So far, New Zealand - and specifically, Auckland - has been quite kind to us. From the places we've been here thus far, we have been able to draw numerous comparisons to locations we've been in the United States (i.e. San Francisco, Balboa Park, Seattle, etc.). However there are just a few things that we haven't quite been able to match up.
1. The Metric System. Why, oh why, can't we silly Americans simply switch over? I have no idea what temperature it is here. Should I wear a scarf? A sun hat? A ski coat? Of course I could just step outside to see, but where's the fun in that? Oh, you say it's going to be 25 degrees? I don't think I'll be going outside. Oh that's supposedly nice weather? I give up. Not only the weather, but distances: "It's not far, just about 7 kilos away." Hold on, let me just dig out my calculator watch and do a few lengthy conversions.
2. Driving. Everyone keeps suggesting that we get a car. Public transportation is not all that convenient here - much the same as San Diego, it seems - especially when trying to get to some of the more remote places we may choose to go. Perhaps getting a car would be a good move. But gas is expensive and blah, blah, blah, pro and con lists, etc. But listen. Simply getting into a car and being driven around on the opposite side of the road takes up all my concentration. To think about being solely responsible for the operation of such heavy machinery, not to mention everyone else in the car, while driving on the WRONG side of the road, gives me the willies. Maybe not something we will be tackling in the near future. The fact that I have to close my eyes whilst being driven around is probably more ominous of a sign than Dennis is willing to deal with.
3. Language. It's quite common to talk about the United States as being a "melting pot". And this was something I was very willing to go along with, until I got here. Everything in Auckland seems oh-so-multicultural. The food, the people, the everything. This also means that there are people visiting from all over the world here. One thing I need to point out is that it is more than convenient that everyone here speaks English. The Kiwi accent is less pronounced than an Aussie accent, but it is different nonetheless. But here, we have a multitude of Kiwis, Aussies, Brits, Irish, and some Canadians accents. Being immersed in these accents, I no longer remember how it is that I speak. I've taken to ending sentences in "eh?" and saying 'quite' QUITE a bit more than I should.
All in all, Auckland is a marvelous place. We've been quite busy doing touristy things, local things, and everything in between. We've visited Auckland's Natural History Museum - easily one of my favorite museums I've been to - a smaller art gallery, experienced an underground, quite literally, experimental music scene, and hiked to the top of one of Auckland's 50 volcanoes for a spectacular view. I'm sure there are many more things to come, but be sure to note than despite the metric system and driving on the wrong side of the road, Auckland is definitely a place worth visiting.