Monday, December 27, 2010

Deco for Days

After one night in this hostel, I am not as impressed as I was with the one in Rotorua. We do not have an ensuite room, because they don’t have them. Our room is off of one corridor after climbing 4 steps to our door. The 2 bathrooms around the corner from our room seem to be available when needed, but the problem is ventilation. It is much warmer here in Napier than it was in either Auckland or Rotorua. We have one small window that only opens outward about 3 inches due to a security bar that holds it from venturing further. It is hot and stuffy in here, but worse yet, the minimal air from the window and the wind in the hallway combine forces to make a game out of rattling our door…all night long. Barricading the door to keep it steady has not helped in the least.

Without the benefit of shopping yesterday upon arrival, we were obligated to find a place for coffee and a bite. Being what seems to be perpetual holidays here, most places were still closed, though we were up and out at 8am. We did find a little bakery/coffee shop called The Glory Hole. What a name. They made a delicious latte coffee and the ginger bar I had was a real treat. The first thing on our “To Do” list was to get to the grocery store. We gathered the things we needed to make our way through the next few dinners and breakfasts, before we move on yet again. The one refrigerator counter that really made me laugh out loud and caused me to photograph was the cold section of pet food. There amongst all of the other cold storage foods was a large display case of pet foods. I had to take pictures of it. I have never seen anything like this before.

After dropping off the goods at the hostel, we were going to make our way to the tourism office. The goal was to book a wine tour for tomorrow, but as we wandered, we came across a modern interesting looking white, white church. It was St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, so we wandered in to take a peek. Inside is shaped like the inside of a shell, an ultra modern construction for a Catholic church; it looked more like an amphitheater. Pews were arranged in a semi-circular fashion with the altar looking like a stage. For those of you familiar with Catholic confessionals, the Conciliatory room as they refer to it was a well proportioned room partially divided by varied lengths of wood from Tasmania. On either side, there were comfortable chairs. It gave me a chuckle that above the door was a sign “Emergency Exit”. In case of emergency, confess and escape. Some service had just ended when we entered, so one of the church members caught Ron, giving him an interesting history of the church and the rebuilding of the church. This church and its properties had multiple fires, most assumed were set by arson.    

As we walked out of the church, this car pulled up beside us and the woman passenger waved to us. It turned out to be out dinner companions at the Maori cultural show from Rotorua. After that dinner, we ran into them on Christmas day at St. Faith’s and now again in Napier. What a coincidence.

Napier is also known as the “Art Deco City of the World”. Almost the entire town was destroyed in an earthquake, so when it was time to rebuild the Deco architecture phase was in full swing. The local architects took their inspiration from what was happening in the US and Europe applying it here. Focusing again on that wine tour for tomorrow, we made it to the tourism office where for NZ$ 7.50, you can buy a self-guided tour of the downtown area that starts at the Deco Center, a historical memorial center and gift shop selling all things deco. We bought the booklet tried booking the wine tour. The problem was that the tour operator we wanted was not answering his phone. The tourism agent left a message, so we had to return to see if he responded. She believed that he may be booked up with a cruise ship that was coming into port in the morning. If this were the case, there would not be any other tours given.

With the booklet in hand, we started our Deco walking tour where it states it will take 60 to 100 minutes depending on your pace. For each address on given streets, there was a brief history of the architectural style, meaning the motif of the Deco style chosen and the year it was rebuilt. Very few incorporated Maori devises into the patterns for external décor. By the end of 2 hours of doing this walking tour, we needed to treat ourselves with a gelato that the bus driver had recommended. He was right, it was excellent. We wrapped up our tour after this refreshment, check. I am not a fan of Deco interior decorations in the least, but the architecture I find somewhat interesting. When I post the photos of Napier, for today a fare share of the shots will be of architecture.     

By the early evening we made out third trip to the tourism office to find we could indeed book the tour. With that out of the way, we went for a beer and then to the beach to read for an hour. We did not go onto the beach. It is all rocks, but there are benches along the promenade where we could divert our reading for glimpse of the ocean.

Dinner was pork apple schnitzel that we bought frozen and Ron fried. A salad and some potato chips completed the meal. After dinner, we took another walk along the ocean promenade. The hostel is right across the street. Cloud clusters fascinate me. At one point the sky looked like Swiss dots had been splattered across it. Later in the evening after sunset, one portion of the sky appeared to have a thick dark blue blanket pulled partially over it, while the rest still had the lighter blue sheet exposed. When we returned to the hostel, we heard people mention a storm was coming.
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