Day 6 – Feb 5 Wednesday – A brief exploration using local mass transit
As I have said, I am not driving a car on this trip. A decision made out of stark terror caused by driving on the left side of the road. Given that bit of caution, we still are nearly run over every time we cross a street, by looking the wrong way for oncoming traffic. We had heard of an interesting suburb with lots of shops and restaurants about 10 or 15 miles north of Devonport. With some research on google, we found the bus routing. I have used google maps forever, but never clicked on the “Transit” button in the app, because I was always driving – with a couple of clicks it showed us where the bus stop was (right by the ferry landing, naturally) and which bus to take. We walked to the ferry landing and after a few minutes along came bus 814 to Takapuna. We boarded the bus, parted with some coins and took a seat. We noticed that most of the other riders simply swiped little cards as they got on. A quick google search told me we could buy one of those cards in Takapuna, and it would provide a 25% discount to the fare. It also said seniors could get a card to ride free – but alas, only New Zealand citizens.
Interesting cultural difference – the passengers, without exception, thanked the driver when they got off the bus.
We exited the bus (yes we thanked him) and began to explore the area – lots of shops, and restaurants, but absolutely no glitz like you might see in some parts of the US – this place is like 1950’s United States. Very laid back and comfortable with an absence of pretention. We found the place that sold the discount bus passes and purchased a couple, so we are set for further explorations by mass transit (they also work on the ferries). We found a nice restaurant, Francs, between the main street and the beach (there are beaches everywhere in this country).
We were seated outside, which seems to be quite popular here since extremes in temperature, at least at this time of the year, are rare. That was one delicious Cheeseburger – as good as any I have had in the U.S., and I love their napkins – I should have brought some “Wipe Yo Mouth” napkins home. After lunch we did a little shopping for a few things we forgot to bring from the U.S. (happens every trip) and then headed back to Devonport. Our first successful foray into the area (other than the ferry to Auckland) – it may not seem like a big deal, but one of things we wanted to do on this trip, was independence of travel – so many of our previous trips have been over organized, loading 50 people on and off a tour bus.