Monday, July 8, 2013

Driving to Paihia

Coca at work
After breakfast in the morning, we got a visit from Coca, the neighbor's cat who had been standoffish on the day we were first introduced, but who had decided we were her best friends ever suddenly as we were leaving. We left her to lounge on the sofa when we went to pick up our rental car. The rental agent, Stuart, had a very dry and understated wit, and was a joy to deal with, and we were soon on our way. Parked the car in the secure garage and were able to load at leisure, then get out of town around 11 AM.

Orewa Beach
The GPS unit was useless to us while crossing Auckland CBD and finding the way to the Bay Bridge. Simple verbal instructions from Stuart remained in our brains long enough to get us out of town. Unfortunately, there was a construction blockage on the 1 Motorway heading north, and and thousands of others were detoured off into the suburbs, which led me to my first initiation into the roundabouts, and I got honked at by an irate Kiwi for the first time. Yay, me. Finally got the GPS unit to quit whining and give us some useful direction, and found ourselves back on Route 1 after a scenic drive through the suburbian neighborhoods, headed to Paihia.

We stopped at Orewa for lunch at a rustic place modeled on a Swiss chalet called the Pine Café. Seemed to be only frequented by locals and disoriented visitors, and we had a lovely conversation with the owner, Michael, from south China. In the middle of our meal, a couple of older Kiwi ladies stopped by to chat as well, and we also had a good time chatting with them, one of whom had done nine months in a camper van touring the U.S. with four young children thirty years ago. Michele had a Kiwi Burger and I had fish & chips - both delicious and lovingly presented.

Back on the road again for a short while, then stopped at a gorgeous beach to wander about and walk off our meal. Puttered about in the tide pools, then decided we'd best be on our way north again, though we could have played there all day. Didn't leave the car after that until we arrived in Paihia around 4:30 and checked in to our hotel. The views alternated between seascapes, rural Shire-like farmscapes, and subtropical forest, and the route was sufficiently twisty to make my BMW motorcycle club friends drool. I did.

We'll always have the Shire, Mr. Frodo
The Sea Spray Motel in Paihia turned out to be a much nicer place than I'd anticipated. We have a nice large living room and kitchen, spacious bathroom and a bedroom nearly as large as our own at home, with a Queen bed. There turned out to be a hot tub for guests (there are perhaps a half dozen of us), and laundry facilities which we'll definitely need before we leave here. We went for a walk after checking in to orient ourselves with the local scene, and picked up some brochures from the iSite and walked around on the wharf, watched some fishermen toss their lines into the bay, and found a couple of small grocers, where we picked up a few things to keep in our fridge for breakfast and snacks.

Just outside the motel, Paihia
Later on, we drove back down to the booming centre, and had dinner at Amazing Thai, which WAS! The service was the fastest and most attentive of any we've seen here so far (I think winter in NZ is a little relaxed), and the food was truly scrumptious. There was a twofer deal, and we shared a Ginger Lamb and a Beef in Oyster Sauce - nearly licked the plates clean. They have a sister restaurant (or perhaps it's actually a cousin; the genealogy was murky) in Rotorua we'll have to take Victoria to when we all go there after the wedding. Back to the motel room to relax and watch CNN. It's amazing how much actual NEWS they get in other countries compared to what our media spoon feeds us. Enjoyed my rediscovered love with a Ciloppo for dessert, and toddled off to sleep well sated.

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