear giant flower headbands à la Frida Kahlo. The decor is so Mexico it’s almost cheesy, but we really enjoyed it. Our waitress also happened to be from California studying at the University!
It was a tapas-like place so we ordered a few things: Black olive stained chicken quesadilla with salsa borracha, a caramelized lamb taco and a poblano mole chicken taco and a Mango Jarritos to drink. It was all completely delicious besides the fact that it was more Tex-Mex (no rice OR beans on the menu for example). They did have over 500 tequilas or something ridiculous. For dessert we stepped out on a limb and ordered Avocado and Buttermilk pudding and spiced anise biscuit, not my favorite but definitely worth trying! We were eating lunch at around 2pm and there were a few other couples/families there as well, but when we passed the restaurant again around 7pm it was completely packed with a line out the door to be seated.
After lunch we continued our tour of downtown, checking out some more neat places such as the Garden Place– a little hang-out in the middle of town with grass and flowers, Hamilton library– the brightly colored building, and some more shops. Dr. Donburi has a nice slogan “We care your hunger” which I take should actually say “cure.” Velo Espresso a specialty bicycle shop had many nice things for Chris to look at and Casabella Lane has more artisan shops and restaurants.
After this we warmed up inside the mall, definitely small to American standards but it has everything you need in a mall, plus things you don’t.. like Glow-In-The-Dark Mini Golf. Chris bought some new pants following the fashion of New Zealand (Chinos with elastic at the ankles?) which do look good on him and they were on sale. Overall, the downtown area was such a beautiful place. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting, eating, shopping, and taking pictures there and am very glad its so close to us! A few hours after visiting the mall (It closes at 5:30 on Saturdays, you guys!) we headed to the Night Market which was incredible! It will be the focus of my next post so keep an eye out for it.