Napier, the Art Deco Capital of the world.

dsc07794rApproaching Napier.

NAPIER – So named after Sir Charles Napier 1782 to 1853.

The Hawks Bay earthquake of 1931 flattened Napier, and killed 161 people and injured thousands. The local newspaper at the time wrote that the town had been wiped off the map.

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I took a photograph and this photograph, which was on a large poster showing what used to be at this location. I believe it used to be a church.

dsc07860rThis is what is there today – still a church, and a garden of remembrance.

The landscape changed for ever. Near Napier there had been a large lagoon called Ahuriri Lagoon. The land around Napier rose two metres and the bottom of the lagoon rose 2.7 mtrs, which cause the lagoon to drain away and became dry land. Today this land is home to an airport, industrial areas and farmland.

beforeBefore the earthquake – picture from NZ Encyclopedia.

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After the earthquake – picture from NZ Encyclopedia.

One of the first jobs was to clear the dead fish from the lagoon as the water receded – the stench must have been terrible.

During the quake fires broke out and the water lines burst, so the fire brigades were limited in their fight against the fires, and many buildings were destroyed.
Fortunately, a Royal Navy vessel, HMS Veronica, was moored off shore so she sent crew members to help the town and acted as the communication centre by contacting the authorities in the Wellington (the capital) and letting the world know of the disaster. The crews of two merchant ships also gave help to the town.
Later two additional Royal Navy ships sailed from Auckland with emergency supplies of food, tents, medicines etc.
The history of the rebuilding of Napier has the feel of a novel. The authorities appointed two men to oversee the clearing away of the damaged structures and to start rebuilding quickly. They realised that the population was falling as people moved away to find shelter or jobs etc and the only way to stop the population decline was to start rebuilding quickly.

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The rubble from the town was pushed out to sea to create this shore side garden and recreational area. Skating areas, put-put golf, music and some beautiful gardens. A great memorial to those who perished.

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dsc07817rThe town was rebuilt in the art deco design and fortunately has not been allowed to change. There were moves to pull down certain buildings and to build ‘new’ 1960’s style, but the local historical (Art Deco0) society managed to block most of these moves.

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My memory of Napier of the mid 60’s was that every building was painted white, but when I saw the town recently, I thought my memory had played tricks because all of the buildings were painted in pastel colours of the 1930’s. Note the street sign, which is in the characters of the 1930’s.

Maureen and I had decided to do a guided walk offered by the art deco society of Napier and during the short intro chat, the guide mentioned that the buildings used to be all painted white in the 60’s, which pleased me that my memory was not at fault.

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Main shopping street – photo taken late afternoon as everybody started to drift off home.

dsc07811rcBertie Wooster would have felt quite at home.

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The locals take being in the part very seriously, which added to the enjoyment of our visit.

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The boy was real when this statue was made – he is waving at his mother.

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The model for this was not a ‘model’ as such, but a local lady of some standing in the community. Our guide pointed her out to us and mentioned that a year or so earlier he had completed a few small jobs for this lady’s home. She still lives in Napier and is now in her late eighties.

dsc07824rMany of the shops are dated from the 1930’s – our guide explained about the lead lining in the glass, the type of wood and even the ‘in go’. Double frontage windows i.e windows on both side of the entrance door.

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The ‘in go’ for the shop above – i.e the area between the pavement and the actual shop door. When I was a child most shops had an ‘in go’, but I didn’t know what it was called then, but it was an area where you could stand and look in, before deciding to go in, and speak to a staff member.

dsc07842rTheater built in 1938 and later expanded to the right, but I was more interested in the original frontage. Our guide had the key so in we went,

dsc07843rRemember this type of lighting in the foyers of cinemas in the 40’s & 50’s? This was well before multiscreens had been ‘invented’.

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A better view of the ceiling in the foyer of the theater.

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Some years ago the management realised that the carpet had reached the end of its life, so they decided to replace it, but they wished to keep the art deco theme. They found a clean piece of the original carpet and sent it to Australia where a carpet manufacturer copied the design of the 1930’s and now they have a new carpeted foyer à la 1933.

