I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Englishman who went up a Sky Tower and came down trembling like a

Damn it. Flickr let me use a really long title, but longer than blogger actually supports. The last word can now be left up to your imagination...

Auckland - 335
Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
Here's a view from the top of Auckland's Sky Tower. This is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, and despite my bro not being around and running a marathon (cf. ascents of the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building) I still decided to give it a go. After all I had an hour or so to kill before having to get a cab to the airport even though I knew my flight was delayed by a couple of hours.

So, one ticket to the top, please. No, not the $20 ticket, that $23 one that gets me up onto the outdoor observation deck. Up I went, the lift being called for me by the guy in charge of calling lifts for people, on me own because it was very early in the day (about 9am I think).

Oo-er. Eek. It wasn't like those other buildings. Cracking view but so much glass, flaying outwards, and the outer foot or so of the floor also being made of glass really did my fucking head in. I'd already been a bit unsteady in the lift because I didn't know part of the floor of that was going to be glass-bottomed, nor that some of the trip up was on the outside of the building. But the main deck was something else.

Managed to take a few photos to demonstrate that I went up there, and that the view is ace, but I felt seriously giddy. Had to grab onto the wall in the middle a couple of times and gave up trying to at least walk a full circuit of the floor or even stepping once onto the glass bit -- and the outdoor upper deck idea was right out. Back into the lift I went, eyes closed and holding on to the hand rail because I thought my legs were going to give out.

Did I mention I'm not a big fan of heights? Bit odd really considering all the flying 'n all, but anyway. I did mention it to the guy greeting me off the lift -- the same guy who'd seen me up and was now expressing astonishment that I was back down so soon. Probably less than 5 minutes after going up, in fact. Ah well.

Talking of big tall things, there was a bar in Auckland called Ben Nevis. It was in the basement of the building where my hotel was. THE BASEMENT. BEN NEVIS.

Anyway, still feeling off I needed something to steady my nerves: a diet coke. Necked that, went back to me room and packed and buggered off.

Perched once again in seat 1A -- SEAT OF KINGS -- I made a clumsy fool of myself by tripping over, kicking the wardrobe-thing door way too hard at the front of the cabin, and then generally tying myself in knots with bag handles and headphone leads and seatbelts before finally sitting down and saying hello to the bloke in 1B. Turns out this fella was an Englishman called Darren who liked a drink. Good bloke. We spent the entire flight chatting away, him about all the stuff I'd missed out doing in Auckland and all the stuff I should do in Hong Kong, me about all the stuff I'd done already, both of us about sport and Manchester and England and how fast we were knocking back the VB. Flight time flies by when you're on the sauce with an compatriot ex-patriot namesake and before I knew it he was handing me a business card inviting me to look him up if I was ever in AKL again, and offering me a space in his company-paid-for cab into Sydney centre if my brother wasn't around to meet me.

As it happens Kevin was there and the train journey into town is a piece of piss (especially when you've only got two bits of handluggage, one with wheels and one over the shoulder, even if the former was considerably the lighter of the two). The best thing about my arrival in Sydney however was being FIRST PERSON LANDSIDE. Having hand luggage only and being sat at the front of the plane, I zipped through immigration, quarantine, and customs. In fact the quarantine staff hadn't been ready for me because I was so far ahead of everyone else. Heh.

Actually there was one more thing about the flight that made it interesting -- we went through a big bit of turbulence that was so strong they told the cabin crew to take their seats too, not just the passengers. Never had that before. Me and English Darren took the bouncing around as our cue to down the lagers we had at the time, lest they get spilt.

So, a delayed flight and a bunch of beer meant I was already a bit merry by the time me and Kevin got to Central station, where we were meeting Sal for beer. Sat outside and I started to launch into a tirade about the Kiwi accent until they warned me there was one of them sat behind me. Pfft. Moved on from there to another bar where I had a pint and a big plate of pasta for AUD10 -- about 4 quid. Top notch. We were moved from our seats because it was about to be turned into the table where they take the money off people going into see the live bands playing that night, and when we moved to another table inside the bit-where-YOU-HAVE-TO-PAY-to-get-in-you-cheeky-cunts we were kicked out proper.

So we went to another pub. Mara was at an evening class of sorts (psychology?) just across the road and was going to give us a lift back to the flat. Can't remember what I had because IIRC Sal insisted on ordering for me. I don't think it was a Carlton Draught but that beer is worth mentioning for two reasons: one, it has an advertising slogan of "Made from beer"; two, it's called Carlton Draught even when it's in a bottle or can. Erm.

Probably a good job we went back to the flat after that. I was fucked.

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