Special Treatment

The flight from SFO to Auckland was uneventful, Immigration was quick, our suitcase came off the conveyor just as we got to baggage claim, and our driver had already texted us to say he was at the airport.

There was just one small hitch…unlike our friends Wendy and David, we didn’t get “Express Lane” stickers for the biosecurity line, so while they headed directly to Arrivals, we were diverted to the line for the inspection area.

It was a long line. And after we got to the front of the line, a mere 50 minutes later, we were interviewed by two different biosecurity agents before putting our bags into the X-ray machine and finally being allowed all the way into the country.

Our driver was still waiting and took us directly to the JW Marriott in the Central Business District, arriving about 8am. We’d checked in online; our friends hadn’t. But they were quickly given the keys to a nice room on the 6th floor; the agent told us that we’d been upgraded to the top floor because I’m Titanium Elite and that our room would be ready “later”.

We dropped our luggage in Wendy and David’s room and all four of us set out to explore Auckland, starting with a walk to the harbour, which gave Diane and me a chance to make up for a lost opportunity on our Alaska cruise in 2010. We hadn’t ever taken a selfie with our ship, the Silver Shadow, but here it was just a few hundred meters away!

After that, we walked around the harbour area and enjoyed the buildings and the statuary (and we had gelato for second breakfast, since we’re so close to Hobbiton).

Our room still wasn’t ready when we returned from our wandering, so the four of us set out on the “Reasons to Love Auckland” scavenger hunt. We started the walk at Aotea Square, where Afrofest, part of this year’s Summer in the Square series, was just getting started.

The walk took us by the Sky Tower, the Civic Theatre, Town Hall, the Tepid Baths, Shakespeare Brewery and Hotel, and more. It’s untimed, so we stopped for lunch along the way, too.

The walk was fun and a good way to get a quick overview of the downtown area. And I got notified that our room was ready just as we finished, so we returned to the hotel and moved our luggage to our room. The view is nice, but I’m not sure it was worth the wait.

My Titanium status did provide one definite benefit, though – free drinks in the hotel bar during Happy Hour, which we enjoyed before going back to the food court at Commercial Bay for a light dinner.

There was a street acrobat performing in the square across from Commercial Bay; we stopped to enjoy his act, which mixed comedy and handstands.

I was happy to toss a few bucks into his hat after his show; it was a nice end to the evening.

Time to add a new country!

We’re at the United Polaris Lounge at SFO, preparing to board our Air New Zealand flight to Auckland; we’ll be there for five days, then we’ll board Celebrity Edge for a cruise to Sydney.

See you on the other side of the International Date Line!

Theatricus Interruptus

It’s been rainy and windy all day; our fishmonger told us that she wouldn’t be at the Farmers’ Market today, so we went to the JCC to work out instead of taking our usual downtown Los Gatos walk. Things calmed down around lunchtime, and I was able to get a photo of our camellias from inside the house while they weren’t blowing around too much.

After lunch, we drove to downtown San Jose to see City Lights Theatre‘s production of Nora: A Doll’s House. We parked in our usual place under the freeway and walked a block and a half to the theatre; the sidewalks were loaded with debris from palm trees, and we went out of our way to avoid a hanging palm frond that was caught in a tree limb hanging ominously over the sidewalk.

The theatre was nowhere near full (I assume the weather kept a lot of people home), but the actors gave it their all. It’s an intricate story, with each of the three actresses playing the parts of Nora and Christine (her best friend) in two of the three different time periods (1918, 1968, and 2018) in the play; the male actors exist in each of the time periods in the same role.

I didn’t find any of the characters particularly sympathetic or likeable, but I was curious to see how the playwright would bring the strands together. Just as the action was building to the climax, the lights flickered, the sound stopped, and finally all the lights went out and stayed off. The actors held their places for a couple of minutes before the stage manager came in, holding a flashlight, and told us all to leave the theatre.

It wasn’t raining when we left the theatre, but it was pretty windy. The traffic lights were out, and the intersection was covered with fallen palm fronds. The tree limb that we’d avoided had fallen onto a car parked on the street.

We navigated around all the obstacles, got into our car, and drove home.

Our schedule won’t let us see another performance, so I guess I’ll never know what happens. C’est la vie!

Magnificent Magnolias and More

We took advantage of the cool, cloudy, but not-yet-rainy weather this morning to visit the San Francisco Botanical Garden and take in this year’s Magnificent Magnolias. The magnolias won’t be in full bloom for another couple of weeks, but they weren’t bad today – and there were lots of camellias, aloe, and other flowers to keep them company.


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This was the first magnolia tree in bloom we saw today.

We stopped for lunch at Cafe La Flore on Irving Street, a short walk from the Gardens; it was delicious. We probably could have skipped dessert, but one of Jeff’s high school classmates is the chef at San Francisco Hometown Creamery and we wanted to support him, so we forced ourselves to enjoy their ice cream. :-)

The rains arrived after we got home. We just got a robocall from the county warning us of severe weather to come; I hope we’ll be able to go to City Lights tomorrow to see Nora: A Doll’s House.

Rainy Day

It’s been raining on and off all day; this afternoon, we came out of the supermarket at just the right time to enjoy a double rainbow.