I woke up feeling like crap, even after sleeping in my own bed. Wondering how does my lama manage to travel the world year-round gave me the energy to squeeze a micro workout before taking a shower.
Paola and Norris stayed with us that night, but Norris left early to uni. I oven-roasted some almonds, cashews, macadamias and shredded coconut and served them with bananas, yogurt, and an organic plum & mango preserve I bought in the Eveleigh market a while ago.
We had coffee in the airport and lunch on board. Air New Zealand gave us the option of a hot meal (ham & Brie sandwich) or a cold meal (Thai beef salad). I had the salad, which came with a coriander vinaigrette, a bread roll (not in the photo because it was delivered warm a short while later), butter, and a chocolate brownie that I didn’t eat. The beef had a nice flavour, it had been marinated and stir-fried with lemongrass. The salad had mixed leaves (a few of them old), two strips of capsicum, bean sprouts and one-inch pieces of fried flat rice noodles, which should have been on top of everything and not mixed with the greens to avoid sogginess. I wished the dressing container was bigger.
We arrived at Auckland, checked in the hostel (I scored a single room, yay!), left our stuff and went to get something to eat. The ladies I was with decided to buy some stuff to eat in the lecture venue but I wanted a restaurant dinner. I ran into a few other friends, who were heading to La Porchetta, an Australian franchise of Italian restaurants that I didn’t knew about.
Given that I only had 45 NZ dollars that were supposed to last until I managed to change money the next day, I was after something that wouldn’t break the bank. A bowl of minestrone and a side salad would do the trick, but unfortunately they didn’t have any soup left. I had the warm chicken salad instead, which was awesome. The ingredients were quite simple: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, sun-dried tomato, and grilled chicken breast, but they worked really well with the balsamic/mustard/white wine dressing.
Warm chicken salad
The event in Auckland was so well organised that after the lecture, the locals distributed sandwiches, sushi rolls, and juice bottles. I ate a sushi roll (it was chicken, not my favourite but good when hungry), and a ham, cheese & avocado sandwich.
We went to a bar for the usual post-lecture drinks. Apparently, the GPK was the only place open in the area. It looks very fancy and I almost feel under qualified to be there but fortunately we were almost the only customers. And we were a big bunch. There had Stella Artois and Beck’s on tap but it would have been really silly to not try any local beers. As a dark ale lover, I got a Black Mac’s, which was great. Good body, slight sweetness, clever label (the back label states “you hold what many believe to be one of the ugliest beer bottles in the world”), it had it all.
The friendly bar tender served us a few snacks: good tasting olives and extremely salty Parmesan sticks, presumably intended to make us drink more. I had another beer before we all headed back to the hostel.
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