Our journey started off as so many often do, a little harried and slightly frazzled due to some last minute flight amendments. I also wanted to arrive 10 years early (or thereabouts) for our flights due to warning of an increased security checks at all Australian Airports. James had ice hockey (can’t miss that!) so we hurriedly organised our bags and got a lift to the airport. I was expecting delays of epic proportions, but as it turns out we needn’t have worried. The only aspect that was different (even for me, and I work at the terminal) was the fact that there was a small table with security staff to check our cabin and checked in luggage prior to presenting ourselves to airport staff.
Although some might consider this an added hassle, in reality, it’s a positive! Most of the airports that I have visited (even the shed-type ones in Abuja, Nigeria) have this protocol*. There is no excuse for compromising safety. It’s fantastic to see procedures streamlined throughout the globe, and that Australia is now “on board” with global security measures.
The worry of travel was soon abated by the cool fizz of the champagne we were lucky enough to be sipping. We had lovely seats from PER-MEL, and even slept for a little while! In Melbourne, we passed through security and I was caught off guard by a Border Protection Officer that must’ve had an affinity for shoes! When he ushered me aside, despite my twice daily walk through the not-so-dazzling explosives trace wand at work, I could feel my blood pressure start to creep skyward. I thought that he was going to swab my boots for explosives, as they look like steel capped boots- they are not…and often in the states we have been stopped before.
All of my LAGs (liquids, aerosols and gels, I even know the acronym, hello!) met requirements, (100mls or less, in clear containers and a zip lock bag), my blood thinning medication was labelled, with an approval letter… plus James was carrying the bulk of it anyway! Just as I was about to mentally start panicking, Mr Border Force told me he liked my Timberlands and wanted to know the colour, style name and price. By now it was about 4am (and I had the pleasure of having 4am shifts all week, I was exhausted!) and I wasn’t paying much attention. I don’t think he was thrilled to know I had purchased them off a women’s website…go figure!
After an arduous flight to Auckland, we arrived mid-afternoon and caught a taxi to our first hotel of the trip, the Pullman Auckland. As always, due to my love of researching and general tendency to make lists, I had complied one (with the help of Urban List AKL, and matching emoji, naturally) to make our way through! We are burger enthusiasts, and because we don’t eat aircraft food (most people who have ever flown as crew will not touch it- most, if not all of the meals are sprayed with preservatives to make you feel full for longer. Also we had morning flights and I have an aversion to aircraft eggs. Gross. The remedy ; in order to quench caffeine cravings and “hangry Taylor” symptoms, we went to Starbucks (at James’ request) and then trekked for approximately 1 km, uphill in very heavy boots to Al’s Deli.
A New York Style diner that boasted cheesy, non-greasy burgers, honest chips and delectable donuts. After I had a “Big Al” and James had a “Bill Furlonger”, we were fuelled up for an afternoon of shopping & hiking up and down hills! We made our way to the Britomart, a trendy, cool, aesthetically pleasing & taste bud tantalizing collection of eateries and shops by the Auckland Harbour. Drinks were had at the classically industrial style Chamberlain Bar, which has a touch of old world charm thanks to the opulent gold beer taps and accents of 1920s Art Deco perfection. So much like!
The rest of our afternoon was spent meandering around the city, in our hotel spa and also walking up and down the water until we eventually settled on the first place that I had spotted, Café Hanoi at Britomart. In the interest of being relaxed and in holiday mode, we didn’t book any meals on this trip! We picked popular spots, most of which had bars attached where we enjoyed a drink and watched the world of Auckland go by. A lovely luxury to have on holidays! This isn’t usually possible as between us we both have rostering/training/sleep pattern issues. I was so impressed that on the first day of our trip, I had already ticked 3-4 places off of my Auckland List. Day One was definitely a success!
Things I Learnt Flying to Auckland as a Passenger;
- Book a transfer to/from the airport in advance. The shuttle bus costs approximately $35 NZD per person. A taxi is between $60-$100 NZD. For the hassle of catching the bus and the sake of approximately $10, it was easier for us to catch a taxi! I usually love Uber, but it can be hard to synchronize a pickup on dodgy airport wifi! Transfers have a fixed price, they just require a little more organizing!
- Pack “light” shoes. It was easy and convenient to over pack as crew. We rarely had our bags weighed and if they were heavy there are no monetary consequences. Travelling as a passenger, however, is a different story! I obviously needed my trusty Timberlands, for all of the hiking and outdoorsy things that was to come. I didn’t, however, factor in that we might be going to nice restaurants (of my choosing!) for dinner. Very unlike me. Usually, I over pack by about 3 seasons. In the spirit of being “ a wanderer” and “an adventurer” I threw caution to the wind and unpacked all of my “going out” clothes. The result was James looking fresh AF and me feeling akin to a small, mountainous toad, complete with oily hair and touristy footwear. Needless to say, this was not ideal OR reflected in my Instagram feed. I might be terrible at lying, but my Instagram feed isn’t!
- THERE ARE LOTS OF HILLS!
This has been my recap of Auckland City. Next up is a wander back to Waiheke Island!
p.s…That feeling when you have visited more than half of the QF Travel Insider’s “Most Instagrammed Places of 2016/2017”
*In fact at Dubai Airport, staff are so conscious of passengers carrying liquids on Australian flights that your bag is searched as you enter the Gate Lounge area. that if you have purchased a drink in the airport, you cannot take it into the gate area and consequently onto the aircraft.