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Introduction to Auckland


Our first order of business was to get some cash. An ATM did the trick nicely. Money in hand, we next sought out the best route into the city. We stopped by the information booth, and a jovial old man helped us figure out the cheapest option in to the city.

We caught the Air Bus a few minutes later. A group of Canadians returning from a trip to Australia were in the bus with us, and we had a fun time talking with them about their travels. They recommended Milford Sound, which I’ve been hearing a lot about lately. It’s definitely going on my list of possible things to do.

As we rode in, we watched the sun rise over Auckland. I realized that it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a sunrise.

The bus was able to drop us off very close to our hostel, and we made it to the address without any problems at all. We didn’t expect to be able to check in, but we planned to drop off our bags in the luggage room so we wouldn’t have to carry them. Our luck was in, however, and we were able to check in immediately, which was a godsend. It was incredibly nice to get in, take a shower, and drop off for a quick nap. We felt so much more relaxed afterward.

A little better rested, Dore and I headed out of the hostel to check out the city around 9:45. The weather in Auckland was really nice — cool and comfortable. Good walking weather. And walk we did. First, down to the harbor, where we saw a bit of the Louis Vuitton Cup sailing race (on a jumbotron, anyway). Then on to Victoria Park Market (which is pretty lame — or “tacky” as a local runner accurately assessed it). Then, on the runner’s advice, we headed up towards Ponsonby Street. By this time we had walked by at least fifty restaurants, and we were completely starving. It was a tad early for lunch, but we didn’t care. Dore found a Belgian restaurant that was on our path, and we made a beeline for it.

The Ponsonby Belgian restaurant was great. We each got a large beer, and Dore got a huge pot of local New Zealand green-lipped mussels. I got a Flemish beef stew. Both of them were fantastic, but Dore’s mussels definitely took the cake. They were enormous, and really flavorful. We both ate until we were completely stuffed.

Waddling slightly, we made our way back to the hostel for a much needed break. All in all we estimated that we walked about five and a half miles, most of it hilly.

Back at the hostel, we crashed for a couple of hours, wrote a few emails, and generally tried to come to grips with how long the day seemed to be. Starting your day at 2 am will do that to you.

Finally, around 7 pm, we got up the energy to go out for dinner. We decided to head back toward the harbor to some restaurants that looked good there. We were not disappointed. After checking out several menus, Dore and I settled on the Fox Bar and Grill (or Fox something anyway). We were especially eyeballing the lamb salad and Greek salad.

Both dishes were amazingly well done. My highest compliments to the chef! The lamb was cooked perfectly medium rare, and not over spiced — just a bit of salt and pepper, I believe. There was a tangy mint sauce on the side that worked very well with the meat. The dish also came with perfectly cooked fresh green beans, potatoes, and a simple salad with a drizzle of olive oil. Altogether it was just great ingredients prepared simply but precisely — the sign of a very competent chef.

The Greek salad, although simpler to put together, was equally well executed. Unlike so many of its brethren, this Greek salad actually paid attention to its namesake, and kept the focus where it should be: tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives, and oil and vinegar. It also included a bit of microgreens, but they were tastefully balanced to enhance the dish as opposed to taking away from it.

Can you tell that Dore and I are foodies?

Well fed, we walked back up the hill to our hostel, dropped into bed, and went down for a very well-deserved night’s rest

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