Auckland.....and Away We Go

Trip Start Oct 13, 2010
Trip End Jun 20, 2011

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18 - Day 1

After a 13-hour flight from Santiago that left at 11:30PM on Friday, October 16th, we finally arrived at…..wait for it….4:30AM on Sunday, the 18th!! Yep, go ahead and do the math…and don't forget to account for the time zones. As for the flight itself, it was mainly uneventful, as we managed to sleep through most of it….except for one little incident. Didn’t mention previously that I wrenched my back when our tourist bus in Santiago stopped abruptly while I was changing seats. Anyway, it was still in rough shape when we got on our flight to Auckland. After sleeping in a not-so-comfy position for several hours, I gingerly pulled myself up & limped to the bathroom…all locked up in my lower back & hurting. I squeezed myself into the tiny bathroom, locked the door behind me….and next thing I remember, I opened my eyes & was wondering where I was and how come my knees were hurting so much and I couldn’t move. After about 30 seconds in this state, I figured out what had happened. Apparently, I blacked out from the back pain and fell backwards. Since the stall is so tiny, instead of falling down, I instead collapsed into an exaggerated squatting position with my butt on the floor….think a catcher in baseball….but squatting even lower. Anyway, I managed to pull myself up using the handrails provided for the handicapped and splashed some water over my face before limping back to my seat. I still can’t believe that nobody heard anything…especially the flight attendants. I returned to my seat to find Jill sleeping like a baby. I briefly considered waking her to whine about my misfortune, but then sucked it up like a big boy and just laid back & tried to relax. Of course, I did whine after she woke up.

So after 4 hours just killing time at the Auckland airport (can’t exactly check-in anywhere at 5 or 6 in the morning) and listening to the same mind-numbing and snarky airport boarding calls ("all otha passenjahs ah wayting foh YEW"…..said in NZ accent), we jumped on a shuttle and headed to our hostel…nice place and very friendly…much more so than our hostel in Santiago. After checking in & setting up our modest little room, we headed out and jumped on the bus to take us to city center….first stop…K Street.

Following story told in Jill’s words:

Joe and I were somewhat uninspired by what we were seeing. K Street was not really chalking up to what the Lonely Planet had described. Then we stumbled upon The Eagle. “Flocking” (insert eye roll here) to what we know and love, Joe and I were immediately drawn to this little Irish Style pub. It was just a small room with maybe 10 tables, but it was cozy and welcoming.

As we walked in, a grubby old guy gave a warm welcome asking “How she goin’?”

“Good” we reply, and carry on to ask if they serve any food.

“Ah, ya kinda but it’s crap. Microwaved meat pies. You’d be better off goin’ an’ grabbin’ something across the street and making your way back here for a pint. Just bring it in and eat it here.”

Happy with the invite, we made our way across the street to find ourselves some sandwiches and take out. Turning our noises up at a couple of sandwich shops, we see a tiny fresh fish shop with a sign saying FISH & CHIPS - TAKE OUT ONLY. Well, when in NZ… We wander into the shabby little store and order 2 F&C’s to go from this little Asian lady. The order was taking a while so Joe stepped out for some fresh air. Just as he did, he sees the grubby old guy from the bar crossing the street away from The Eagle. To take a look at the ol’ guy in all his glory, quite frankly he looked like a street bum! Was he just pretending to own the bar? Is he crazy delusional?  More importantly, when we finally do get our fish and chips, can we still go back there for a pint? Spun into a bit of an unknown, we were called back into the shop to pick up our newspaper-wrapped F&C and paid extra for tartar sauce and tomato sauce (as they call ketchup here in NZ).

Food in hand we hesitantly make our way back to The Eagle. As we walk in, we double check with a younger, cleaner cut guy to ensure that it is OK that we are bringing our food in. He laughs at our hesitation as we explain getting allowance from the older guy we just saw walking away. “Oh, you mean ol’ Craig?! Ya, he’s one of my partners, come on in!”

