7 February 2008

A Weekend In The City Part 2: Whereat we "...Have General Run of The Town."

Okay, so apart from seeing Rufus Wainwright and pestering local celebrities, we ate stuff...and apart from eating stuff we actually did things too.

I have a head cold at the moment (guess who I caught it off?) so I really just want to go to bed, but I have to get all this out otherwise it will take forever. You don't need me to tell you how sucky a blocked nose is...although it's funny, no one gets any sympathy for having the common cold because it's, well, common - yet once you get it, there is nothing quite like that awful trapped-in-your-own-head feeling you get when unable to breathe out your nose. And I have to eat standing up or my nose shuts off completely and I can't taste anything. It's not as bad as last time I had a cold...You know, that's probably about as much as you need to know about my nasal passages, so back to Auckland...

One thing Tim and I noticed about Auckland was that there were three trillion minimarts/convenience stores. They are EVERYWHERE, and I am only barely exaggerating about the amount of them. Tim and I tried to go into every one we saw, but we just couldn't do them all. Simply couldn't. I think if you gave yourself a week, and only went into minimarts, you might start to scratch the surface. From one of said minimarts we bought some bread and some expired peanut butter (only a dollar!) to have for our breakfasts. The kitchen at the hostel was really clean and spacious and well-appointed - we have seen some seriously grubby ones in our time, so this was quite a relief. And the "Free Food" box was bountiful to say the least - we got a bag of couscous and a whole pack of fettucine!

Above: There is no Wendy's outside the Auckland region. I'm not talking about Wendy's the icecream chain (I have no idea how two companies ended up with the same name in the same country, explanation anyone?), but the burger place with the really annoying guy on their ads. Annoying or not, their burgers are seriously good- the buns of which are rather magically delicious, I'm guessing because they are pumped full of sugar. Tim and I had dinner at Wendy's on Queen Street on Sunday night, before going to see the movie Juno. Which was very sweet, if a little talky. Apparently sales of hamburger phones have gone up 759% in America since this movie (the sassy protagonist owns one.) Frankly, I craved a rich, smooth orange tic-tac after seeing Micheal Cera's character chomp through them - I wouldn't be surprised if their stock begins to rise, too.

Above: I'm not sure whether or not Tim will appreciate me putting up this picture of him but I wanted to illustrate how enormous the Wendy's cups are, in a scratch your head, "Is that legal?"' kind of way. (Also there is a photo of me with the cup but I was having an unphotogenic, er, moment.) Look closely. That cup is about as big as Tim's head. It's more vessel than mere receptacle. I've seen spa pools smaller than that. Et Cetera.

On Monday morning we took a soujourn through town; stopping at Real Groovy which is indeed much groovier than the Wellington branch of this shop.

Above: It even proclaims its own grooviness with a big lit up sign! I have nothing bad to say about this place: Tim found a White Stripes single with heaps of live cuts, I found Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man DVD for $15 (!!) I finally found the Rent OBC recording including its original booklet (!!!!), we got a CD from 1998 featuring a Rufus Wainwright radio interview and live performance, and they gave us a tour poster for free. Which we left in the airport terminal. But if we send them a self addressed envelope they'll send it back to us! In the end that free poster will be pretty expensive.
We visited the Aotea Centre, where I used to go to see a lot of ballets and shows. They have a giant feather and giant paua shell sculpture that I used to love looking for, so it was fun to see them again after so long. There was also a photography exhibition in honour of the Beijing Olympics downstairs, so we got some culture with our shmoozing. I have to say though, the place is looking a little...shabby. That eighties decor was pretty exciting to a six year old in 1992, but however many years later...at least vacuum the place.

The Art Gallery also featured on our itinerary, where there was a rather awesome portraits theme going in the free area. Some were gorgeous, some were thought provoking, some, (the ones by Yvonne Todd) were seriously sinister...There was a mini-exhibition of Tony Fromison, someone who I had never heard of, but who certainly made some great artwork (I hate talking about art, to be honest. What use are the words "interesting" and "good?" And as I have found out, writing Art History essays, there are only so many times you can get away with the word "juxtapostition...")

Above: We lunched at Wagamama... The only thing Auckland has in more abundance than minimarts is places to eat. It's daunting. It's downright mindboggling. How do they all get customers? How do people know which ones to go to? We had been wanting to go to Wagamama for a while, as we had gone there while in London and absolutely loved it. Of course when it comes to NZ it doesn't go to Wellington...anyway everything they do is crisp and fresh and flavoursome and fast. I had a ginger chicken noodle salad and Tim had something similar but with pork. It was so delicious, and a breeze gave us merciful respite from the often overpowering heat of the city.

