We left home today at about 8:30 AM to head for the airport. There were few people in the lineups, so we got to our boarding gate fairly early for our flight to Los Angeles (LAX). I played a bit on my new iPad, then we boarded the plane at about 10:55 AM on flight AC570. During the flight, I drank orange juice and watched the movie “The Green Lantern”. We landed in Los Angeles at about 2:00 PM.
We had a very long stopover in LA. We started looking in a few shops before settling down to wait in the seats at the gate. Suddenly, my dad’s cousin Selwyn called and said he was coming to pick us up and take us to the beach! Selwyn drove us to Santa Monica, and we walked down the 3rd Street Promenade. This street is for pedestrians only, and is lined with many shops. There were also many singers and musicians performing their work, a puppeteer, and a crazy break dancer.
Perhaps one of my favourite things about the 3rd Street Promenade were the many dinosaur bush fountains lining the walkway.
It was very warm, lush, and sunny here. After walking down to the end of the promenade, we walked towards the beach.
Quite an exciting airport stopover this is turning out to be!
We touched the sand at the beach, laughed, and remarked how great it was to visit here on a short airplane stopover!
Then we continued onwards towards the Santa Monica pier. There were many people here, and also musicians and artists, like with the 3rd Street Promenade. The pier was also home to a police station and an amusement park. The amusement park reminded me very much of Brighton, England (where there also is an amusement park on a pier).
The pier has a “special” significance in that it is the end of Route 66. There is a sign announcing the end of the route and also some displays.
In general, there was a lot to see here. A favourite moment was seeing a man with a megaphone spouting off words like “They will destroy all of humanity!” and carrying a sign saying “WE WILL ALL PERISH TRANSFORMERS ARE COMING”. This is one of the best advertisements I have seen.
Of course there was also a good view of the beach.
Walking back, we had dinner at an Italian restaurant called Boce di Beppe. We had some appetizers and shared a tossed salad, penne san remo, and an Italian supremo pizza. There was a lot of food and we were all really full. At the restaurant we also met up with more relatives. Afterwards we had to return to the airport and left on our flight to New Zealand at 9:00 PM.
On the flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand I first watched a couple of movies. These included Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and X-Men: Last Stand. A dinner was also served, including chicken, mashed potatoes with zucchini, a salad, and berry cake. I tried to sleep after that. For breakfast I had a fruit platter, yogurt, and a pineapple coconut muffin. Meanwhile, I also watched The Emperor’s New Groove. The plane landed on April 30 at 5:15 AM in New Zealand.
We collected baggage, passed through customs, and then took a taxi to our hotel/apartment room at the Celestion Waldorf apartments. Luckily we were provided with a room that early in the morning. It was very nice with two bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, comfy sofa, and balcony. We washed up, then went to walk around the city. We passed through the streets exploring, before stopping at a Countdown (grocery store). Here, we bought a cheese and bacon pull-apart bread for second breakfast. We were eating our bread, when a whole bunch of people started coming down the street, and bagpipes were playing. Surprised, we dashed out of the grocery store to see what the excitement was. Turns out there were a bunch of people graduating from the University of Auckland, who were parading down the street.
After that, we continued walking until we got to the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is the highest free standing tower in the southern hemisphere, at 328m tall from ground to mast. At the main deck and observation deck, a wonderful view of Auckland could be seen. This was a good chance for us to see our surroundings having just arrived!
Another fantastic view from the other side of the tower
If you need an adrenaline rush, you can partake in the “SkyJump”. Although I would not ever do this myself, it was amusing to watch other people instead. In the SkyJump, a person jumps from the observation deck to the ground. They are attached to cables which guides their path to a sort of target/trampoline looking thing by the base of the tower.
In case you are interested in this sort of thing, check this out as well! 😉
The elevator was also scary because it moved really fast and had glass windows and a glass floor. Enjoy this quick video of the elevator ride going down.
After just arriving at a new place, it’s always a good time when you go for a walk to look around and explore. Everything you see is new – the buildings and streets, plants, and people.
After leaving the Sky Tower, we tried to walk to the “Victoria Park Market“. Well, it turns out there was nothing to see here except for an old and unusual chimney on one of the buildings. Instead, we went a few blocks further and went into a large building that looked like a warehouse, but had a couple of stores in it – Helen Cherry and a coffee shop/historic motorcycles display. Other than this, there wasn’t much here either. Apparently, this building was mostly being used as a big car park, but the space was also being rented out to the couple shops here.
Continuing our walk, we went towards the harbour. First we went by Viaduct Harbour. This used to be the old harbour in Auckland, but has since been converted to upscale shops. Eventually, we came near the water, and walked around the Viaduct Basin. The ocean was quite beautiful.
Continuing along the water, we went by the National Maritime Museum and made note that we would have to take some time to visit here at some point during our visit in the city. Then we went down a wharf. Here, there were some unusual buildings, which were shaped to look like two ships. This was actually a Hilton hotel.
Past the wharf, we went by the Ferry building. Also there was a neat looking shark bus parked by the road!
For lunch we stopped by a mall. We ate at St. Pierre’s Sushi at a food court. My food had sushi, salad, shrimps, some fish ball sort of things (?) and sashimi.
Then we went to an electronics store to buy a GPS with NZ maps, and a Countdown supermarket on Quay Street to pick up some groceries for dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. For the afternoon, we had a quiet time in the room as we were tired from the long travel to New Zealand today.
For supper, we had lamb chops, broccoli and brown rice. I also ate a beurre bosch pear. We didn’t do much after supper and went to sleep fairly early. Good night!
This morning for breakfast, I had cereal (Vanilla Almond Cluster Crisps), and a feijoa. The feijoa is a little green fruit that looks like an avocado a bit. The texture is like a pear, but smells like a kiwi. It tastes like a sweet tart candy (sweet like candy but also is sour and tangy).
We went out, walking by the harbour on our way to the fish market. It was a nice sunny day with lots of boats and yachts.
We crossed a bridge that lifts up to let boats through (Wynyard Bridge). There were some funny things along the way including short colourful chairs on artificial turf, and washrooms in railroad train carts.
We arrived at the fish market soon after. It was a lot of fun looking at all the produce and fish for sale, as there are many different things being sold there compared to at home.
From the fish market we bought live mussels and a whole trevally fish.
We headed back to the room, first stopping at the Voyageur Maritime Museum. Here, there were exhibits about yacht building and racing for the America’s Cup. There were also displays of lighthouses, historical ships, and Maori canoes.
After this museum we had lunch back at our room and cooked up the trevally fillets. I also had brown rice and some yogurt.
In the afternoon we walked away from the city centre, past the University of Auckland to Auckland Domain, a large park. The Auckland War Museum is also in the Auckland Domain, and we went through some paths to get there (Domain Walk). The vegetation is like a jungle with lots of ferns and large trees (redwood, norfolk pine, etc.)
The museum had a Maori presentation at 1:30 PM. In the show, the Maori sang songs, such as one for battle. They also demonstrated some of their pastimes such as swinging a ball on a string, and wooden sticks. We walked around the museum after that, and saw a Maori artifacts exhibit, Pacific lifestyles (items from indigenous people on Southern Islands like Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji, etc.), natural history, and volcanoes. There was an entertaining exhibit in the volcano section where you sit in a “house” and it simulates an underwater volcano erupting in the bay “outside”.
Despite being called a war museum, this museum is actually more a general museum. But also, we didn’t actually have enough time to visit the third floor with the war exhibits. We walked back to our room after we had finished looking.
For supper, we cooked up the live New Zealand mussels we got from the market, which were really big! They were also really yummy. We ate these with some broccoli and brown rice.