Article submitted by wordofmouth
July 6th, 2011
Poor Auckland: they’ve been missing out. None of Wellington’s fierce winds; no Central Otago frosts; and it no Christchurch’s earthquakes -- well, that’s not entirely true. The very weekend I spend in Auckland a 2.9 earthquake gently rattles over its sub-tropical suburbs. It’s a talking point at the French markets in Parnell the next morning.
``Did you feel the earthquake?’’ someone asked in the coffee queue. Auckland made me feel like I was almost back home in Christchurch.
But to be fair Auckland has it all. The City of Sails and Sales is gearing up for the biggest event the country has ever seen – the 2011Rugby World Cup.
The waterfront is a construction zone as bustling workmen in bright jackets rush around like ants preparing the place for a swarm of World Cup visitors. Work goes on uninterrupted and under deadline to be finished before the September 9 kick-off day. No worries about earthquakes halting progress here.
Auckland has the best of everything. It’s the gateway to the Pacific and the biggest island city in the South Pacific. According to Wikipedia the Auckland region covers 6059 km2 while greater London rams 11 million people inside 1570km2. Auckland has more volcanoes – 48 – than any city of its size in the world. Luckily they are extinct!
They have at least three times as many high rise building than any other New Zealand city; probably hundreds of more high rise buildings here compared with Christchurch. Their harbour bridge is longer than Sydney’s vaunted flyover. They have more boats and yachts in the harbour than any other city of its size. The Round the Bays annual jog has grown to be one of the world's largest fun-runs with nearly 70,000 taking part.
It’s not surprising that Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest metropolis by far and home to 1.4 million of the country’s four million people, is a Mecca for tourists.
So here we are- getting a coffee started at the Parnell La Cigale French markets. La Cigale means cicada: the sound of Provence throughout summer and a recurring symbol in interior decoration in the region.
We’re meant to be watching what we eat but this is the worst place to go if you love food: the aroma, the lived-cooking, the samples, the pizzas, the bakery, the whitebait fritters, the salads, fish, sauces, herbs, meats, cheese – not to mention all the wine you want with it. I wolfed back one of Maureen's fresh delicious date and orange scones. The sound of a violin playing a romantic tune, the sun beating down – I closed my eyes and imagined I was in Provence. It all seemed so real.
Auckland is a vibrant New Zealand city on the move on the world destination stage. It may be about the same size in area as London but so much is new, exciting and changing. There’s still the terribly small bumpy Pah Road from the airport into the city – no motorway into town here. But the face of Auckland changes almost daily.
The beauty of Auckland is there is so much on in such a small CBD and harbour area. I put my feet up and float away listening to the strings then ponder where to go for a meal tonight. Food, wine and music consume my mind on holiday. To even the keel Catherine and I make an assault on the famous landmark One Tree Hill. Auckland’s best interiors designer Catherine dances easily up the steep slopes like a lively minx while I plod like a weary hippo toward the summit and finally to its magic 360degrees view of Auckland.
The sun well set, we head to Non Solo Pizza (NSP) on Parnell Rd. It’s got great atmosphere: the award-winning place is heaving. The owners of NSP are Vivienne Farnell and Antonio Crisci. They have had NSP for about 14 years. They used to owned Toto and Il Forno bakery and they also own Poderi Crisci vineyard in Waiheke Island and they recently opened a new restaurant over there with the same name as the vineyard. I drool over fresh local snapper which melts in my mouth then I wash it down with a Te Awa syrah. I’m in heaven. I make a mental note to return here one day soon.
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