Auckland is like every other city I’ve been to, except maybe it’s cleaner and there’s dangerous and awesome stunts being offered for a price off anything high enough to give a thrill. Behind the adrenaline, however, it’s a common city. There are people rushing about the streets. The occasional ambler crosses your path disrupting your pace. There are pigeons and grifters. There are the businessmen in their well-tailored suits, youth in their trendy clothes – albeit exceptional footwear – and others in their obvious colour-blind, careless and historic fashions. The difference between rich and poor is visible. There are mailboxes on the corners, not to be mistaken for the garbage cans, which, by the way, have cigarette disposal spots. At some intersections the pedestrians all cross at once, from one side to the other or diagonally. It’s a little stunning at first. There are a lot of Asian people in this city, which doesn’t surprise me, but what does is the amount of people walking around. When I arrived on Sunday the city seemed almost dead, like everyone had gone on vacation. During the week the streets come alive and people are milling about it metro fashion. Sushi can be found at about every fifth shop and there are kebabs and MSG-filled foods everywhere. One night Erin and I ate at a little Italian restaurant that served fresh pasta in a variety of different sauces. We had asked a local where the common people eat and he directed us to an area of downtown around some other hostels. The seashells woven into his dread-locked beard should have been a good indicator where he had sent us, though, I will say, he was right. The prices were decent. The waiter played up to the bistro’s name “Al Capone’s” and did his best to be professional whilst acting like an Italian gangster, which included only really talking with an Italian accent poorly and trying to use some slang from the ‘60s. He was even dressed in pin stripes. Despite that a few doors down there was a “massage” parlour that boasted having happy smiling ladies who love their jobs, the bistro seemed a little out of place. But the food was good, though that could only be because we had walked around for three hours trying to find something decently priced for dinner. Everywhere we went meals were usually over $20. Most places had club sandwiches for the exciting and reasonable price of $17. I tried to tell Erin that I was perfectly content eating Wendy’s and Subway for the duration of my stay, but thank god for Italian gangsters. I have yet to eat sushi here, which is kind of sacrilege considering I love sushi and I’m on an island surrounded by ocean. I keep telling myself I’ll have it tomorrow and then I promptly forget.
I do not like how expensive Auckland is though, so I cannot wait to leave for my bus trip tomorrow.
The hostel has been okay. There was a German guy in our room who was so fed up with Auckland that he was 90 per cent certain he was hopping a plane to Christchurch for his remaining five days before heading home, via Auckland. The other day about 20 Brits checked in and were quite gung-ho for a toga party in the bar below the hostel. It was actually quite splendid and we met a lot of other travelers. We’ve been told that’s about all we’ll meet – other travelers. I guess we proved them wrong when we met James with the dreadlocks and seashell adornments.
Despite that I keep waking up at 5 a.m. and can’t seem to eat well at all (so much for going vegetarian.) The sun is getting hotter, which I have to watch with my burn-prone skin. There seems to be a big hole in the ozone layer right above New Zealand making the UV rays here incredibly potent. Hope I get a good tan.