OK, so forgive me if I start to sound like the Chamber of Commerce, but I like this city. I’ve always have felt comfortable here. I find it easy to get around in, despite the fact that geographically it’s one of the largest cities in the world.
Auckland welcomes strangers just like me.
There’s an art gallery close to the hotel so I meandered over.
Now, full disclosure here. I’m an artistic brick. Don’t know a thing about it. Sure, it’s cool to look at a painting done in the 1700’s and imagine what life was like in their lifetime. What would they say or think if they somehow knew that their painting would be attracting gazes in the 21st century? Beyond their comprehension, I imagine, just like we have no idea what daily life will be like in, say, 2112.
The paintings I liked. The modern sculpture, not so much.
Like any modern Western city, Auckland has a seedy side. It’s Karangahape Road, an east/west thoroughfare that effectively ends Queen Street, the major north/south road and shopping area.
Liquor store. Strip club. Chinese takeaway. Convenience store. Another strip club. A lonely Christian bookstore. Pawn shop. And the biggest music store I’ve ever seen. Closed but I squashed my nose against the glass to wistfully gaze at the drum sets. I miss my drumming days.
Ordered Chinese takeaway of rice, egg foo yong (spelling?) and shavings of beef sliced so them you could read through it. But for $7.90, so what?
On Saturday evening there was a book launch being held in the hotel bar. A half-dozen women that had been through some major problems on their life – cancer, loss of child, other major trauma – had gathered together and written a book, Hope Always.
I nosed my way in and was The Stranger In The Group. Everyone else there was known by any least one other but not I. A few people asked me about my travels, I spoke with some of them regarding their stories, bought the book to lend support to the venture – getting a book published and distributed is exceedingly difficult – and headed on my way.
Good for them, not only for surviving hardship but opening up their lives and struggles to total strangers.
Strangers just like me.
Edited to add:
For reasons I don’t understand, my original post of travelling to, and landing in, New Zealand doesn’t show up unless you hunt for it.
I’ve put the proper link in a comment box below here. That should take you right to it.