Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day - Round 1

I never really understood Boxing Day and after living in Europe for over 9 Boxing Days, everyone  I have questioned has no idea what the significance of the holiday is. So why is it that countries so far away from Europe still celebrate it as a holiday? The British invasion is the answer. It is another excuse to have a day off, close the stores, unwind after a lackluster (by American standards) Christmas day. Did that South African or Australian Christmas picnic really take it all out of you that you needed an extra day to recuperate? 

Well, with the few options left to us, we had to source out the things that were open. Our bus leaves for Napier today at 4pm, so we have the day to play. Our bags are secured at the hostel. We ventured back to Government Gardens where reportedly the Rotorua Museum was open today. T'was, so we opted for the free tour provided by volunteer docents. Today, Anne was the docent of the day and she gave us a comprehensive tour of this incredible museum. It was designed by a Balentologist, though I am not sure of the spelling, it is a specialist who determines bodily cures based on the mineral composition of thermal waters. The one who designed this thermal bath was from Germany. Unfortunately, his design could not be fully carried out due to money, but the main structure was built and functional. Ahh, but the great earthquake that ruined so much, did this building for a time also. For thirty years, it was leased as a nightclub, but then the lease ran out the city took it over once again. 

There were a number of impressive parts to this thermal that stood out for me. One of the 'treatments' was to put electricity into the tubs when people were bathing to reduce stress. There was 'vibration' therapy for ladies to reduce hysteria. We know what that means, don't we? The baths were taken in private tubs, nothing communal, yet the men and women were still segregated. Mud baths were commonly used, covering a person's body with hot mud. This is something that is in vogue in California as well as other places too. 

There were two movies, which we watched. One was the role of the Maoris in the World War serving in their own battalion. Not only was this eye-opening, it reminded me of the African Americans who fought segregated from the other soldiers. The other was the history of the earthquake. This was in a different room with pew like seating. About half-way into the movie as they start showing the earthquake, the seats start to shake, rattle, roll to the point of having to hold on to the seat. It was quite a surprise, but impressive at the same time. We wandered to the rooftop where the view was spectacular and finally into the basement. It was a splendid 2 1/2 hours. 

We did a final walk around the city, before going to the Pig and Whistle for a late lunch. They had spare ribs, my favorite, which I pigged out on. 

Our bus was at 4:30, so we had time to return to the hostel, relax, read, and write for some time before going to the tourism office. The bus was almost empty; there were only about 7 people on it, so we had our pick of seats. The ride was 3 1/2 hours to Napier, our next stop. 

The scenery was awe-inspiring. For over an hour, it looked like the Jolly Green Giant planted miles upon miles of broccoli. The tops of trees looked like the tops of broccoli spears. The green was never ending. Then miles later, there were pastures that seemed to go on forever. Because of the hills and mountains, it looked like some giant throw out a large green carpet, but never bothered to flatten the wrinkles and bubbles. Can one go green blind, like snow blindness? Awesome! Just totally awesome. I really tried to break my vision from the window to my book, but was only successful for minutes at a time. 

Napier is on the ocean. Our driver let us off at the tourism office on the ocean front. He shared with us that the best gelato place was directly across the street and if he did not have 3 passengers on the bus, he would indulge himself. He reminded me of a hairier version of Jack Black

Our hostel, another YHA, is down the street. The facility is not as wonderful as the last one, but it is clean and the people are friendly. Once we dumped our things, we headed for the grocery store, but it had closed at 8pm. With no hope of groceries, the next best thing was a pub, and then bed.
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