Hops and Skips

Travel Dispatch: A Walk in Auckland

In the past 2 days, we’ve done nothing but walk Auckland. No buses; no taxis; just our feet. 

Traveling with modern technology is an entirely different experience than my European travels of 6-8 years ago. With travel guides downloaded on iPhones, we can never really get lost while wandering. We followed a “City Centre” tour found in one of the books, taking us 4.3 km around downtown. Through an arcade with cute shops to Myers Park, surrounded by luxury apartment buildings; Albert Park and Victorian Gardens. Hopped on a free tour at the Auckland Art Gallery. Had a quick pint at a craft beer pub on Vulcan Lane (Auckland’s version of lower Manhattan’s Stone Street). Headed over to the wharf and enjoyed a late sushi lunch on the wharf; watched kids in a skate park extreme scootering. (Yes, scootering.) 

This city is hard to figure out. In parts, it’s like Europe. In more parts, like San Francisco. It has hills and hills; it’s large but walkable; it never feels crowded, only comfortable. The architecture here is so unlike any I’ve seen before; lots of corrugated metal and side paneling. Our hosts tell us that real estate in Auckland just became more expensive than London. 

Today, we started a journey called the Coast to Coast Walk that takes you about 10 miles through the eastern part of the city. The highlight is Mt. Eden, the highest volcano in Auckland. I like to think of this as the Twin Peaks of Auckland; the views are so similar—both gorgeous. On Mt. Eden, though, you can actually tell you’re at the top of a volcano because there is a HUGE crater in the middle. It was absurdly windy at the top. (Seems to be windy here ALL THE TIME).

Quit the Coast to Coast Walk halfway through, after Mt. Eden, because SO MUCH WALKING and serious hangry. Fortunately, found a good late lunch at a noodle shop.

—Travel journal, January 22, 2014

It was during this holiday weekend that, nine years ago (!!), we embarked upon the trip that really cemented our travel obsession. We were packed for a month in New Zealand, followed by a month through Argentina, Chile, and Peru. [Coincidentally, it’s the same weekend seventeen years ago (ughhhh) that I hopped the pond with my still-closest friends for our college semester abroad in London.] I remember how absolute freeing it felt to travel this way, to be hopping on a plane to a destination with no scheduled itinerary, nor any real idea of where we would go from there.

During this time of my life—and the following handful of years before kids—I journaled religiously from the road. Sometimes, it was a mere checklist description of how we spent the day; others, I recorded poetic descriptions and existential musings. I have notebooks filled with writing that I have never re-visited. My life has evolved, and I have evolved; but documented in these pages exists a version of myself that has gradually, and often without realizing it, become a bit of a stranger.

Without delving too far down a rabbit hole of nostalgia, I believe there’s value in returning to our own histories. Some parts are cringe-worthy, yes, but others are great reminders of our own stories, linking the moments and pieces of ourselves that have built the version we exist as today. The memories flood back, and we are once again our former selves, climbing that endless hill in Auckland, hungry for some noodles.

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