March 1 and 2, 2014
So, of all days to be five minutes late, it had to be the day I fly out to Auckland. I checked in just fine the night before but I was five minutes late checking in my bags at the airport. GRRRR. I could not get onto the flight now. That would normally have me slightly more than freaked out, but since the day was still early, 7:30am, I figured I’d be able to catch a later flight. When I booked this flight, I bought the flex fare, just incase. Thank goodness I did. Because almost all the flights were booked for Auckland on this first day of March. Who knew that Bruce Springsteen was in Auckland for the weekend? And Who knew that there were so many Bruce Springsteen fans in Wellington? Certainly not me! So when the Air New Zealand duty supervisor was checking the flights for me, the only flight that had any promise was the 7:30pm flight. Hmmm. Well, that would mean another day in Wellington. That’s alright. But the supervisor did try to get me onto the next flight, which was very nice of him. However I ended up getting bumped off, because everyone that had booked the 8:30 flight had arrived for that flight. So when they paged me, I kind of figured I wasn’t going to be on the 8:30 flight. But then he told me that my bags were still on the flight and headed to Auckland without me, and all I could think of was, Hmmm. I think I forgot to lock one of those bags. Well, if they want to steal my dirty laundry, they can have it. It’ll lighten the load for me. I was unfazed. Unfortunately for the supervisor, he was telling me that his supervisor wasn’t too happy with him for putting me on a full flight. I hope he doesn’t get into too much trouble. He was just trying to be helpful. So the next step, he put me on standby for the 9:30 flight. He said there was a slim chance I’d make that flight but there were 8 people that had yet to check in. He said to check back in 30 minutes with him. Because the flight was delayed, these people who had yet to check-in would not know so there was some slim hope yet. Well at 9:20, when we were supposed to be boarding, the plane had not yet arrived and then the arrivals board indicated that the flight would not arrive until 10:35. Hmmm, well. It’s a good thing I did not make any plans in Auckland. Again, unfazed. But now I had time to get a coffee and a small breakfast.
I plunked myself down just below Gollum and while he was going after fish, I had a ham and cheese croissant with a flat white.I worked on the blog for a bit and then wandered the rest of the airport. If you remember the last time I was at the Wellington airport, there was the amazing Gollum and fish figures attached way above us as well as the eagles, one with Gandalf and one by itself. If you also remember, during the Wellington earthquake, one of the eagles fell down, not the one with Gandalf. Sadly, this eagle is now missing. It was not restored to his original position. Maybe they had to check it out make sure it was still sky worthy? I don’t know. But it wasn’t there. It was still amazing to see Gandalf on his eagle and to see Gollum going after the fish, but it’s an empty void without the other eagle. While I wandered, I also saw this lovely message just on the outside of the airport building. I am leaving the Middle of Middle-Earth. That is such a sad thought.
So after arriving at the airport just before 7:30, I was finally on the plane at 10:30. And then we were delayed on the plane. And coincidentally, it was because someone couldn’t make the flight and they had to offload their luggage. Finally at 10:45, we were up in the air. We arrived in Auckland just after 11:30 and then we were delayed. We were now waiting for the tunnel to attach itself to the door so we could get out. Once the doors were open, we were finally on our way. And only in New Zealand can one be happy to be in a tunnel (I know it’s the wrong word, but I can’t remember what it’s called right now). As I walked through this tunnel, looking left and right, I was looking into the rooms of Bag-End. It was really neat! and just brought out a big smile. It was like being a guest in Bilbo’s Hobbit hole. Tee Hee! Good thing I wiped my shoes clean before stepping into the plane! I probably would’ve irritated a lot of people if I stopped and started taking photos. There were a lot of people who had to catch connecting, international flights on this particular flight.