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 An unusual art deco building – the two flags are New Zealand and Germany and the owner of the building, Mr Hildebrandt, being an immigrant, wanted to show the friendship between his old home and new home and that he arrived in Napier by sea.

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Mr Hildebrandt’s building in on a corner, and the design is carried all around.

For the old Conway readers I found something that I just had to photograph,

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The art deco building above had been designed with a nod to a ship, such ‘naval’ designs being common in the 1930’s.

With the zoom on I took the next picture.

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New Zealand Shipping Company, a company in which many old Conway’s sailed . . .

To quote from Napier City Council Art Deco web page –

Art Deco expressed all the vigor and optimism of the roaring twenties, and the idealism and escapism of the grim thirties.

Its decorative themes are:

Sunbursts and fountains – representing the dawn of a new modern age.
The Skyscraper shape – symbolic of the 20th century.
Symbols of speed, power and flight – the exiting new developments in transport and communications.
Geometric shapes – representing the machine and technology which it was thought would solve all our problems.
The new woman – revelling in her recently won social freedoms.
Breaking the rules – cacophonous jazz, short skirts and hair, shocking dances.
Ancient cultures – for oddly enough, there was a fascination with the civilizations of Egypt and central America.
All of these themes are represented on the buildings of Napier, most of which are still standing today and are lovingly cared for by their owners.

Maureen & I walked the main street before taking the Art Deco walk, and we must have had our eyes closed, because we didn’t see anything until the guide pointed out the various styles and shapes. His talk was fascinating and he had the ability to bring all that jazz to life.

If you ever manage to get to NZ, make sure Napier is on your bucket list.

I managed to get some picture of the inside of a few buildings (point and click through windows etc), but I don’t want to bore readers.

Geezer meets an older geyser

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Our next port of call was Tauranga – the above is of the sunrise as was we entered Tauranga harbour, which is a beautiful place to visit.

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Entering the harbour.

Maureen & I were fortunate because our daughter in law’s parents live in Tauranga and had offered to be our guides for the day, and to take us to Rotorua to see the geysers.

The drive through some beautiful countryside took about an hour, and as we drove through the town we were surprised to see steam coming from domestic gardens as well as the local parks. We were aware of the hot springs, but didn’t realise that the town had been built on top of an active thermal area.

dsc07788rThe above illustrates how peaceful we found Rotorua to be – I think this was a busy corner.

We explained to our ‘guides’ that if possible we would like to see a geyser in full ‘squirt’. They took us to Te Puia, which is shortened name for  Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao.

Te Puia is a cultural centre for the local Maori people where they train skilled artist in the old way of sculpture, building, repairing old Maori buildings etc so as not to lose the old skills and to pass on theses skills from generation to generation. Those who are interested to learn the traditional ways have to have certain skills to win scholarships so as to be trained. It is a long apprenticeship.

The local Maori people have lived in Te Puia since about 1325, because the place was a stronghold that had never been captured in battle.

dsc07748rThis is the main meeting house in Te Puia. The construction of Maori houses represent a person with the side supports being the leg and the roof support being the arms to welcome visitors. To enter a Maori home there is a traditional way of being greeted and accepting the greeting to enter. The above house is a traditional built building, but the tourists are not expected to be aware of the traditional welcoming / acceptance ceremony so as to enter.

dsc07753rWe were shown around the training area where the old skills are taught.

The only concession that I could see to the 21st century, was a mallet and chisel, everything was hand made from scratch.

dsc07754rThis local Maori took time out from his work to explain to some of the group what each of his tattoos meant.

dsc07756rAll hand made without the use of computers or machinery. Very time consuming and artistic.

DSC07757r.jpgTap, tap, tap, of the mallet on to the chisel.

