I am not going to bore you with a minute to minute update of everything.. I promised it would not be facebook but the first few days are fairly significant on the initial first vibes on a place...So far..... all I can say is the jammy so and sos'... no wonder they put this country this far away!! ( although to my horror I did see a drunken biffo already outside Father Teds Irish bar on Wellsley street drunkedly shouting " would ya have a gander at the legs on her..?!!
The reason I prefaced this paragraph with the “not boring” bit is that Saturday disappeared completely. Got a taxi from the airport by an refugee Iranian and got his life story.. Fascinating.. We really have it easy guys..This guy was shot and in a landmine explosion in the war with Iraq and had to walk to Pakistan to escape the regime in his home land! He eventually made it over here and only was able to get his wife and family out 18 months later! So much for my bitching to Cork City Council re the bins not collected.. I am going to get things into perspective from now on.
Anyhow got to the hotel... yes I did splurge for the first few days and promptly fell into a coma on the bed at 15.30... woke at 22.00 and said ah.. "cant be bothered" and then fell back into another coma until 2 am Sunday. Of course you guessed it. Woke and BLING.. wide eyed and bushy tailed!! Oh oh.. this cant happen.. However I dosed my self on caffeine (yes it does have the opposite effect on me) and fell back to sleep at 4 till 7. At least that gave me a brill first..no,, second full day in NZ to look forward to! And for those of you any bit interested I did get the feeling back in my backside! I am walking less funny now!
I started off at 08.30 did the usual touristy thing and headed for the Sky Tower. I thought that seeing the city from above would give em some sense of orientation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every time since I tried to find my way to the bloody thing I got lost. And I keep on saying I have a great sense of direction!!
The tower is an amazing structure like the space needle in Seattle and just as impressive. You zoom up 50 stories to the first viewing deck and then can go a further 10 stories up to Sky deck. For those faint hearted there is a glass panel in the floor of the lift as well as several in the floor of the 1st viewing deck on the 50th. People gingerly put their feet on them or the braver jump on them “ just to test”. I of course did my bit by non chalently walking on them but silently terrified on the inside that I thought I heard the glass panel crack under my weight.There is also a digital sign that keeps saying “jumper in 4 mins”. You then get a congregation of blue rinse brigade and gawpers having a nose to see what happens. Suddenly and nearly giving us all heart failure a fool of a bungy jumper in a blue and yellow jump suit appears in front of the window and is left dangling outside for just enough time to wave or scream help to the viewers before being released and plummeting to the target sign below on the ground!. This is a 200m jump and all I say is what plonkers! They would need the jumpsuits alright and clean change of undies down at the target zone. The other “fun” activity available is just below the upper deck again at around 55 stories high of a platform without rails (why not says you?) of course that several in orange jumpsuits can walk on this platform again 200m above the street below. They circle the tower but this time they are tethered to a guide wire. Its from the sky deck that you can peer on those idiots who are walking in groups of 5 around this 1 m wide platform. You would have to superglue me into my suit and as well as that weld my hands to the guidewire to get me up there.. and the fools pay for this “pleasure”?
The rest of the day was brill.. walking through this fantastic city and beautiful parks, marina harbour areas and an amazing museum built on top of an old volcano.. why not.. the last eruption was several hundred years ago. The weather was fantastic and in Auckland domain the parkland where the museum was based had a free concert on the bandstand with families having picnics. There also was a Chinese lantern festival and I have never seen so many chineses takeaways that were temporarily set up to deal with the influx and by god was there an influx. I could have been in Shanghai! This pale skinned freckeld paddy stuck out like an un deep fat fried springroll!
Monday will I or wont I?
Cause I had spent the first of my two allocated Auckland days in a coma I had to make up for it someway. The lonely planet had recommended going to the youngest volcano.. an island called Rangitoto in the middle of the harbour. The day had started a little dull but as they told me here, it rarely rains in sunny Auckland....they LIED!
