Getaway with Soleil: Auckland Part 2

               Here’s what you’ve missed so far on my holiday: Soleil and I took off from Vancouver for a trip through Auckland and Australia. We’ll meet each other’s families, eat so much food, and see the sights. So far, we’ve sampled some heart-warming Buddhist rice, sighted adorable animals at the zoo, and survived dark tunnels. Best of all: the weather was sunny and clear. With only a few days left of our Auckland adventures, will we make the best of it?

               On Friday, Soleil and I sifted through a secondhand store. The idea was we’d find some date night duds and wear them out to dinner. I’d been thrifting here almost a decade ago but was worried that my new sizing would limit my options. Shopping secondhand in a different country, whether that be books or clothes, is an interesting experience because there’s an aspect of the familiar in the foreign. Most of the plus size options still fell into florals, cold shoulders, elderly chic, or teacher threads, but I definitely had more selection than in other places in the states. We found a nice dress shirt for Soleil, and a retro dress and belt for me in a 90s way. I also found a comfy sweatshirt which I’m sure will come in handy as we travel through varying climates.

               We went into Howick prior to our reservation for an exploration of the shops. I spent a bit of time wandering through the local bookstores, which focused more on new and popular releases than eclectic finds. Poppies did have a cool selection of children’s books and featured plenty of local authors. Soleil and I dipped into a few other shops, and I tried to see if any local jewelry caught my eye. Some of it was beyond my budget, but one of my necklaces is almost unwearable from the green ring it leaves now. Although there wasn’t too much to see, it was nice to walk around.

               Our dinner reservations were at Basalt, and it was an amazing experience. The funny thing is I’d had my first drink in this bar when I was nineteen, and they’ve obviously done some renovations and changed the vibes a bit since then. Since we had a discount on food, we ordered an appetizer, two entrees, and a dessert. Soleil got a stout beer, and I ordered a rosé and a mocktail. The food was delicious, and the drinks were refreshing. Soleil didn’t deviate far from his tour of chicken sandwiches, but I tried a truffle mushroom risotto with duck. One of my favorite things to do on trips is to try new foods, especially when they’re done well, and Auckland seems to be duck-flavored for me.

               Saturday was a relatively chill day. Soleil met some of my grandparents for the first time, and the family spent some time catching up over cheesy muffins. Living an ocean away from my family means I have missed out and continue to miss on the small and big events in our history. Still, it’s nice to learn something new every time we’re together. And, maybe I’m biased, but Soleil having a similar culture to this part of my family probably helps in terms of them all getting along. I can’t say for sure how future family meetings would go, but it’s nice to have some sense of things.

               I left Soleil with his tennis game, and Dad and I went off on a few errands. The everyday can be boring when it’s your everyday, but exciting when it’s new. So I looked around a Chemist Warehouse for a bit, gawked at the immense line at a still-existing K-Mart, and basked in the book section at The Warehouse. So many of the media sections in U.S. stories are diminishing, but they still have rows of books here and there. I’m limiting what kind of books I’m buying and how much but have more suitcase room to work with now that I’ve delivered some goods to my family.

               Saturday may have been chill, but Sunday was a sharp contrast. We began the morning with a family party for my brother’s birthday. Mum put together a large spread of different cheeses, crackers and breads, and other treats. Soleil met more of my family, and at one point we had about fifteen or so people milling around in a room. I’m a recent convert for “good” cheese and sampled a handful of what was available. Later, my parents surprised my brother with a cake shaped like an air fryer with hot sauce and fries as an accent. Crazy, right? It’s these little things, though, that make these trips well worth it. I’m glad I could be here. Having Soleil along for an introduction is a bonus.

               On Sunday afternoon, Soleil and I took off for an extravagant romantic getaway. I’ll post those adventures soon enough. This getaway is a chance to try new things, and also to spoil myself a little. My priorities over the past two years didn’t allow for this kind of travel or budget or opportunities. I’m going to soak up every one I encounter. I’m going to treat myself. I’m going to romanticize the little moments and the big ones too. One day, I want to be able to look back on this holiday with no regrets. So far, I can’t say I have any.

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               If you would like to follow my daily adventures on Instagram, please follow @karleypardue (for literary discoveries, bookstores, and more) or @karleycooks (for plates and palates).