Always Listen to Your HostsAuckland, Fall 2012
This is the route I walked today to get to school, because my schedule is often such that most of my morning and early afternoon are free. Before I talked to my host-mom, I was just going to follow my bus route, which would have been on the opposite side of the motorway and, I’m sure, considerably less exciting. That is to say, I’ve found it best to always follow the advice of my host family. They’ve let me in on the best secrets of the city, sent me to its finest spots, and prevented me from getting swept away in tourism.
I set off by myself with hand-written directions dictated to me by my host-mom, emerging into a crisp sunny morning where, from the crest of the valley, you could see forever. It was only 5k but I feel like this walk gave me insight into so much of the city. Not just the skyscrapers and noisy buses, but more of the thriving everyday sort of life. I stopped for lunch in a quiet park with green everywhere one the ground and a clear blue sky, the kind of colors that made me look around and say with a smile, “I’m in New Zealand.”
Ponsonby Road and K-Road (Karangahape, that’s hah-pay) are sort of, well, the “hipster” parts of Auckland. With upcoming designers in the former, and heaps and heaps of op-shops (thrift stores) in the latter, I spent a good long time popping in and out of stores. There are few chain-stores and many more unique shops run by young adults or seasoned older people, often reached by a narrow staircase or navigated through narrow, crowded walkways that creak under your feet.
In a sort of continuation of this adventure, I spent this morning with my host-sister and her 2-year-old daughter at the “Crafternoon Tea Market” in Kingsland. This introduced me to slues of crafty Kiwis and tempted me dozens of times over to purchase their mostly handmade treasures. Stopping for coffee at Atomic Coffee and a delicious bruschetta with scrambled egg, feta cheese, and red peppers at Shaky Isles Café, we had a delightful, meandering few hours out.
The experiences which I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy for the last week have been numerous and peaceful. This city has a sort of serenity that’s lacking in my busy, commerce-oriented home of Minneapolis. Everyone moves more calmly, stopping to let their children climb on bike racks or to have a mocha served in a clear glass cup. Many times today I thought to myself, Why would I ever want to leave?
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