Today 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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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