36H IN AUCKLAND
KIWILAND. A CONNECTION full of stories. Let me explain: returning to New Zealand was incredibly nostalgic, and a 36-hour layover in Auckland was just enough to intensify the longing for this place that once I've called 'home'. And let me say that the feeling was exactly that: of belonging!
We arrived on the other side of the world and everything was so familiar. AKL is a city with a whole world inside it, as cosmopolitan as you can imagine. It's amazing how it embraces a global diversity, and makes that the most amazing feature of all.
> DOWN UNDER
We stopped in Auckland on a connecting flight to the French Polynesia. And in this piece of land surrounded by the Pacific Ocean was where we lived the most intense hours recently. Do you know that sensation when you feel that you've been here for days, but actually it was just one?! Well, that's exactly how it all happened...
We landed early in the morning at the airport, and I wanted to see again so many friends, so many places, taste so many foods, and show everything to Thiago at the same time that I was euphoric ;) lol (and yes, it was his first time in New Zealand lands).
We decided to stay in Auckland Central area, and the day started intensely! We left our bags and went out into the street with the sky still lightning up in the horizon. This city is queen to super cool cafes and we decided to go in not only 1, but 2 cafes to start the day. We stopped for a good 'n' old flat white on the K Road and then for the best bagel in town, close to Sky City.
> QUEEN`S FAVORITE
We just love exploring everything on foot... And here it could be no different. How else could we feel that cold breeze filled with salty air, listening to all kinds of different accents and languages being spoken at the same time?! The day in Auckland's commercial district was already bubbling, and the myriad of shops opening, as we walked down Queen Street towards the Waterfront.
(Even the sounds of pedestrian traffic lights brought that homesick feeling)
And the nostalgia was only truly complete when we were on our way to the Auckland Domain and suddenly the weather completely changed (of course, NZ being NZ :) and began the rain drops beagn to fall with the heavy grey horizon took place! Only those who live in cities that have all 4 seasons in one day knows what I'm talking about... LOL
But stop 'cause I need to share this... While we sheltered from the rain in this little shop, I found the best way to translate 2 national passions:
Rugby & Sheeps. Yes, the national sport (and madness) is rugby, and we're crazy about it all too
— "But what about all the sheep????" You must be wondering... Well, the thing is that NZ is known worldwide for having the largest number of sheep per km². While the whole country has a little more than 4 million inhabitants, the sheep population is 30 million. And until the 90's it was over 70 million. And that's a reason for national pride!!
So meaningful and yet so simply translated into a souvenir shirt that I needed to share this :)
> A JOURNEY IS BEST MEASURED IN FRIENDS, RATHER THAN MILES
And that's the pure truth. Life has brought very special people and put them in our way, and these ones I am very proud to call FRIENDS. Even half a world away was like we were together yesterday (do you know this feeling?!), and the synergy is so much that this world always finds a way to join us in places that we can not even imagine.
(From Asia to the rest of the world, right my dearests? ❤)
And from this great encounter, what is sure to happen? Lots of laughs, astronomical food discoveries, memorable stories and beers! Yes yes yes, always like this :)
We went out exploring the Viaduct Harbor, Waterfront and Princess Wharf area on foot, going for the best food alley you that respect: THE ASIAN FOOD! A place of convergence of all our favorite cuisines gathered in one place (and all very traditional) simply took all our maturity and choice away.
The decision of the day? Super democratic! Each one chooses a different one and we share everything. It was the best Thai + Vietnamese + Indian + Japanese combination of ALL TIMES!!!
Our next stop involves New Zealand beers. And do you know a better place for local beers than a supermarket? (We are those kind of people that always visit the supermarkets while travelling... Who else feels the same as us?)
A typical early winter rain made us change the plans to climb Mt. Eden, one of the extinct volcanoes in Auckland, and then decided to go and see one of AKL's best shows: the Skyline lighting up, enjoying the Bohemian vibe of Devonport.
After all, we ended the day in Mission Bay, one of the most famous bays in the city, with incredible views to the island of Rangitoto. And for suuuure more food madness happened in this city that has a little bit of everything. And do you want to know where we finished the night?! In a super traditional German restaurant (of real germans, of course)! With the best roasted pork knuckle ever and even the giant mugs too!
How not to love this city-world???
> KIA ORA
In Maori "Kia Ora" is a greeting of "Hi", "Welcome". Its original translation means "have life, be well", and it is with this feeling that we started our intense day #2. Pretty much like this: with a beautiful sun and a blue sky.
But today that was not about the flat white coffee... Today was about another national passion: the tea! This British heritage, mixed with a hint of influence from the Asian 'neighbors', led us to this tea house right on Queen Street, but that might as well be a scenario for Alice in Wonderland (in the mad tea party style ;)
The 'bright' side of having a few hours to enjoy is that everything feels very INTENSE. And as we were waking up super early for breakfast (or tea parties) in the morning, 10am is already considered an acceptable time to have an ice cream in the middle of winter right?! Getting lost on the streets of the CBD we found an ice cream parlor that was literally pure art. An ice cream experience!!
> KIWI TIME
I shared that I lived in NZ ... Actually I came here as a exchange student a few years back and it was one of the best experiences of my entire life. I stayed in a homestay with a family that I only have to thank for everything I have lived! Meeting them took me back to a nostalgic time of my life, and all we talked about was homesickness.
Even after so long without seeing each other, meeting again in person only made me realize that I set my roots here as well. And will always be a home inside me! :)
Even though our 36h were almost over, our lunch together seemed to last for so long. But let me say that this gathering needed at least a few more days than just a few hours together. I already want to come back and now with an even bigger sensation of longing...
This feeling of nostalgia and longing was very present. I know I said that a lot, but there's no other way to express everything that Auckland means to me.
The city that carries so many identities and so many worlds together in just one place, has a special way of marking each one. The details are in between the lines that are part of this urban vortex, shared with such a simplicity that makes the complexity of this dynamic really so natural and captivating.