Monday 5th January
Started off today by jogging with Valerie at 7.30am ( I so wish I hadnt !!!!) We had planned to use the gym but apparently out hotel only has limited usage of the gym across the road and two obnoxious Americans beat us to the last two places. If youre not fast youre last as the saying goes !!! Anyway, decided to jog along the sea front and although I started reasonably well the fact that my trainers were almost two sizes too small for me soon became an issue and to cut a very long and boring story short I was soon crawling along and in total agony. My big toe looked like someone had run over it when I finished - think I mustve went over it or something.
We were all changed and ready for the 10am Art Deco Walking Tour, although Valerie almost had a heart attack as we walked up to the Visitors Centre and saw two ladies in white who were obviously our guides. Both of them looked as if they were in their eighties. I almost had to physically stop Valerie from about turning and heading back to the hotel.
As it turns out , because Valerie took a bit longer than we expected at the ticket counter booking our afternoon Winery tour we unfortunately missed the first tour - led by 86 year old Mary !!! I was a bit put out actually as she looked like a barrel of laughs ( albeit maybe quite a slow barrell !!!). We managed to get a 'trainee' guide - a new start called David, who was being supervised by Wyn and looked around 68. He quickly put us in our place though by informing us that he was a retired teacher and wanted us all to stay together when we crossed the roads !!!
Just to put everyone in the picture, Napier is a sleepy town with virtually no traffic LOL.
The tour was really really good - David was really informative ; the architecture was outstanding and the pace was more than manageable ( we were also the youngest two on the tour - an added bonus !!). Again we had a bit of a laugh, especially when we went inside the ANZ Bank building to 'gape' at the ceiling ; impresive though it was it really wasnt even a patch on any of the bank ceilings in Edinburgh, although we didnt have the heart to say this.
I enjoyed the history that went with the trip, especially the stuff about the earthquake that decimated Napier in 1931. All credit to the town for recovering so well from it.
In the afternoon we did a mammoth 4 winery tour with a lovely guide called Karl who manged to give us lots of tips and advice without being too pretentious as regards smelling, tasting and checking the colour of the wine. Bit of a heavy day though as the first Winery, Ngataruawa, had us taste 8 wines !!!! Need to say that I gave 2 of the white wines a miss and Valerie missed 1 red and the sherry ( cause its "an old persons drink" !!!!!!). With hindisght this was probably the best wine we tasted ( either that or our tastebuds just got pickled as the day went on.We followed this first visit with a taster plater of food at Sileni ( stuffed tomatoes, fresh salmon, huge mussels, smoked venison and beef, various cheeses and breaded mushrooms). Kind of complicated as we were supposed to choose one of four wines for each piece of food. I was clueless, even with advice from Karl - who incidentally told us all about his acting aspirations over lunch ( he's done a one man play thats been a big hit in NZ and is hoping to get to the Edinburgh Festival one day).
We also got chatting to a lovely English couple at lunch - Mark and Emma ; now Id liked Emma from the minute we got on the bus as we're both cider lovers !!!! They're doing a very similar route to us ( bet most folk on fly-drives are doing the same as us actually LOL). They were both lots of fun and seemd to have had scarily similar experiences along the way. Val's convinced theyre on their honeymoon - Im not sure.
Found Edinburgh Rock in the Sileni Gift shop - extortionately priced, but feeling a bit light headed we both posed for photos with boxes of it and found it incredibly amusing ( you probably had to be there LOL !! ).
The 3rd winery was Moana Park - a completely organic and vegetarian winery. Lovely idea - and they even offered to ship a crate of wine to Scotland for us for only £130, but to be honest the stuff we tasted wasnt that fantastic. They did have an amazing Ice Wine though ( desert wine) - totally gave you a buzz, I thought it reminded me of Thunderbird ( come on now, who remembers that stuff ??? Know that Petes does - sure we drank that on the infamous Elephant game night, eh ?? !!!!).
The last Winery was the oldest in New Zealand, Mission Estates - and it looked amazing, with an excellent guide to go through the tasting with us. Again wasnt that impresed with any of the stuff we were offered to taste, but do think our taste buds were probably a bit frazzled by then. I was in my element when I discovered that Olivia played a concert here in 2006 and there's even wine for sale with her name on it ; it also has Chris De Burgh's on it too but lets not go there.
We opted for chinese tonight and went to a quirky little chinese restaurant which we've nicknamed "Singapore Sling" ( cant remember the real name but Singapore was in the title) - a really mad chinese woman ran it, and did all the cooking too. She more or less ordered me to eat chicken instead of meatballs for my starter and gave Valerie a heard time when she ordered beancurd ( she shouted at her "YOU VEGETARIAN ??!!!" I was in hysterics). The food was good though and we saw a couple that had been to the Mitai show with us in Rotorua - think they were Australian ; they suffered even worse than Valerie cause when she came to take their order they said they werent ready. Mad woman then decided to ignore them for the next 45minutes !!!!!
I'd definitely say go though if youre ever in Napier - even just to see the womans' eye shadow. Its a classic !!!!
Tuesday 6th January
Although I had intended to get my haircut the fact that most of the hairdresers were only opening this morning after their Christmas break, and the fact that I was a bit hungover meant I didnt really have time. Opted to shop instead and did a bit of rummaging through second hand shops ( uncovered a classic Olivia LP with a free poster - no way I'll get that home intact though), and bought a polo top that I didnt really need from a lovely shop with the friendliest shop assiantant yet ( Rodd and Gunn).
We had a nice drive to Wellington, leaving napier around lunchtime ; only got lost once but as we ended up in Havelock North ( one of the poshest places to stay in North Island ) we werent complaining.
Bizarrely enough Mark and Emma overtook us in their Toyota car on the way - quite freaky we bumped into them again.
Had a coffee stop in Masterton ( lovely Nachos at the coffee shop on the main street), but it wasnt that eventful on the way there. Masterton impressed because everyone seemed to know each other and it didnt feel even remotely touristy. Infact everyone almost ignored us.
After arriving at The Holiday Inn ( quite impressive - with views over the harbour) we met Chris , who I'd travelled with in Brazil/Argentrina for drinks. Was great to see him again and we did a little tour of the pubs around the harbour area before heading into town. Can only remember Macs Brewery ( think we ate there too) and a pub that used to be where the Ambulances left from. That pub wouldnt have been out of place in George Street in Edinburgh. Both pubs were lovely, as were the others. Chris did us proud by showing us a good selection of pubs and giving us good advice on what to do with our free day tomorrow. Thanks Chris - appreciated it big time, maybe get to return the favour if you ever make it up to Edinburgh. It really does make a difference when you have someone showing you around.
Wellington already making quite an impression on us both !!!