Auckland is always such a city of contrasts. I got to Wellington Airport with much time to spare, so I read the paper cover to cover, perching preacriously on a stupidly slippery stainless steel stool, after surrendering my armchair to an army of annoying angry women who surrounded me and chatted incessantly and loudly. Of course being there early meant my flight was late coming in, and so in a hurray I decided to take a shuttle to my hotel instead of the airport bus. $26 bought me a seat with nine others, a long trip through Grey Lynn past Heather’s house and Canton where I was due for dinner, and I was the last person to be dropped off. Dammit!
But there was no time to fume. The Quadrant’s lobby was stark white and filled with scented candles. I rolled my bag down the long white walkway through the bar area and into a lift that had an embedded TV screen playing Juice. My room was tiny but functional. I discovered to my perverse joy later that I could sit on the toilet, blowdry my hair, drink vodka and watch TV all at the same time. What more could anyone want? A quick shower later, I was in a corporate cab from the Hyatt next door on my way to Kingsland. The sun was setting and reflected in all the shiny new architecture along Symonds Street. It was a beautiful view, but holy fuck, $18 for that distance? That amount would have got me to Greenlane in the olden days!
I grabbed two bottles of wine from Weta Wines, pleased it was still there and still open, and headed to Canton. There were still people at the table I’d booked (bastards!) so I went and stood on the street outside. Bopha came up and left to get cash and wine. Amy & Ross came along and left to get wine. Then came Martina and Heather. Robyn and Heather’s b/f Ben eventually completed our party, since Clay and Nige flaked.
I had been salivating over the prospect of dinner at Canton since I booked my tickets up to Auckland, and while the large group and noise of the place made converastion difficult, the food didn’t disappoint. As usual, I was appointed/appointed myself chief orderer, so with some deference to Martina’s vegetarianism, we had: black bean hapuku, sweet & sour pork, sizzling venison with ginger & spring onions, crispy roast pork, special black chilli chicken, sizzling vegetables and egg noodles with fried veges. YUM! Two people took doggie bags home, and with tea and dim sum and rice and corkage, we each paid $19.25. So good!
Afterwards we were going to go to Ruby for more drinks, but it was too loud, and so we settled on the Kingslander for a couple more bottles of wine. There were television screens EVERYWHERE, it was most distracting. But good to be able to converse. I like my friends. I cabbed back to the hotel eventually, and debated ordering porn from the in-house video system, just because I could, but it was $17.95 per movie, so I settled for watching Wild On: Naked instead. Genius.
The next morning, I set my alarm for 10.30 so I could wake up to meet Heather who was coming to the hotel at 11. We discovered that breakfast stopped being served at 10am, so tragedy of tragedies, we had to go straight for bubbly and cheese. As we sat in the sunny courtyard and I started to burn, we heard someone playing an electric guitar, and the sound bounced off the building next door. Given that Heather’d spotted John Toogood and Phil Knight in the lobby, we were happy to think that it was Shihad playing in our hotel, but it sounded pretty terrible, so maybe it was Grinspoon instead, who were due to be opening for Muse that night.
Once the sun got to be a bit too much, we tried to pay our bill, which took forever (the staff were friendly but not highly competant), and we got changed and went into the spa. Hurray! Yeah, a spa on a hot day after drinking caffiene and alcohol might not be the smartest idea ever, but it was loooooooovely. And then it was quite obviously time for lunch, so we strolled down to the Art Gallery, hoping to have lunch there, but found it was shut. Luckily Rueben at the New Art Gallery was open, so we parked ourselves on one of the balconies there, I had an average lamb salad, Heather had amazing french toast, and we had a totally unnecessary but very happy bottle of Deutz as well. Mmmmmm indulgence! And then just to show that we’re not totally cultureless, we went around the art gallery too. Upstairs was an exhibition called Making Worlds, which was really bloody cool. They had a seven minute animation loop called “City Glow” going on in a darkened room, which I totally could have watched all day. Although it made me feel far too Jessica Simpsony lame and pointless when I saw it was produced by Takashi Murakami and I was like “He did those brightly coloured Louis Vittion prints!”. Like I need to know that.
