Thu 12.01.12 – Sun 15.01.12:
The ship was due to leave Tonga at midday, so I made good use of the morning looking for some internets that would allow me to update my much-neglected blog. Looking being the operative word, for I did not find any. Never mind, I enjoyed the walk. So farewell, then, Tonga, you beautiful place. I’m sure I’ll return one day.
Out of the port and out towards the Land of the Long White Cloud, Aotearao. Or ‘New Zealand’ as you heathens insist on calling it. It would take a couple of days to get there, time to kick back, relax, back-up my tapes and work on my inane scribblings.
We arrived on Sunday morning, in good time. Mandy would be arriving in New Zealand tomorrow to begin our North Island Odyssey. This would be our first holiday together since Egypt back in January 2010. As the ship I’d be taking from New Zealand to Australia (in order to then reach country 195, Nauru) would not be leaving until the end of the month, why not eh?
We glided into Auckland harbour at around 10am. Perfect.
I took my leave from the good ship Southern Lily 2 and, after hopping on the courtesy bus to the port entrance, walked to the nearest backpackers. Happily, this was a journey of about 200 metres. Had a come from the airport, the same journey would have taken half an hour and cost $26 one way… on the bus! Considering all of the cargo ships I’ve been on so far have let me on for free, this is how to travel, kids!!
I spent the day re-familiarising myself with the city of Auckland, a place I have not been to for almost a decade. Very like Melbourne, I have to say, but I think I might just like it a leeeettle bit more. Don’t tell anyone 😉
After a blissfully sunny day, I met up with Captain Andriy. We would have one last night out on the tiles. Today was the day that the Costa Concordia sank, and so HOW THE HELL DID THAT HAPPEN?!! dominated the conversation somewhat. With the amount of modern technology available to these large cruise ships, this was already looking like human error par excellence. Sonar, Radar, GPS, Collision Detection Systems… hitting ROCKS off the coast of ITALY?? Nah. What? Nah.
That captain is going down for some time for this, you bet your bottom dollar.
After experiencing the delights of The Occidental, an eye-wateringly expensive (but breathtakingly beautiful) Belgium beer bar, we opted for the Irish Pub: Father Ted’s. Oh yes. There is a Father Ted’s. Although, somewhat disappointingly, you can’t get tea and rollerblading is not allowed.
Somewhat less disappointing was the live band that played. After a few rather decent Beatles covers, I asked the barmaid where these guys were from. ‘Liverpool’ was her reply. ‘My Liverpool?’ I asked. ‘Yeah – Your Liverpool.’
Awesome!! Even better: the lead singer used to go to Bluecoat. My school. Here we are on the other side of the planet and I’m running into people who remember Mr. Hayes, Tittershill, Holt and all those nefarious reprobates who taught me nothing but the Dark Side of the Force.
Small, small world eh? Unlike Melbourne, Auckland stays open past midnight, so Captain Andriy and I made the most of it, there may have been a kebab involved at some point, but I’m pretty sure that those Burger King micro-burgers are the work of the devil. Goodbye, Captain Andriy. It’s been an absolute blast.