Exploring Auckland has been challenging yet rewarding. As we are heading into winter, the weather is sometimes unpredictable, but what’s amazing is that if the day starts of foggy, a beautiful day is guaranteed! As usual, the day starts off with exercise at a park. There are plenty of parks in Auckland so it’s easy to get a free workout with the bonus of beautiful scenery.
So, if one wants to do something unique; I recommend visiting Alberton House (have always had an interest in history, but have never cultivated the interest). The house is situated on the lower slopes of the suburb of Mt Albert, in Auckland.
The house is astonishing, from the entrance one has to admire and appreciate the magnificent workmanship that went into building the home and the surrounding gardens. The house was built in 1863!! It was built by Allan Kerr Taylor and the house carried 10 generations of the family before being gifted to the New Zealand Heritage society. A slice of New Zealand history that still stands to this day.
It costs $10NZD entrance and people can spend as much time as they want at the property exploring the 18 rooms. After paying the entrance fee, each visitor gets a wee informational introduction about the history of the house. There is something beautiful and yet confronting about seeing and experiencing a part of history – basically one is transported to the 1860s Victoria era when inside.
Each room is explained in great detail of what it was used for by the family. Everything is beautifully preserved, and you can see the care and passion that has been poured into maintaining it. For example the ballroom was so spacious with an old carpet in the centre and a piano in the corner. The walls were covered with family portraits and signs not to touch the wallpaper (as it looks delicate and fragile). It was fun sitting on a settee also in the corner, but it creaked in protest as I sat on it! In a dark little corner was a CD player, playing classical music – the past and the future nestled together.
Definitely a one of a kind experience and it gives a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy and how they lived over a hundred years ago.
The real treat was climbing the steep attic stairs to the servants quarters. This was a feat on its own. The space in the attic was cramped and dark. The beds small and not as grand as the beds in the bedrooms below. The stark contrast between servant and master is clearly highlighted in the attic. One can only imagine; climbing the stairs in the dark, holding a candle after a long day of work…
After Alberton with an afternoon left to spare – I headed to the Hard To Find Bookshop. It was really hard to find the bookstore ?. The store is situated across the road from the St Benedicts Catholic Church – apparently the bookstore is a converted nunnery building. Parking can be a little tricky as it is situated on a busy street.
This is definitely one of my favourite spots in Auckland; off the beaten path type thing to do. Walking in I was greeted with that oh so familiar ‘book smell’. The store holds books on all subjects, from the newly released to the old; down to the strange and the weird. I found books that I have been searching for by African female authors; Desert Flower by Waris Dirie and Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I could get online copies, but nothing beats the satisfaction of turning a page; while lost in the book. There are ladders every two rows for use to get to those ‘hard to reach books’. The staff are lovely helpful and will assist and answer questions happily if requested. The only two issues were that time seemed to disappear when inside AND spending close to a $100NZD on books!
I had to leave the bookstore, because I was starving by then. Starved, we headed to the quaint vegetarian cafe, Rabbit (two minutes from the bookstore). The sitting area is located upstairs, and the kitchen is located downstairs. The cafe is pet friendly as several customers had their dogs with them. All the food on the menu is vegetarian and appears to be healthy. The ambience is also cheerful and bright. The total cost of the meal was $40NZD for two.
Before the day ended, we decided to head to Event Cinemas to watch a movie (ended up watching the Avengers: End game). Perfect outing to end the day.
As I continue to strive to find out more about Auckland, I am quickly finding out more and more things about myself – such as a forgotten interest in history and an interest in reading. Learning that life is all about stretching!