Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weekend by Weekend

I have one lament concerning Auckland. I acknowledge I was thoroughly spoiled by my last big-city experience. Three weeks in San Francisco somewhat raises one's standards of convenient local transportation and not only does Auckland lack this but it is so spread out in comparison to SF that walking is not nearly as much of a happy alternative.

So I'm covering this city inch by inch, weekend by weekend and that means I still have loads of ground to cover. Especially because when I say Auckland, I mean North Shore City/Auckland City. Just go with it.

Last weekend I got to explore new areas with a new friend and my feet loved the walk up Queen Street -- the mingling with the locals, the discovery of an orangey-red vintage purse on K. Road, the details on the old buildings, the worn signs on the new, the countless Asian discount shops, and the kumara chips (french fries) at Burger Fuel. (Yes, I have come to love a place with such an un-lovely name as Burger Fuel. But you would, too, if you tried their well-salted kumara chips with creamy, garlicy aioli.)

Details from the beautiful afternooon:




Saturday, October 24, 2009

Holidaying in Raglan

Like I have mentioned, among my most cherished moments in returning to New Zealand have been reunions with old friends.

Almost two weeks ago, two friends (one acquired at the age of five and the other as friend-number-one fell in love with and married friend-number-two) drove up to Auckland for long-awaited conversations carried out with no computer in between. Of all the people I've looked forward to seeing while here, P. and H. were among the top.

We headed down to Raglan on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to spend three nights at their bach (Kiwi for vacation home). It was a lovely two-hour drive south of the city to Hamilton and then due west. The road between Hamilton and Raglan climbed to stunning views, but I knew that attempts at truly capturing it through the car window, in all its splendor - the sharp peeks and diving valleys, some shaved to clean green grass and others populated with trees - were slim.

Once in Raglan, there were plenty of photo ops, but it turned out that my favorite place to pull out the camera was at a cafe called Tongue & Groove. We went there twice for coffee, and it was just the sort of place I'd like to always have down the road. Painted wood floors with the dark naked boards revealed from wear, vintage patterned counter tops in alternating colors, a chalkboard menu, and even a table fashioned from half a surfboard protruding from the wall and paired with old brown leather theater chairs. Lovely aesthetics, friendly staff, and a damn good cappuccino.

Tongue and Groove 1

Below is an earl grey tea that I purchased on my first visit. Then there's the brownie the three of us shared while sitting at the surfboard table.

Tongue and Groove 4

Tongue and Groove 2

But just so you know we didn't sit inside all day, here are some photos from around the area.




Thursday, October 22, 2009

Essential Details


One Hungry Soul has been haunting me. Each photograph my camera captures translates to something else to blog about - my new life in this gorgeous country deserves much more documentation than I am allotting it. And so, as I sit on my bed on this quiet night, I retrace my steps over the past few weeks, hoping not to miss the essential details that desire to be shared.

Here's one: Sharing a warm, dry home with a seven-year-old and his mother as the spring rain persists in the watering of already drenched soil.



I moved out of that sweet little house a week ago but want to offer a glimpse into my surroundings there before this blog moves on as well.




During the hushed gaps in the coming weekend, I anticipate a more thorough catch-up on life's photo log.

Beaches and plenty of cappuccino cups await.

beauty neglected

Sunday, October 4, 2009

With Old Friends


I think it is well established that New Zealand is a beautiful place. So let's not dwell on the lush fern forests and brilliantly green paddocks and the way some sort of flower always manages to be showing its face, no matter the season.

Just as wonderful as it is to be living in this aesthetically pleasing land, I find reunions with old friends equally soul-satisfying.


Yesterday a young man picked up my sister and I for lunch, a man who I last saw fifteen years ago, when he was eight years old and had round cheeks and the ability to sing a few octaves higher, surely. These days he's tall and thin and often in the company of his lovely fiancee, a startling realization of just how fast we have grown up.

The four of us shared a delicious meal together at Takapuna Beach, where the scenery, food, and company were thoroughly enjoyable -- even with the burst of rain on the way back to the car. Once the summer sun comes out to stay, I hope to venture back. Any place that serves poached feijoas and greek yoghurt over brazil nut and linseed granola (yes, they actually used the American term "granola"), especially within glass wall that face the beach, wins a bit of my heart.

When I start to wonder if New Zealand possesses any authentic "homey-ness" to me anymore, or if the years of distance have wiped it all away, the act of rekindling friendships comes as a comforting gift.