Auckland on My Mind

How can I forget Auckland? Although we spent less than 2 days there, it was our gateway to lovely New Zealand.
This was the first NZ trip for me and my husband. In fact, this was our first trip outside Asia. Initially, I was quite relaxed about it as we were travelling as a group of 18 for a training in Hamilton. And then we were going to be picked up by our Hamilton host from the Auckland airport. But then as it turned out, our visas were released quite late so our group booking was no longer held by the travel agency. Bummer!
We ended up booking all 18 of us online once our visas were released (just less than a week before our scheduled training in Hamilton). And that’s a huge number to do in one night (well, it actually lasted until morning). So to make the story short, Daryl and I were separated from the group in booking our flights. We ended flying a day earlier than rest of the group so I had to make arrangements on our overnight stay in Auckland.

Someone from Middle Earth welcomed us at the airport ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks to my former boss Cherry who is now Auckland-based. It was she who gave me practical and inexpensive hotel options when I chatted up with her via messenger. Not only that, she personally picked us up at the airport and gave us a hearty late lunch, drove us a bitย  around the city and then dropped us off at our hotel ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Our hotel, Ibis Budget Hotel, is just near the airport and without a lot of luggage on you can be an easy walk from the airport and vice versa.

We had late lunch at Szimpla Gastro Bar where I ordered Fish and Chips.

The next day, Daryl and I took the bus from our hotel to the airport and met the rest of the group. We were then picked up by our Hamilton host and went ahead to Hamilton.
Behind me is Ibis Hotel where we checked in.

Some thoughts on my mind during our Auckland stay:

  • It’s always helpful to have someone you know in the city or country you are visiting for the first time. They can give you very practical advice about your lodging place, meals, etc.
  • The normal and basic things we do in our home country is a new adventure or challenge in a country we are visiting for the 1st time. For instance, Daryl and I had to ask the hotel staff how to operate the machine in the hotel which issues the bus tickets we needed ๐Ÿ™‚ It seemed complicated ๐Ÿ™‚ย And yes, we had to orient ourselves with their money.
  • It is such a blessing indeed that we can do so many things now online especially if we are short of time, from airline bookings to hotel bookings. Before this trip, I was quite familiar doing online booking for domestic airline and hotel accommodation but this was a first for me to book not only for our Bangkok flights and lay-over accommodation but also for our NZ flights and accommodation. How different it truly has been from the past when we seem to be at the mercy of travel agents and airline and hotel booking staff.
  • Going to new places and cultures expands us in many ways ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Being taken from our own comfort zone may not always be fun but it is ultimately good for us.

Villa Maria, said to be New Zealand’s most awarded winery, isn’t a far drive from our hotel and the airport.

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