Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In Pursuit of Culture

The new Queen Victoria

The Auckland skyline

A tired shopper!

I am sure you can find culture in places other than in museums, and we are surely in pursuit thereof. However, to start in the traditional manner, we visited the Auckland Art Gallery. It has the decided advantage of being free. Not surprisingly the museum has a huge preference for New Zealand artists, or artists from Great Britain who have immigrated to New Zealand. The museum has a new building and an old building. We have to consider ourselves lucky as the old building is closing at the end of this month for two years of renovation. The galleries are filled with mostly modern New Zealand art, Maori native art, and late 19th century New Zealand portraits and landscapes. In all we recognized only a few artist names, of pieces acquired from the U.S. There were a couple of special photographic exhibitions that were interesting.

To learn more of the down to earth culture, such as getting to know the New Zealanders, we have been talking to the natives. The city has a very nice perk, a free all red bus service that runs around the downtown and goes up to the University of Auckland, leaving every 10 minutes. We made the full circuit and spent the whole time talking with three older gentlemen, who we suspect had been told by their wives to get out of the house and do something. When Mary Ann mentioned that we had visited the Auckland Art Gallery, I seem to have detected a slight rolling of the eyes. The opening inquiry of any conversation is asking where we are from. I have come to the conclusion that the fine residents of Chelan, Washington have a much better picture of world geography than do the New Zealanders. It is a bit hard to explain exactly where we live. I am thinking about carrying a world map with me. They do however, have a very strong interest in all things about the United States. In the grocery store yesterday, I saw two guys who I suspected just might be American. They were wearing buttons that said “I did not vote for Bush.” Go figure!

You would be surprised to know I have been dragged into at least 100 sports clothing stores. For what you should ask? Ah, the pursuit of the perfect women’s wind breaker. There are prevailing winds here you know. We did strike gold in an outdoor adventure store and are the proud owners of a very spiffy jacket from local outdoor provider Snowgum. To celebrate this long sought after garment, we had an upscale dinner at the Harbourside Seafood Grill on the upper floor of the Old Ferry Building on the wharf. It was fun watching the ferries come and go and enjoy a delightful fresh seafood dinner.

Quirky Living Note: Here in Auckland the cab companies seem to be a pretty independant bunch. As I walked along the cab stand this evening the names of the cab companies were Reliable, Alert, Urgent, and Green (it was a Toyota Hybrid).

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