Happy New Year and all the best for 2009 !!
29.12.2008 - 31.12.2008 20 °C
Monday 29th December to Friday 2nd January 2009
Monday 29th December
Have to say I wasnt really up for much on the first day here in Auckland as I was so tired ; and I wanted to wait in patiently for my luggage , which Id been told should be with me by early afternoon. Got a bit concerned when I phoned the Airport at 2pm and an automated response told me that my bags werent even in the computer system. Went out with Valerie around 4pm for a quick squint around the shops near the hotel ( bought some toiletries and bits and pieces to tide me over) then headed down to The Viaduct for something to eat. Ate at Soul - very nice food, even better wine ( good extensive wine list) but some lacklustre service. I was in my element though as I got cider for the first time since Id been travellling.
You have no idea how good my bottle of Strongbow tasted - I savoured every minute of it !!!
Pretty crap weather though - it rained on and off for most of the day, quite heavy at times.
Completely broke the mould by hitting the gym at 9pm when we returned to the hotel ( thats one of the bonuses of travelling with Valerie - she motivates you to do stuff ; normally Id have stayed in the pub or crashed out in the hotel room LOL).
Valerie went off to get her haircut at Toni and Guy so I slobbed for the morning in the hotel room (well, whats the point of having 5* accomodation and not using it ; swear I almost had the bathrobe on, just because Id paid for it LOL!!). The bags eventually turned up - intact and undamaged (I was convinced all my wooden carvings from Easter Island would've been confiscated).
After finally getting into some clean clothes we headed up to Ponsonby Road in some glorious sunshine to soak up the atmosphere and see what all the fuss was about ( friend Lynn raves about Ponsonby at every opportunity so I had very high expectations). Kind of liked the area - walked past some beautiful houses on the way there, but wasnt as impressed with the fact that every second shop/bar/restaurant on the street was closed for the holiday season ( most of then had signs uo saying "Back on 12th January" - talk about an extended break !!). It really does seem that everyone leaves the city over the Festive period - well, everyone apart frrom the tourists.
Did manage to find a nice bar open ( Chapel Bar- great service and a lovely friendly crowd of mostly locals) so chilled there for a bit before braving the top end . Everything there was either closed or totally empty so we headed back down to SPQR - one of Lynn's recommendations. The food was amazing, really good,, but I wasnt too impressed with the 'beautiful people' who sat outside posing and trying to look cool. Nearly everyone was smoking too - quite odd. Had the campest over the top waiter Ive ever seen ( and Ive seen a few LOL) - who proceeded to tell us all about having burnt himself at the beach a few days ago by wearing moisturiser instead of sunscreen. His arm looked like it had third degree burns on it - totally needing medical attention I'd say. Thankfully he covered it up, possibly after hearing Val say that she thought it was a health and safety risk him working there with raw skin hanging off his arm !!
All in all an experience though.
We strolled back to the hotel ( about a 20 minute walk) and had a reasonably early night after trying unsuccessfully to book the restaurant in the Sky Tower for a meal on 31st. Continues to feel like everyone in Auckland is away for NewYear ( its like a ghost town at times) - although we keep getting assured that the Viaduct area wiil be busy and that any Kiwi's not away for NY will come 'out of the woodwork on 31st'. Im not convinced, based on how quiet things are at present.
Wednesday 31st December
Both of us were awake at 5.45am for some reason - and I couldnt get back to sleep. Did the gym again ( I hope everyones impressed) before heading out for a late breakfast. We ate at the Imperial Bar on the Viaduct as I reckoned they had the best breakfast menu out of all the competition. Definitely worth a visit ( French Toast with Strawberries and Mascarpone was a bit sickly but still very good).
Should really say that I was on a bit of a high anyway as I has just confirmed buying tickets to see Olivia Newton John in February in Florida. Looks like I'll be travelling again in the not too distant future. Wayhey !!! Did my usual and rejoined the fan club to make sure Ive gotten decent tickets ( well, come on - I'll need something to cheer me up when I get home !!!)
As a stroke of genius we ended up booking a New Years Eve harbour cruise for later at night, and went off to do a bit of shopping quite happy with ourselves.
Stopped off for a few refreshments between the shops at Vulcan Lane ( Lynn, why didnt you tell me to go to The Queens Ferry Pub - we both really liked that one LOL !!). I also managed to find Spiced Captains Morgans in a Liquor Store which totally completed my day. And couldve spent a small fortune in the trendy clothes shops around High Street.
New Years Eve turned out to be fine - the 'cruise' ( well, it was no more than a boat trip really !!!) was the perfect way to see the fireworks from out in the harbour and it was busy - nearly all tourists but still quite lively. The boat was late in leaving but we were away around 9.15pm and cruised around the harbour until we positioned ourselves near the bridge at 11.50pm to see the fireworks.Cant really complain too much about the whole trip - although the BBQ was awful ( we both had coleslaw rolls as our last meal of 2008 because the meat tasted so bad!!). Anyway, we both had a real laugh drinking cheap Alcopops ( all inclusive LOL, so we had a few !!) Valerie has since reminded me that we actually paid for the not so cheap and tacky alcopops - shows you how drunk I was !!!! Val very concerned that people might think we booked a 'booze cruise' LOL !!!]and making our own entertainment whilst we waited for everything to kick off.
Val chatted to some Chileans who were on the boat but they were too excited about New Year to make much sense - funny to watch though !!
After the fireworks we docked and dis-embarked, heading up towards the throngs of people wandering drunkenly down Queen Street. Was a total shock for us to see it with people on it LOL !!!!And every so often there would be this kind of bizarre multi-cutural gathering - like the Banghra dancers we saw on one of the corners or the Haari Krishana crew who were giving it big licks on the way down to the Viaduct ( I am still confused at to why the HK's celebrate New Year - didnt think they did). They had a huge crowd of drunken young folk following them though - probably the biggest crowd of the night).
Valerie videod the whole experience - and we both noticed that everyone kept coming up and saying "Merry Christmas" to the camera - left me wondering if the Southern Hemisphere is a week or so behind everyone else and not 13 hours ahead !!!!
Called it a day around 2am when our favourite pub on Vulcan lane was closed. Happy 2009 folks !!!!