A blog about Auckland City, its streets, and culture shock
Let’s talk a bit about Belgium, the country where I grew up. The Belgian countryside, more specifically an area called “Hageland”. Named after the hedges which used to delineate fields.
Nice place to live. If you like very small towns where everybody knows everybody. Where you can actually meet other people outside home and work. Where in our local pub, the music is not too loud to talk to your friends. And where they actually know how to tap a pint of beer. Where you’re only a stone’s throw away from the quiet of the countryside. It’s a good place for a relaxing bicycle ride among the rolling hills in the countryside.
I’m an European guy, so when I came here I had some expectation of being able to get around in the immediate area on my bicycle.
I was wrong.
Auckland is not just built for cars. Apart from a small area in the CBD it’s built exclusively for cars. And it’s utterly hostile to pedestrians and even more so to bicyclists.
So. I showed you around on Hobson and Nelson Street a while ago. Suppose you’re thinking of buying an apartment in that corner of the CBD. Maybe on SugarTree, which stares you in the face every time you drive through the CBD? Or the Fiore, which is currently overgrowing that old building on the corner across the police station?
Then I’ve got good news and bad news for you. Which one do you want to hear first? The good news?
Here’s the good news: nobody gives a damn.
The bad news? Nobody gives a damn.
Well, I can hear you thinking already. If you’re going to the city for a stroll, you’re supposed to go to Queen Street. With its little pedestrian alleys on the sides. Its Barne’s dances. But it doesn’t mean it always have to be the same street stealing the limelight, right?
So on we go. These two streets are well known as where you go on or off the Southern motorway.
We’ll start on the South. The southern end of both streets is one of the main entries to the city, where streams of cars from the South and West exit the Spaghetti Junction. But believe it or not, in a few months a bicycle path will emerge from the junction as well, right here, in the middle. More on that later.
So, here I was, 4 years ago. Newly arrived in Auckland, the city of sails. See, it’s right there on the tourism website.
The city of sails
You know, I used to be one of these kids who was way too fascinated with all kinds of geeky stuff. Meshing together those Lego Technic cogwheels in weird ways. Programming computers, of all things. And those motorways intersections. You can just follow one of those ramps, make some twists and turns through that spaghetti of bridges, and poof, you emerge on the other motorway.
I mean, how do you figure out this thing?