Eventually Heather and I parted company, and I went back to the hotel for naps and snacks, before KateH came to pick me up in the evening. We went to her beautiful house which is down by the water, and had a few drinks while we waited for the Checks and Grinspoon to get off the stage. Drive-thru burgers from Wendy’s ensured that our timing was perfect to actually get a park by the Waitakere Stadium, and we’d only missed two of Muse’s songs. We’re both so old now that we didn’t mind that at all. When did I stop queuing for things hours before they began? Was it around the same time that my knees started to go? But anyways, the gig was AMAZING. So good. When they played ‘Hysteria’, I had an auralgasm of the kind I hadn’t experienced since Dimmer. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Totally matched up to my dirty dream that featured it prominently in it. And we saw Amanda and Darren, which was nice, and left when they turned on the lights. And then we were naughty and had an after-hours spa back at the hotel, which was fantastic for sore feet and knees, especially since it was merely lukewarm. Best Friday EVER!
The next morning was Saturday, and I slept in, loving the bed, before I decided it was time to drag my ass out into the streets. I strolled down to Gloria to have breakfast, where my French toast wasn’t as good as Heather’s, but the coffees were nice and I read the paper cover to cover. Then I got on the link bus to go to the museum, but I started feeling all nostalgic and weird, because of all the memories of the route (which are detailed in ‘Link’ in 101 Stories that I want to tell you of course) and so I decided to just stay on the bus and go all the way around the city. Well, I got off briefly in Ponsonby to buy vodka and bread, but you know what I mean.
Finally it was time for me to meet Martina and David and also Karl at the Queen Street bus stop to go to the Lynfield YMCA for the wrestling. Oh yes. I went west, life is peaceful there. I went west, people had terrible hair. The ride on the 257 was pretty full of nostalgia too, given the two flats I lived in on/off Dominion Road. It was also interesting hearing other people’s stories, like where they lost their virginities. And drinking vodka from a ginger ale bottle made me feel like a fourteen year old again, and who doesn’t like that? We got to Lynfield with some time to spare, so we hunted out food for the boys, and I sang the YMCA song a lot with the actions, and we took this photo in front of the vets. And now I might just revert into a photo montage to sum up the awesomeness of the wrestling, and my brand new boyfriend with a spectacular ginger mullet.
After a cold long wait for the bus, we all started falling asleep on the back seat. Nevertheless, Martina and David came back to my hotel room for a while, and helped me polish off the remaining food and vodka, and I stayed up late watching E! again. Good times.
On Sunday I was expecting to have brunch with Bopha and Clayton, but she was stuck out west somewhere, and Clayton made other plans, so after checking out at 12 and leaving my suitcase with reception, I returned to Gloria to have a very very long breakfast by myself with the Sunday Star Times. Finally it was getting near time to find myself an airport bus, so I went to get my suitcase, and I asked them where the airport bus stop was, and they told me down on Symonds Street. So I rolled my case up to a stop in the hot hot sun, but couldn’t find any markings on it to indicate that the airport bus might stop there. I rang Maxx, and they gave me the number for the airport bus company, and I couldn’t find a human, but it did mention the route, listing the Hyatt which was right next to the Quadrant, so disgruntledly I rolled back up to the Hyatt, and the doorman told me the stop was right in front of the Quadrant. Cheers clever desk staff! So I was hot and stinky and smelly then, and worried that I might not make it to the airport in time, when a shuttle pulled up in front of me and told me he’d drive me to the airport for $15, the same as the bus, since he was going that way anyway. Yay! That shuttle totally redeemed the shuttle in. And so that was the end of my time in Auckland. Very good fun indeed.