Friday, October 14, 2005

Day 127 - Auckland, New Zealand

Day 127 – 13th October 2005 +12:00 GMT

Headed across the city to Victoria Market and Victoria Park, we had a look around at all the market stands and shops, then sat down for a full breakfast and some lovely hot chocolate.

Victoria Market

We spent about an hour in the market then walked across Victoria Park and up to Viaduct Harbour where all the expensive boats are anchored.

Viaduct Harbour

We then walked along Princess Wharf which has the hotel in a shape of a boat on it and then back along through town to the hotel.

View From Princess Wharf

I had a nap for a couple of hours and then decided I would try my luck again at the casino, I spent about 3 hours playing blackjack and roulette, found I could correctly card count an 8 deck shoe of cards and played perfectly.

Sky City Casino

I then went back to the hotel and grabbed Jill and we went into the city centre again to look for a restaurant, We ended up at Wagamama where I had a great dish of Chicken, Prawns, Japanese fishcakes, peppers and onions with noodles covered in ginger. After we ate Jill and I just headed back to the hotel and watched the television for the night.

Day 126 - Auckland, New Zealand

Day 126 – 12th October 2005 +12:00 GMT

Woke up around 9am and after we were all dressed and showered we went down to the kitchen/lounge area and had some tea and discussed where we were going to go around the north island and how long we would stay at each place. After a couple of hours we then headed out the door. We walked to Parnell Village which has lots of boutiques and small cafes.


We stopped for brunch at one and I had a full English breakfast, the bacon over here is really sweet. After we had eaten we carried on through Parnell and walked into Auckland Domain which is a large park and has the Auckland Museum in it.

Auckland Museum

The ground floor of the Auckland Museum is covering Maori history and has several Maori houses and canoes showing.

A Maori House

The second floor covers Maori Treasures and then it has sections on Land, Coastal and Oceans. They had a weird and wonderful section which had cages with Spider, Cockroaches, Chameleons, and tanks with Fish. They had loads of interactive stuff and a section called Tails and Treasures which had lots of toys and games. The top floor consisted of a war memorial and the history of New Zealand’s involvement in the wars. We then left the museum and walked through Auckland Domain.

Auckland Domain

Auckland Domain

Auckland Domain

Then passed Auckland University and into Albert Park which was full of students lying on the grass. We then walked back into the city centre and went to the top of the Sky Tower which has an observation deck at 220 Metres.

Sky Tower

This gave us fantastic views over all of Auckland. You can do a sky dive of the top of the tower although you are connected to a wire for safe landing, unfortunately this cost $185 so I did not do it.

View of Auckland from Sky Tower

View of Auckland from Sky Tower

View of Auckland from Sky Tower

View of Auckland from Sky Tower

Me at the top of the Sky Tower

After an hour admiring the view we left the sky tower and I went to the casino as it is in the same building for an hour and played blackjack, Jill and Reece went to the pub. We met up after and hour and after stopping to look around a few shops we made our way back to the hotel. In the evening we got a Taxi to Mission Bay area and went for an Indian Meal. I had the Chicken Do Piaza which was very nice with a good garlic nan and a glass of red wine. Reece had left his camera here the night before so it was an excuse for him to go back. We then got a Taxi back to the Hotel and we all went to sleep.

Day 125 - Auckland, New Zealand

Day 125 – 11th October 2005 +12:00 GMT Total Miles 26657

Woke up after about 4 hours sleep and had breakfast served to me, Fresh Fruit a Yoghurt and a hot Flan with sausage and egg and mushroom, followed by Orange Juice and a cup of tea. I settled down and finished my book just as we landed. Made our way through Immigration and customs with no problems, although two people behind us had got stopped and charged $200 for having an apple in their handbags. You can not bring any food into New Zealand, you have to declare it if you do, they said they had no fruit and ended up getting a hefty fine for one apple you can be prosecuted and fined up to $100,000. We left all our food on the plane just to be on the safe side. We made our way out the airport and after a quick chat with the local information point for a shuttle to out Hotel, Aspen Place Hotel, They let us check in at 8am which was very nice and we dumped our bags and headed straight for there free breakfast. After we had eaten all we could we crashed out in our room for several hours catching up on the ever so needed beauty sleep. Reece and I then went for a walk along the waterfront and visited the tourist information and got some flyers covering most of New Zealand. When we got back to the room Jill was awake so we all headed into the city centre where we wandered around looking in shops and getting a feel for the place.