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Ladies trained in making twine from the leaves of plants. Nothing was wasted.

dsc07760rLeaves of New Zealand flax were striped of the outer green by dragging a sea shell down the leaf. This is called ‘dressing’ the flax.

dsc07762r The outer green once removed leaves the white flax, which is used to make garments, baskets, matts, fishing nets etc the flax is extremely strong. When the Europeans arrived the Maoris traded flax ropes for European items, which eventually built in to the flax trade, first to Australia and then on to London.

I didn’t realise until I saw the flax plant that I have it growing in my garden as an ornamental plant. When I cut the long dead leaves they are very, very, strong and I have to use secateurs to cut them. I did try to pull them apart by using my hands, and all I managed to do was cut myself on the inner flax!

From being shown the old ways of life for a Maori we moved on to see the geysers.

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The steam could be seen in the distance but the walk to the viewing area was only about five or six minutes.

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dsc07765rThe ‘lava’ flows in to the river – and the smell of sulphur (rotten eggs) wafts around, but is not overpowering.

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dsc07775rI think this geyser is referred to as the Prince of Wales Feather geyser because during a royal tour in 1901 the comment was made that the water / steam erupting looked like the feathers of the Prince of Wales emblem.

pow_feathers-3dsc07779rSometimes reaching 30 mtrs in height (100 feet).

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A small boys delight – mud pools, but a little hot if you get too close.

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I tried to capture the bubbles bursting.

At the end of our time in Te Puia we visited the building that contained a kiwi bird. The bird only comes out at night to forage for food. Inside the building it is a black as it could be and you grip a hand bar as you make your way in to the building and your eyes become used to the dark. It was very quite and the only sound was the shuffling of our group as they groped their way past viewing windows with hardly any light in the hope of seeing the bird. In the last window I saw a large fern leaf moving so stared and stared at the spot in the hope of seeing my first kiwi bird. All I saw a a very dark blob move slowly near the fern leaf. I couldn’t make the creature out and the round black shape could have been a rat for all I knew. Maybe next time  . . .

kiwiTaken from the internet.

After lunch we returned, via another very scenic route, to Tauranga. It was goodbye to our guides, and for Maureen & I to board our cruise ship for our next port of call – Napier.

Sky Tower

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Sky Tower, Auckland.
Picture from the web

328 metres (1,076 feet) high – the tallest free standing structure in the southern hemisphere. The Observation platform is on level 51 at 186 metres, and above this level is the Skydeck at level 60 – The Sugar Club level 53, and orbit dining at level 52.
The cost at NZ$23 per person was much cheaper than the rate to visit the Dubai tower, which was hundreds of dollars.

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The fast ride to the top of the Auckland tower did not cause my ears to ‘pop’ nor did I have to yawn. In the corner of the lift they had a glass panel where you could watch street level fall away as we sped to the 51 st floor.

dsc07690rI used the zoom on my camera to take our ship alongside, so the zoom has negated the height.

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dsc07698r Sample views from various windows.

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Auckland bridge off which you can bungee jump. It is illegal to jump off the Sydney Harbour bridge, with or without an elastic band tied to your body.

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Had to use the zoom to get the above photograph of Mt Wellington Park (the green bit in the middle). Maureen and I last visited this park in 1966 when I was 3rd Mate on a ship trading around the NZ coast to / from Calcutta in India.
Maureen flew from the UK to Melbourne for a holiday (she worked for BOAC), and then flew over to Auckland to see me for two days while we worked cargo.
It took me some time to locate the park from the tower, even with help of the small maps indicating various places of interest.
We married in 1969 and yesterday (22nd Feb) celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary, so I had to find Wellington Park!

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The church and the gardens seemed to make a nice picture, but now I can’t remember the name of the area.

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Anybody for a game of Scalextric – if you can remember this toy you’re older than I thought  . .

dsc07713rI took many more pictures, but the above are just a few samples, the green tinge is due to the filter on the windows.

They also use the tower for bungee jumping, called Skyjump , and you can walk around the tower on the outside secured to the building with a harness, called Skywalk  – we didn’t do either. Check the Skywalk link, and then remember they paid for the privilege.

dsc07696rThe view down to where the bungee jumper lands.

