Auckland 2017 – The First Day

I hate 5am wake up calls!

The first day of my overseas journey to Auckland and surrounds started very, very early. Having to be checked in at the airport by 7am at the latest, an early start was required. The benefit of such an early start, however, and flying business class on this particular trip was the invite to wait within the Qantas Business Lounge once I had proceeded through bag drop and passport control. And what a benefit it was: food, drinks, comfortable seats, free internet, and all the other amenities one could possibly want. And as for coffee – which was definitely required at that time of the morning – there was the ‘choice’ of high-quality instant coffee, or barista-made espresso. Not really a choice in that context.

It was a pleasant way to spend the two hours I had to wait between arriving at the airport and boarding my aircraft. I may never fly economy again!

Business Class aboard my Qantas 737 is a small part of the aircraft – only the first three or four rows – but the seats were certainly wide and comfy. Given that I am quite tall, I was able to stretch out fairly easy which made the trip quite comfortable. The food was pleasant – almost silver table service from our own dedicated crew member – and plentiful. The only ‘down side’ of my Business Class experience was the family of five sitting in the row behind me. Not that I have a problem with a family travelling together; just with a family that includes someone (anyone!) who hasn’t quite mastered the concept of the ‘inside voice’, particularly the ‘inside voice’ appropriate for a small aircraft embarked on an international flight.

The trip itself was surprisingly short – just on three hours – to the point that it was almost a domestic flight! And the airport experience at Auckland International, which was undergoing some renovations, was smooth and friendly, not that I expected anything less from the Kiwis. I managed to get through passport, customs, and biosecurity control with a minimum of fuss during a peak period, and then managed to collect my hire car and be on the road within forty minutes of touch down. It was impressive I must say.

I navigated easily to my chosen residence thanks to the GPS in the hire car, and was greeted by my host’s daughter (since they’re away) and

welcomed into a small but roomy apartment that is going to prove quite a pleasant base over the next two weeks. It is on the front right of the photo to the left, and is well appointed for visitors with all that you could possibly want for a stay.

It is located in a quiet suburban street, a refugee from the hustle and bustle of everything else, and a place where I can retreat at evening time after a day’s journey. I would highly recommend this place, which I found via AirBnB, and am only too happy to ‘spread the word’.

After settling in and unpacking, my only adventure was to head out to Mass. I’d had researched the possibilities on this, and discovered that the Cathedral in Auckland (of St Patrick and St John) had a Mass on Sunday evening at 7pm. I know, right? Very, very late Mass, but the assembly was large, so the time must be popular.

Unfortunately, Mass wasn’t the experience I would wish: the presider played fast and loose with some liturgical norms, the acolyte was overly pious and therefore distracting, and homily was far from nourishing. The homily hardly touched on the Scriptures, and was a mix of psychological babble and spiritual platitudes. There was no meat to it, and I left Mass feeling incomplete, diminished even, and wished I had done something else. But anyway, I fulfilled my ‘obligation’…

A quick meal and then bed…to sleep, perchance to dream.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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