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Auckland City – Day 3
Wednesday 30th March 2005
Today would be my first full day in New Zealand, and I planned to use it well. I wanted to begin my sightseeing campaign and really begin my travelling adventure, but I had the small matter of jet-lag to contend with first.
This was the reason I didn’t sleep particularly well this night. That and the fact it was very hot, even with the window open. I also has a nagging feeling that something foreign might fly in through the window and feast upon me as I slept. I have no idea if any of the wildlife in this country is potentially harmful, so I was weary of this.
It got to about 8am, and I had been sleeping on and off for much of the night, but now there was a knock at the door, followed by the sound of jangling keys, one key in particular guiding its way through the lock on the door. In seconds the door was open and a figure entered the room, somewhat apologetic for disturbing my slumber. The cleaner was looking for my used towel I imagined, as I heard her opening door after door along the long corridor after she left my room in a hurry.
It was actually around 10am when I finally pulled my achy body out of the basic, yet comfortable bed. I took myself to the shower room only to find a very dirty and very poor quality shower basin in which to stand in. The shower was cold and the door didn’t close properly causing a steady flow of water onto the floor which I only discovered upon leaving the shower. The wind coming in through the permanently-open window made me shiver uncontrollably as I tried to dry myself, in full view of passers by through the non-existent bathroom door. I wasn’t even sure if there was any separation between a male and female bathroom. There was no sign above the doorway, and there was no other bathroom on this level of the hostel.
With the ordeal over, I ventured out of the hostel to begin my tour of Auckland City. I had missed breakfast by some hours, and was the only person left in the hostel it seemed. Everywhere was very quiet. It was actually a fairly quiet part of the city as I later found, but I didn’t mind too much. I wanted the chance to settle in my own way.
So off I set in the general direction of the heart of the city, and immediately I was impressed. The sights and sounds were plenty, and the general hustle and bustle was in full swing. It was immensely busy, yet it didn’t have the feel of somewhere like London. It still seemed uncrowded, as everywhere was open, with large spaces between buildings, wide roads and plenty of pavement space. The sun was easily able to filter it’s rays onto every part of the city, especially onto my head! I really like this place, and managed to walk for miles and miles throughout the day.
Auckland seems very well off, with the majority looking rather fashionable. Nice cars occupied most of the roads, with the occasional boy-racer speeding by, and the women that walked by could all be from a page in a catalogue. They are beautiful. The people here are a mixed race of White and Asian, with the odd tourist standing out like a sore thumb. I include myself in this. I saw only a handful of aboriginal New Zealanders, and wondered if the big cities were not the place to find them at all. I wanted to see or even meet an aboriginal at some point on this trip.
During the walk I discovered the fact that I had no batteries in my camera. I was also beginning to burn in the heat, and had set off in jeans and and a warm top. I had no idea where I was going or how I would get there, so I returned to the hostel to sort myself out. I put on my shorts, put another top on, put batteries in my camera and obtained a map from the hostel. I was now in much better shape, and opted for a trip to the sea front.
Once at the sea I was overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of what I was seeing. The islands out to sea were inviting, and the harbours creaked with the sound of boats as the water lapped against their hulls, rocking them back and forth. I pictured myself in one of them, looking out to see on this gloriously sunny day, and it brought a smile to my slightly reddened face. I must put sun cream on tomorrow.
At some point I would like to hire a bike and cycle along the water’s edge, but for now I trudged back to the hostel, conscious of the fact that dinner time was looming. I was extremely tired, and the jet-lag was catching up with me, but I was determined to hold out until later, to try and acclimatise as quickly as possible.
I set out again in the evening and found myself in a different part of town, not too far from Fort Street where I was staying, and became engrossed in the buzzing atmosphere as clubs and bars pumped out music, shops were still open, and restaurants billowed numerous aromas into the night’s air, and into my nostrils. I immediately became very hungry, but what to eat? The choice was ample.
I passed an area akin to that of my home town in the UK, with drunken youths walking the streets looking for their next drink in a bar they hadn’t visited yet that night. It wasn’t rowdy though. I wanted to sample the local cuisine, but ended up in Burger King of all places – not a great start I must admit – but it was food nonetheless. It gave me a chance to sit by the window and watch the world go by. I was a little confused when I ordered my meal and was given an empty cup, and had to look to another customer for guidance as to what I was to do. After realising you could drink all you needed from the drinks machines in the centre of the seating area, I was much happier, but felt a little silly. We don’t have this in the UK and it took me by surprise. Back home you are given a drink, and this is all you get. Once gone, it’s gone, yet the cup is filled with ice, so how much drink you actually get is quite laughable, so I liked this idea of being able to drink all you wanted.
While walking back to the hostel with a full belly, I was passed by six fire engines, yes SIX! And worryingly they were all headed in the direction of the hostel where I was staying, and I thought it would be just my luck if the place had burnt down. I became more anxious the closer I got as the lights from the vehicles were flashing high into the night sky, right outside the hostel, as it looked from a distance away. My pace quickened and I eventually rolled up outside the building and was hugely relieved to find it wasn’t the hostel, but a tall building two doors down from here, hence the six fire engines. It looked like a false alarm though.
It had been a long day today, with much walking and sightseeing, so I needed my bed more than ever now. It wasn’t long before my head hit the pillow and I was out like a light.
Written by Daniel Stevens,
Founder of Roundtheworldtrip.org.
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