Week Thirty Six - Sydney to Auckland

Trip Start Aug 26, 2003
Trip End Aug 24, 2004

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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Week Thirty Six

Days 233 - 239 - Tuesday 27 April to Monday 3 May

So it's now the 1st June and I am sitting in an Auckland airport hotel, the day before I fly to Los Angeles and on to Vancouver. A lot has happened. I will attempt to remember back on the last month to update you on my travails. Without notes it's going to be sketchy at best but here goes. Nicola and I have gone our separate ways, at least for the time being. It was largely my decision to part and Nicola decided that Sydney was the place to do it. We came to this decision way back, Sunday 29 February to be exact, week twenty seven. We have traveled around Australia under this and other clouds. No doubt this has jaundiced both of our opinions of Australia as I think neither of us plan to return. In last week's entry I forgot to mention that our apartment has a cockroach infestation. The bug guy tells us, on his way out to our balcony to spray, that the seasonally cold weather has urged the colony on our balcony to seek solice in the warmth of our room. We have killed 6 of the three inch buggers spotted climbing the walls or creeping across the floor. We are offered a move to another apartment but decide to take our chances. The bug guy assures us that any more that we see will be 'nearly' dead from his spray. Nicola leaves this Friday for home. A 26 hour journey to Belfast via Auckland, LA and London. I leave for Auckland on Sunday the 1st of May. Over the whole week neither of us sees a single sight in Sydney. We are counting the days until Nicola leaves. Nobody back home knows of her impending return. We spend the next days doing some present shopping for back home, eating meals and talking about the future and both probably just wishing the goodbye was done. On the morning of Nicola's leaving we go on line to place an order through Tesco's for basic supplies for Nic's new flat in Belfast. It's too much for me and we are soon both bawling. I see her into the lift and return to the room to cry like a baby. Its done and she's gone. I've really done it this time. Cast adrift from everything, I have nothing left. I contemplate getting the next available flight home but can't face speaking to the airline. I ring Nicola on her mobile in Auckland. Then we speak when she gets to LA. I lie on the bed and, in the morning I speak to her when she gets to her new apartment in Belfast. Her heating isn't working. She phones her parents and breaks the news. The next day, Saturday, I wander into town. I plan to buy a camera, but without asking Nicola's advice, I am unable. I get a bus to Aussie Stadium to watch the Warratahs playing the Highlanders. My seat is in an alcohol free family stand. I go back out through the crowds and manage to change my seat. The stadium is jam packed and as I make my way to my seat I spill my two pints of beer over a man in front. He makes a scene. I sit in my seat with two half pints of beer as the match begins. I cannot concentrate. I know that the Warratahs take an unassailable lead by half time and I decide to leave. I get the bus back into town and buy a new camera. A Pentax Optio 555 with 5x optical zoom and 5 million megapixels. I go home and charge the battery. On the news I see that the Highlanders have made an unbelievable comeback in the match and Matthew Burke misses a penalty in extra time to save it for the Warratahs. The commentator says that it is one of the most exiting matches in the history of Super 12. I wander back into town. All the bars that Nicola and I have visited bring back memories. I try different bars but eventually the sad songs seep into my consciousness. On the way home it feels like all the Asian people are laughing at me. In the living room dead cockroaches scatter the floor. Upturned little brown tanks. I go to bed. My jaw stinging from swallowed sobs. I dream of nearly dead cockroaches and Nicola. My taxi to the airport arrives at 8.45am. I can't get out of this country quick enough. On arrival in Auckland, I stand smoking beside the door of the airport shuttle and as I turn to put the butt in the bin it drives off leaving my bags and me on the kerb. The adjacent queue at the taxi rank snigger. I join another queue for minibuses into town. There are six of us in it and the female driver doesn't seem to know what planet she is on. She sits slowly in the fast lane as other cars blare their horns whilst overtaking in the inside lane. The first drop off is out of the way at the end of a cul-de-sac. An Asian couple get out and then the driver decides that it is too narrow for her to get out with the trailer attached. The Asian man tries to direct her but she has obviously never reversed with a trailer before. She does the opposite of the man's instructions and soon has the vehicle jammed across the road. The swearing starts and soon the man's wife has come out of the house to help in the swearing contest. I'm tired and just want to get to the hotel. The Asian couple go into their house and the stupid