|An Australian friend [Barry Coleman] once described Auckland as a pretty girl who grew into a beautiful and sophisticated woman who you eventually fell in love with.
During the day on shore Lesley and I shared all three interpretations of the city.
We disembarked about 9 in the morning [Sunday]. The streets were clean and quiet with the odd shop keeper shaking off his Saturday night hangover and opening his store for business and awaiting the QE2 passengers. By 11 O'clock the streets were bustling the locals knew the ship was in town and the harbour was now full of sailing boats which had come to see the cruise liner.
The sight was marvellous and gave meaning to the description Auckland is "The City of Sails", having more boats per capita than any other city in the Southern hemisphere.
The city was full of disgustingly young, healthy and beautiful people circa 35 parading their equally young beautiful children along the harbour front.
Lesley and I took elevenses in the "Occidental" which was a popular local cafe bedecked with crisp white table cloths and matching umbrellas. It was delightful listening to the local people chatting and it was not surprising how they invariably returned to their favourite subject rugby!!! Cricket was of secondary importance.
By lunch time the pretty girl had grown into a beautiful woman with her streets full of life and sophisticated with her maritime museum, Albert Park, the new gallery and Auckland museum full of visitors.
The temperature was a pleasant 70 degrees F with a cool gentle breeze. Lesley and I took lunch [great fish] on the harbour and took great pleasure watching local people boarding and disembarking the many ferries to enchanting locations such as Half-moon Bay and Great Barrier Island.
After returning to the ship to change, we were taken [a treat from Cunard] to a fabulous feast ashore. This was held at the Sky Tower Conference Centre complete with Maori dancing [descended from the Polynesians I think] and an address from Cunard's MD/President Carol Marlow. We were told that in January the new Queen Victoria and the QE2 will sail across the Atlantic together where they will meet the Queen Mary 2 at the Verizzano Bridge and sail into New York together. Something to think about???
There were 900 passengers at the feast and we were all sailing around the world.
It was at the feast we met with the cadre of professional world cruisers. They are a small, well healed and select group whose common characteristic might best be described as decadent, excessive and elitist. Over the last four weeks several of their number have welcomed Lesley and I to their fold. I hope we will never be seduced by their pointless lives.
On the way back to the ship we travelled through streets lit by fairy lights and coloured lamps. Music drifted out of the occasional building on the harbour and beautiful people were chatting on the sidewalks. It was then we realised Barry's prediction and fell in love with Auckland