Saturday, November 19, 2016

Auckland First Impressions

We made it to our first weekend! It has been a week of discoveries and enjoyments. Upon landing and the disinfection of our camping and hiking gear by the border authorities (they do it to everyone, we’re not particularly infected), we took a UberXL (which barely fit our 6 bags) to an Airbnb, only to find out that our host thought we were arriving the next day. Oops... Poor soul felt so bad, but we were happy to go walk around for a couple of hours while she tidied up the place. 

Uber seems, uh, uber popular in New Zealand. Apparently the mandatory background checks that forced Uber and Lyft out of Austin did not phase the kiwis.

Bill reported to work the day after we landed, right on time to attend Vesper’s Christmas party. Why wait for December when you can have a party in November! The party involved taking a ferry to Waiheke Island, drinking beer at a winery, and competing in archery and team building contests. While Bill was frolicking, yours truly walked and walked and walked around town apartment hunting for longer term lodging. 

The housing market is crazy: so hot, sellers auction their houses to the highest bidder. Everyone relies on the NZ eBay equivalent and apartments rent like hot cakes. Apartments are small and we question whether kiwis actually cook in them given the diminutive size of the kitchens and the conspicuous absence of dining tables. Maybe because the local food scene, while expensive, is outstanding?

Auckland feels like a city bursting at the seams with construction everywhere and snarly traffic. We had no intention of buying a vehicle, but it has been made clear to us that a car will be a necessity as Auckland is spread out and public transportation is not keeping up with the growing population. Cars have right of way over pedestrians. Jaywalking is not legal and not common, no wonder why! Crossing the road is a bit scary, especially as we get used to looking right first, then left, then right again. To add to the confusion, at first take it looks like no one is driving around here since the driver is in the right seat where we expect the passenger to be. Having to actually think about this makes us a little uneasy and we do silly things like walking into each other when one looks left while the other looks right. Geesh.

It has been raining quite a bit, and raining funny with sheets of water coming down out of nowhere but folks seem to just deal with it, momentarily dunking under an arcade for the short duration. It always blows over in short order and on we go. Similar to Boulder, Auckland’s sun is strong but the kiwi sunscreen label makes it abundantly clear that this is serious business down here under the ozone hole.

We are learning kiwi vocabulary along the way. Here you:
  • Flick an email (send)
  • Use a footpath (sidewalk)
  • Press the hash key (#)
  • Reply to “thank you” with “no worries
  • Order a short black (espresso) or a long black (americano)
  • List whiteware (kitchen appliances) on apartment rentals
  • Park your car at the carpark (parking)
  • Get paid fortnightly (every 2 weeks)
Although there is a strong Asian flair to Auckland (39% are native kiwis, with a large majority of immigrants from China, and the Philippines), I have been surprised by the French presence, from bakeries to restaurants to the way women dress in the CBD (City Business District, aka downtown). It has made the transition so unexpectedly enjoyable.  Food-wise, we are finding pretty much the same items as in the US, some reasonably priced and others less so. We’ll pass on pancakes as maple syrup costs NZ$20 a small bottle, and we’ll do without grapes at NZ$9 a bag. We ventured to bake lemon fish, which is really lemon shark. It was yummy.

We are getting up early tomorrow to watch the All Blacks- Ireland rugby game so Bill does not look too ignorant at work Monday :) Neither of us can get excited about cricket, although it is fun to see the parks filled with players.

While Bill is at work, I spend my days walking around visiting apartments and meeting prospective employers. By next weekend, we should have selected our longer term housing arrangement, my new employer, and maybe be lucky enough to secure tickets to Adele’s first ever and only NZ concert


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! No holiday for us here!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That sounds pretty crazy with a house hunt. Driving on the left will come quickly but that crossing the street stuff is HARD! I love the updates!!

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