Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Low-Key Free Day in Napier

Today was relatively low-key; unlike my fellow passengers, who likely spent it out sightseeing throughout the town, at the New Zealand National Aquarium, or in the surrounding hills on wine tours, I spent my day with my uncle’s parents, Frank and Fay. Both are well into their 80s, but that certainly didn’t stop them from going out of their way to make sure I was comfortable, and fed me enough tasty food to feed two Carolyns. Ah, it was wonderful to eat home-cooked meals!

Fay and Frank's House

This morning I did my laundry and then Frank and I hung it outside on the clothesline, saying a little prayer that the early morning’s rain was the last for the day... sadly, it was not. It was overcast all day, and showered a bit more again in the afternoon. My clothes, however, were dried by the strong breeze blowing the clouds through overhead, and a few minutes in the dryer in the late afternoon finished them off.

After the laundry was hung out Frank and I went shopping for groceries, and on the way back to Maraenui (the suburb where he and Fay live) we did some sight-seeing through the port area and downtown Napier. The city was leveled in the terrible earthquake of 1931, and the decision was made to rebuild the city in the art deco style of the time, giving Napier its unique architecture that today draws art deco enthusiasts from all over the world. I’m happy to report that while I had visions of somewhat tacky-looking buildings in my head, Napier is quite charming, and on a sunny summer’s day its downtown streets must look positively picturesque.

Go three-quarters around the roundabout for Maraenui. 

We came home to a late lunch of chicken and make-it-yourself sandwiches with avocado and pickled beets, and then I went for a walk out exploring Napier’s streets. It was a bit of a trek back into town, and I had an interesting time navigating because so many of the streets do not run in straight lines, but curve and loop around and change names (hmm, kind of like Victoria...). Parts of Napier did remind me of Victoria, and even parts of Duncan, but then I would round a corner and something like the rows of palm trees lining Georges Drive would destroy that illusion!

While here at Fay and Frank’s I have also made friends with their cat, named Tiger. Tiger is a beautiful long-legged orange-and-white striped tabby cat, who isn’t allowed to come inside, but loves to sleep curled up out in the greenhouse in the backyard. She’s a very friendly kitty, and wouldn’t leave me alone after I lavished some attention on her, purring and rubbing against my legs when I tried to leave to go inside.

Tiger curls up in her favourite place to sleep: the glass house.

Tonight for dinner Fay made homemade mince pies, and for dessert we had Rush Monro’s passionfruit flavoured ice cream, made in nearby Hastings. Everyone who comes to New Zealand must try this ice cream; it’s simply delicious. (I think the vanilla flavoured ice cream combined with a Bundaberg ginger beer might make the ultimate float... I’m going to have to try that).

The sun finally came out in the late afternoon

Tomorrow the train heads out for Gisborne at 8:50am; I hope the weather is better than it was today. We’ve lucked out so far on this trip, having beautiful sunny days, perfect for photo stops. Here’s hoping our luck continues!

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