Auckland Square

Auckland City Hall

Stopped for a beer at the Shakespeare Tavern and had a few games of pool and a great chicken curry. When then went back to the hotel for some more sleep, after a couple of hours I decided to visit the Skyrise Casino and played blackjack for a couple of hours. Went back to the hotel and promptly fell asleep.

Day 124 - Nowhere

Day 124 – 10th October 2005 ???? GMT

Well for me today does not exist, for my Grandma it does as it is her Birthday so Happy Birthday Grandma. It’s kind of a strange concept losing a day we take off on Sunday at 4:30pm and arrive Tuesday at 6:10am. Due to us crossing the international date line it jumps from Sunday 8th – Tuesday 10th October. At least I did not spend any money today.

Day 123 - International Airspace

Day 123 – 9th October 2005 -8:00 GMT

Had a lie in and then phoned home to say hi to my mum and dad and get all the family news and gossip, so we had a late check out from our hotel just before 1pm and made the short drive from the Ramada hotel to the airport. I dropped the car off and got a breakdown of the car rental prices I had been charged, these did not add up, one month I was charged $1008 for 30 days and the next month $1585 for a 30 day rental. I worked out we had been over charged by around $900. In the airport we checked our bags and got our boarding passes down to LA and to Auckland. Got straight through Customs and into the waiting area. I then phoned up Avis car hire after several attempts and messages saying phone back on Tuesday as our offices are closed I managed to get through to the branch I rented the car from. They are looking into the extra costs and will e-mail me later in the week. So we now just sat down and read a book and waited, Joshua Jackson (Pacey from Dawson’s Creek hurried by us) Jill’s legs went a bit wobbly but she did not speak to him. We boarded the Alaskan Airlines plane which was very small and had no TV screens. After just over 2 hours and 15 minutes we touched down 20 minutes early in Los Angeles, we immediately made our way to Terminal B and went through security again into the waiting area for our Qantas flight to Auckland. There was one shop and no restaurants in this area so I just sat down and settled into my book and waiting for our flight to get called. Around 90 minutes later we were boarding the Jumbo 747-400 and were seating near the back of the plane, Jill got the window seat. We had 7 channels of Films and another 6 channels of comedy, Sport and entertainment, as well as all the radio station and 8 computer games to keep us amused. I just carried on reading my book, “Bringing down the house” by Ben by Mezrich. Food was served Butter Chicken, peas and rice followed by cheesecake and a cup of tea, also had a half bottle of Australian Red Wine. I watched the film “Boys from Dogstown” and the started watching “Fantastic Four” but sleep took the better of me.

Additional Post - USA

Additional Post – USA

America is cool place, from it’s big cities and fast cars to it’s miles and miles of quiet and peaceful parkland and forest area’s. Every area is so different and you definitely will notice the southern hospitality. It has some amazing cities and are always hustling and bustling 24 hours a day like New York and Chicago. Casino’s litter the Mississippi River, Louisiana and Nevada. My favourite places were San Antonio, Seattle and Lake Tahoe, although there were only a couple of places I was not too keen on, I was disappointed with New Orleans, it is a beautiful city but it was far seedier than I expected. Anyway after visiting 30 states and driving 23,000 KM the USA has been one amazing experience and I can highly recommend a road trip.

Our Route (created kindly by Eileen Carter)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Day 122 - Seattle - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Day 122 – 8th October 2005 -8:00 GMT Total Miles 18706

Checked out of the hostel at 11am and hit the road northbound on the I-5 through Washington. Got to the Canadian border around 1pm and showed our passports and they waved us straight through. A lot easier than when we entered the US. Checked into the Ramada Hotel at Vancouver Airport. The Hotel is in an area called Richmond which is very Chinese orientated. We then went for a walk around the area and got stopped at a restaurant for food. We walked back to the hotel and just relaxed, I watched the film Coach Carter and updated my blog, then went and got some Chinese food before going to sleep.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Day 121 - Seattle, Washington, USA

Day 121 – 7th October 2005 -8:00 GMT

First thing in the morning we boxed up everything we could not fit in our rucksacks and put them in a box then walked to the post office and sent them home, only cost $37 for 13 LB package. We then had a walk through Pike Place Market and stopped to look at the fish stall again.