We bellied up to the bar and poured samples of the local beer on tap. This is where we discovered our favourite local beer so far, Red Lion. Pints, fish and chips and a corner table… perfect! We unwrapped our paper encased fish and chips and sank our teeth into our first piece of fish. WOW. This is by far the best fish and chips I have ever tasted. The batter was super thin and perfectly golden. So good, melted in our mouths.

I continue to enjoy my fish and chips sans tartar, however after being a couple of bites in, Joe decided to dig into the mayo-based goodness. Now you’ll have to appreciate that the to-go tartar came in these tiny plastic containers and to dunk your fish into them, could very possibly cause some problems. Not being able to do so, Joe decided to use the” squeeze/pour” method…SNAP, CRUNCH… “S#@T” was all I heard and when I looked up, Joe had covered himself in tartar sauce!

Now a good girlfriend would’ve jumped up to help with her handy travel wipes and a Tide To-Go pen… but I just burst out laughing and am now kicking myself for not taking a photo!

…once the laughing was over, I did come to the rescue!

Hahaha…vey funny….back to Joe typing now

After a huge walk around the rest of the downtown core…getting lost in the process (of course!), we hopped on the bus back home, bought our groceries, prepared a light dinner & hit the sack.

October 19 - Day 2

Breakfast, shower and off for a day of heavy walking. First stop was climbing up Mt. Eden, the highest peak in Auckland (though much shorter & easier than we thought it would be). Some awesome views from up there, including the city center and One Tree Hill (think Joshua Tree). Another walk for about an hour took us to Auckland Museum…cool exhibits here of Maori culture. Also…and no less important….Jill and I discovered while in the museum café that if you order a chocolate frappuccino and an espresso frappuccino and then drink both simultaneously using both straws, you get a pretty delicious mokaccino out of the deal!

After they kicked us out of the museum, we bumped into an Irish couple that were also at our hostel in Santiago. They were very quiet at the hostel and a bit awkward. We chatted a bit and then hopped on the city bus together, where they sat in a row where it was impossible for us to sit beside them, which we thought was weird. When they got up to get off, the guy looked back at us, we both said goodbye and waved, he saw us….and then just turned around to get off the bus…very, very strange. The girl never looked back at all. I know we’re both the unfriendly types, but seriously….

Anyway, after the museum, we figured it would be rude not to have a Guinness, so we popped into The Dog’s Bollix for a couple & split a pizza. I guess the place must do well at night cuz we were the only ones there at the time. After finishing up, we headed back to the hostel to rest a bit before we made dinner, met and chatted with a few new people, split a bottle of New Zealand pinot noir, and headed to bed.

Tomorrow is a big day as we’ll pick up our campervan and get on the road to see the rest of the country. Jill is a bit nervous about driving on the left-hand side of the road…and I am nervous for her. Will she navigate NZ’s windy, hilly roads successfully and without incident? Stay tuned for the next entry and you will find out.
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Sheldon on

I love the Murder Burger sign. Awesome. Love reading the Blog. Do they still have the blue water in the airplane toilets, be thankful that you didn't put your hand in there when you had your nap. Peace out, Keep having fun.

andy on

mmm nothing like eating newspapers. joe check your email re. blacking out if you get a chance

AO on

Just so you know...Kiwi's are crazy! You can jump off that big Auckland tower if you want to. Actually, I'm pretty sure they will harness you up and let you jump off anything in the country! Ohhhh...and I warned you about the fish and chips....soooooo goood!

mpopowich on

Hey guys, watch out for the possums! You'll know what I mean once you get on the road but just so you know, there are about 7 possums per person in NZ - don't feel too back when you run them over! Sounds like you're having a blast, enjoy!

Russ Miceli on

Joe, I hope your back feels better. How's the weather?

joe-and-jill on

@Uncle started out pretty chilly, but now beautiful spring weather...won't be going in water anytime soon but still great. Go Giants :)

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