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The jumpers jump from above the observation area and as you see we all had our cameras ready, and even though we had a countdown from 4 minutes, the jumper passed the window so fast I couldn’t press the camera button face enough.

This was as close as I was willing to go to experience bungee jumping in Auckland.

 

Bay of Islands

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Our first ‘port of call’ was Bay of Island, which is north of Auckland.

We anchored about fifteen-minute boat ride from the landing pier. The Bay of Islands doesn’t have any facilities for large vessels to go alongside.

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A very peaceful and quiet place, the above photo was taken from Waitangi wharf.

Our mini-bus took us to the oldest stone building in NZ – the Stone Store. It had been a trading post for many, many years and is still being used a ‘shop’, mainly aimed at the tourists.

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dsc07615r Across the lawn was an old missionary house called Kemp House, which is the oldest wooden building in N.Z. The building was part of the Church Missionary Settlement established in 1819.

dsc07593rTo protect the original floorboards we were asked to take off our shoes.

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The house was lived by the same family for 142 years until 1976  when it was donated to the NZ Historic Places.(Now called Heritage New Zealand).

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The above are just a few photographs taken during our visit.

From this area we made our way to Waitangi, site of the signing of the treaty between the British & the Maori people in 1840. The spot is marked by the sign below as well as a large flagpole with three flags flying – the NZ flag, the union flag of Britain, and, I think, the flag of the area of the Bay of Islands.

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dsc07631rThis is a beautiful spot overlooking the waters of the Bay of Islands. If you look closely you can see the Dawn Princess at anchor. If you can’t see it in the above picture, you’ll it see below.

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dsc07653rMaori wakas (canoes)

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 The special ceremonial waka (war canoe) on the right is manned by eighty rowers, plus it is able to carry some passengers.

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The Maori people arrived in NZ around 1200 AD in their waka boats from Polynesia. At that time NZ didn’t have any mammals. ‘Man’ had not arrived, birds were very large (some now extinct), fish were plentiful, so of course the original Maori went back to inform their people and more and more arrived. They stayed isolated until Able Tasman arrived (1642), but he didn’t consider the place in a positive light. Later Captain Cook arrived (1769) and set in motion a complete change to NZ and the Maori people.

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A roam around a ship

Checking in for our cruise was very easy – after checking -in  we didn’t have to wait to board even though we had been warned that a wait would be required, but were told to pass through emigration and security and to board immediately.
On entering our cabin (state room to be PC) we realised that it was much smaller than the same cabin on the previous Princess Cruise vessels. We’d booked a balcony cabin, and the balcony area was the smallest that we had experienced, but they still managed to squeeze in two chairs & a tiny round table.

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The storage area for our clothes was smaller than the other Princess ships, and even smaller then the Pacific Jewel, where we had an inside cabin.

Once we unpacked we realised that instead of placing our suitcases in the hanging part of the ‘wardrobe’ area we were able to stow them out of sight under our bed. Even though the area for our clothes was smaller, we were able to unpack completely and stow all our clothes and bits and pieces out of sight. Our shoes went under the bed along with my laptop & briefcase and Maureen’s carry – on bag, so all in all the sudden shock of ‘smallness’ was soon fixed.
The ship is well maintained and crew members can be seen constantly painting and touching up various areas. All the staff that we come in contact with were friendly and helpful.

Thirteen nights of having everything done for us – wonderful.

dsc07541rGoodbye Sydney – we sailed at 4.00 pm so I was able to photograph the sun setting over Australia.

I thought a few pictures of the Dawn Princess might help for those considering a Princess Line cruise.

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The Atrium, or heart of the ship for passengers.

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The pictures above and the one below are of the Vista Lounge and Bar, which is near the stern, it is a large bar with a small stage, which is used by various acts in the evening or lectures during the day, or an afternoon of quizzes when at sea.

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dsc07532rMagnum Bar – very quiet, and quite small.

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Wheelhouse Bar – quiet around 5.00 pm, but jumping by 8.00 pm with live music and dancing.