bitch driver eventually completes a 98 point turn and gets us back on the road. A roadwork has ground the traffic to a halt. She tells us that it is always like this and that she should have gone another way into town. By now we have been traveling the 12kms into Auckland for almost two hours. She goes past my hotel, The Duxton, saying that she will drop me off on the way back as the hotel is on the wrong side of the road. The others are dropped off at their backpackers before I arrive, just about on breaking point, at the hotel. The hotel needs my booking form before they will issue my room so I have to wait until the 15 year old assistant manager works out how to get on-line from the office. This takes another half hour. I print out my internet booking confirmation after he has refilled the paper tray on the printer. My room is lovely but 'non smoking'. After phoning down to the Ass. Manager he promises to send the porter up to my room to move me to another. Fourty minutes later he arrives and carries my bags, three rooms along the corridor, to a smoking room. Another phone call and 20 minutes later the porter brings an ashtray and removes the little 'No Smoking' card. From the balcony I have a great view of The Sky-Tower sticking like a giant purple spear into the underbelly of the sky. I can't sit in my room so wander into town. The steady drizzle makes me glad I don't wear specs. It is Sunday night and, apart from the crowds spilling out from a theatre, there are few about. In an Irish bar across from the theatre I am too late to beat the crowds to the bar. After waiting for 15 minutes to be served by the lone bar man, I give up and walk up to the Sky-Tower Casino. At the bar in the main gambling hall you can smoke. I do and sup a pint whilst watching the Triads losing their protection money. I decide to try my luck at the electronic Roulette table. After feeding twenty dollar notes into a slot on the console to the greedy hand of a hesitant, unseen goblin the whole thing grinds to a halt. The Asians all go awww. The manager arrives with a technician who opens a panel and pulls out a keyboard. He types in some numbers and resets the game. Everyone smiles as the croupier spins the wheel but by now the magic has been lost. I go back out into the world, buy a box of Cornflakes, some milk and moonwalk, forwardly, up the slippery streets to the hotel. There are no cockroaches and I go to bed. The next morning I go back down into town. At the harbour front I go into the 'Tourist Information Office'. I pick up a load of brochures and sit under a bus shelter, out of the drizzle, looking at my options. I decide to take a three day trip to The Bay of Islands with 'Awesome Adventures'. The Tourist Info Off makes my booking, takes my money (inc a hefty single room supplement) (forgotten how much), and also books a room in 'Base Backpackers' for the Thursday night in Auckland ($85 single supp) and the bus to Rotorua for the Friday morning ($30). I pick up a sandwich and book a harbour cruise for the afternoon. The cruise is pretty miserable in the rain but the highlights of the 90 minute trip are watching the bungy jumper under the harbour bridge and the marina. Incidentally, whilst watching the guy bungy jumping under the bridge (see photo), we can see another idiot bungying from the Sky-Tower in the distance. You wouldn't half know you were in New Zealand. After the trip I have to go up to the 'Awesome Adventures' office to pick up my itinerary. At the office a big fat lady, who looks like she has never had an awesome anything in her life, asks me to pick my adventures from four options. I pick the two least awesome sounding ones in 'swimming with dolphins' and 'the Hole in the Wall trip in The Excitor'. I cannot remember the other two options. My bus leaves at 8am the next morning from the harbour. Next I go to a bar called 'Minus 5 Degrees' which is build from blocks of ice. It costs $20 to enter and for that you pick from a list of cocktails. The burly Maori doorman fits me into a thermal suit as the barmaid does the same. Inside the bar we are the only two people. She says it gets busy at the weekends. You are only allowed to stay for half an hour and only allowed a maximum of three drinks. Something to do with hypothermia and excessive CO2. It is awkward just standing there with her watching me drinking my cocktail out of a glass made of ice. They should call it a glice. The only thing I can think of asking her is if she gets a lot of colds. She doesn't. She thinks that after working there for four years that she is probably used to it. I thank her for her time and, after taking my suit off, wander back out into the comparative warmth of the cold. I walk back to the hotel and, after wondering why I have gone back there, have a bowl of Cornflakes, and head out to a recommended Irish bar called 'The Dogs Bollox'. It is further than I think. When I find it I am just in time to be cajoled into entering their Monday Night Pub Quiz. I soon realise that my knowledge of all things Kiwi is slim and leave after round two for the hotel. I am in bed for ten.
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