South Island’s natural beauty spoiled us so after spending several days there, we experienced a strange (albeit brief) culture shock when arriving back in Auckland. Diverse faces and food options, traffic lights, noise, and a faster pace were a sharp contrast to the tranquility of Queenstown.
From the airport straightaway, we boarded a local bus into town and an hour later, we found ourselves winding the hilly cityscape to our hotel, The Quadrant (many musicians have stayed here while on tour!). The room was very quaint so despite having commuters fatigue we visited the bustling wharf and fish market, stopping only at a travel agent to check day trip options for tomorrow (oh yeah, and some ice cream too..shh).
In with the first world problems: spend a few lazy days by the harbor, spicing it up with some culture at the Māori museum or satiate our curiosity for life outside of Auckland?
After briefly mulling it over and breaking our unspoken rule about backtracking, we doubled back into the city center in time to book an excursion minutes before closing.
With the sun setting rapidly, many of the restaurants on the pier were beginning to fill up while the market activity was closing shop. Taking the suggestion from one of the clerks in the market (all of whom were very amused at our impromptu dead fish photo shoot less than an hour prior), we followed our ears into a nearby courtyard where a live band was playing Bob Marley. We sat with a pitcher of beer and a mixed seafood BBQ platter with chips. Four or five songs later, we noticed the band acquired a couple of live dancers on stage incapable of controlling their glee – two sisters, who were sitting at the table across from ours, no more than 7 years old. Naturally, this made us miss our nieces back home and we exited right to walk it off.
Passing a children’s playground, we stumbled upon some food stalls lining a small park, creating a welcome outdoor fair. Though extremely full, we couldn’t resist “Langos Hungarian Fried Bread”. We chose the jalapeño herb harissa and it was “MMumphMmm”. Fried dough, regardless of the country of origin, is always delicious.
That last one is dedicated to our brother, Giles.