Saturday, February 18, 2012

Napier, NZ - Friday, February 17, 2012

We arrived at the Napier port bright and early, greeted by sunny skies and warm temperatures. Nice to see a continuation of the fine weather we experienced in Rotorua.

We were greeted off the gangway by locals who wore the garb and hats of the 30s. The port provided a shuttle to the center of town and dropped us off at thhe I-Site visitors center. Mike picked up a brochure highlighted a self-guided Art-Deco tour through the town center.

Early in the thirties, a severe earthquake struck Napier, destroying most of the buildings. A forward thinking architect - Louis Hay planned and directed the reconstruction, rebuilding many of the buildings with the trendy at the time art-deco motife. The main streets of Napier show many of the features  illustrating the art-deco genre.

Another of the highlights were the classic cars and costumed citizenry. We were fortunate that this was the first day their Art-Deco Festival weekend. Classic cars from all over NZ convened in Napier to show off the many restorations the enthusiasts labored over. Additionallly, many of the local residents donned the clothing typical of the 1930s. It was quite a sight to see the enthusiasm displayed.

The city is quite walkable, with the shoreline separated from the town center by an esplanade and fine gardens. Within the town are many small businesses housed within the landmark art-deco buildings.

We passed several Irish pubs, and selected one off the main drag for lunch. We ate (and drank) at a nice outdoor terrace next to the Napier Cathedral. The entire pub was imported from Ireland, lock, stock, and barrel. Our group selected Irish stew, fish&chips, stuffed potatoes, fried potatoes, a seafood platter, and something called Peas, Pie, and Pud (the latter short for pudding). Pud was simply mashed potatoes. All was quite good. Mike tried the smashed apple cider, and an Irish Red beer.

We then split up with Mary, Mark, and Cindy trekking up the bluff, John went back to the ship to change into running gear, and Mike and Deb continued touring the town. We found a nice garden park on the west side of the town that was pleasant with marigolds and water lilies. Deb caught a glimpse of a lady in period garb - orange dress with orange hat, passing the orange marigolds.

Next we walked up to the shoreline esplanade, with more tended gardens of flowers. This was a nice way to eparate the town from the shoreline. When back at the center Mike saw a steam tractor rolling by as we headed back to the pedestrian mall to have some coffee.

We met up again with Cindy, Mark, and Mary at the local Esquires coffee shop, the NZ chain like Starbucks. Though we've seen several Starbucks, we've been giving our business to the local coffee shops. While sipping our coffee, a Sticks and Drones band  played a bit, and solicited funds for their piping club - yes bagpipes. Sticks and Drones, get it? As I took some photos of the pipers, the club officer showed me the donation bin. It was only fair to exchange some NZ$ for a few photos.

After our coffee, we returned to the ship via the shuttle. It was a perfect day in Napier. Back at the ship, we went up to the hot tub, and had a few snacks as we unwinded at the end of the day. Mike found some chips, salsa, and guacamole. Unfortunately he just missed happy hour at the bar.

Later in the evening, we ate dinner at the on board Pinnacle Grill, courtesy of our travel agent. This is an upscale dining choice instead of the main dining room. A well appointed room, but unfortunately sub-par service, and the food was not as good as we expected. The descriptions and selections were quite nice, but the quality just wasn't there for everyone. Though my veal chop was excellent, the vegetables and sides were overcooked, and just blah. Oh well.

After dinner we had drinks in the piano bar, and listened for awhile as the piano man played selections from the 70s and 80s, including an interesting rendition of Billy Joel's Piano Man.

A complete set of Napier photos can be found at:

Next stop, windy Wellington on Saturday...

No comments:

Post a Comment