Month: December 2014

Day 10 – Auckland to Brisbane

Day 10 – Auckland to Brisbane
Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

Had a good sleep in this morning and it is a bright and sunny day without being to hot. We lost a day on our flight over the international date line yesterday and it’s now one day closer to Christmas.

We head down for a light breakfast in the Hotel cafe then pack our bags and leave them at reception as we have an hour to kill before our chauffeur arrives.

Its a nice morning so we decide to walk down the Main Street of the city and perhaps do some shopping and surprisingly there are no crowds as we stroll around. Unfortunately the time went quickly so we headed back to our hotel and sure enough our shiny silver Audi A8 is waiting for us. We have a nice ride to the airport but take the freeway this time.

We check in without a fuss and decide to buy our duty free in Auckland instead of Brisbane as the choice is much larger and seems to be a little cheaper. Deb asks me to find myself a Christmas present but I see nothing I really want.

We have something to eat and a nice New Zealand white wine before boarding as we are now pre warned about the lack of food and service on the Air New Zealand flight.

The plane left on time and we have another very ordinary flight home (as expected) and touch down about 4.30pm. It’s a hot and humid afternoon in Brisbane much like Tahiti but at least everybody is talking in English instead of French. And why is it that in Brisbane there always seems to be a skeleton staff on duty at customs causing major delays? At least we were not searched.

We finally caught a taxi and headed towards the Gap and on arriving we are pleased to see everything is in one piece and we have no storm damage. First port of call is the bar fridge as we grab a cold beer and both say at the same time, “It’s nice to be home”.

Hint – don’t bother filling out your lengthy infectious diseases card introduced because of the Ebola scare because they don’t even check it.

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Day 9 – Papeete to Auckland

Day 9 – Papeete to Auckland
Papeete, French Polynesia

Papeete, French Polynesia

We have an early start today and our transfer is due at 6.45am. As we shower it is still dark so we don’t get a chance to see what the weather is like, however as we check out the sun has risen and it seems we have a cloudy but cooler day.

We board the minibus with the same young couple who arrived with us in Papeete seven days ago and discover they are from London and are heading to Australia for the final leg of their holiday.

We check in at Faaa International Airport with no problems and do some duty free shopping where we purchase some French champagne for our last night in Auckland. Deb spots a nice pair of Robert Wan black pearl earrings mounted in white gold with diamonds which we buy as a memento of Tahiti and as a Christmas present.

The wait at the airport departure terminal was interesting to say the least with nothing but ceiling fans to keep you cool, an open garden area filled with smokers and all announcements in French.

On boarding we have the same seats as those on the way over and our flight back to Auckland is full of French nationals heading to NZ for Christmas. The flight was reasonable however cabin service was not so good this time.

As we touched down in Auckland the weather was a lot better than when we left but it was still cool. We were greeted by a Chauffeur this time who transferred us to our accommodation in the city in an Audi A8. He was very chatty and took us on a scenic route instead of the freeway, however the trip was not without incident as we got caught up in a police pursuit with a possible stolen car heading towards us at speed on the wrong side of the road. Both cars ran the red light then disappeared in the distance.

Some thirty five minutes later we were dropped off in front of De Brett’s Hotel a boutique establishment in the trendy area of the city. The place was very bohemian and our room looked as if it had been styled by contestants on the TV series The Block, with all its art nervous furnishings and a very flashy bathroom. We both wondered why the room was fitted out with disabled aids but soon realised that the management probably thought we were somewhat old when they were informed by our travel agent that this was our 40th wedding anniversary.

We were both hungry having missed breakfast and lunch so we decided to head to the waterfront for a late meal. Unfortunately all the restaurants were booked out for Christmas work break-ups but we finally stumbled on a great little place called the Botswana Butchery that had just cleared a table. At last some good food at a reasonable price.

After lunch we went back to our room for a shower, changed our clothes and decided to
open our champagne which we had on ice. We then went down to the drawing room for a complementary cocktail before heading out for a night on the town. Well our night out ended up being an early one as all of the establishments were packet to the rafters so we decided to loose a little money at the Sky Casino then had a light bar snack in a boutique beer joint not far from our hotel.

On returning to our room we recounted our experiences to date as we watched a movie in bed and planed our up and coming family Christmas back home.

Hints – the chauffer service was well worth the effort and we would definitely recommend both the De Bretts Hotel and the Botswana Butchery if you find yourself in Auckland.