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Fish Stall

A Monk Fish

Pike Place Fish Stall

We walked past the world’s first Starbucks.

The World's first Starbucks

Then we then wandered around the city and visited a couple of malls. We grabbed a bite to eat at a little Deli and then decided to go to the cinema and saw “Two for the Money” which was really good. We then just went back to the hostel for the night, we nipped out once to grab some food from a local supermarket. Jill spent a few hours updating her blog and I played on my PSP and read my book.

Day 120 - Seattle, Washington, USA

Day 120 – 6th October 2005 -8:00 GMT

Today I met Butch Walker…. Don’t say who's Butch Walker look him up, fantastic solo artist used to be in a band called Marvellous 3. We walked across to Pioneer Square which is the oldest part of the city, it has lots of art galleries along the streets.

Pioneer Square

A Totem Pole in pioneer Square

The Smith Tower (The Tallest Building in the world outside of Manhatten in 1903)

We stopped for a bite to eat, well we all had soup. Then we went on the Bill Spiedel's Underground Tour. This is a history tour of the underground part of the city, including walking through the rat filled sewers. Seattle was started in 1851 and named after an Indian Chief, Due to Seattle being built on the mud flaps the city was washed away several times and then burnt down in the late 1880’s. Anyway after it was rebuilt the town folks got tired of living in a city that had no sewers and when the tide came in so did the sewage, so they decided they would raise the Ground Level. They built Brick walls around each block which ranged from 8ft near the water to 35ft near the hills, then they filled in the gaps between the walls, with anything they could find, mostly being sawdust from the mill. They also ran sewer pipes under the raised roads. Now they had all the buildings with the roads running at the Second floor level. All the pavements were at ground level still, due to this they put ladders in the corners so to cross a road you had to climb a ladder between 8ft and 35ft watch for horses cross the street and climb down the other side. Due to the store fronts being at ground level people did not want to buy sacks of flour etc and have to carry them up the ladders so the stores put there stock at the side of the roads so the horse and carts could stop load up and go. Unfortunately the horses kept knocking the sacks of flour etc down and killing people who walked passed minding there own business. The Seattle folk put up with this for 3 years before the City agreed to pay the cost and raise the pavements. So all the stores had their shop fronts underground. So we had a tour of the underground area which was really interesting although a few people left the tour early on when someone pointed out a rat at my feet. Looking at pictures of Seattle in the early 1900’s and now it is very strange as all the buildings entrances on the street level are now underground and you enter on the second floor.

Seattle Underground

Seattle Underground

Seattle Underground

After the 90 minute tour I decided to visit the Seattle Art Museum as it is free on the first Thursday of every month. The museum had a lot of pottery from china and very little stuff I would refer to as art, they did have a few Andy Warhol paintings. I only spent an hour here then met up with Jill back at the Hostel. Jill and I then headed up East Madison to a venue called Chop Suey, doors were not yet open so we had a beer at the Elysian Micro Brewery where we were the night before. We joined the Queue at Chop Suey around 8:15pm and got into the venue. There were 5 artists performing tonight, The setup for the night was a bit strange, the first artist Jim Bianco came out and sang 3 songs.

Jim Bianco with Butch Walker on Base

Then the next artist came out and sang 3 songs. Then an artist called Cary Brothers Came out and Butch Walker came on after they had done 2 songs and played base guitar. Then Butch played three songs and went offstage.

Butch Walker

Butch Walker

Butch Walker

Imogen Heap came on and did 7 songs.

Imogen Heap

Then the artists came back on and did a few songs each and then they all came on and sang Kiss by Prince.

Butch Walker on Piano

Everyone on Stage singing Kiss by Prince

After Butch’s first set I bumped into him in the corridor and had a chat with him and told him he needed to met Jill before he left, so after the gig I dragged Jill over to Butch and we chatted away, Jill got her photo taken with him and left as happy as she has ever been.

Jill With Butch Walker

We walked back to the hostel and got back about 1:30am
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