14.02.2012 - 15.02.2012 34 °C
Just catching up with the last few days – our exit from Rarotonga was less than dignified, and not quite the organised and efficient event that we had intended! After the experience of everything closing down in Avarua the capital - and everyone in bed by 9.30pm – we had been told that Friday night was party night – so we were keen to see this – and started the night off as advised at the local waterside bar – Trader Jacks for Happy Hour. From here onto another bar where we were playing pool on a half snooker table, still only a few people around but at least some good music and looking forward to much dancing etc to come! However the heavens then opened and we were then trapped there for a while by a huge torrential tropical storm – which then proceeded to slowly flood the bar and all the dance floor! Eventually we decided to give up and so took the bus back, happy in the knowledge that we still had another day of sun and sand! We arrived a little inebriated back at the hotel at around 11am – and as we collected our key the receptionist said to us – did we realise that we had our airport pick up scheduled in half an hour – No, No – we said you have got it wrong – we are not leaving until the following night ! Then back in the room decided to double check and ****** realised that she was right and we had 25 minutes to get packed up and to the airport – anyway we did it – but it was a narrow escape! I think we had got into Island mode, very relaxed, and also got a bit confused with the dates – and the fact that the flight left at 0130am on Saturday – which is actually Friday night!
Arrived in Auckland – with the confusion of the dateline thing again – so left Rarotonga on Friday night and arrived on Sunday Morning – so lost the whole of Saturday! We have now crossed the dateline 3 times in about just over a week – and are gaining and losing whole days all over the place! Auckland was great – as usual we did not hang around ! The flight was very short 3.5 hours - arriving at 0530am – so not good for sleep – but great for making the most of the days that we have as it gave us another whole day in Auckland. Really loved NZealand – made the most of the early arrival and spent the first day of course walking around everywhere – then took the ferry to Devonport for lunch – back for a rest and more walking around and sightseeing in the evening. Hired a car on the second day – which I am really pleased that we did, as we were able to get out and see some of the amazing N.Zealand scenery – which you can do only one hour out of Auckland – and it did not disappoint. Someone had told us that there was an amazing view around just about every corner – and it was true! Thanks to Kelvin for recommending visiting the West Coast beaches – drove through rainforest with massive tree palms – the size of coconut trees, wild lillies everywhere – then down to massive black sand beaches with huge white waves rolling in from the sea and tall rocks rising out of the water. Surfers were out – and it was really hot- with the black sand too hot to walk on! A highlight was fishburgers with fantastic fish and big fat real potato chips sitting in the dunes at Piha beach watching the surfers. One of the beaches we went to was enormous, and the only people on it were the life guards – what a life!! Food in Auckland was really cosmopolitan – so in true keeping we had an absolutely fantastic steak in an Irish Pub - Tapas at lunchtime – and a Korean Barbecue on the last night! Don’t ask why we made those choices – just seemed like the best option at the time! But all were really good!
Well we have just had the longest Valentines day ever – left Auckland in the afternoon of the 14th Feb – had an 11.5 hour flight to Santiago and arrived at 11.30 in the morning of the 14th – the dateline thing again! Then had the whole day again in Santiago.
At least so far all the flights have had really good inflight entertainment systems – and as I can’t sleep on planes – have watched about 4 or 5 films at a time – it really passes the time anyway! However I am getting down to the film dregs now! Hotel is very nice – very central and full of character – dark wood furniture etc! Santiago is very like a European city – Spain or Rome – and a Mediterranean type climate. At the moment it is very hot and dry – temperature today was over 30 degrees – did our usual walk around the town – and discovered the market – which strangely was full of restaurants inside - with all the food, and fish etc outside, and had a great meal of prawns and scallops there!
The hotel is in the commercial area so lots of shops – and for some reason every other shop seems to be a shoe shop – so much to be admired, to Laurie’s disgust! It is really busy in the evenings ( as opposed to the Cook Islands) and everyone is very well dressed day and night!
Today – which is our whole day in Santiago – we took a half day tour into the Andes – to get a proper taste of Chile – and spent two hours winding up the Andes mountains to a Ski resort. No snow now as it is the summer, amazing views – and you could see the glacier in the distance – the terrain was very dry with cactus and scrubby plants and alpines - and the mountains are full of minerals – copper, iron ore and semi precious metals – Lapis Lazuli is one the main things here as there are apparently only two mines for this in the world – here in Chile and the other in Afghanistan. The ski resort was also memorable for a viewing of condors soaring all around us in a spectacular display!
We spent the evening browsing the bars and restaurants in the main night time area Buena Vista– lots of bars and night clubs ( and lapis lazuli shops!!!).
Food interests of the day were:-
Breakfast at the hotel – which was the usual buffet but with a few differences – Fresh Strawberry juice as a drink was really good, hot food included spicy Spanish omelette ( Really good) as well as Quince paste and dulce de leche ( caramel) instead of jam.
A local cocktail – Pisco Sour – made of local hooch ( like tequila) lime and sugar – very like a margarita! Soursop juice as a fruit drink!
Really good steaks!