Auckland calling

Trip Start Feb 28, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Where I stayed
Jucy hotel

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Saturday, March 26, 2011

You definitely know you're in New Zealand even before landing. Looking out the window of the plane there are huge rolling hills covered with the greenest green you can picture. The first day in Auckland, I checked into a hostel located right downtown in a perfect location. The city is situated on the water and has a great Viaduct Harbor lined with restaurants called Market Square where I had dinner the first night.

The second day in Auckland was my first day of rain and I spent it in the Auckland Memorial Museum. The first settlers in New Zealand were the Maori and the museum included their history, amazing art and the story of how the English took over their island. The theme of the museum displayed on a big banner outside the museum was "I Am Today".  I thought it was incredible how a museum all about the past could have a slogan that seemed to contradict itself.  As someone who has recently learned how to live in the moment it made perfect sense and has been how I have been living each day recently.

Later that day I was walking around for thirty minutes going in and out of restaurants, looking at menus trying to settle on a place to eat. I finally just wanted to eat and decided the next place I walked into I was going to be it. It happened to be a place called Velvet Burger. What a great decision, it's New Zealand’s version of In and Out Burger. It was a huge double burger of New Zealand beef and a special sauce. They also happened to play a remix of my favorite song "Juicy" while I was in there.  The opening verse of the rap song is dedicated to all the people that told him he would never amount to anything.  Every time I hear that song I think back to my high school guidance counselor who told me I shouldn’t go to Binghamton University because my SAT’s scores were about half the average of all the other students.  I was able to get accepted only on a full athletic scholarship but he didn’t feel like I should go.  Five years from that day, I walked out of Saint Joseph’s University with a master’s degree on top of my degree from Binghamton University.  Listening to that song is another one of those moments when you just know you’re at the right place at the right time doing the right thing. I asked the guy working there where if there was a good place to get a drink anywhere nearby since it was Friday night. He said go outside turn left and up the stairs. He was right, a cool bar with great local beers. I stood there having a Moa beer for a few minutes and met some other travelers doing the same. They explained the rules of cricket to me as the Cricket World Cup was on TV in the bar.  New Zealand advanced to the final four as they beat South Africa in the quarterfinals.  At this point I have watched more of the Cricket World Cup then March Madness and I was happy about it.  Something like that in past years would have been unfathomable to me.

My new friends decided to check out another place and invited me. We got to a great spot on the water where they played great music. I remember one point where I was talking to people from Ireland, Scotland, Egypt, Ethiopia and New Zealand. And that is why I love traveling. The next day I took a short ferry ride to Devonport Island and climbed up Mount Victoria. It's not much of a climb but from the top I could look back and see Auckland in the distance.

"I Am Today"-Auckland Memorial Museum

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