Normally, when I’m very excited about events or things, I can’t help but write or post about them. Since my trip to Auckland, New Zealand was a surprise for my dad I couldn’t really do that, now could I? So here I am, writing this post from the wintery winds of the supercity to share my adventures so far.
The flight itself was an adventure as I hate flying with a fiery passion. My plane from San Francisco was delayed 35 minutes and I was shoved into the middle seat of the middle row. I ate some barely passable pasta, didn’t drink enough water, and forced myself to sleep through the entire thing just to mentally survive. I landed in Auckland at 7:30 on Tuesday, spent a good hour and half going through customs because apparently every international flight landed at that time, and then was spit out to be greeted by my beloved, evil stepmother.
Although I was mentally knackered, I was physically awake and had a horrible headache. We stopped by my oldest brother’s work to pick him up and I got a big, stinky-teenage-boy hug. Then we drove through Macker’s (McDonald’s) and I got potato bites—which are really just hashbrown-flavored tater tots—and a soda to help me get back into the swing of things.
We drove home and surprised my little brother since he didn’t know I was coming and he was surprising cavalier about the whole thing. Happy though, but very casual as if I pop in every couple of weeks from America just to say, “Hi.” We caught up and chatted as I settled in and kicked him out of his bedroom before I decided to join Mum on some of her errands around town so I could get some walking done after thirteen hours of sedentary hell.
Botany Town Centre is a beautiful mall full of stores that we both have and do not have in the States. I was firstly deposited at the library and left with Mum’s card in case I found anything. Of course I did. I grabbed a book that linguistically analyzes New Zealand English and a David Crystal book on the history of language, because, yes, I’m still an English geek even when I’m on vacation.
Then we walked around and looked at shops. I committed blasphemy by getting Starbucks and was very interested in the fact that their Starbucks does not have nearly the same amount of menu items that we do. Like, it had all of the basics and most popular items, but none of our super random, yet delicious drinks. However, there was a greater selection of hot chocolate.
After Botany, we drove to another shopping centre so Mum could do some of her work and I had a wander into a homewares store. There were some gorgeous duck and goose down pillows and blankets on sale, and I cursed The Captain and his inability to be around feather-filled comfort. I checked out a technology/appliance shop and—other than the price hike that I knew would be there—I was intrigued by the absence of Keurig coffee machines and the overabundance of Nespresso. Clearly, there’s some kind of turf war going on. There also were some cool toastie makers, but I was like a) this is probably too heavy for me to take back in my luggage and b) would I really use it?
After errands, we came back home and I sat around and read the kiwi language book (which is quite fascinating) before we all began to plot about how to surprise dad the best. We thought about having me FaceTime him with one of the blank walls before having my brothers pop into the screen, but the walls are pretty thin here so he’d probably hear me talking and figure it out. We thought about acting casual and just sitting in the living room to see if he’d notice it was me or just think I was one of my brother’s friends. In the end, we decided that as he walked in the door from work, I would exit off the back, loop around, ring the doorbell, and surprise him that way while my brothers filmed the event from two different angles.
It worked out wonderfully. Like complete and total shock on his face, confused blinking, unbelieving hugs and all. I’m really glad we got it on film because it’s definitely going to be one of the favorite moments of my life.
After the surprise and catching up, we went out to Denny’s for dinner because my brother conned his way into it. Let me firstly say this—the United States of America, by far, has the best Denny’s no matter which state you are in—before saying that I try to enjoy NZ Denny’s as much as I can. I’m here for the company, not for the food. I got a BLT and chips (fries) which tasted fairly normal except for different mayonnaise. Their curly fries were pretty good though.
I enjoyed my first shower since getting off the plane and stayed up as much as I could the first night, but gave up around eight, passed out, and apparently slept through my brother’s loud music, dad snoring, and general madness.
Wednesday was just my brothers and me on a downtown adventure in the city centre. We rode the bus for about an hour to get there and it was a nice way to see the city in a way you don’t when you take the motorway. We ate at Better Burger, which is kind of like In ‘N Out but different at the same time. Their fries are similar but, well, better and I’m guessing it’s from whatever oil they cook them in. I had a cheeseburger and my brothers had a mushroom burger and fries respectively. It was pretty damn good, easily a top ten burger from an eatery in my life.
We walked around downtown, going into a couple of shops as they looked for birthday gifts for Dad, and traveled down toward the Viaduct at one point. Like seriously, a lot of walking. According to my phone I hit a new record in steps. We had to run to catch the bus back home, which resulted in a blister on my pinky toe because I didn’t think we’d be running so I wore flats.
We had curry takeaway for dinner which wasn’t that spectacular and upset my delicate American stomach before Mum and I went to the cinema to see a film that she’d heard was good and that I’m certain the theaters in Reno aren’t getting. It was called Love & Friendship, based on a short story by Jane Austen, and it was okay. The costumes and hair were pretty amazing, but it was a lot of talking and dry humor and a fairly typical Jane Austen plot.
Thursday morning I had a phone appointment with Mum’s psychic to discuss my future, and all I’m publically going to say about it was that it was a positive experience, spooky at times, and it helped de-stress my mind about some of the things that were worrying me. I can’t wait to tell The Captain about it when I get home and see him again, but until then I’ll just keep the future to myself.
Dad, Little Bro, and I went to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in the afternoon and it was so relaxing. There were penguins, sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and various other types of fish and underwater creatures and it was nice to just spend time with them marveling at all of these animals. We were able to go through it all a couple of times and see the sharks and penguins get fed, and I picked up a couple of souvenirs for The Captain and my grandma.
We drove home and I was finally able to FaceTime with The Captain since he was finally back at home from his week at work. He looked tired, but happy and we chatted for about an hour before signing off. Mum brought home takeaway for dinner which was mainly chips and potato fritters, but Dad and I got some kind of burger that I believe consisted of pineapple, fish, and egg. It was odd, but not unenjoyable. Of course, we finished off the meal with some Kapiti ice-cream and the news.
It was a quiet evening of hanging out, watching some NZ television, and chatting before going to bed. I actually hope I can continue this early to bed, early to rise schedule when I get back home because I feel like I have so many extra hours in the day to do things and I feel like I get a better sleep somehow. Of course, that could be because I’m catching up on the sleep that I’ve been missing for the past month it seems.
So far my Auckland adventures have been nothing short of amazing and I have nine days left to enjoy as much as I can before returning back to the States and back to the horrible heat of a desert summer. Until next time… Cheers.
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