Quick “Hello” from Auckland

Hi, good evening, etc…

Making this one quick too… it’s getting late, I’ve been doing some coding so my brain is reaching it’s limit, and I’m tired. No pictures, sorry! Maybe tomorrow.

OK so here we go…

I woke up in Sydney on Sunday around 6am, I have to say that being in a 7 person dorm is a bit painful. People are coming and going at all hours of the day and night, light on, light off, etc, etc. so sleep is not always that peaceful. Probably will try to avoid this going forward. Anywho… woke up, got myself ready and checked out of the Hostel – overall nice place. Ran across the street to Central, both backpacks in two and bought a ticket to the International Airport. I think it was about $16.

Only had to wait for a few minutes, Platform 23 if I recall correctly (foursquare will know for sure), the train to the airport went every 15 – 30 minutes i think. Not too busy, easy to get on with the backpacks (thankfully). Unfortunately I got one of the older trains 🙁 oh well. The ride didn’t take too long, I think about 15 – 20 minutes. Got off at the International Departures area and made my way upstairs in Sydney Airport.

Let me just say I like the airport quite a bit – lots of good food! Being early in the morning I did not avail myself of this, but still good to know. Also well laid out, nice and open, and just generally seemed to be a good airport.

Anyway found the Air New Zealand lineup – the whole thing was a bit confusing because I booked with Virgin, but they contracted out to Air New Zealand, so they gave me one flight number which wasn’t really the flight number – but anyway. Got up there and checked in no problem-o. You should note that traveling to New Zealand you must show proof that you are indeed leaving the country, so I just had to show her that. My bag is well under the 23kb limit (I think about 16kg), so that’s good to know for the future.

I got an aisle seat.

Made my way further into the inner sanctum of the airport – metal detector was no biggie, I’m telling you – I am a pro. Got up to the detector, had everything metal inside my jacket pockets or my backpack, removed my laptop, iPhone and iPad from the backpack, placed those in one container, backpack on its own, jacket in another container. Bam – I’m done. It’s really quite easy.

So made it through there without any issues, found gate… 60? I think, and settled in for about an hour and a half of waiting. Sydney Airport has free internet – and it’s the fastest internet I’ve had access to all trip! So I downloaded some stuff I’ve been meaning to download, Skyped with Mom and Dad, and just wrapped up a few things. That was very handy.

Boarded the flight, and discovered that I had scored the cheapest first class you can get – three seats in my row, I was the only one!! Whee! 🙂 It’s the little things. Anyway, flight was delayed by about 20 – 30 mins while we waited for some special people to miss their flight, and wound up leaving them behind – CYA. Maybe they were sitting next to me? So that delayed us about 20 mins overall.

I was very, very impressed with Air New Zealand, their in flight experience was very good, with the exception that they do not offer free soft drinks or peanuts/small snack. That being said, you can order everything on an interactive screen, they have free tv shows, etc. so it really was very nice, and a very comfortable way to travel.

Got into New Zealand.

You should know that I left Sydney at about 23° and sunny.

It’s POURING rain. Just POURING rain. Like downpour. And it’s not warm – 10° or so.

More on that in a second. Let me just say – NZ has very strict customs when it comes to bringing stuff into the country. In terms of getting yourself in – no problem, the guy didn’t even glance at me. STAMP! Welcome to New Zealand. Now getting particles of dust, food or whatever in here? Good luck. They are very serious about preserving their ecosystem here, rightfully so, SO, you must declare ANYTHING food like that you’re bringing in, they X-ray all your stuff again to make sure you don’t have anything, if you’ve been handling animals recently you have to wash off your shoes or something – it’s serious. And they fine you, so that was kind of interesting to go through. I, however, did not have anything.

Moving on.

I got a SIM card to use along with a 1gb of data (which I’m already blowing through – whee!), so that was good, and then I stepped outside to find the “super shuttle” to the hostel that they talked about in the documentation. $33 for one person!!!! I was less than impressed. So, what do I do? Well in my genius I look to the public bus system (vs the Super Shuttle which would have dropped me off at the front door) and pay $16. Now I was informed that service is slightly restricted due to the triathlon, but I figured – can’t be that bad, right? It was a 15 min walk to the hostel from where they let me off.

So away we go! Oh yeah, it’s POURING out.

I get off, who knows where now, and walk up to Queen St. It’s POURING. Like, POURING. I am less than happy. I will save you the agonizing detail of my walk from Queen St to Hobson St to finding this damn place and just say it took me a little over an hour, and I was very, very, very wet by the time I got here, and rather unhappy. But – I saved $18! So go me.

The hostel is nice, two floors, little electronic key fob thing to get in the front door and then an actual key for each room (gasp!). I got myself a 4 person dorm this time (I’m learning!) and proceeded in. No one there at the moment, though two other beds were filled, so I set myself up on one of them. No additional lockers or anything available in room, so strike against them there, though in a 4 person it’s not as bad.

I was tired and cranky, and it was still pouring, but I decided I wasn’t staying here for the rest of the night (it was about 5pm) so I ditched everything, gave it a few minutes to get less wet (let’s not call it dry) and launched myself into the city to go see a movie. I passed a Cinema on the way in and was fairly confident I could locate it once again.

I did. It wasn’t too bad – the walk was a heck of a lot easier to do without a 16kg backpack strapped to your back. Plus the other backpack. Probably about 6kb. But whatever.

So I got there, found a pizza and chips place, grabbed a bite to eat (meh) and made my way upstairs to the movie theatre. Prospects weren’t terrific (they take a while to get all the movies here), but I thought Hotel Transylvania (or whatever it’s called) in 3D looked amusing, so I forked over my $19 NZD, another $5 or so for popcorn and we were off and running, 3D glasses and all.

The movie was actually really good – it was funny, and a nice distraction for a rather wet and crappy day. By the time I got out it wasn’t raining anymore, just occasionally spitting, so I returned to the hostel (found it all on my own – it’s not too complex to get around Auckland), met my two roommates (they just got to NZ but are planning on staying here for 2 years… just found an apartment and bought a car that day!) who were very nice and a lot more polite than 6 other people in a room, and settled in for a great sleep.

Best sleep I had in a week – no interruptions! Also the bed and pillow here are quite comfortable.

OK… this is getting long. I’m sorry. Really, I do apologize.

So let me stop it here… I can fill you in on “today” “tomorrow” – it’s about 12:13am here now, and I want to go to bed anyway. FYI, it was a nice day in Auckland. But we’ll get to that tomorrow.

So have a good day, or night, wherever you are. I will try to find some time for pictures too. Tomorrow I’m off to Hamilton, NZ, renting a car… so WATCH OUT! I’m driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time! Hamilton is about 2 hrs away.

Good… night.