Five years ago, when we first went to South Africa, we met this woman on one of our multiple day tours. She was traveling with the daughter of her good friends. We were a captive audience for hours on end, but enjoyed each others’ company immensely, so we exchanged e-mails. She was originally from South Africa, but had moved to New Zealand years prior. As many of those exchanges go, we e-mailed sporadically over the years and then lost touch. Coincidentally, when we first arrived here, I found a Christmas greeting from Margosia. I responded sharing that we were in country if there were any chance of getting together. She lives in Wellington, but was going to be in Auckland when we where there. Hoping to another chance, we looked for a chance at the end of the trip. As luck would have it, she is housesitting for her sister in Devonport, a suburb of Auckland, so dinner was possible.
Using our past knowledge of the city, we bought a Discovery Pass allowing us unlimited transport on all city buses with the bonus of free ferry transport to Devonport. Perfect! We rode the link bus circling the city, using it as a hop-on hop-off bus, stopping in neighborhoods that looked appealing. This makes for a real conundrum, though. Why would we want to stop in appealing neighborhoods, read here – good shopping, when we are restricted with the luggage?
This makes me curious how merchants who are dependent on tourism are getting by? Do tourists buy less knowing they may potentially have to pay extra fees at the airport? Even the vast number of cruise passengers will need to fly somewhere once reaching the home port again. I have to admit, it has curbed my spending a great deal. As expensive as the books are here, there have been a couple on sale by authors I follow, so would snap them up in a second, but then the airline agent appears in front of my face saying “That will be $75 for Air NZ, but we don’t know if Lufthansa is going to charge you more for the rest of your trip.” Codesharing is great when the airlines cooperate, but they should all have to agree on luggage limits. It is schizophrenic for everyone to have their own rules when they are shifting luggage from one airline to another. So I send my regrets to the booksellers who did not get my cash as well as to the souvenir stores where I did not buy the impulsive trinkets. Complain to the airlines. It is their fault. It was my intent to be a good shopper.
One of our stops was for a Burger Fuel lunch. Burger Fuel is a chain where they serve the best hamburgers I have ever tasted. With strange combinations, you can also get sweet potatoes French fried. What a treat it was. After lunch, we found the War Memorial Museum, but only made it into the lobby. They wanted $10 p/p entry. There was nothing showing to entice us to pay it; it seemed it may have been repetitive of Te Papa in Wellington.
The ferry ride to Devonport was only a half hour and included on our pass. It was a delightful ride, but Devonport itself is charming. A lovely beach rings the edge; a shell collectors’ delight, so I had to restrain myself yet again or I would have stuffed a suitcase. Close to 7pm, the stores were still greeting the last minute tourists hoping they will temporarily forget arrogant airline regulations. We met with Margosia going for drinks at one restaurant. Later we moved on to another restaurant where she had heard they had a good reputation. The evening was delightful due to the company and the food. Reuniting with someone you have shared some brief memories and experiences with is a little bonus gift of traveling.