The adventures continued into Friday as Dad and I began a bookstore tour of the Ponsonby area of Auckland, where Pinterest had pointed me toward most of the ‘best’ literary shops. Ponsonby definitely has the air of a hipster paradise with its trendy restaurants and bars, various clothing stores, and numerous coffee and bookshops. It was awesome.
We started our tour at Classics & Suchlike, a bookstore within a house, where shelves cover nearly every wall in each room. The rooms are then divided into sections such as general fiction, classics, cookbooks, New Zealand, discount, and so on. I was on the hunt for a nice-looking copy of Shelley’s Frankenstein, but didn’t find one. I was pleased to find a couple of copies of my favorite vampire series on the shelves and there were some interesting finds here and there, but I didn’t find anything that stuck out at me as a must-have.
We then moved to The Women’s Bookshop, which is full of books about, by, and for women. There were quite a few temptations here: the third book in a NZ children’s series I’ve been reading (signed), several on mindful eating, great feminist readings, Penguin classics, gorgeous cookbooks, but nothing persuaded me to buy it right then and there. It’s definitely a quaint and specialized store, and I’d recommend it to any book-loving feminist in the Auckland area.
Lunch was at Mamata Bakehouse where I had my first ever taste of a mincemeat pie and ginger beer. The pie was pretty great, and it boggles my mind that they aren’t that big of a hit in the States because we love pie and we love meat. The ginger beer was okay, but not quite as good as root beer. Dad had a veggie curry pie which also looked good. I’m definitely on the hunt for more meat pies while I’m here.
The last bookshop of the day was Dear Reader, which had many of the same books I’d seen in The Women’s Bookshop, but also more for a general audience. I was tempted by some of the beautiful cookbooks, but again walked out with nothing. I might be saving my pocket money for Whitcoull’s. Dear Reader had a great atmosphere and vibe, and I’d like to go back sometime.
Dad and I made our way to the library so he could pick up a magazine, and I managed to snag some ‘trash’ reading to divert my attention from all my academically-minded books. The trash was pretty good, vacation-worthy, and it was a perfect set-up to watching Bridget Jones with Mum later that night.
Dinner was at the Marina Cantina, which I was led to believe would be Mexican, but was actually hipster faux-Mexican. Who would put quinoa in a burrito? Once I realized that there was no way this food could really be classified as proper Mexican, it was easier to enjoy. My sweet potato burrito was quite good, and the sauce that came with it was a perfect complement. The environment did feel cantina-like, less dingy and dodgy though, and the family seemed to enjoy their faux-Mexican tacos, quesadillas, and tortilla chips.
Mum and I watched both Bridget Jones’s films and, while I definitely see the allure of the first movie, the second wasn’t as good. However, Colin Firth is always amazing and is a global treasure that I believe I underappreciated. It was just the girls as the men folk scurried off to their respective caves to avoid the chick flick, but that was nice. We had ice cream and Diet Coke, and all was right with the world for just a couple of hours.
Saturday morning, Dad, Smaller Brother, and I went for a bushwalk at Duder’s Regional Park. I wanted to see the view, Dad needed to get in his steps, and Smaller Brother is addicted to Pokemon Go. It worked out for everyone. The walk wasn’t that arduous and it was lovely to just enjoy the variety of flora and fauna that New Zealand has to offer while getting in some exercise. We didn’t go to the very top, but made it most of the way and wandered down to the beach before going back to the car. I discovered that I’d earned yet another blister because my sock had slid down into my shoe, and it was even on the same foot.
Lunch was at the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple—one of my favorite places in the world—and, despite a scratchy throat and slight chill, I ordered my usual. The Tom Yum fried rice is one of the world’s wonders. It’s delicious, slightly spicy, filling but not stuffing, and I ate every last grain. After eating this rice I felt filled with spiritual peace and happiness and it’s one of the only foods to consistently make me feel this way in my life. It’s like comfort eating that actually makes you feel better instead of worse.
We walked around the Temple and I went inside to pay tribute and have a mini-meditation before going out. The bummer of the day was that once we got home I got one of my little migraines and had to have a lie down for a couple of hours in a dark room. I was hoping I wouldn’t get one on vacation, but side effects of a concussion do not take a break.
The evening was quiet as Mum made some awesome curry and we watched What We Do in the Shadows, a vampire comedy that I’d been meaning to watch for over a year. It did not disappoint because I was laughing every couple of seconds and my inner vampire nerd loved how they handled the mythology and superstition that the creatures demand. We finished up with the finale of Britain’s Got Talent before bed.
On Sunday, Dad, Smaller Brother, and I drove to Hamilton for lunch with my grandparents. It was a lovely drive, and it constantly surprises me how you can go from Auckland supercity one minute to farms and livestock the next. And I, loving cows and sheep, took immense pleasure from comparing our breeds to theirs and sizing up their health. The rain was on and off and I saw more rainbows than I’d seen in a year, and it took us about an hour and a half with construction to get there.
We ate at the Hamilton Gardens and it was great to see my grandparents again after two years. Hugs and smiles and lots of questions later, we ordered our food and sat down to eat. I had a risotto cake that was made of rice, peas, and salmon and it was quite good and decently filling. Dad’s muesli order got lost and Smaller Brother definitely didn’t appreciate the fine quality of his chips and aioli, and it was nice to enjoy a meal with my paternal family.
We walked around the gardens after that and I was in constant awe because I’ve never seen anything like this in the States. There were sections dedicated to historical designs of gardens all over the world from Italy to Japan, and also a huge section dedicated to the herbs that we use for cooking, cleaning, and other products. It didn’t last long enough and, before I knew it, we said goodbye to my grandparents and drove off.
Unfortunately, end-of-weekend traffic added another hour to our drive and, while it was nice to look at the livestock and different house styles, I just wanted to get home. When we did make it home I chatted with The Captain for a bit, took a shower, and watched the news while eating toasties that Dad had made. It was another quiet evening and nice to just sit and hang out in this beautiful country, in my home away from home.
Today is a new day, and the adventures will continue.