Auckland – what can I tell you about Auckland? It has a bad they keep at minus five?
I know this because I saw it in an informational video on the plane. I didn't go to the bar. Thought about it – but the twenty five dollar cover charge seemed like a lot of money. I'd soon learn everything costs twenty five dollars in this country – but at the time, it seemed like quite a lot.
It was an interesting looking bar though, from the video – everyone wears jackets, and the glasses are made of ice. Still – twenty five dollars to get in? A five dollar charge rubs me the wrong way.
But, Auckland. When I finally got up around noon, I made my way to the office to pay, and get some information. I then headed to the Link bus which would take me into town (not that it was needed for the twenty minute walk, but when I went to catch my bus to Wellington in a few days, I wanted to know the route.)
In town I found myself at the harbour thinking, huh – a harbour, and then off I went walking to the sky tower. It's the tallest building in the Souther Hemisphere you understand. You'd think a country like South Africa would try to give them what for, but no, people seem content to let Auckland keep this prize. Maybe out of pity. They all got together one day to talk, and came to the decision that without this tower, they'd have nothing and it would just be too cruel.
I imagine Sydney was halfhearted with its conclusion though, and immediately set ot to plan the downfall of this poor little tower.
When I saw the sky tower, I looked at my map – I'd walk through the park and past the museum on my way back, but for now? This was it. This was the city of Auckland. I'd just walked through it all.
I'd seen the streets, seen the buildings. I went, as has become my norm, to a bookstore. I looked at a few but then decided that someone needs to tell this part of the world that their books are far too expensive. Sixteen dollars Canadian is not ok for a book that would cost nine back home. Are there no publishers here? When digital books reach their full mainstream potential, these shops will have none to blame but themselves for failing. No one will pay sixteen when they can buy it for much less over the internet. And let us not even discuss how pirating will play into all this.
Sure there are shipping costs and all that, but no – this is just beyond reasonable. You could buy a video game for the price of a book or two.
One of their discount books, back home it would discount for 20 bucks, was “only 60 dollars!” Sure in real money that's forty eight dollars – but still. New Zealand, I would like to know your literacy rate. Despite this it's probably quite high. I just can't see many people reading for pleasure at these prices.
Although, I guess there are things called libraries. I hear they're neat. Like video rental stores – but for books – and strangely, for free. Perhaps I”ll look into them in the future. Great idea them, must be new, otherwise everyone'd be using them, yeah?
Wandering the park, and grabbing a kebab (lamb deliciousness – which I'd had so many of in Germany) I was ready to head back. You know, as kebabs are such a staple here I'd expected more from them. But no. The meat I had? Not even cut fresh. They had the fresh thing hanging there, but what I had was cold and pre-shaved. The whole thing was grilled afterwards to heat it up. And the yogurt and chili sauce? Barely there.
I don't know if Dresden led me to expect too much, or if these are just not so hot. M'eh.
Back to the hostel I went. Three hours of exploring, and Auckland had been conquered.
For the next little while I tried, and failed, to watch Lost. I got about twenty minutes, over a viewing time of a couple of hours. I know – terrible. Eventually I gave up and headed upstairs when a guy sharing my room mentioned that the best burgers in all the world were here in Auckland. In fact they were the reason he was spending his one night in this town – the burger shop was at the top of the street. A chain in the North Island, it was called Burger Fuel. I was willing to check that out.
Just a moment, he said, he had to make a call. This call went on and on, and while waiting I struck up conversation, or had conversation struck up – a conversation began with a girl from California. Which led to all number of hours sitting on the porch, watching the rain fall down in heavy sheets – a novelty for people from that part of America, you see – and chatting. It has been a while since I had a good chat with a hosteler. And as the common room in this place was full of creepy silent folks all on their own laptops, I was delighted by it.
At some point we headed out to Burgerfuel for our 15.00NZD combos. I had a malt milkshake at last. I don't understand the point of the malt, but never mind that.
The burger? It was a chicken sandwich. I didn't read enough. But it was a damn fine one, and I'd say worth the price I paid. Having to pay extra for mayo was a little silly – for the fries, you see. As luck would have it though, they were delicious on their own and required no such toppings.
My upcoming road trip around the states was discussed, and I was given all number of pointers and tips and ideas. Eventually I'll have to think some more about where I want to go. Katherine had emailed me a list of places she wanted to see, with a lot of the legwork done. It worries me that I'll need to really go through that at some point – because USA? It's a big country.
Back in the hostel, near the common room I stared at the map of America, and ideas started to form as invisible routes were plotted. But now was not the time. I was tired, and my conversation partner had moved off to sleep – or some such thing. And now it was time I too crashed. Tomorrow. There'd be a new day, yeah?
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