Above: This is a metaphor for...actually it's just a photo of our rapidly emptied plates.

Tim and I played a lot of air-hockey during our stay in Auckland. Now, generally I hate those video game places, like Time Zone, because they are always so seedy. The only game I like to play is air hockey...incidentally the only computer game I like to play is Tetris. So after every big meal, Tim and I would hit the machine and play a couple of rounds (as if it was going to do us any good, although I did have a bit of a sore arm after playing.) Normally I'm not that bad, but I was just awful this weekend - half Tim's goals were scored by me.

We walked down to the waterfront in the afternoon, which took forever - Queen Street is pretty long - and passed many a Starbucks, occasionally dipping in to various shops we felt like browsing through. On the waterfront we paid a silly amount of money to go to -5, the bar that is...made of ice. You put on this puffy coat and gloves, and go in and get a cocktail. You have 25 minutes. It was pretty cool, get it? Seriously though, it was truly made of ice and had lots of ice sculptures - Ed Hillary, an eagle, a lion - all very awesome stuff. We paid another silly amount of money to have our photos taken within the shroud of ice, which I will have to scan and post here at some stage. It was definitely fun, although it might have been a bit more fun if the gal behind the counter hadn't been so surly. I realise it was 2.45 in the afternoon and we were her only customers but come on! We are your bread and butter!

It was hotter than ever when we got outside, thanks to the contrast in temperatures. We headed back to the hostel to relax but not before paying a visit to K Road's most overpriced op shops (admittedly, cheaper than Wellington's ones) where I heedlessly bought quite a few things - a glo-mesh handbag, a Sass and Bide top (nothing flash though) a shirt dress, and a silk scarf with horses on it.

And you all know what happened next...

I figured I might as well upload another video of Rufus. It would be a shame not to share this talent (which is such a pale word for what he has) with people who weren't there.

Disclaimer: Don't hate me for it, but my petulant voice takes up about five seconds of this video - I'm asking Tim to do his cool whistle (he grew up on a farm, and hey, he can whistle really loud.) Also you can hear Tim singing along sometimes. Hee. The lesson here is kids, never say anything you wouldn't want to have commited to video and put on the internet. (But really, his whistle is pretty impressive.)

Above: This is an excerpt of Rufus singing "California" - isn't he jaunty on the guitar!

On Tuesday morning we had a bit of time to burn before our flight, so we decided just to wander the streets lazily, with no agenda whatsoever. We went into Smith and Caughey's, which is (ha!) not as good as Kirkcaldie and Staines. I did, however, spend a good few minutes in their 'foodie' section, and bought myself some Savoiardi biscuits for making Tiramisu or something. The lady behind the counter called me "ma'am" about five times, I didn't know whether to feel grown up or haggard...

Above: I ended up buying two packs because they are rather hard to find and because the more I spend the more reckless I get, it seems.

We had lunch in the food court by Borders, and although my heart (and thighs) were saying "brown rice sushi, just over there" we ended up having enormous slices of pizza with wedges. I told myself it was like when Carrie and her friends on SATC would get similar huge pizza slices. I always feel like stuff you eat away from home "doesn't really count" anyway...Afterwards we had one last Air Hockey for the road, before getting our shuttle to the airport. Auckland feels so different to Wellington (not least because it was raining when we got back to the capital), it's hard to put my finger on what it is exactly.

Right, well I'm going to do my Ruby Gillis best to conquer this cold, before I am back again- as Jilly Cooper would say, I've drank so much herbal tea I'm going to turn into a bouquet garni.


  1. OK, You've sold me on Rufus. Muesli is excellent but not enough. Am seriously needing a top up. Send some of your rain this way - there are crevasses in the lawn big enough to fall in. Lynn's blog is up and running again. Yay the weekend. I can handle these two day weeks.

  2. I thought the comment would be from you :) Hope you have a good weekend and that it rains! Maybe I should fly up again, it only seems to get weatherly when I'm around. Might have to send you a care package of that muesli. Glad you like it so much :)

  3. Hi Laura, have really enjoyed your blog, checked immediately the day Heath Ledger died and you didnt disappoint. The food is looking pretty good, am having some interesting foodie moments here but more at a later stage. OOh er, meeting 'Outrageous Fortune' stars!!! Am watching an English series that is similar called 'Shameless' and will try and get the OF series when I get home to show over here. Friars Balsam inhalations good for colds! Hi to the flat, Love Lynn