Crossing the date-line doesn’t hurt, in fact, you don’t feel it at all. It’s all just on paper and in your head: taking off from Santiago de Chile at 22:50 on Monday and arriving in Auckland, New Zealand at 4 in the morning on Wednesday. Actual flying time: 13.5 hours, roughly the same as Frankfurt – San Francisco. But it feels different, like I should be getting a gift certificate to cash in for the lost day. I suppose I will get it back in increments, as I continue flying west ….
Excellent flight on LAN, by the way. I am not a jaded business-class traveller who takes these things for granted, so, boy, did I love those fold-down-to absolute-flat seats, the pilllows and duvets cased in ironed percale cotton covers and the sheer space available. I could easily have slept those 13.5 hours, except that I felt so happy, safe and comfortable lying, extended in full comfort and enjoying the smooth flight, that I barely slept a wink.
Arriving in Auckland at that pre-dawn time, I was surprised to find many services functioning already (but then again, it is in their interest to do so, since there are several overseas flights arriving): the duty free store, at least one bank, newspaper stand and a coffee shop – located in a converted “Airstream” aluminium caravan from the 50s, on the sidewalk, where everybody waits for bus/taxi/pickup, smart business idea.
I had informed myself online, but not made any hotel reservation yet. I decided to give the Aspen House a try because of their good rating on Lonely Planet and the fact that I knew they had space as well as being smack in the center of the city. Also, they had a two nights-for-one-deal going. Arriving at Emily Place via the shuttle-bus service at about 5:30 a.m., I am greeted by the single, loud and melodious song of an invisible bird hidden in what I later see is a charming city park, with four gingko trees, several rubber and palm trees, all easily over 100 years old. Aspen House is divided into a hostel and a hotel wing.
As a lady-in-her-prime, I choose a hotel room with private bath at $NZ65 a night. The high-ceiling room is adequate and clean, painted pale gray with one rust-red wall and a small window giving onto a blind inner courtyard. There is a slight resemblance to a prison cell, but maybe this is just the newest look in post-moderne-retro décor. At any rate, the double bed is incredibly welcoming, as I sink into it for a few hours of catch-up sleep.
A couple of days later, I move to the Waldorf Stadium Apartments, a building just opened in January 2009 with excellently appointed serviced apartments. I chose a studio of about 40 sq. meters, with a little kitchenette fully equipped including a cute dishwasher-in-a-rollout-drawer, my own washer and dryer, high speed internet and a city view. In addition, city buses stop right outside the door and Auckland’s largest 24/7 supermarket is right around the corner. The weather is rather inclement, to but it elegantly… I think I will hibernate here for a few days.