Daily Archives: March 1, 2013

Travel IQ

Funny because I actually did watch the Silver Linings Playbook (Loved it!) while in Auckland…but I’m not even just saying it to convince my self to be less bitter when I say I’m glad I scuffed up. Ask me when my flight lands safely in Bali though, because part of me is still having a ‘maybe you were meant to be on a different plane for a reason and [shit] the other one didn’t crash’ moment….BUT a touch on the personal side of lately.

For the first time in a while I realized everyone I was meeting was just starting their travels, and were travelling for weeks or a month, maybe two…to everyone I met in my hostel (Nomads Auckland—Beauty!! Rooftop hot tub HELLO!) I was some sort of travel legend. They wanted all my tips from Australia and New Zealand, taking my every word like gold. That’s all fine and dandy, I’m happy to help out…especially because I know that I researched everything (Except my flight dates) to death and actually felt confident I was giving everyone the best possible advice. As I sat on the balcony drinking my last flat white this morning it dawned on me that this wealth of information I have been sharing is all knowledge I’ve acquired in the last 4 months. In 4 months I have arguably learned more than I did in any given semester of my undergraduate degree, personal and tangible.

I didn’t think much of the people in my room at the beginning of the week but they all made me feel just a little more confident about going to asia and a little more proud of myself for getting as far as I have.

The boys from Minnesota: Both who pointed out how ‘fit’ I still was…even though I feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon. Also, they both couldn’t stop about how impressed they were that I had enough money to travel right after undergrad…which, I guess is pretty cool. I often forget what an accomplishment it is that I worked full time for the last 3 years of my undergrad. What this gave me more confidence in was actually my ability to support myself upon arriving home. This whole time I’ve been terrified about not finding a job, but I realized that I’ve never had an issue with employability in the past, and never have I had a year of solo travel or a completed degree on my resume.

Daniel from Toronto: An investment banker…money, not an object. Seemingly life sorted, visiting New Zealand for a month before going off to a new job…and yet asking me how to turn on outlets, what water is safe to drink, what hostel faux—paws are in NZ, what a good rate for something is, what activities there are to do…and I realized how much about travelling in general I have learned. From hand washing/drying on a bunk bed, to actually doing my dishes, to how to get the most out of a city in 2 days and everything else in between. I realized how resourceful I’ve become…and how I actually know where to find answers sans-wifi….and if not at least 5 walkable places to get wifi. Maybe not the most practical of knowledge…but knowledge learned none the less.

The Frenchman: So full of life! So excited, the guy that makes it happen….NOW. Perhaps impatient….but that’s not the point. The point is that he was eccentric, a bit intimidating, and yet just wanted everyone to have the best time ever. He drove a lot of people nuts for reasons I couldn’t really grasp until I realized how accepting I’ve become of different personalities, and how I’ve actually embraced the concept of ‘yeah but they’re a nice person’…not just using it as a mask to hide behind and bitch later. In the past that’s been a phrase to burry my judgements hoping to hide them from karma…but since travelling and meeting so many great, different people, I’ve actually come to believe it.

The Brazilian: Taught me a great deal of patience. Probably one of the worst English speakers I’ve met…but…BUT…perhaps the thing I needed as I head into Asia. To avoid being that middle aged woman in Italy yelling at the 80 year old man “WHY DON’T YOU SPEAK AMERICAN”…it was humbling, as I said to him, don’t worry, I don’t know your language. Really I’ve been so lucky to be in an English speaking country of Christian dominance. Not because I am Christian, but because growing up in the same culture I know what is and isn’t acceptable…I know how to act around the religious, the atheists, and the religious parents of the deviants… In asia I have no clue what to do…I’m attempting to learn please, thank you, and sorry and hope for the best…

The Danish guy: Not as creepy as Denmark in cairns…thank god… Who was like “FOUR months? How have you done it?!” I keep looking at my trip from the perspective of a 1 or 2 year trip and feel like I’ve done nothing, or that I’m being a cop out if I were to go home earlier…it’s always good to run into people travelling for less long, who are on what is, for them, a long trip. Not to say it isn’t…but to put my own in perspective…4 months, a third of a year, a semester, the difference between Canadian thanksgiving and Valentines day….A lot can happen in 4 months, and it isn’t a year yet but it is longer than lots of people travel for. I have been in constantly new and uncomfortable situations of learning, mistakes, and being totally alone across the world for 4 months…that’s not too shabby.

