Monday, February 18, 2008

What Is a Kiwi?

The Quay West - Our apartment high rise

Now the answer to that question will take about six weeks. I will look high and low for the answer. It was a pleasant 3 hour flight from Fiji to Auckland, New Zealand. Arriving in any foreign country always seems to be a little traumatic. For some reason we always seem to end up at the end of the immigration and customs lines, which always seems to raise both of our blood pressures. And I know you should never switch lines as the line you switch to will always end up slower. Maybe we should quit stopping at the restrooms when getting off a flight, and rush to the front of those lines. And you might know that our immigration guy is very friendly and wants to chat with everyone coming through.

Actually our time schedule was going well. But…why did the ATM machine reject one of our debit cards? Just part of the arrival trauma we have come to know and love. However, the helpful information lady told me how to use the pay phone for free (I had no change anyway) to call the rental car company for pickup. They arrived promptly and off to the Ace Rental Car Company. What? You have never heard of Ace? It is the largest independent car rental company in New Zealand. Your frugal traveler has selected the company because the cost for renting a car for 45 days is about half that of the Hertz-Avis-National crowd. You soon find out why it is half the price. Now the car does have 4 doors, an automatic transmission, and working air conditioning. It also has rust for goodness sake and does have a bit of trouble idling. But a compact Mitsubishi is entitled to a few quirks when it has 220,000 kilometers on the gauge. Oh well, it ran pretty good on the way into downtown Auckland and hardly got lost at all.

If you check out our itinerary posted earlier on the blog, you will see we are staying in a place called Apartments in Auckland. Our apartment is on the 8th floor of a combination apartment and hotel complex called the Quay (pronounced key) West. It is in a fantastic location, just a block from the waterfront in the heart of downtown. The apartment has a living room, dining room, master bedroom, laundry room, bathroom, kitchen and huge deck overlooking the Auckland Harbor Bridge and America’s Cup marina. I lucked out again!

Our first afternoon was spent walking the waterfront and being amazed at the size of the Cunard Lines Queen Victoria cruise ship, which was making its maiden visit to New Zealand. It is about three blocks from our apartment and wow is it large. Only keeps about 2000 people in decadent luxury. Next we headed for the nearest supermarket, FoodTown, and loaded up with essentials like pizza, beer, smoked salmon, cereal, bread, and soft drinks. We are now ready to settle in! We relaxed by staying home for our first evening with pizza and enjoying the sound of our very own washer and dryer catching up on a weeks travel.

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