Auckland, New Zealand September 12, 2007- September 14, 2007
After a year of planning and anticipation, we finally did it! We got paroled as we call it from the land of the free to seek some REAL culture elsewhere. Why not start our 800-day world tour as far away from Dallas as we could get…somewhere on the other side of the world…beginning in Auckland, New Zealand (Heather’s favorite country from past travels)?
Auckland was truly a jumping off point for us. Since our budget didn’t officially start until after Auckland, Ted booked us into a 5-star hotel to ease the jet lag from the 14-hour journey by plane and give us some time to adjust to the 17-hour time difference. We are already in the future if you think about it. If it’s Monday in Dallas, it’s Tuesday here. We still had some loose ends in the U.S. to finish up…closing credit cards, straightening things out at the bank, etc. A free internet connection and a delicious breakfast buffet were two included luxuries with our room we’ve yet to come across again.
First on the agenda was getting a car. We consider getting a campervan while reminiscing back to the days of “The Bus”, but it would have been prohibitively expensive for two months. The more economical choice would have been to get a little smart car. In the end though, considering the amount of baggage we have, we got a 70,000 mile old beater rental car for $30 a day with full insurance to cover any “oopsies” like forgetting that New Zealanders drive on the LEFT side of the road, not the right. Car-Check.
That night, I dragged Ted to the movie theatre so he could experience the “Gold Star” treatment. The only other place I’ve seen the “Gold Star” treatment as an option was in Singapore for twice the price. Prior to entering the theatre, you are invited into the cocktail lounge- a very modern, leather seating area with a full bar and mood lighting. They escort you to your seat just minutes before the movie starts…without all the previews I must add. When it’s show time, it’s show time. Instead of squeezing into a theatre with seats and sharing an armrest with the person next to you, you actually reserve a particular seat in advance. These are no regular seats either! There are 30 electronic recliners like you’d put in your living room at home complete with foot rests all in the same size theatre that could pack a hundred people. The recliners are spaced out in sets of two with a wooden table in between to hold your cocktails (liquor or beer?) and your gourmet food (cheese assortment or roasted chicken anyone?) selected from a full menu. Popcorn and sodas are included with price of admission. The movie we chose was good, but the V.I.P. treatment was even better.
After a couple of days of relaxation, our adventurous spirit took over. A piece of trivia for you…there are only two places in the world to bridge climb. Obviously, due to lawsuits and legalese, they are not in America. If you should be so lucky, your two opportunities are in Auckland, NZ and Sydney, Australia. Lucky us! Thanks to A.J. Hackett and crew, we climbed to the top of the Auckland Harbor Bridge: www.AJHackett.co.nz . No kidding! Below are two pictures from the top- our cameras were not “permitted”.