Monday 30 December 2019

Silver Muse cruise, Day Seven - Bores and beads

With thanks to Silversea for this cruise
I suppose going, unexpectedly, to Turkey twice in 2015 still holds the record - but visiting Tasmania twice in the space of a few weeks is also pretty extraordinary, I reckon. Back in November, I was doing the Maria Island Walk, fretting over a delayed suitcase, and sleeping in a tent. This time I'm popping ashore from a 5-star cruise liner to be wafted along to the last bit of the state I haven't visited yet.
Well, maybe not wafted. It was a bus tour, and though driver Ray was good, guide Ron was yet another *sigh* OWM bore. His specialty was identifying for us, as we drove along, things like a café ("It's been open 5 months now!"), a petrol station, cattle and sheep. Never mind. Tasmania was its usual pretty, bucolic self today. We bypassed Burnie ("Fifth-largest port in Australia!") and drove along the coast, past long sandy beaches and rocky little coves, and through rich farmland towards Stanley and The Nut, which is a 160m high plateau sticking out into the sea, a volcanic remnant of some sort. 
Before we got to Stanley, we called in at their historic house, Highfield, which is getting on for 200 years old and has been lovingly restored from being lived in, at one point, by sheep. They've done an especially good job with the storyboards, though they were a bit too artistic for me to read easily; and I was struck, when entering the main bedroom, to hear an invisible woman sobbing - intro to a sad story about a little girl who lived here being killed (by a runaway dog cart). Well done.
Then we went on to Stanley, a little town of 200 souls, full of pretty wooden villas with metal lace around their verandas, colourfully painted, and with neat gardens. Here we took the gondola up to the top of The Nut, and I marched around the circuit on top, enjoying the fresh air, hearing the birds, and looking at long and lovely views enhanced by the gorgeous blue sea. I even spotted a pademelon.
When I got back to the gondola station, though, it was to find that there had been a power cut and everyone was having to walk down the very steep concrete zigzag path - and some doughty souls were walking up it too, in even more unsuitable shoes than I was wearing. (Apparently, they used a generator to get the people off the gondola who were stranded on it - since you ask. Well, I did, anyway.)
We drove back towards Burnie, occasionally learning interesting things (still growing opium poppies for the US market, but at a reduced rate and now experimenting with medicinal cannabis instead) but mostly just having obvious things labelled for us. Thanks, Ron.
Back on board, we glided smoothly away from the pier, and the huge mountain of wood chips there (for Japanese particle board) and then headed down to Trivial Pursuit. There were only three of us today, but we managed our best score yet, 15/20 (would have been 17 if we'd allowed two of Jeff's answers, ulp). Questions included: happy birthday in Spanish; how many pairs of ribs do we have; how much lemonade in a shandy; first transplanted organ; which South American country encompasses both the equator and Tropic of Capricorn?
Dinner was at La Terazza, where the antepasto were so generous that all I had was the duck papardelle - very nice. On Silversea, when you arrive at a restaurant you can request a shared table, which is a gamble that often pays off (but didn't last night), or a private table. Tonight we were advised that it would work better to sit alongside, rather than with, others who might not turn up. We did in fact have a good conversation with our neighbours, about: the Sydney fires, using Qantas airpoints, Herefordshire, fireworks, the "filthy rich" passengers on board, and driving a Fiat 500 on Italian motorways. It all went swimmingly, until they [Australian, Christian, have not left the ship since boarding] referred to Oscar Wilde as a "homo". Good grief!

But the evening was salvaged when we wandered by the boutiques, which are filled with the most dispensable of goods - stupid watches, fancy jewellery, clothes, perfume, Fabergé eggs - and chatted to gorgeous Daniel about the handbags on display. It was the third time I'd been drawn to look at these extraordinary items: artworks, really, each different, shaped and beaded in extravagant designs like cruise liners, a skull, a violin, a champagne bucket. We had a satisfying conversation about the designer, the Indian women who made them, the fun element that made their impracticality irrelevant - and learned that people had been buying them, bigly. 


the queen said...

Probably never left Australia before now, either. A friend said when she traveled to Germany all the cabbies wanted to talk about Trump. They had probably never met a Trump supporter, because Trump supporters never leave their tiny all white all Christian all-straight towns and visit Germany.
I would guess Felix Natividad, 12.5 pairs (probably because I believe we have an odd number of ribs to account for Eve), 4 oz lemonade, and Chile because it’s long.

the queen said...

And, if you count skin as an organ I would say skin, otherwise the stomach.

TravelSkite said...

They were actually pretty well travelled, amazingly. Presumably very selective in what they see and experience.
No, that's Merry Christmas - it's Feliz cumpleaños (which I knew but had forgotten); apparently 12 (but I thought there was an odd one too); half whatever the volume is; and Brazil (Chile is south of the equator - but someone else in the team was keen on that answer too).


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