So, that is me tooting my own horn to pump up my confidence before I head off to Asia where shit’s about to get real. But it’s also my way of looking back and thinking of where my head would be at had I not met each of these people..The fun thing about travelling …and life, is that you’ll never know. I’ll never know how my trip would have been different had I not missed my flight. But worse things have happened, and for me, it was probably just the slap in the face I needed to be a bit smarter in Asia, and also realize who was there to support me an ocean away .

I have never been in contact with less people in my life and I have never felt like I have had even close to as much love and support from my friends as I do now. Even if realizing how amazing some of my friends are and how temporary others were was all I got from this (which it isn’t) it would be worth it. I have found a flight with AirTransat from London to Calgary for 500 bucks which will probably be my flight of choice home sometime in October of this year which is creeping up just a little too quickly. Also, I’ve been through a revolving door of travel agents, and I’m back at square one… My initial agent in Edmonton is actually the only agent that had travelled, was honest with cost/value, and on top of things. If you want details comment or message me on the “Anika” tab. He is honestly more help from Canada than any of the quacks here who can’t book flights or do proper currency conversions.

Yes, lots of writing….but I chose to get to the airport 9 hours before my flight instead of leaving my hostel at 3am…so deal with it.
I’m also getting ultra nostalgic about my time in Aus and NZ…so don’t be surprised if you see a post pop up about that too..

goodnight. xx

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Definitely an interesting perspective…almost makes sense of my day planner AND blog AND mini notebook AND random scrap papers with doodles, notes, and splattered coffee…

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Handwriting is like making love; typing, like having sex. It’s essentially the same enjoyable activity, but the approach is slightly different.

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Give Auckland some Love!

AUCKLAND! I didn’t know you had it in you! 

 

Considering the fact that every New Zealand traveller seems to have a hate on for Auckland I had low expectations…I imagined it being a dirty port with nothing to do and poor 70’s architecture.   After my 1.5 days there pre Bali flight 1.0 I would have been in agreement with my fellow travellers.  Not ‘hating’ Auckland, but certainly not loving it.  The reason people probably don’t like it, is that it isn’t cohesive with what foreigners portray to be ‘New Zealand’.  When you think NZ, you think the great outdoors: mountains, vineyards, lakes, ocean, sounds…you think bungee, caving, zorbing, surfing…Auckland is a city.  There are buildings, brands, suits, and traffic…everything I love. 

 

Perhaps my opinion is a bit different because I still miss Sydney every day and Auckland has the extra pace of a city that I haven’t had in over a month (even Wellington didn’t have the same pep to the step).  Perhaps my disenchantment with Christchurch is similar to what people feel about Auckland…I was in my room for 5 days…a long time compared to most who stay for 1 or 2 nights, and everyone passing through said ‘this isn’t the real New Zealand’….which made me realize all over again how expectations drastically change your perspective on a city.  Half of those same travellers loved Sydney and Melbourne…so they didn’t not like cities…they just didn’t want to be in one in NZ.

 

Anyway, that being said, why I loved Auckland….which if I may add is impressive seeing as how I was only in Auckland because of my missed flight to bali…not an extra couple days but an extra WEEK.

 

Similar to why I love Sydney, Auckland has different districts that are their own distinct communities.  So, when I decided to walk a 23km loop through the main central places, I felt like I’d seen more than just one city. 

 

My favourite, Ponsonby, is a mix of old buildings refurbished, and new modern designs.  Ponsonby Road houses a Deli/Bakery, just south of lululemon on the west side of the road….and it is AMAZING.  (Literally Ponsonby Deli is what is on my cc statement…wish it was more specific)  I had a bacon and egg pie that might have been the best thing I ate in New Zealand.  It was mostly egg white and low fat back bacon with tomatoes and spinach.  Not your typical NZ individual meat pie, more like a slice of quiche…but so fresh, handmade crust, and so goooooood.  I also picked up a pumpkin lentil enchilada to go…which to be fair should have been heated, but I was ravenous 15km later and had it cold for lunch at Mission Bay.  There were about 20 other places I wanted to eat in Ponsonby, but the whole 500 dollar whoopsy thing had me on a budget.  I also went to a free crossfit session at the lululemon store on Thursday night which I’m still aching from in a park nearby that  had a picture perfect view over Auckland…which I must say isn’t hard to find as it seems to always be a hill (so maybe it is the real nz?)

