Monday, April 30, 2018

On a clear day...

No-one ever endeared themselves to anyone by finishing that sentence with "...the view is terrific". Especially when you've just climbed umpteen steps from sea level up to 232m to stand surrounded by mist gazing from the summit at absolutely nothing. And, to compound the dissatisfaction, to have spent the time in the company of someone talking at you mostly about stuff you already knew plus even more stuff you never wanted to know all about them and their personal history, culminating in "I've had such a rich and interesting life, I must write a book about it" - well, there's nothing guaranteed more certain to get the shutters slamming down than that, as far as I'm concerned. Old white man, do I need to say? Grrr.
I did learn a few things from Trevor, like how to tell manuka from kanuka (the spelling! Nah, he didn't do jokes. It's the seed pods). But when he told me that in the US, port and starboard colours are the other way around, he discredited everything else he'd said up to that point. For goodness sake... He did though finally redeem himself by showing me some excellent and unexpected murals that were hiding away in an industrial estate that I would never have discovered by myself.
Anyway. The day had started grey, with a heron on the railing, an excellent Bircher muesli here at the Trinity Wharf Hotel, and a really nice introduction to the Hot Pools in Mt Maunganui. They're smallish, but nicely done: salt water heated by transference from natural hot water, so no rotten egg smell, just nice 32 and 34 degree water in pools well patronised by friendly and sociable retirees and little kids. I joined in an aquarobics class that was participated in with great enthusiasm by many women, while their menfolk ploughed doggedly up and down the pool alongside, boringly walking. "Crank it up!" the ladies shouted when Abba was turned on by the instructor. We all enjoyed it when a limber Maori man shimmied past, the length of the pool, busting his moves to appreciative applause.
The pool is open and well used from 6am to 10pm every day, which is amazing. They do massages there too - pleasant, but maybe not quite worth spending the rest of the day with irretrievably messy hair - and altogether it's a lovely way to wind down after climbing the Mount. So it was a shame I did it beforehand - but at least that gave the grey morning time to brighten, though not quite enough to give me the 360 view experience (see above).
Never mind. It was good exercise after my thoroughly enjoyable Turkish eggs (with zucchini chips! yum) at The General - an excellent cafĂ©/restaurant owned by nice, enthusiastic people, where they make all their own food, including cashew cheese, which sounded intriguing but went untasted by me. Next time. 
Later, after I finally shook Trevor off and ungritted my teeth, I drove myself back to the Mount to poke around and discover the street art there - but then I noticed the summit was clear of low cloud and so felt obliged to whip up there to do it properly. After all, I'd been told what a great view it was... So I climbed to the top again, in 30 minutes (official time, as per the signs: 1 hour) and thoroughly enjoyed the golden light, the remarkably clean and cuddly-looking sheep and, indeed, the long views from the top - even if White Island was still hidden in horizon cloud. The waves rolled in, the swallows swooped, the rock doves did an approximation of a murmuration, and the steady stream of foot traffic up and down was, to a person, friendly.
The street art remained, sadly, mostly undiscovered by me though in my quick whip around I must have passed most of the 65 eating establishments in the Mount CBD. I drove back to Tauranga, over its attractively curved bridge, for a much-needed shower and then a very tasty dinner with management in the hotel restaurant where much shop-talk took place but also wider travel stories which included both bewilderment at and total condemnation of the LAX experience. The US: so familiar, yet so inexplicable sometimes. But at least port is red and starboard green there, Trevor.

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