Cold has overcome Christchurch. July 4th cannot come soon enough just for the chance to experience a few weeks of summer back in the States! It’s luckily not “Massachusetts cold,” but just cold enough that I have to utilize my electric blanket (New Zealanders don’t believe in central heating).
I had the “fun” experience of being in a red-carded (=can’t be occupied due to damage) building during an earthquake this past week. Everything ended up being fine, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at all inspecting a deteriorated structure when a >4 magnitude earthquake hit. Last night we missed a 4.9 while flying back from Auckland. Earthquake magnitudes really don’t mean too much when it comes to what the individual feels. It all depends on how deep the origin is and how far away you are from it along with a few other factors. Apparently this 4.9 last night was just enough to make a few coworkers debate for a few seconds if they should jump underneath their desk, but ultimately they just rode it out where they were standing.
EARTHQUAKE LESSON – if you ever find yourself in the middle of an earthquake, PLEASE “duck cover & hold”–this means jump under a desk/table/chair and cover your head. Don’t go running out the door or to the stairwell. Unfortunately this is how several people died in Christchurch. They had the building exteriors/canopies fall on them upon exiting or the stairs fell down.
On a less morbid note – let’s discuss Auckland! What a great getaway weekend! I flew with 3 other coworkers that we quickly dubbed the “A Team” (A for Auckland) to the biggest city in New Zealand.
We arrived in Auckland right around dinner time Friday and headed to a very quaint bed & breakfast owned by a sweet German couple. The night was packed — we headed to Ponsonby Street for dinner and actually ended up with a burrito. We’re in a constant battle to find good Mexican food in New Zealand and it is not an easy task. We luckily found a NZ version of Chipotle that produced fabulous burritos! Afterwards we headed to Parnell for dessert – an upscale suburb of Auckland with several cafes and designer stores. We stumbled upon an AMAZING chocolate cafe. The night was young which left us to follow the lights and end up on top of a hill at the grand-looking Auckland museum. I liked the quote along the top of the structure, so here it is for the record:
The whole earth is the sepulcher of famous men, they are commemorated not only by columns and inscriptions in their own country but in foreign lands also. By memorials graven not on stone, but on the hearts of men.
Afterwards we headed to the center city and found ourselves underneath the giant, tourist-trap sky tower. Originally we thought it would be a good idea to go grab a drink at the top, but it was going to cost us $25 just to ride the elevator up and the restaurant was closing. Not really worth it if you ask me!
The next morning we caught the first ferry to Devenport. Here we sipped on coffee in a local cafe and checked out the local shops.
After coffee we hopped on the ferry once again to Rangitoto island (I’m slowly getting used to all the native Maori names across the country). Rangitoto is actually a dormant volcano–one that was formed only 600 years ago. Auckland is a city literally SURROUNDED by volcanoes! They are dormant, but most scientists warn to watch for eruption in the future.
After Rangitoto we ferry’d our way back to the big city, showered, & headed out to dinner at the Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe. We made friends with our Swedish waiter who told us his story of traveling to NZ for a working holiday, met his girlfriend, they moved to Sweden, and then she eventually made him move back to NZ with her. He recommended a Belgian blond beer called “La Chouffe” — it was fantastic.
Once dinner was done I found a Dunkin Donuts. Considering I can rarely even find Dunkins in Washington DC this really made my trip.
Our night ended, and the next day started with breakfast in Parnell, a visit to the Auckland museum (where we learned everything we wanted to know about Maori people, Kiwis in the World Wars, NZ dinosaurs, & volcanoes), for lunch we grabbed some fresh fish from the harbor fish market, & then begun our journey on Tamaki Drive. We timed this just right considering the sun was going down.
We had another hour before arriving to the airport. So what do we do? Find another Mexican restaurant. I finally found a somewhat decent margarita in New Zealand!
Overall, a wonderful weekend spent in the big city!
This upcoming week is looking like another busy work week, training for the 10k race I signed up for on June 3rd (so soon!), enjoying a bowling outing, and brainstorming what the next weekend adventure will be.
As always, Cheers!