 

Anyway,  Wynyard quarter!  Every inch of waterfront capitalized with cute cafes turned clubs at night and industrial container style restaurants and tapas along the North Wharf…and don’t forget the free outdoor movies every Friday night at Silo Park…A concrete park that actually is kinda cozy. Totally trendy, but also super classy…the Auckland version of the Rocks in Sydney…Many people group Britomart into the Wynyard quarter area because it’s still fairly waterfront.  Don’t be like I first was and assume Britomart is JUST the transit station! Keep heading east and find high end shops including another lululemon with free yoga on Wednesday night! Also found Kikki.k, the best Swedish inspired stationary shop EVER and a place called Smart sushi which is a white man’s sushi dream….I don’t know if we can call it fusion because it doesn’t exactly mix in different ingredients…but using rice and seaweed as the ‘bread’ filled with chicken katsu and veggies for a sandwich is pretty cool….at least from my landlocked Albertan perspective.  By far the best looking sushi I saw in all of Auckland!  Make sure to hit the North Wharf at night! The skyline is incredible!!

 

Queen Street…am I secretly in Japan?? …in a good way.  Lanes and side streets lined with independent pubs and street performers surprise you left and right as you head up the CBDs main road. Busy, but not too busy…and SO. Much. SUSHI!…as well as Japanese discount stores like Daiso where you can get everything under the sun (Literally….tupperware, false eyelashes, boxers, fake flowers..) for 3 bucks.  There are also a lot of Japanese exchange students at Auckland University’s central campus…but I’m mostly referring to the sushi. Not to be missed, Giapo… an experimental gelateria….I had a Rose and pistachio gelato….amazing, and each scoop is treated like a work of art…pricy? yes…but so soooo worth it (you’ll find it on Queen just down from the cinema!)Image

 

Mount Eden! Now that’s a volcano with a VIEW.  About a 2.5 hour excursion from most of the hostels on Queen Street if you walk the whole way (OR take public transit…MAX 1.90!!)  Mt. Eden is a dormant volcano that is Auckland’s highest natural point (SkyTower is the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere…apparently?).  The volcano part is kinda cool…but what’s really amazing is the 360 degree view of Auckland…hit it midday and at sunset for equally amazing views! (now THAT was a sunset!)

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K’Road which was super keen on Pride week, nicely links Queen Street and Ponsonby Rd is lined with clubs, cafes, and copious amounts of late night food. It seemed a bit stingy to me….probably because pre missing my first flight I was being a high roller and fell in love with the class and older crowd in Wynyard/Queen Street….which was a great change from students and backpackers (let’s be honest, neither of the last 2 demographics buy a girl dranks).  On the note of going out…There is a pub called Provendor? Anyway, its right next to Fix by the cruise ships….that has free bbqs on Friday nights.  Also Auckland’s “Big Night Out’ is probably the best deal around…6 drinks, entry to 10 clubs, no need to follow the crawl…free pizza…Starts at QF Tavern Tues-Sat night and costs only 25 bones.  Wednesday is Student night, then weekends or nights of rugby games are big…otherwise don’t expect anything too bumpin….Also, SO MANY OLD PEOPLE go out….Danny Doolan’s was supposed to be ‘amazing’….everyone was 40+…..good on em, but I peaced out next door to degree where 18 year olds were discovering fist pumping and requesting levels on repeat (we all have our nights)…

 

Side note: I also participated in 4 human pyramids as part of O week activities in Albert park….Memories…

 

What’s left…Ahhh Mission Bay…the beach! Actually much nicer than I expected, but same old…didn’t snack or anything so I can’t really give a fair review other than Auckland does have beach…and it’s a great run to and from the city.   Also Parnell…didn’t care for Parnell, seemed like an old person’s Pononsbly…but some people really liked it.  Things looked a little more quaint, little older…that’s all.

 

Then Auckland has Rangitoto and Davenport islands to the North as well as some sort of Waterpark I think… It ISN’T THAT BAD!

 

You will find $1 small coffees at Fix, tons of McD’s, Burger King, and $5 sushi.  Also, take a walk down high street/Lorne street (one off of Queen) for great lunch cafes bound to be packed weekday lunchours.  Revive is a chain that you will find through Auckland which offers gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy free options galore in their fresh kitchen using in season ingredients for an ever changing menu.  They are super affordable as well…A salad, soup, and roll for 10 dollars take away!  Oooh you will also find heaps of 10 dollar indian lunch specials including curry, rice, naan, and a drink-proper steal! Also there is a sweet super industrial café/bar down Fort Lane….you will know it when you see it…I was only there every day….just far too self involved to know where I was…

 

That should give you a good start at enjoying a city that may not be ‘the great outdoors’ but still offers the friendliness and diversity of what I would say is ‘the REAL New Zealand’.