Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Arrival at Auckland

Woke up after a less than comfortable snooze because my eyes and mouth were so dry they burned. Our breakfast choices were between omelet or dim sum. I went with the delicious dim sum. The last movie I watched on the plane was The Matador, about an aging assassin. It was, um, ok.

Our arrival time is around 1130 New Zealand time, or 0830 Seoul time. Pretty straight forward customs stuff. Walked around the gift shops a bit and found a NZ baseball cap for RRR. Our bus driver to downtown had a bunch of stories for us, made even more interesting by his British accent. Ok, a New Zealand accent, but if you'd never heard it before, you'd think it was British. Passed One Tree Hill, apparently sung about by U2 in dedication to a roadie of theirs who talked about it all the time before he died in an auto accident.

Our hostel is right downtown, but our first surprise is: no towels in the room. Forgot about that part. Lunch was found in a small (1-table) restaurant on Queen Street, and it consisted of a spicy chili sauce falafel, fries, and a drink. Yum! Recharged from the lack of food since before daybreak, we walked around the downtown Auckland area. It's similar in feel to the cool parts of San Francisco, with a space and hipness to it. There were the touristy things like jumping off a 192 tower and falling down a cable, but that didn't appeal much to us.


We walked through a park with a "closed" sign on the rugby field, seemed to be working well. Found some small towels in an outdoor store, on sale! It was drizzling off and on from the park to the hostel. In the area around the tower, we hopped on a free tour bus that I kept falling asleep on, so I really don't remember much except for a guy already sleeping in the back when we boarded. Stopped in to the hotel to drop off our towels, and I took a nap for an hour or so.
We then walked over to the piers and had fish and chips for dinner with some local draft beers. Finishing dinner, we stopped into "Minus 5", a themed bar made totally out of ice. The bar, furniture, and even the glasses were just ice. The ice was very clear, specially engineered not to be sticky, and imported by ship from a specialty company in Canada. My drink was called "Blue Steel," and I had to hold it with both gloved hands to keep it from spilling on my parka that they issued to us for $25 NZ each.


The glass is made from ice, too!
We were allowed to stay in there for 25 minutes, which was long enough given the conditions and lack of a dart board. When we exited, Kacey's glasses froze over so we sat in "Lenin," a Russian-themed bar with very cool decorating ideas. Lots of rich color pillows, wall fabric panels in suede and satin, and curtains overhead dividing booths. Waiting for the glasses to thaw out so that she could see again.

On our walk back from the piers, we stopped by an art installation called "living lights" with interior lights (shades, etc) hanging in a small alley that made it look like a lantern festival. It was part of a larger art installation called "Living Room." A nice turn of phrase, really.

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