The next day was nicer - well sporadically, at least, the sun appeared. I decided visit the inner-city suburb of Parnell, which the guide books laud for its shopping, and café culture, and the art galleries. I didn't like Parnell as much: it looked cute, but was actually pretty chichi, and the prices were extreme. It was rather Yorkdale. Though, there were some great little galleries (where I will never ever be able to afford to shop, but can happily browse) and design shops. I didn't get any good photos. These photos are from either side of the neighbourhood.
Next, I proceeded to the Art Gallery, which happened to be having major renovations. Some of their collection, luckily, was nearby. I followed the signs to where exhibits were temporarily being held. The nice young man (with thick Japanese accent - it was a real pleasure to speak with someone who did not remark on my accent) explained that the exhibit was very contemporary with installations and video work, in case I wanted more traditional art, I would have to go to another building. This was said in such a way, it was clear that visitors were sometimes vocal about their disappointment with contemporary art, when they expected pretty pictures, but this was fine with me. It turns out this was actually the Auckland Triennial, and there were exhibits in several galleries and buildings around town. So, I let that set my agenda for the day and explored the city by going from venue to venue. Apart from the first venue, run by the Auckland Art Gallery, other venues were free. The art struck me as of variable quality, but I did enjoy some of it a great deal. After all my walking, I was happy to sit and watch several short films in various places.
This is Albert Park - very formal and English, except for crazy local flora. Also, one cannot name everything after Queen Victoria. Occasionally Albert needs to get a nod.
After I had viewed the exhibits, I had some time, so I went in a few shops. I had a 9:30 pm flight so I thought that if I left the hotel at 5:00 pm I would have plenty of time. No such luck. It took me one and a half hours to drive to the nearby airport, due to a) crazy traffic for a smallish city and b) the most bizarre route to the airport I have ever seen. I followed the road signs all the way and the little airplane symbol lead me on a most circuitous route, through big streets, highways and residential areas. I couldn't figure it out, but it got me to the airport. The airline requested I be there three hours in advance for an international flight (which seemed extreme, but I didn't want to press my luck). The car rental place was closed, so it took some doing to figure out what to do. The information people at the airport were a great help though, and I left my keys with them.
I had to go through security and then wait, of course. But, when it came time to board, apparently that meant it was time to go through yet another security. It's been a long time since I've flown to the US from a country other than Canada - apparently this is normal now. It was a long wait, but to get through two sets of security, I more-or-less did need to be there three hours in advance. The flight was reasonably comfortable: I approve of Air New Zealand. The seats were large and the staff were friendly... unlike most airlines.
In LA, I got myself to the United terminal where I had to deal with the distinctly unfriendly United staff. They made me check my bag. Then, the flight was delayed for an hour. So, I got to Chicago pretty late... and then had to wait for my luggage. I took a cab to Evanston and got in by 2 am, to be greeted by Sammy the cat. I've been here since then, visiting Lady Redjeep and exploring Evanston, Skokie (by accident) and Chicago. I fly home tomorrow. But now, Lady Redjeep and I are headed downtown.