Posts Tagged ‘walking’

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Alex: Falafel & adventure

October 17, 2011

I had an enlightening experience yesterday, which coincided with my first experience with falafel. I suspect they were unrelated, but no one will ever know.

I love walking. I do it a lot. It started with my wonderful dog Maddie. When we got her, I was still in the midst of borderline exercise bulimia, and I walked her twice a day, for at least half an hour each time. Often on weekends I would spend literally the entire morning walking. I got used to it, and I’ve been walking ever since.

Since I’ve been in Auckland (and often trapped in Auckland) I’ve walked a lot to explore the city. While I love walking, seeing the city and catching up on my podcasts, this has always seemed to me like a consolation to a real adventure.

Yesterday I sat down at a kebab restaurant on Parnell here in Auckland. I had been walking for four hours or so, looking for this greenstone shop that I always manage to lose. I sat down at this place and ordered falafel, which I had never had (not a lot of middle-eastern cuisine in the upper Midwest), and a thought occurred to me. I am in another country, on a fairly unfamiliar road, eating at a restaurant I’ve never even noticed before. I’m thousands of miles and an entire ocean away from the place where I’ve spent my entire life, a place I had never left before. Not a person on the planet who knows my name knows where I am. This is the definition of adventure.

Adventures don’t require hiking over mountains or swimming in oceans or driving hundreds of miles. They just require a wild spirit and a willingness to experience all that life has to offer.

On a much less philosophical level, I learned a little something about myself that day (other than that I’m not terribly impressed with falafel). Travel, like most things, requires acclimation. I’ve never traveled before this year. Not really, anyway. Family vacations once or twice, but nothing on the scale of this New Zealand adventure. This is my first adventure, maybe it’s okay to take it easy.

There will be plenty more adventure.

The road beneath my feet.

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Alex: Walkabout part III

July 18, 2011

I walked again today, mostly just for something to do. I knew from the outset that it would be a shorter walk than yesterday as I am still sore and I finished my 42-hour audiobook last night.

Today I actually walked east, or at least that was my intention. Looking at the map of my route what I actually did was make a 3/4 circle and double back, going south then east then north again. I initially tried going straight east, but was met by incredibly boring if not impassable highway. Today’s walk was less eventful, and was much of the same as yesterday, but only about four or five hours of it rather than eight. Most of that was spent getting lost near Hobson Bay, which is just as beautiful as the bays I visited yesterday. And if I thought I had wandered into the rich suburbs yesterday, boy did I strike the suburb jackpot today. Palm trees, gently rolling hills, views of the bay and electronic gates on every house: these are, I think, the definition of upscale suburbia.

The gently rolling hills make me surprised at the lack of longboards I’ve seen around. Perhaps it’s because there is actual surfing to be had within a half-hour drive, but I would think that with all these hills the carving would be sick.

I found a cool little shop with lots of hand-carved maori-style trinkets and stuff, along with a lot of really cool carved pounamu (a native type of greenstone that was treasured by the maori). I suspect I will be returning there when my pockets are a bit heavier.

I discovered last night that my DS charger isn’t working so I can’t use my DS for fear of it dying and me losing all my progress. Of course, because I bought my DS used, there is no warranty. It may be some time before I can afford to replace the charger, as my student loans/grants/scholarships have yet to come in so I’m getting by on my shoestring savings.

Bored as I might get, I cannot go out walking again tomorrow. I’m so sore that I was ready to turn back after the first half hour of my walk today, and I fear that if I were to spend another day walking I may break down sobbing in the street.

Classes start Monday and boy am I ready, although I haven’t bought books yet because no one has been able to explain to me how I know what my reading list is before the class starts. The consensus seems to be that I will get my reading list in class on the first day. That seems silly, but given my money situation I’m not too excited about dishing out a few hundred dollars right now anyway, so that’s fine. Also, one of my discussion sections still does not have a location or faculty listed, so I don’t know what that means, but the lecture is before its proposed meeting time, so I can ask the professor.

So ends today: likely early and collapsing under the weight of compounded soreness.

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Alex: Walkabout part II

July 17, 2011

The morning sun was beautiful today, and there was nothing on the schedule that needed attending, so I decided today would be the day where I choose a compass point and walk until my feet ached. It is inconsequential that the compass point I thought I had chosen was, in fact, the opposite of the direction I actually walked.

I walked west (what I thought was east, my mental map of Auckland was upside-down) listening to my book the whole way and had quite the marvelous day. When I look on the map at where I think I traveled to, it does not seem like it should have taken me as long as it did, but perhaps I made it further than I thought, and I certainly took the long way round for much of it. I made it to Cox’s Harbor and Henre Harbor only with much effort and only after many side-tracks. The morning sun I had counted on was nearly gone by the time I set out around eleven and it was replaced by scattered clouds and occasional sprinkles. None of this bothered me, since I had all the time in the world to wait out the rain at bus stops and under the canopies of trees.

I walked through a cluttered urban district or two which was replaced by a more suburban neighborhood filled with car dealerships and that faded to the true suburban backdrop of tall houses, topiary and many schools. I felt a bit uncomfortable when I got turned around and ended up walking in front of the same preschool three times in the space of ten minutes. I noticed later that that preschool had one of those spinning tic-tac-toe games with the numbers printed on one side of the spinning columns and the Maori words for those numbers printed underneath. After getting myself thoroughly lost and more than a little wet it was almost two o’clock and I was starving. I stopped for lunch at a little place called Dellow’s Kitchen in Herne Bay. I had the most delicious tomato soup I’ve ever tasted, full of big sweet tangy bits of tomato, covered in a huge scoop of crispy, crumbled salty bacon and garnished with delightfully garlicky pesto. It was just what I needed to shake off the cold and the hunger.

On my way back schools were just letting out, and I saw children running the gamut from kindergartners wearing backpacks as big as themselves to highschool girls in their blue-sweater-and-knee-length-skirt uniforms (as a point of interest not all the girls wore uniforms, and I don’t think I saw a single boy in one, although I saw fewer older boys in general).

Since on my way back I knew where I was headed, I paid more attention to the shops and areas around me. I found what may be my new favorite part of Auckland: a neighborhood to the north and west of here where I found within three blocks a comic shop, a guitar shop and two tattoo parlors practically across the street from each other. I stopped at a cafe here for a late “tea” of coffee and a muffin. Neither was exactly what I ordered, but both were delicious and warm, and I suspect the woman taking my order didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t feel like assaulting her with my awful Mandarin.

That brings me to another point: this city is so much more cosmopolitan than I expected. It really is quite the melting pot. Nearly every face I saw on the street was some sort of neutral grey. Certainly there are those who could obviously be identified as Chinese or Polynesian or Indian or European but most everyone else was just…kiwi. Even in my beloved Metro there are what seem to be broadly-defined race lines. Certainly everyone is comfortable with the Somalis and the Hmong and the Chinese, but that’s because they mostly keep to themselves. I didn’t notice any of that here, but maybe I’m just jaded.

Anyway, I’m home now and I have no intention of leaving. My feet, along with many other parts of me, ache as I spent nearly seven hours walking today. I suspect tonight will not be a late night, but this is still probably the most satisfying day I have had here in Auckland.

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