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Day 8 – Bora Bora to Tahiti (Papeete)

Day 8 – Bora Bora to Tahiti (Papeete)
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Today is the last day of our stay on this beautiful island and the sun is shining with hardly a cloud in the sky.

We have been offered a late checkout today, we will be picked up from our room at 3.30pm transferred by boat to the airport at 4.00 and catch our plane to Tahiti at 5.20, so we have plenty of time to do as we wish.

First order of the day is a little sun baking followed by a swim from our pontoon, then a shower to wash off the salt.

We order a mid morning champagne breakfast with Billecart Salmon Brut, toast, croissants, omelettes fresh fruit and cheese, this will be our only meal today. We opted not to go with the infamous canoe breakfast as we didn’t like the choice of food. Once again the table is set to perfection as we sit under the blue sky and watch the boats pass by. Following breakfast we pour a last bath in our spa then pack our bags well in advance. Now it’s time for the last of our duty free as we relax on the deck and enjoy our final day in paradise sipping on GTs.

At 3.00pm our cart arrives to take us to reception to checkout. Sebastian our butler has the day off so we don’t get to say goodby. I check my bill and it totals XPF 36,0000 which is a little less than expected but still a lot of money on anybody’s calculator, the bonus – no charge for any of our Internet sessions.

At 3.30pm we are the only ones on the dock as we are presented with shell leis (flowers when you arrive and shells when you leave) then board a speed boat and head towards the airport terminal. We check in and have a two hour wait for the plane. Everybody at the terminal is wearing shell necklaces and looking sad to leave. It’s a quick flight flight back with no island stops and on arriving at Papeete it’s been raining and is very humid as we are welcomed with another shell lei and transported to the La Meridian Hotel.

We stow our bags in our room and head to the pool bar for a complimentary cocktail as the sun sets over the water. The place is full of tourists and takes on a magical atmosphere as we settle down to a few Margaritas by the pool. I dont know why it is but we spot two elderly English tourists reserving pool deck chairs for the morning by placing their towels on them. How do we know there English, because the Poms seem to be the only race who partake in this type of anti social behaviour.

Back at our room we order hamburgers as the restaurant meals are as expensive as those on Bora Bora and don’t look all that appetising. We also order an ice bucket to cool our final bottle of duty free champagne.

Its another early start tomorrow so Rocket orders an early morning call for 4.30am then we decide to retire as we are both tired, there is nothing on TV and we have nothing left of our duty free.

Hint – do your research if you decide to holiday in Tahiti. It is very expensive, the hotels are somewhat run down, the place is dirty and covered in graffiti. This may be a little harsh as we did only see a small part of Papeete and it would probably be a great holiday for backpackers as it has a very relaxed Polynesian atmosphere.

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Day 7 – Bora Bora (St Regis Resort)

Day 7 – Bora Bora (St Regis Resort)
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

We wake this morning to pouring rain. The joys of the wet season.

Deb has had an upset stomach all night but is starting to rally. We ring and cancel the champagne breakfast we ordered yesterday as we both could not face another meal after last nights feast.

After a refreshing shower Deb is feeling better, and we both read as it continues to pour rain. Mt Otemanu is hidden behind the clouds again but it looks like the weather is starting to clear. We get a call from Sebastian enquiring into Debs well being as the news has spread amongst the butlers after we cancelled breakfast. Deb tells him she ate to much but is much better now. He orders two cold waters to be sent to the villa immediately.

At 1.00pm it is still cloudy and we are picked up and taken to the Miri Miri spa on its own private lagoon island. It offers a state-of-the-art fitness center and an incomparable array of island-inspired indulgences and we have booked a complimentary 50 minute couples massage.

Not being people who partake of massages we do not know what to expect. We were shown six or so exotic oils and asked to choose our favourite. We were then led to separate chambers to change into robes, then shown to a dimly lit room containing two massage tables beside each other. The girls asked us to disrobe then left the room before we did so. We lied in the tables covered by a sheet and waited for their return. On entering they lifted one side of the sheet discretely and started the long massage. What was it like, slippery, soothing and painfull all at the same time. After they finished they motioned for us to re-robe then waited for us outside. We were led to the same separate chambers to get dressed and then it was all over.

Our ride was waiting outside and we discussed the experience on the way back. Did we feel relaxed, NO, did we feel sore, YES, did our skin feel nice, YES would we do it again, probably NOT.

