oh my goodness

Here it is, May 24 on this side of the dateline, 23rd where most of you (family) are).  We just got directed past Tauranga, NZ. because the port was too windy and unsafe to take us in., so we are sailing on to Auckland, duet to arrive tomorrow morning. Another Sea Day - yea!  We had a very choppy sail here, from Napier, after Picton the day before that, so you see I am very behind, not entirely my fault because the Wifi gets crowded, and it's hard to get online. I'll have to begin getting up at 4 to write. Well, when the pool is fit to swim in at 6, it will be easier.  Anyway, travellers left at Sydney and were replaced, plus 100 more.  We're almost full complement now, about 580 passengers. Those who leave at Los Angeles will be replaced and then some for the Panama Canal transit , apparently always very popular;  by that time we will have reached  full capacity (684 passengers).  

So where to begin?

Picton, on May 22, was lovely: "a charming seaside town settled by early 19th century whalers. boasting one fifth of New Zealand's coastline at its door and the best climate in N.Z. " It's a small town and It reminded me a bit of Banff.  The climate and soil are absolutely great, we are told, for growing wine. Marlborough (for Marlborough Sounds),is New Zealand's largest wine region, producing 77% of all NZ wines and 99% of NZ's sauvignon blanc.  So of course  I went on a wine tasting tour: two wineries (five wines each), plus lunch at the second one.  And after dull days at sea the sun came out. It was like a cool, sunny day in early October in Ontario. Perfect!  I am learning, have learned, how to taste wine and savour it and while I will never be a true connoisseur, I will be more knowledgeable and discriminating than I have been.  I think I will spend more and drink less, but that may be overly optimistic. 

Too optimistic for the next day.  An overnight sail took us to Napier, a fascinating city in itself.  It was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and while the rest of the world was reeling from the depression and not spending any money, Napier rebuilt its home in the currently popular Art Deco style.  Fabulous! There are whole streets of Deco buildings, looking like something out of a Hollywood movie set. I expected to see Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire dancing down the street. 

Before the tasting began we were driven up a mountain, Te Mata Peak, which I found a bit harrowing. I don't like heights, less and less as I get older and older.  I was on the right side of the bus, at the window looking down at the edge of the road winding above a drop to the hills and valley below.  I took a couple of pix, not sure whether they'll turn out but a tribute to my light=headedness if they do.  The wine tastings were excessive by the second place because there was no food, not even crackers, and we were running late after the peak experience.  The first place, however, the Mission, was interesting  because it's where the first grapes in N.Z were planted, by monks. The original  building has survived several resurrections, miraculously,

So this Sea Day is welcome, even though I will miss exploring a Maori village (a replica, I think, not an invasion). And I am getting caught up with my blogs and soon, my correspondence.  Do keep in touch., and I will do the same.....