Fortunately, due to my late arrival the night before, I managed to sleep in a bit the next morning. After a bit of Starbucks to attempt to wake up my brain, I went for a bit of a stroll around Auckland. I was considering a haircut, but decided asking for a “little off the top” might be interpreted the wrong way at this place:
I was just in relaxation mode and wandered around the city just seeing what I might see. Found a delicious lasagna for lunch, and a new beer which Untappd informed me was the 500th unique beer I’ve tried. Hah!
It’s Christmas in Auckland!
After an afternoon of walking, and as the sun was setting, I found a place right by the cruise ship terminal serving craft beer samplers. Major props to them for a super creative holder!
It was getting really cold out at this point, and the wind was kicking up. Temp dropped to maybe 15C with a wind, and it was time to find some food and get in teh warms. I was craving Thai food after being away form home so long, and one of the highest recommended restaurants in Auckland on TripAdvisor was Thai, so I decided to go for it. Plus, it gave me another chance to figure out the busses. The inner loop bus served me well, and soon I was at Blue Elephant Thai, where the footprints on the ground led you down the alley to find it:
Delicious chicken satay starter:
Tasty penang duck curry…ordered mainly because I’ve never seen anyone offer duck before. It was quite tasty, but not really a traditional penang curry. Regardless, it was tasty.
I somehow resisted the mango and sticky rice for desert, because for the past week I’d been thinking of the delicious gelato I’d had previously at Giapo. Headed back there after thai for a little dessert before bed, and once again wasn’t disappointed. One of the flavours was “Hokey Pokey” which they described as the “national flavour of New Zealand.” It was vanilla ice cream with honeycomb toffee in it, and in true Giapo fashion they topped it off with some caramel piping, crumbled chocolate cookies, and some more honeycomb crisps. Absolutely amazing.
It was a reasonable walk from Giapo back to my hotel, and as I approached the hotel there were police everywhere, and swarms of people. Clearly something was up. The closer I got, the thicker the police and people got:
Noting all the Chinese flag, and that most of the people looked Chinese, I asked one of the police what was up. “We have a VIP guest.” Based on the level of security, my DC-radar told me it could only be a head of state, and most likely President Xi was about to show up at my hotel.
The strange thing was, the police could have cared less about my keycard, and anyone could walk into the hotel without showing ID. I’m not sure what the point of hundreds of police was if they weren’t checking people going into the hotel, but there you have it.
When I got up to my room, checked the news online, and confirmed that President Xi was indeed arriving in Auckland that evening and it appeared likely he was staying in my hotel. That would explain the unexpected upgrade…most likely he didn’t want to be in a corner room with so many exposed windows.
Crashed the minute my head hit the pillow…it was going to be an early morning flight to Tokyo!