On returning to our villa the weather had cleared and the sun was out so we decided to crack one of our Mumm champagnes and sit on the deck. We also decided to order an antipasto meat, bread, cheese and red wine platter for sunset instead of heading down to the restaurant precinct. On arriving the room service staff set up a beautiful table and the wine was a Chateau Margaux 2009, excuse us. It was a very pleasant way to while away the last light of the day and the last night of our holiday on Bora Bora.

Hint – room service meals are well worth the money figuratively speaking, not so sure about the massage though.

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Day 6 – Bora Bora (St Regis Resort)

Day 6 – Bora Bora (St Regis Resort)
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

It’s our anniversary today in Tahiti time so we have decided to celebrate by going to the Lagoon Restaurant. Suspended over water, Lagoon features breathtaking views of Mount Otemanu, while Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s menu supposedly offers the finest gastronomic experience in all of French Polynesia.

It has been raining all night but soon clears as we shower and then settle down to some episodes of Glee on the one and only channel that has English speaking content, be it with French subtitles.

As the sun peakes out behind the clouds we decide to go down to the pool for a swim and to sit at the Aparima bar on the submersed stools.

We grab some towels from the beach hut and find ourselves a nice spot under a shady umbrella, it not to long when we are greeted by a pool boy, buffed and wearing a lap-lap offers us some iced water. Deb was impressed (“nearly as good as the guys at the Four Seasons in Tahiti” she states).

Starting to get hot we both jump in the pool and head towards the swim-up bar and order two Hainie coconut cocktails, how refreshing. Rocket also asks the beach hut staff, how much for 20m on the jetski, “AUD $300 is the reply”. “Not today” said Rod.

An hour later we decide to head up to the Miri Miri spa to take some photos and to book our couples massage. It is located on an island in the middle of the resort lagoon and the grounds and view to Mt Otemanu are to die for.

We call a cart back to our villa as this is by far the longest walk in the resort and it is as hot as hell. We stop on the way back to grab some more mixers and soon arrive at our cool OTWV.

Back at our room the clear blue water looks so inviting that we both dive in and float effortlessly in the buoyant salt water. “GT” Rocket shouts as he washes off the salt. “Sure why not” sighs Deb.

At 7.00pm we are picked up by Sebastian and dropped off at the Lagoon restaurant, Rocket tries to spot some sharks that are swimming below the glass bottom floor but sees none as we are seated by the window overlooking the mountain. (very romantic)!

For some reason we choose the 7 course French/Asian fusion tasting menu over the 5 course menu (big mistake) this ended up being far to much food. The meal is mediocre and less than impressive given the reputation of this restaurant but the paired wines are nice.

With a bill totalling AUD $920 we both feel somewhat ripped off but are to full to care. Just as we are about to leave we are presented with an anniversary sweets plate, “where do we fit this” we both say.

On arriving back at our villa we are greeted with a flower turndown and an anniversary cake, how are we ever going to fit in the cake. Rocket puts it in the fridge as suddenly Deb starts to feel ill, not a good way to finish the dinner or the day.

Hopefully she will recover by the morning. ******* you Jean-Georges!

Hint – beware of overpriced and overrated French restaurants that make you sick.

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Day 5 – Bora Bore (St Regis Resort)

Day 5 – Bora Bore (St Regis Resort)
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

After another good nights sleep we woke to a sunny morning in paradise. Yesterday we found out that the infamous Bloody Mary’s is closed for the wet season so we have decided to go to the mainland today after breakfast and have lunch at the Bora Bora Yacht Club, a lively watering hole with a stunning waterfront setting for a casual meal of fresh oysters and Australian steaks.

We call for a cart and head down to breakfast, it is in the bar today as the rain did some damage to the main restaurant and the tradies are doing some repairs. Again the food is mediocre.

After eating we head to reception to suss out the requirements for getting around on the mainland. It seems we catch the St Regis launch and are then taken to Vaitape (Bora Bora’s main town) by minibus and thats where it ends, we are then on our own and will have to draw cash out at an ATM to pay taxi drivers who don’t speak english. Getting back will be hit and miss and usually involves a lot of waiting. It doesn’t sound easy!

As we wait for the launch to depart, the humidity is starting to become oppressive and Deb starts to feel sick. Do we risk the trip with the hassles of an upset stomach or do we spend some more leisure time at the resort. Suddenly Rocket starts to feel squeamish as well (we think it must have been the breakfast) so our decision is made.

