February 23, 2010
We got up and had breakfast at the hotel in Samoa this morning trying a couple of new and interesting (and un-pronunciable) fruits. Our flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon so we hung out around the pool until it was time to leave.
Once at the airport, the drama began. We waited in the heat to get checked in and when we got to the front they refused to check us in as we didn’t have proof of a departing flight from NZ, the guy at check-in claiming he’d lose his job if he let us board without seeing the documents. Even after telling him our outgoing flight was with the same airline and he could check on the system, he still wasn’t being helpful. I asked him if that meant we would never be able to leave Samoa and he said “yes”! I told him that I’d just stay here then and camp out at the airport. He eventually passed us on to another woman who we waited about 20 minutes to see. In front of us was a couple in a similar position but they had to BUY a flight out of NZ just to be allowed in. It was crazy, especially as we had already been in once and had received our visitor visas for our stay. Even once the woman had confirmed our flight and checked us in, it took another 20 minutes for her to print us a flight confirmation, by which time they had started to call our flight. I told her we needed to hurry up but she just laughed and said we’d be fine. We weren’t impressed and it wasn’t a good end to our stay in Samoa.
Thankfully, we made the flight and even had time to buy a bottle of wine with our remaining Samoan Tala. Even that was a drawn out process as the woman had to hand write the receipt including writing full details of the make and type of wine and even the barcode number!
On board the flight at least went smoothly although the large, old Samoan lady next to Elizabeth had trouble with, well, everything from doing her seatbelt up to putting her tray down to opening the milk for her coffee! Poor Elizabeth helped her with everything and then the moment we landed the woman tried to barge her way out over Elizabeth despite the fact the doors hadn’t opened and no-one was moving anywhere. Talk about lack of gratitude!
We got out easily, with no luggage to wait for, and caught the airbus to the hostel, checking into our room and almost immediately heading out for dinner. We headed again to the Degree Bar, having acquired a 10% discount voucher. It was so nice walking through the city as it was almost cool enough to be cold and the brisk breeze as we had our dinner outside was very refreshing having spent the last 4 days sweating! The food was excellent again and the drinks were great – we have grown a liking for the cider made by Monteith’s Brewery and we’ve added it to our itinerary as a tasting stop!
February 24, 2010
Today we had a tour arranged to Rangitoto Island and we had a reasonably early start to walk down to the wharf, grab a quick McDonald’s breakfast and some snacks for lunch. We got the ferry across to the island and boarded a little tractor-pulled train thing which took us to the top. We had paid extra for this, not really realizing what it involved. It was basically an old person’s tour of the island, dropping them off as close as possible to the sites rather than walking around. The walk to the top of the island peak would’ve taken about 1 hour but we got there in about 30 minutes. Once we reached the drop off and walked the last 15 minutes to the top, we decided to ditch the tour and walk around ourselves.
The view from the top was lovely, giving great views back across to the city and the surrounding islands. The island of Rangitoto is a volcanic island and from a distance it looked lush and green. Up close though, you could see a huge amount of black, volcanic rock covering the floor and it gave it a really interesting feel.
From the top of the hill we walked down to the lava caves, one thing we wanted to do and one thing which was not a stop on the tour, the main reason we’d ditched it! However, the lava caves weren’t what we were expecting and were quite small and open. We’d been told to bring a torch so we expected them to be quite enclosed at the entrance making them darker inside. This certainly wasn’t the case.
We headed back to the wharf after that to eat our lunch and catch the 12.45 lunchtime ferry. Unfortunately Elizabeth had bought a salad and the dressing had leaked out everywhere so we had a bit of a messy bag!
Once we had taken the ferry back to the city, we had a wander around and tried to sort out some more flight screw ups. We found out yesterday that Pacific Blue have changed a flight which now means we miss a connection and have to re-arrange. They hadn’t bothered to tell us and have now changed all three of the flights we had booked with them.
Back at the hostel we re-packed our bags. We are heading out on the road tomorrow and we decided to have one bag full of stuff we need and one full of stuff which is less important that we can just leave in the car all the time.
For dinner we headed to a bar called Shakespeare’s which brews its own beer – I know, we’re getting to be too predictable! They did a sample set but it was $30 so when we asked the barman he let us try a few different ones before we decided which to get. We tried 4 of their 8 beers and Elizabeth picked the strong Weiss beer to drink and I went for the Flagstaff Ale, something with a bit more flavour! Along with my bangers and mash and Elizabeth’s fush and chups we had another good meal. Auckland had been good for food, that’s for sure!
We ordered another beer and we were met by the people sharing our dorm room – Alison from California and Matt from Venice. We sat and had a couple more beers and chatted away. It is always nice to get to chat to people from around the world and hear their views on different things and different places. It was a really fun evening and a good end to our time in Auckland. Even after the few days we’ve had here, I could imagine living here…