Tuesday, January 22, 2013

No Sheep Yet - Auckland

We arrived in Auckland and quickly saw the influence of immigrants from the Pacific and Asia in the many ethnic food offerings on K Road, which is luckily right next to our hostel. The only unfortunate thing is it seems several businesses are closed for Christmas -- looks like holidays are commonly a whole month off!

That didn't stop us from running into some unexpected findings.. from great surprises to the downright weird, like this soap called "Placenta". Um.

On the positive side, we have found a ton of food options and general understanding/support for vegetarians and vegans here, along with halal, kosher, and gluten-free. It seems like Aucklanders are both a healthy and accepting bunch! Love it! We even ran into an all-vegan shop that carries both vegan and awesome natural organic products.

Going to the Auckland War Memorial Museum was a highlight so far, it's really about the history of New Zealand in general and we also learned about how the different cultures of the Pacific developed. Definitely would recommend it for a first trip to New Zealand; although it didn't necessarily give us insights into daily life here now, it was an interesting and beautiful place and now we understand a lot more about the Maori and other peoples of the Pacific island nations.

In the museum's volcano area (volcanoes are very important in New Zealand) I saw an article from the good old The Daily News, the newspaper of Longview, Washington, where I grew up, about Mt. St. Helens' eruption. I guess it is such a small world!

Although we haven't seen real live versions of either of the two animals New Zealand is famous for, kiwis and sheep, yet in the Auckland area, we did get pictures with these stone replicas. Tomorrow we will venture outside of the city and hopefully get to meet some more authentic versions!

While walking, we saw a street art display where people had filled in "before I die I want to __" with "travel the world". It reminded us again of how happy we are to be fulfilling such a wonderful life experience. I think as we understand a little about each place we visit, in discovering our own reactions we learn a little something about ourselves. I sure hope that helps us figure out where we want to live for the great apartment chase that awaits us when we return to SF!

Although it's clear they are closely related and influenced by each other, already from our short time in Sydney and Auckland I have noticed some real differences between the two. In Australia I felt like all my clothes were much too conservative and not fashion-forward, whereas in New Zealand the vibe is more sporty, classic and casual. I think style is a clue to society; in Sydney things seem faster-paced, while Auckland is laid-back. In both places people seem to generally have a positive outlook, at least from the outside displaying hardly any complaints in situations I would normally expect people to get whiny about.

Tonight we went to our first of hopefully many pub quiz/ trivia nights of the trip, and despite finishing dead last it was a lot of fun. We learned a bit about New Zealand, and bit about cricket, and a bit about classic American movies! We'll keep looking for events like these wherever we go, and can't wait to rejoin the crew with some new knowledge back in San Francisco.

CURRENTLY: Auckland, New Zealand
UP NEXT: Pahia and Bay of Islands, New Zealand, followed by Melbourne, Australia

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