On the high speed catamaran the wind whipped up to a frenzy and my lovely sun glasses were plucked from my shirt and flew in the hurricane whip into the briney never to be seen again. That was another expense not thought of! The peak of Rangitoto was an hours hike from the dock. Its a complete volcanic island and covered in lush green vegetation and fields of lava flow. I got to the top in 35 mins..( the hikers would be proud of me) but in a bog of sweat and of course when I got there the clouds had descended and the heavens opened. I got small glimpses of the vista and it was very impressive in the nanosecond that I did get to see.. a back view of Auckland from a different angle and the other islands in the estuary. There were some trails and because I had a few hours to spare before the return journey I decided to take the long way back...It must be the effect of the southern hemisphere or else things are not in the same place but again I got lost. I did find the caves but could not venture in without a light.. although I tried and slipped on a rock so got sense and ventured back out before a wrist was broken. Id be only claiming from accident and General and Dave would not be impressed. He wants at least one holiday that Mul does not claim! Anyhow I ended up on the same trail back to the dock and arrived two hours in advance of the ferrries arrival and just had my un numbed ass on a bench when the heavens opened again. There was a guy called Bruce sitting there quietly doing e mails etc and I thought well this guy is quiet.. Like my sense of directions in the southern hemisphere my sense of perception is also shot to hell. Bruce was no less than the history teacher of pubescent tittering American teen agers who he had “ got rid of” on a history hike of the island. They came back in dribs ( I should say drips) and drabs to Bruce and surrounded him. I never heard such inane chatter in my life. I was ready to swin back to shore to avoid them
“Would you like... EVER.. like... date a short guy?” says bimbo number 1 of about 10 perfectly primmed tanned white toothed and soaked nubile young ones.. “Oh gawd nooooooooo.. I only ever date anyone over 6’ 3”... The conversation then went to the joys of waterproof mascara in weather like this and finally a comment like ..... “you know this is just not Sydney”... of course it isnt you twat... its Auckland!!
I was almost wishing for a hurricane so that they could have joined my sunglasses in the harbour.
My gripe?? In my middle age i am getting less tolerant of the other travellers especially of the American variety and their comments.
Still though I did meet a lovely couple called Sarah and Andy from Manc who are emigrating there to live in Wellington and they asked me for dinner when I travel thru in 10 days time. It was they also told me I should really get a hired car sorted as they were in short supply. They were right..only one car left in three companies and I nabbed it..Tuesday will let me know what it is!
Lovely evening spent with Ann, Paul and Sofie Williams friends of my brother Pat who collected and wined me!
Back to the hotel to do a wash.... yes I said a wash and fell asleep on the bed. Woke at 2.30 and had to pad to the 9th floor to the laundry room to get the bloody things dried or else I would be driving around with a sodden bag of washing.! I ran once I turned on the machine as it was making a bit of a din but at least I well out of earshot a floor below so did not mind at all!!! Oh no I am becoming the tourist from hell!
Tuesday...collection of the chariot and leave Auck..
Colleced by “Quality Car Hire” staff and brough to collect my car.. an 11 year old Nissan estate a in an industrial estate outside the airport. It was run by an Indian family who burst into a Punjabi chatter every time I tried to re-negotiate the deal. The car was totally unsuitable as an estate would have all me smalls on show for the would-be-thief so I was having none of that!! Iasked what else they had.... a pink coloured Yaris or a Toyota Camry..
Of course you know which one I went for........NO.... it was the Camry but they wanted $15 extra a day rental for it.. I of course negotiated it and saved my self 6 dollars a day. Its a tank and lovely and comfy for this tired old fart..I am not gonna put my already traumatised posterior through any more torture! One needs ones comfort after all. I got an extra dollar off per day casue I was Irish and told the Punjabi guy how to make a baileys coffee. Oh yeah the ferry fare for the car was also thrown in as part of the deal! Not bad as a negotiator!
I drove off up to Northlands with my sat nav telling me in auster English tones to follow her directions.. of course I didnt but came across the most wonderful beach in the Whangerai district called Ruanaka. Miles of golden sands and NO one on the beach. I even went for a paddle and the water was warm and inviting. However the weather wasnt..... it bucketed down again and I even considered a swim but the rain put me off. On leaving the beach I then noticed that there was an oil refinery at the end of the beach.. I am still waiting for my feet to turn flourescent.
I arrived in the Bay of Islands at 8pm and booked into a Motel in Opua..... yes I am slowly but surely weaning myself down a standard or two. Really good value though at 50€ per night but with some built in hazards like a rabid grasshopper that got thru the window and rattled the blind continuously leading Mul to think I was being invaded by a load of vermin. Got to the supermarket to buy the dinner and brekkie ingredients but did indulge in a 3 litre case of plonk which has got sedated me and put me in a very very happy place!! tee hee hee Nite nite!!