Saturday, December 12, 2009

40 Years in the Making

imageToday is my 40th birthday.  It’s also my 17th wedding anniversary.  I joke and tell people that I couldn’t face my 40th at home, so I’ve headed across the world to celebrate it.  Actually this is paybacks.  For James’ 40th, I kidnapped him to Alaska for a cruise.  He looked at me two years ago and said, “I’ll never surprise you.  Where do you want to go?”  Well, here we are!

The day started with landing at the airport at 5 am.  We felt like how these Maori masks look!

image image Fortunately we were able to get a room when we arrived at the hotel in Auckland and took a three hour nap.  After getting cleaned up we began to feel closer to normal and went out in search of food and exploring the city.

Lunch was at the Viaduct Harbor.  Auckland is known as the City of Sails and even has hosted the America’s Cup.  A couple of of the actually racing boats are now used for the “Ultimate America’s Cup” experience and were pulling out as we arrived.  Maybe we’ll do that tomorrow…


One thing we’ve been amused about is the Christmas music floating through the air - “Oh hear those sleigh bells ringing and jing jing jingling too – outside it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you”  AND how there is not a snowflake in sight here.  During lunch, we watched a local bag pipe group march by playing Jingle Bells.


From lunch we walked over to the Sky Tower – the highest building in the southern hemisphere.  It is actually taller than the Effiel tower.  We didn’t intend this, but on James’ 40th we went up the Space Needle in Seattle on our way to Alaska, so it seemed right to do this today.

image Of course there were brilliant views of the harbor, the marinas, the outlying islands, and the city.  Auckland is part of the ring of fire in the Pacific and much of it was created from volcanos.  We were told from this view the trained eye can see 40-something volcanoes, but only if we were careful could we see 20-something.  The second photo shows 3 of the largest – Mount Eden, One Tree Hill and Mount Hudson.  I lost count early on.  I’m not sure my brain is up to math this day – I keep saying it’s the jet lag and not the birthday!

image image The main observation deck is at 186 meters high (about 575 feet).  Scattered around the deck were clear 38 mm thick (or 1.5 inch thick) glass sections.  It was unnerving to look down, much less to walk on the glass.  I kept saying “This is all mental.  This is all mental.”  So I worked my way out onto it and took a picture.  It was easier the second time, but I knew then and there the bungee jumping off the tower was not in my future – nor was the walking outside on the roof of the observation deck.

image Dinner was then on the docket and we wandered through a park near the Auckland Museum and stumbled on the Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park celebration.  Not any different than a 4th of July Celebration in the States complete with “American Hot dogs” and deep fat fried donuts – just a different theme and more music about snow…  Do they really get in the mood with this music in such contrast to the reality of the way they live?  They were having fun! 

image We are proud to say we have made it to 10 pm at night, but that does it for us.  Good night from Auckland!


For more pics – check out:


Life Looms Large said...

Happy Birthday!!! Looks like a great start to your trip!! Thanks for bringing us along via your camera.

Now I'm thinking of more famous towers for you guys for different major birthdays. I nominate the Eiffel Tower!!

Have fun!


Theresa said...

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary!
Pictures, amazing. I know very little about that part of the world as far as culture. The wildlife shows yes, but other things...not so much. I would have found the glass floor cutouts rather unnerving too.
Isn't it odd to see folks dressed in shorts singing about snow and Christmas? Same way in TX.
A Coca-Cola Christmas??? Talk about the americanization of the world....

Valerie said...

Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary!! What a wonderful trip/present. Thank you for sharing with us!

charlotte said...

Happy birthday and happy anniversary! What a great idea to go on such an exciting trip. By the way, I turned 40 in October.

K Spoering said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate a decade-birthday! I would so not be able to stand on that glass floor. As my 3-yr. old grandson would note, "you were SOOOO brave!"

Beautiful post. I look forward to more!

Jennifer said...

Thank you all! It is almost unconceivable that we're here - wich I'm glad that we'll be here SOOOOOO long - that way it will all sink in! We slept 10 hours last night - I think we are making the time transition!!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday sweet sister! It is your birthday here as I write this...but when you read it will already be tomorrow. Have Fun Fun Fun!! Soak up every moment and know we will be at home waiting to hear all about it! Hugs and Kisses, J

Kaite said...

Congrats on a significant birthday and many happy returns, i hope you both enjoy NZ to the fullest. As for the snow music, we do it here in Oz too, complete with decorated fir trees, and often a traditional baked christmas dinner. Sometimes it's just the pudding, but there's a lot of Europe in our christmases too. It's so silly but i don't think anyone notices it anymore, except tourists from the Northern hemisphere.
Thanks for the nice comments about my woolly basket.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! Great that you are able to blog and share the photos with us all! Like an online diarly! Evelyn