Monday, May 8, 2017

[AUCKLAND] CBD + One Tree Hill

Waking up at 3 PM, this is probably my most appropriate anecdote for the woke-up-like-this crowd. After rushing to brush my teeth, wash my face, and fix my hair, I then went out wearing the same clothes I slept in. It was a waffle shirt/jogging pants combo, which I guess was the reason why I got some weird stares that translated to “But why is he in his pajamas?” But then again, this is Auckland. To the mixed crowd that I encountered on Queen Street, I was probably just the hobo with the good hair.

Auckland gave me some sort of “That’s it?” impression. The CBD does not seem that huge. The streets follow a cute grid layout which makes getting lost a bit of an impossible feat. Queen Street is the main artery for the tourist infestation. The Sky City Tower seems to be the only imposing landmark. The harbor is all chill, not quite Sydney or San Francisco, but still evokes a laidback kind of feel. But let’s go chronological for this blog entry, shall we? I am having a mild headache right now. Let’s keep it simple.

I managed to reserve an Airbnb place at Nelson Street, which is just two or three roads down from Queen Street. The condo complex is called Zest, and many of the inhabitants are Filipinos and other Asians. The cut of the apartments is quite small, but the views of the harbor are amazing and all the creature comforts I could ask for are here anyway. Once again, Airbnb succeeded in giving me a slice of the local life. What would it be like if I actually lived here? So far, I like it. Maybe I will move in one day. Who knows!

The Sky Tower is visible from the hallway. That landmark is part of a complex called Sky City, where you will find the terminal for Intercity buses going to Waikato. As with most towers of that size, bungy jumping and skywalk adventures are offered. Isn’t that what NZ is known for aside from nature in the first place? Adventure? But then again, I already have the Macau Tower jump bragging rights. Jumping off this one would probably bore me, so why bother? The tower itself is a looker, though, always cool in photographs.

Heading east, I walked until I reached a colonial looking building which turned out to be a museum. Had I walked farther, I would have made it to one of the universities. The CBD plays host to two of them, both bearing the name of the city and said to be the best in the country. Walking south would have led me to a big park called Auckland Domain. Instead, I walked towards the harbor via Queen Street, with every alley I walked past giving me a mini two or three-building skyline of sorts.

I ended up at Britomart which serves as the port area where you can hop on a ferry to one of Auckland’s many neighboring islands. I was surprised by the proximity and number of choices. As some people say, you have to leave Auckland to appreciate it. It’s good to live here, but if you are a tourist looking for sightseeing opportunities, nature will always be your default choice. The harbor is quite chill and there are benches you can lie on to just enjoy the unassuming view. People watching! All in all: 1 hour 1/2.

The next day was reserved for meeting a classmate of mine from my Goethe days in Manila. We both agreed to just go to One Tree Hill to hike for a bit. What automatically came to mind was the TV show, immediately followed by the realization that I really know nothing about that show aside from the title. As for Auckland’s, it is said that there was a big ass tree on top of that hill way back when, but some idiot cut it down so they just replaced it with a phallic obelisk reaching for the sky.

The hike is not that challenging. You can get up there in around 15 minutes or so. The view going up is cool. Entering the premises through Cornwall Park, you are given the chance to observe the cows and sheep as they feast on the green grass. The cows here are so fluffy! Or maybe fluffy is not the right term, but rather furry. Instead of the typical black and white, they are brown and sport those locks as if they wanted to be a giant shih tzu or something. Farm life in the city, seems legit.

The mix of people uphill is divided between local joggers and tourists with selfie sticks. We were there during sunset and the view was quite nice. The only downside is that it gets cold really fast, but the descent won’t take that long anyway so no need to worry. The hill offers a 360-degree-panoramic view of Auckland, along with the plenty of green downhill and the white dots that are the sheep and cows engaged in vegetarian gluttony. I guess it’s that odd mix of the rural and the urban in one frame that makes it all interesting.

Getting to One Tree Hill from the CBD is as easy as taking a bus for NZD5.50 (~PHP192.50) one-way. The trip is around 50 minutes and the bus leaves from the Civic Center. If you are not into island hopping, I suppose this is the best alternative that you have for Auckland. Otherwise, perhaps it’s time to head south. After all, everyone is raving about the South Island. As for me, there’s always next time. Besides, Hobbiton is my real purpose for being here. But we’ll meet again, Auckland. That’s for sure.

[AUCKLAND] CBD + One Tree Hill

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