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The Riviera Bar near the pools.

There are other outdoor bars, but we didn’t use them.

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Not all that clear, but the water in the pool is overflowing as the ship’s movement causes a slight pitching, which in turn causes the water to rush to one end and then back to the other end.

dsc07562rThis picture gives a better idea of the ‘surge’.

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The Crooners Bar; a lime & soda for Maureen and a Guinness for me. On each of the Princess vessels in which we have sailed, the Crooners Bar is always a favourite, because of the staff and the live music which is never too loud so that you have to shout. The Crooners Bar on the Dawn Princess is the largest Crooners Bar that we have experienced, much larger than the Island or the Diamond Princess.
One of the bar staff in the Dawn Princess was a Scouse (from Liverpool UK) and he came from the next suburb to where Maureen lived as a child. The barman spends nine months cruising and then goes home to Liverpool, for a couple of months.

Each evening at 9.00 pm Paul Burton would sit in the Crooners Bar and play jazz on the piano & sing songs of yesteryear – he was perfect for the ambiance of this particular bar. I bought his CD, Live in London.

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If you fancied a night club there was always Jammers – a little too noisy for me  . . .

dsc07528rOur dining room was called the Venetian dining room – picture taken from the entrance.

 Unlike other ships where we had ‘any time dining’ i.e you fronted up and you entered the dining room if it was before 10.30 pm, but sometimes you had to queue due to demand etc. We used to arrive around 6.30 to 6.45 pm and didn’t have a problem. On the Dawn Princess, we had been allocated 5.30 pm dining, which was a little early for us, but we got used to the timings and adjusted lunch to fit . . . This also meant that we had the same passengers on the same table each evening with the same stewards. The passengers were not a problem, because we soon got to know each other. The wine waiter was preemptive because he used to put a glass of white wine down in front of me when I sat down & placed the ‘chit’ next to me side plate for signing. That was ‘service’ with a smile.
The following comments are only my opinion as to why they have fixed dining times on Australian based vessels.
Australian based Princess Cruise ships do not charge a daily gratuity. On ships that leave Australia and do not return to an Australia port at the end of the voyage, the gratuity is charged at approximately $12 USD a day per person. The gratuity is split amongst the face to face staff and the backroom staff that the passenger never meets or comes in contact with, but is still offering a service.
This allows for any time dining – you can have a dedicated booked time if you wish, but most people just turn up and wait a short while if the dining room is busy.

Because of the culture in Australia of not to tip unless they receive service above and beyond the expected service level for the price charged, the cruise companies have, I think, built in the gratuity in to the cruise price, but then encourages tipping of your cabin steward and your dining steward, hence the need to have set dining times so that you are served by the same steward & wine steward for the whole voyage, and you then feel ‘pressured’ to leave a tip at the end.
Overall I would prefer to pay the daily rate and not have the inconvenience of working out the required amount to tip the various staff. If the service is not up to scratch you can have the ‘compulsory’ gratuity removed from your account, so the pressure is still on the staff member to deliver a good service. I just add the daily rate to the overall cost of the cruise so as to compare apples with apples – at least the backroom staff receive something for their work, whereas only tipping the waiter one never knows if this is shared.

dsc07873rA general view of the dining room.

 On the Dawn Princess, they had two main dining rooms and four specialised dining rooms (extra cost for each of the specialised dining rooms). The pictures below are to indicate the standard for our dining room.

dsc08284rMain course evening dish for Maureen – lobster.

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and for me Beef Wellington – it was thick and just melted in the mouth – perfect.

The two Kiwis shown in the first photograph at the entrance to the dining room is because we celebrated Waitangi Day, 6th February, which is a national holiday in NZ, being the day that a treaty was signed between the British and the Maori people in 1840.

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The Atrium was decorated in Maori motifs.

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If a formal style of dining is not to your ‘taste’ (excuse the pun) you can dine in the Horizon Court for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dress code is casual, whereas long pants for men are required in the Vincentian dining room in the evening, even for none formal evenings.

