The zoo was the best idea ever.

March 27, 2011 Comments Off on The zoo was the best idea ever.

Our plane landed at 5am. We got through customs by the skin of our teeth (turns out that if you don’t actually read the customs form, they might decide to x-ray your bag and find that you neglected to declare your hiking boots, and next time they might not take pity on you and decide not to fine you $400) and found a bus into Auckland, which looked dreary and unfriendly in the dark with all the storefronts shuttered. Our hotel agreed to let us check in early, but that meant 9:00, and it wasn’t even 7 yet. Even the coffee shops weren’t open. Around the corner was the SkyCity complex, built around the SkyTower, which is your generic Space-Needle-type tower that looks, in the words of the guidebook, like “a hypodermic needle giving a fix to the sky.” (It does, at that.) But fortunately it had a restaurant that opened for breakfast at 7, so we got coffee and breakfast while we tried to decide what to do. Eventually we were able to check in and shower and change and all that, which was as revitalizing as the food and coffee. Our room was fantastic: very high ceilings, slick black-and-silver color scheme with a nice bed and nicer tiny kitchen complete with range. Good water pressure in the shower, although the hot water didn’t last long. It was a very comfortable place to stay, one of those hotels where you don’t mind staying in for a night or sleeping in.

So what we eventually settled on was going to the zoo. I claim credit for the idea; it was the perfect jet-lag activity. It kept you on your feet and moving around, and there was a lot to see but it didn’t overwhelm you with stuff you had to think about. And the animals were on their best behavior. A gaggle of spider monkeys were swinging around trying to steal food from each other. A pair of gibbons decided we were a threat and started a territorial display of hooting and oomming. We got to watch a tiger chew a leg bone to bits. Of course we saw a kiwi, and their bird displays were fantastic: New Zealand may have the prettiest native birds I’ve ever seen.

So that was a success. Back downtown, we found a great internet café, painted all black on the inside with bright orange chairs, very nice but obviously geared towards gamers in kind of a hilariously sketchy way. For dinner we went to Food Alley, which is a nondescript food court full of amazingly good cheap Asian food of all kinds: Indian, Malaysian, Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and so on. It makes me drift off into daydreams just to remember it. Mmm. In the end, we stayed up until around 9:30pm, which is pretty good for a first jet-lagged day.

[back-posted]

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