Immersed in Gatsby!

February 25 and 26, 2014

I headed out to Napier fairly early.  It was supposed to take me about 4 1/2 hours to get there.

Since I didn’t have any specific plans in Napier, I was in no rush.  I think I have reached the stage in my vacation where I’m coasting.  Whatever happens will happen.  I’ve also reached the stage where I have to make sure that my bags are balanced and acceptable for check in when I fly back to Auckland and then to Vancouver in a few days time.  So as I’m driving and singing along to the music (I did that a lot) I was also thinking about packing and repacking and what I was willing to leave behind and what if anything I could still purchase to bring back home.  That and where to stop for lunch.

Somewhere along the way I found a picnic spot just off the side of the road.  There are lots of places like this all over New Zealand.  BC could learn a thing or two from this country.  Anyway it was quite early in the day when I arrived in Napier.  Checking into the hostel was quick and easy.  And then I was off to go and check out the town.  Napier is an Art Deco town.  And as you walk up and down the streets, you cannot miss it.  Napier was also a town that was devastated by a terrible earthquake back in the early 1930s and to top it all off, the earthquake caused a fire that ravaged the city.  So as you walk through town you’ll not only notice that there are Art Deco buildings all over the town centre, you’ll see that the majority of of the buildings are one story only.  Some of the more modern ones may be two or three stories.  But really the only thing you’ll see towering over you is the Cathedral Spire.

So as I wandered around town, I couldn’t help but admire…the shops.  I don’t know anything about Art Deco.  My own self guided tour was getting me nowhere so I headed over to the store that sold the tickets and signed up for an evening walking tour around town.  But of course knowing me, I signed up late in the afternoon.  I had 45 minutes to find a place to eat.  The tour was an hour and 30 minutes and it started at 5pm.  By the time the tour was done, I would have a seriously hard time trying to find a place that was open.  Remember, most stores and restaurants close at 5pm.  I had to settle for a veggie frittata from Starbucks.  I have to say that I am surprised with the food selection at Starbucks now.  Maybe it’s just New Zealand or maybe they are trying to expand, but the types of food that they serve seem to verge on light meals in addition to their coffee snack counterparts such as banana loaf or date bars.  So after scarfing down my frittata, I walked back to the meeting point and waited.  Luckily for me the meeting site was near my hostel.  The weather had changed quite drastically probably within an hour of me arriving into town.  And the change was not for the better.  Clouds had rolled in.  The wind had picked up and it actually looked like it was going to rain.  So I ran back to the hostel to get something windproof.  I love my icebreaker gear.  You can always count on it to keep you warm.

The tour started right on time.  Shona, our tour guide got into it right away and started talking about the earthquake.  And the first thing we visited were the gates along the Marine Promenade.  I will let the photos speak for themselves.  I can’t repeat the stories mainly because I can’t remember them.

The only story I do remember is the one about the cathedral.  It was made all of stone and crumbled like a house of cards during the earthquake.  There was only one person that was in the cathedral during the earthquake, a women and there was no way to get her out, without amputating her legs and even then, it would’ve been hard to say if she survived the procedure.  The other problem at the time was the fire.  Most likely, there never would’ve been time to carry out the procedures.  So the doctor at the time, made the decision to put her to sleep.  The poor doctor.

Completely different from the original cathedral.

Completely different from the original cathedral.

As we continued along on the walk, we came upon another public piano.  How exciting.  I made note of its location so I could return and plunk away at the keys after the tour.  And as we continued along, I was very thankful that I had stopped to get something to eat before the tour.  There were very few restaurants that were still open.  Eventually the tour came to an end and we all dispersed.  I returned to the piano and made an attempt to play.  But I could only remember half the song.  So I gave up and went in search of a place to get a late evening snack.  Who was I kidding?  I returned to the hostel and snacked on a granola bar before I started in on repacking my bags.

The next day I was off to the Longest place name in the world.  I don’t want to say that it’s in the middle of nowhere, but it’s in the middle of nowhere.  It’s a hill, amongst hills.  Well, at least I can say that I went to the place with the world’s longest name.

And then I headed off to Palmerston North.  It was an unscheduled visit.  A last minute decision.  And all for a yarn store.  Knit world.  The drive was nice.  Nothing too exciting.  Other than the yarn store, I really had no other reason to visit.  But I’m glad I did.  I parked around The Square, which was a very pleasant green space.  There were lots of stores around the area and a mall as well.  This is a nice place to stop in, at last for a night, I think.  It’s not too small and not too big of a town to hang around.  I don’t really  know what other attractions are around Palmerston North.  I’ll have to do some more research for the future.  After having lunch in the park, I headed off to my final destination, Masterton.  Again it was a nice drive, nothing exciting and nothing to really pull over to see but I’m getting tired of driving now.

I've never seen a wind farm before.  We only have one windmill on top of Grouse Mountain.

I’ve never seen a wind farm before. We only have one windmill on top of Grouse Mountain.

I think I’m ready to return home now.  I was listening to The Piano Guys and their version of Phillip Phillip’s Home.  Wow.  It was really good.  It made me cry.  Very few pieces of music move me enough to make me cry.  But these last few days… Johnny Cash’s Hurt made me cry.  The Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular made me cry.  But think it was more from geeky excitement, but there were some very moving pieces during that Spectacular.  And listening to the original Phillip Phillips song does not make me cry, but The Piano Guys version…It’s not a good thing to cry while driving, but I did.  I’m missing home or I’m sad to realize that my time here is coming to an end.    Maybe it’s both.

Missing the kids very much, Luv, Aunty!

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