On the 14th February I realized when we went for breakfast that it was Valentine’s Day  . . .

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The Horizon Court is buffet style for each meal. Stewards are on hand to offer various drinks. As one would expect the buffet offered a wide choice of food from Asian through to standard western. It was very easy to over eat due to a great collection of puddings, cakes and jellies.
My lunchtime choice, after a morning of sightseeing, was always a light salad and cheese and biscuits with a glass of wine. Knowing that dinner was at 5.30 pm to 6.00 pm one had to be circumspect with earlier meals.

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The above picture, and the one below, shows the Inside of the buffet area at the start of breakfast on a sea day (nobody rushes on a sea day)– everyone is required to wash their hands via a squirt of disinfectant from an automatic dispenser. A staff member stands near the machine and greets the passenger. If you forget to use the machine you are reminded politely by this person. Not a problem really if we are all to be free of stomach upsets.

Breakfast at 7.00 am – passenger custom just starting to build.

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Hot food from steaks to eggs cooked to order. Bacon cooked ‘American’ style or English style.
American bacon being cooked until it is a brittle streak with little meat and a danger when cut with a knife. Pieces of bacon shoot across the table or ping all over the place. Eating it with fingers is the only way to protect your neighbour.
The English bacon has more meat, so I tried both at the same time. Ever the diplomat.

I weighed myself on our return and I’d put on just over a kilo, which I will lose. It is very easy to put on weight on a cruise, so one has to be careful not to over eat – not having that second piece of cake brings tears to my eyes. . . . .

 

 

Cruising unties the knots

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We sail from Sydney at 4.00 pm on Sunday (5th Feb) for a thirteen night cruise to New Zealand – land of the long white cloud.

We will visit,

Bay of Islands
Auckland
Tauranga
Napier
Wellington
Akaroa
Dunedin
We will then sail around the southern tip of New Zealand to cruise the Fiordland National Park on the south west coastal area, after which we sail back to Sydney.

Tonnage 77,441
Passengers – 1998
Crew – 924

 

The last time I sailed around the New Zealand coast was as 3rd Mate in the Bankura about 1966. We were on the Calcutta, Australian eastern ports, NZ coast run. Each voyage Calcutta to Calcutta would take around three months.

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Tonnage – 6,793 gt
Passengers – zero
Crew – perhaps sixty, if that  . . . . .I can’t remember.

The cruise in the Dawn Princess will add three new ports for me – Bay of Islands, Tauranga and Akaroa.
Bankura used to call at Lyttelton, which would allow us time to visit Christchurch, but since the earthquakes cruise ships no longer call at Lyttelton, but Akaroa, which is further away from Christchurch, but even so, we’ll visit Christchurch by road.
The only port that I will not see again is Timaru, which is between Akaroa and Dunedin.

These three new ports will take my city count to 486, fourteen short of my target.

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A sea change, even on holiday!

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While in Lisbon we had a day out to Estoril, a beautiful area on the Atlantic coast, which is a forty-minute local train ride from Lisbon. This was my second visit having been to Estoril in 1965, and I was keen to see any changes. I didn’t, the overall feel of the place was just as I remembered.

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As we have come to expect in Portugal – the trains were very clean.

DSC03161r.jpgWhen we arrived in Estoril we could see the Chalet Barros, which over looks Tamariz Beach. The station is very close to the beach.

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Chalet Barros from the seaward side.

Once down on to the promenade (seawall) it was just great to walk along and smell the sea.

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There are areas where one can swim and sunbath.

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dsc03156rIt didn’t occur to me to take my swimming gear  . . .

dsc03158rA short walk just off the beach and we were viewing some very attractive homes.

A few minutes later we found a small café overlooking the sea, where we had lunch.

After a light lunch we made our way back to Lisbon to do a spot of packing, because we were flying out the following day. We wanted Happy Hour to be free of packing stress before our evening meal.

One has to look after Happy Hour from the 17th floor of ones apartment.  :-o)