Once I finished admiring the walls of the tunnel, I was reunited with my bags. It seems that my bags were going around and around for about an hour on the belt. And I still have my dirty laundry. I guess there’s no appeal there. Not a problem, at least not for me. My next step was to head over to the International Terminal. I now had two check-in bags, a back-pack carry-on and a large handbag. I did not need to lug around with me all this stuff. I had to get rid of one check-in. So over at the International Terminal, I stood in the line-up for baggage storage. Again, who knew that so many people would want to store their luggage, or get there luggage all plastic wrapped. Once this step was done, it was time to get to my hostel. Yes, I am back to hostels, mainly because Auckland Hotels are so ridiculously expensive, kind of like Vancouver ridiculously expensive. I really miss small towns. Anyway I found the shuttle, and headed into town. And I could not check in ‘till 2pm. Good lordy! That was a whole hour away. So as I write this, I am plunked down in their lounge waiting for time to tick away and as I try to focus, I can hear people talking about the Bruce Springsteen concert and how lucky they are to go and see him. Good for them.
As soon as I get my room I’m off to Queen street. I’m not sure what is there, but it’s like one of the main streets in Auckland. So there has to be shops and restaurants and lets hope the shops are open a little later than 5pm. But then again it is the weekend.
I wonder what Sunday will be like in Auckland?
Quiet! That’s what Auckland is like on a Sunday. A lot of places were closed on a Sunday. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that. Even in a big city, places are closed on a Sunday. Of well. I figured as much. Which is why I went in search of Mt. Eden. You can’t close a park, or in this case a reserve. The Tahaki Reserve. Before leaving Vancouver, Marc had told me about Mt. Eden and how he had taken lovely photo of is wife there so I thought I’d check it out. It was that or head to Albert Park where the Auckland Art Gallery was located. Since it was kind of a cloudy day, the Art Gallery probably would’ve been a good choice, but with the cloud cover, it would make for a nice hike to Mt. Eden, though the view may have been questionable. I chose Mt. Eden. And I’m glad I did.
The walk to Mt. Eden was nice, until Google Maps sent me to Mt. Eden Correctional facility rather than Mt. Eden the extinct volcano. Perhaps I should’ve been more specific in my destination. But as I approached the correction facility, which looks like it’s an old castle, I could see just behind it, Mt. Eden. I wasn’t that far from the extinct volcano. So shutting off the app, I just walked towards the mountain, making sure it was always within sight. But prior to arriving at my surprise jail, as I walked along Karangahape Road, I came upon something rather unexpected. The Symonds Street Cemetery. It was unexpected because its in the middle of the city, and now that I think about it, the correctional facility is also in the middle of the city. But the cemetery was old. There were tombstones that date back to the 1800s. And it was sad as well. Because it didn’t look like anyone actually visited this place. There were some tombstones that had overgrown bushes covering them up but there were some that looked to be well taken care of. It was actually a very interesting and almost pleasant, peaceful location, the only location with tree cover.
After wandering through the cemetery, I continued my way across the Symonds Street bridge and following the directions, made it to the jail. So, like I said, I shut off the app and followed my eyes to Mt. Eden. It’s just under 200 metres high, so not really much of a hike, but once at the top, the views of the city were quite impressive. The view of the old crater was also impressive. You’re not allowed into the crater because it’s sacred, but just standing around the rim and looking down or across to see the view of the Auckland Sky Tower was pretty impressive. How lucky these people are to be able to climb a volcano that is 30 minutes walking distance from the CBD. I say lucky because I assume it’s extinct, with all the grass growing in the crater. As long as there are no more volcanoes that pop up, I will always think they are lucky, except for the earthquakes.
Afterwards it was time to head back to the hostel and get cleaned up. The shuttle would be picking me up at 4 to get me to the airport by 5pm. My flight is at 8pm and if all goes well, I should be back home by 12:30pm. I am so close to home now. I am going to be so sad to be leaving New Zealand.
I just had to share this last photo, if you haven’t seen it on my Facebook page. I am at the airport now. Three hours ahead as per standards. And as per instructions, I am now relaxing. I love New Zealand!
Almost home now, Luv, Aunty!