After we learned that we (probably) hadn’t caused the power outage in the largest city in New Zealand, we relaxed a little bit.  But not enough to actually sleep.

A cute little restaurant we had seen earlier in the day was closed because of the power failure (damn that fan!), so we figured we’d go for a wander and see if we could find our way down to the docks.  We knew we wanted to take a ferry in the morning, so might as well do a test-run.

Auckland is a bit like Seattle (the vibe & the big tower), a bit like West Los Angeles (the hip open-air cafes), a bit like San Francisco (the piers and tourists), and a bit like Atlanta (the hot and the wet).

As usual when Cece and I decide to take a walk in an unfamiliar city, we got lost. But this is part of the fun, and we always had the Sky Tower as a handy directional reference.  Like Jake M would say the next day, it’s like having a giant thumbtack in the life-size map of the city, always letting you know where you are.

The Thumbtack of the Gods

We were staying in a mildly trendy section of town called Ponsonby. Kind of West-Hollywoody, without the friends of Dorothy. We found our way down to the waterfront in a little over an hour, found the ferry pier, had a beer (on empty stomachs and only 5 hours of sleep in the last 40 hours – woo hoo!), and walked up Queen Street to get back home.

Queen Street is one of the main drags of Auckland, full of shops and restaurants and stuff.  At one point we detoured to see a big stone arch, and found ourselves in Albert Park.  By now it was maybe 9 pm, and it was just getting dark.

We walked through Albert Park in the twilight, detouring again to check out some church architecture (these detours are why we tend to get happily lost), then found our way back uphill to Queen Street to head for the hostel.

This church pulled us off course, like a Siren from Greek myth. Except without the singing.

(Oh, the “uphill” thing reminds me to mention … like San Francisco, Auckland is a city of hills.  Or, rather, dormant volcanoes.  Our leisurely three-hour wander through the city was mostly up- or down-hill.  Our out-of-shape American asses were none too happy about this situation, but we placated our achin’ thighs with that beer I mentioned before.)

The road that connects Queen Street with Ponsonby is Karangahape.  Karangahape is the bad part of town.

But “bad” is relative.  We passed a lot of gaming parlors (gambling is legal in NZ) and, we think, a few ladies of the evening (prostitution is legal too).  Also, lots of little bars and restaurants and people having fun.

Eventually, we found our way back to Ponsonby and, to our great shame, stopped at a KFC for a late-night dinner.

We’re sorry.  Really.  It’s just that we had been walking for three hours and it was late and we were exhausted.  We’re not those kind of tourists, who travel halfway around the world and then seek out the nearest McDonald’s.

(Please don’t send us home.  We’ll be good.)

So we staggered back to the hostel and laid on our bed, propping KFC boxes on our chests and falling asleep while chewing.  Yeah.  Sorry.

Tomorrow, we’ll redeem ourselves out of the Ugly American sweepstakes.

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