Sunday, August 06, 2006


My trip to New Zealand began in the usual manner, with a call notifying me that my flight out would be delayed 2 hours. When I arrived at the airport, I found that the flight was actually delayed 6 hours, and so I had lots of time to kill. I cruised the duty free shops and seriously considered buying a watch because the perfume I bought in Melbourne was at least $20 cheaper here, so everything would be a good value, right? I was able to talk myself down from the purchase and then was very tempted by some cheesy Australiana t-shirts that were only $15. Instead I read the paper cover to cover and began my first sudoku puzzle.

I arrived in Auckland after dark to be welcomed by rain and a kiosk labeled "GIN". Do travelers have a drinking problem, or what? I hopped onto the shuttle to the hotel, where the driver informed me that the forecast was rain until Wednesday, but I might have a chance for sun because weathermen and politicians all went to the same school. I arrived at the Auckland City Hotel all in one piece and relatively dry, to find the smallest hotel room ever. When Lonely Planet says "small but clean", they really mean it!

On the way up to my room, I ran into a "local" on his way to the pub at the top floor. Chit chat led him to inform me that it was actually a decent place, (turns out he works there- so much for unbiased opinions!)and so once I'd settled in, I headed up. Turns out that this was a bona fide Irish pub, complete with accents and a bartender/owner who knew everyone's name and quizzed you about world capitol cities in order to earn free drinks. While gossiping with a couple of traveling Irish lasses, I found out that he had recently made a bid for a seat in Parliament. While I was there, I felt a bit like I was holding court. Everyone was really nice, and they kept coming up to meet the new girl. I was pleasantly surprised to not be hassled about American politics, capitalism, or celebrity behavior.

I woke up this morning after a bit of a "lie-in" and made my way to the link bus, which makes a circuit around downtown and the inner suburbs. After about an hour and completing the circuit, I decided to make a track of my own and started exploring on foot.

I started at the Britomart train station/bus depot and walked up Queen Street, which has lots of touristy shopping.

I ducked into a lane and found the Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe and had some stew that will probably stick with me until Monday. (I ordered a beer, but it didn't come. I wasn't too heartbroken as I'd had some drinks the night before (no- not that many, but enough)).

After lunch, I continued up Queen Street to K Road (Karangahape Road- no wonder they've shortened it!) where all the shops smelled like incense, or sold porn. I don't know how the porn shops smelled. They were across the street.

After a while, I crossed over to Ponsonby Road, which was full of coffee houses, trendy fashion, and home furnishings. Almost to the end of Ponsonby, I ducked into one of the coffee houses and had myself a mocha while perusing the Lonely Planet for my plan of attack. Warmed and dry, I resumed my trek and promptly got lost. Really, the streets here change names a bunch of times and they are labeled only on one side of the road. How is anyone supposed to know where they are? I did a detour through a very nice residential neighborhood and found Victoria Street, home of the Victoria Park Market. This market has your basic tourist fare and some temptingly cheap shoes. Since I didn't leave any room in my baggage for bringing back new things, I had to pass (good thing? poor planning? I can't decide!). Shopping complete, I made my way across Victoria Park where some very gung-ho girls were playing rugby in the puddles. This photo to the right is of a very confused tree (which season is it?) in Victoria Park. The smokestack in the background is the Victoria Park Market.

(About now is when I'd been smacked in the forehead one too many times by my umbrella bending backwards in the wind. In a weather defying move, I continued sans umbrella, wet, but with surprisingly improved views of my surroundings.)

I crossed to Halsey Street and then to Fanshave Street, in the Viaduct Harbor area. This is a pretty high-rent district that houses the likes of vodaphone, microsoft, hp, sun, etc., as well as some pretty pricey yachts. By now the rain had picked up and I began making my way back to the hotel. (Yes, I broke down and used the umbrella again. There's only so much abusive weather a girl can take!) I took Customs Street back to Beach Road and picked up a paper to read in my cozy hotel room.

Incidentally, the daily details section of the weather page had this to say: "BEST PLACES FOR SAILING ARE... Strong winds and rain are likely as a low crosses the country, so the best place for sailing is in the bath. BEST PLACES FOR PICNICS ARE... Cloud and rain will spoil any picnic antics today, so best drag the sofa under the porch and snack there."

At least they have a sense of humor about it!

1 comment:

Grahamanda said...

Very nice! You are just destined for rain. I am excited to hear how your total trip is. Thanks for the birthday flowers!