Monday, June 2, 2008

Napier: Coastal city built near entirely in Art Deco style

07/07/01 - The Governor's Inn, Napier, 2043

Drinking a great "handle" of Speight's Gold in this great Art Deco pub. The beer here is pretty good, but strangely enough I'm yet to see Steinlager on tap anywhere. The beer is cheap too - $4NZD for a handle (500mL) - that's $3.20AUD.

My last morning in Rotorua went pear-shaped. I was sitting on the mini-bus for Waitopo and double checked my bus times, and if I would've gone to Waiotapu I would have missed my bus to Napier. I thought I left Rotorua at 1330 - but I was meant to leave Napier for Wellington at that time. Oops. After a bit of embarrassment I got off and got a refund without any problem.

My bus to Napier stopped at Taupo which was a pleasant surprise. We had half an hour there, so I rushed down to the shores to the mammoth lake. The mountains at the other end of the lake looked gargantuan. Finally got to see some real snow - well sort of. They were on the top of the mountain peaks. I told an English guy I met in the pool in Rotorua that I'd never seen snow, and he replied "that's pretty sad". Perhaps, but snow is extremely rare in Australia save places like Thredbo and Tasmania.

(OK, second beer now).

While I was waiting to get back on the bus in Taupo, a Maori kid started talking to me. He was probably about 9 or 10; but he still managed to come out with some classically abstract comments that only kids can say. For example, one minute he was telling me how his Dad always told him to drink water (hence the bottle of mineral water in his hand), and the next that his cousin was cut in half in a motorbike accident a few weeks ago. He kept saying his Dad gave him this and that - he was visiting his parents from a foster home. I don't know what the circumstances were, but you could tell that he still really looked up to and loved his Dad.

The drive down to Napier was amazing. Right through the Otaunoa Ranges - at one moment it might be nice and sunny, but the next would be grey and foggy, and then just some light showers. Huge valleys and thousands of sheep along the way as well. It's always amusing watching sheep grazing too close to the road run for their lives when the coach roars past.

Napier so far is breathtaking for two reasons - the Art Deco architecture which dominates the town, and the black pebble beach that meets the Pacific Ocean. At night the Art Deco buildings really come alive - the neon exterior is really the icing on the cake.

The guesthouse I'm staying at is literally across the road from the beach. It's quite deserted, and I think tonight I might end up sleeping in an empty dormitory, which will be quite eerie, but at the same time pleasant.

Depending on the weather and my level of consciousness at 6am, I might try and catch the sun coming up over the Pacific tomorrow morning.

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