We hitch a ride back to our villa and read until we begin to feel better.

Around 11.30am, housekeeping want to clean the room so we head to the Aparima Bar and Deb orders a Hainie cocktail (the house special) and Rocket orders a beer. The cocktail has vanilla infused rum, coconut essence, coconut ice cream and coconut water all served in a green coconut husk, Deb comments that it is the most delicious and refreshing cocktail she has ever had.

We took some pictures around the pool purchased some mixers and headed back to our villa for a relaxing afternoon with some Bacardi and cokes on the back deck as the sun sets behind the mountain.

Tonight we decided to try the Japanese Saki Take Restaurant, Deb ordered stir fried noodles and chicken and Rocket had tempura prawns. Both meals were delicious but not fabulous, however they are the best we have had to date. The same meal at Osaka Japanese in Ashgrove AUD $60.00, in Bora Bora AUD $160 ah what the hell.

After dinner we dropped in to the cocktail bar at the Lagoon Restaurant to talk to our new friend and had another Cosmo for the road. In all another relaxing day.

Hint – beware that both Bloody Mary’s and the best restaurant on the mainland, Villa Mahana are closed during the month of December.

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Day 4 – Bora Bora (St Regis Resort)

Day 4 – Bora Bora (St Regis Resort)
Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Today we wake to pouring tropical rain and as we open the curtains, Mt Otemanu is covered in cloud.

After working our way through all the leavers and taps in the bathroom we finally manage to switch on the waterfall shower and get ready for breakfast. We call for a cart to take us to the restaurant and still pouring rain we get soaked as the rain blew into the vehicle.

On arriving at the restaurant were were given towels to dry off and both of us ordered poached eggs and helped ourselves to a very average breakfast from the buffet, the best being the eggs and beautiful fresh fruit.

After breakfast we headed back to our room and read our in room brochures as we waited for the rain to stop. We were looking at options for our anniversary, (decisions decisions), a cruise with a crayfish and champagne dinner on a deserted island for $1200, a romantic candle lit meal on our deck for $400 or a seven course tasting plate with paired wines for $700 in the Lagoon restaurant, reportedly the best on the Island. Deb chose the latter so she could sit in the cool.

Just after 1.00pm it cleared, so we decided to grab some snorkelling gear from the beach hut and hitched a ride to one of the pontoons on the shoreline of the resort lagoon. On jumping in the water was warm but still refreshing and we found it extremely buoyant. It didn’t take long to get used to the snorkelling gear as we swam among schools of fish and began diving down to visit the clown fish and clams. Suddenly a large maori wrasse measuring roughly two and a half feet appeared and swam along side of us for a few minutes before disappearing behind a rock. We did a complete lap of the island and hopped out back from where we started.

Heading back to our villa we hitched a ride on one of the passing carts and just as well as it would have been a long hot walk back. On entering our room we couldn’t, help notice how cool it was inside but we decided to put on our fins and go for a swim from our pontoon, just because we could. The villas are mostly surrounded by sand but there was a token coral bombe under our lounge area so Rocket dived down to get a glimpse of all the fish we saw through the glass viewing floor panel the night before. On climbing back up the ladder we washed the salt water off under the outside shower and poured ourselves an ice cold GT or two as we sat on the deck and watched the sun go down over the mountain.

I believe we are finally starting to relax?

At 6.00pm we rang the butler and asked him to book us a table at the Far Niente Ristorante. Honoring the traditions of Italian cuisine, it presented a flavorful selection of dishes comprising Italy’s distinctive produce, subtly complemented by the sommelier’s choice of regional wines. The meal was sort of delicious, Deb had raw lamb and had to send it back and I had a tasty pizza. We washed the meal down with a nice italian red and the whole lot only set us back AUD $240 and once again Rocket did not flinch.

At 7.00pm we decided to leave the restaurant and meander down for a cocktail at the Lagoon Restaurant Bar, where we met a young Frenchman who was on a working holiday for six months. He made us an amazing Cosmo which we both sipped on as we browsed the restaurant menu trying to decide if we should still have dinner here for our anniversary.

After our pleasant interlude at the bar we strolled hand-in-hand down the cobblestone path bathed in moonlight as we headed back to our villa.

No bike rides tonight!

Hint – a snorkel in the resort lagoon is well worth the effort.

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