Finally, the Magic Bus dropped me off for the last time, in Auckland. This time I chose to stay at Base Backpackers. It’s in a really good central location, close to the main street for shopping, and only a block or so from the bus that goes to the airport.
Stewart, one of the guys who I met on the bus the day before, was staying there so I had someone to hang with, and we planned to meet up with another guy from our bus later that evening for drinks at Base’s Globe Bar.
A few notes about Base hostels: They deliver what I consider to be one of the true student backpacker experiences. They’re big, so you’re bound to meet people from all over the world. They have all the necessities and a few nice-to-haves: laundry, TV or movie room, Internet access and wi-fi, clean bathrooms, an in-house bar, and sometimes a pool or spa.
The downside is that the dorm rooms are more like zoos. The rooms are pretty small spaces packed with bunk beds, so there’s no such thing as personal space, or even a hook to hang your towel on. I opted for one of the all-girl Sanctuary rooms, and that was an improvement, but if you’ve reached a point in your travels where you really need a little room to breathe, this might not be the place for you. It made me really miss the Wellington YHA.
I only had one last night though, so I didn’t need luxury, just a place to sleep. And I do like being able to drink just two floors down from my room so that I don’t have to worry about how to get home.
I made my way to the bar to meet Stewart before dinner and it was pretty empty. I picked out a table and sipped whatever pink drink in a bottle the bartender had given me while I waited for my evening to get going. Almost right away, a guy sitting at the table next to me turned around and smiled. I smiled back, because it’s only polite, and he was gorgeous.
Then then asked if I wanted some company. There’s only one answer I give to a stunning stranger who wants to sit with me: “Yes, please.”
So this guy, who I’ll just call Hot Kiwi Guy, sits down and I instantly think, “Why couldn’t I have met this guy a few days ago?” He was perfect. Sweet, funny, clever, great accent, brilliant smile, exactly the kind of guy I always hope to meet when I’m traveling. He had just flown in from Adelaide, where he was living and working, and was on his way home, to the Bay of Islands, to go to a friend’s wedding.
I asked what he was doing in a hostel bar if he was headed home and he said he used to work at the hostel and decided to come in and have a drink while waiting for friends to pick him up. They were on their way. Would arrive any minute now. Just in time to interrupt our fun.
I told him where I had been, we talked about Australia for a while, he told me about his hitchhiking experiences in New Zealand, and I was just about ready to ask if maybe he wanted to keep his bags packed and fly to San Francisco with me the next day when his friends showed up. Figures they would be punctual. Where’s a good traffic jam when you need one?
They were very nice, but parked illegally, and in a hurry to leave. So Hot Kiwi Guy and I gave each other a wow-this-sucks-I-wish-we-had-more-time look, and said goodbye, but not before I gave him one of my nifty traveling cards with my name and email address on it.
It was a bittersweet ending to my trip, finding someone who I really wanted to have more time with just when I didn’t have any more time left. But it also gives me another reason to keep traveling. If there’s one perfect Hot Kiwi Guy out there, then there are probably more.
The rest of the night was still good, hanging out with my Magic Bus friends, taking advantage of the cheap drinks and dancing to the loud music that started out all 80s, then went Top 40, then techno and hip hop as the night went on.
It always amazes me that I can arrive in a city in the morning not knowing anyone, and feel like I’ve made good friends by the end of the night. It’s a good thing to remember on those days when I feel a little lonely. It only takes one meal, one bus ride, or one chat about the worst hostel you’ve stayed in to make a friend. And every friend I make equals another place I have to stay, another local tour guide I’ll have when I go traveling again.
Next up: I haven’t decided yet. Ideas on where my next trip should be? Leave a comment.