Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day Eleven: Another day of island and bar hopping while wearing stretchy pants

Day eleven!! The last hurrah!! We had GRAND plans for day eleven -- a day long cruise of the Bay of Islands on a tall ship -- but it was not meant to be. Day ten's downpour led to poor visibility on day eleven and the cruise ended up being canceled. This was a disappointment because we were bathing suited up and ready for our day, but Plan B ended up being pretty awesome and I was very glad that our last full day in New Zealand played out exactly the way it did.

We ended up on a different cruise of the bay, and hearty sailers that we are, we rode on the outdoor deck for most of the journey. This left us damp, but let's just call it a southern hemisphere seawater mist spa experience and then BOOM, it's money well spent.

We took a ferry from Paihia to Russell where we were to wait for our tour boat. (Google maps is smoking crack if it thinks you can WALK there, but I guess maybe if you're Jesus?)

Russell, New Zealand's first capital, turned out to be SO STINKING CUTE and colonial-looking. We'd heard a rumor that a Top Chef contestant was the chef at one of the hotels and we had a couple of hours to kill until our tour boat departed, so we sat out on the porch of The Duke of Marlborough Hotel (whose tagline is "Refreshing rascals and reprobates since 1827") and enjoyed one of New Zealand's finest qualities: another platter.

 We were both very excited:

 The stuff in the ramekin was some sort of coconut milk ceviche and was seriously one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten.

And another one of our favorite things about New Zealand: THE WINE!

And then I also ate some oysters because apparently that's what I do now but also because I overheard the waitress giving a very complicated explanation to the table next to us and one of them (the one on the left) featured lemon juice in that Top Cheffy suspended-in-whatever magic that in regular person language translates to "balls of lemon juice" and I wanted to try it:


I'll also add that it was very misty and we were basically getting rained on while we ate but we opted not to move to a table further from the edge so if we look damp, we probably were.

And then we had one of the best restaurant desserts I've ever had. I was not originally super interested because I'm not a huge dessert fan but daaaaaaang, it was good. Peanut butter ice cream and everything!

Paired with the most perfect possible dessert cocktail of espresso and something else:

That meal was kick ass. And it showed when the bill came, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

We could have stayed sitting there forever (on a sunny day it might have been impossible to leave), but we pushed on -- there was a whole town to see! (Though really, it took about 30 minutes to see the whole thing on foot.)  

I remember taking this photo because it looked so lovely and like somewhere I might want to stay when I return to Russell:

Upon further exploration of Russell, I'd say that an overnight is probably not necessary because there isn't much to do other than eat and drink (though these are both enjoyable hobbies) and walk around:

 And get arrested:

And I don't know what this was about, but it sure did make me read the other side of the sign...which was something unexciting -- I think the name of the store it was in front of:

And then we got on our boat and went on a windy, misty tour of the Bay of Islands:


(But we totally want one because all of our selfies were old school.)

And this is one I feel is just begging to be an album cover:

On a less stormy day the boat goes through that hole, but the water was too high and rough so I was perfectly happy just to look at it:

The cruise dropped us off on some other island for a little bit so we walked around in the rain took more damp photos of ourselves.

I also picked up a shell that is currently sitting on my bookshelf, which is something that stretches my brain because today, it's in San Jose, but a couple of months ago, it was on a beach on an island off the coast of New Zealand.

And then it was back on the boat for more cruising of an area I believe is supposed to be spectacular on a less gray day:

 We were happy to be there though! And oh hay! Champagne!

And then we were on our way back to Paihia:

 But not without pausing to watch the dolphins!

So then we were back in town and needed something do with the rest of our evening. We stopped for a drink at a restaurant near the dock (that's 35 degrees SOUTH...ohhhhhh HEMISPHERES):

And decided to see what Irish nachos were in New Zealand:

I ate half that plate and I still don't really have an answer for you. Potatoes and bacon and dollops of something creamy and a side of soy sauce? But this sparked our plan for the night: Let's go to all the places and try all the American-sounding things on the menu and see how in the heck New Zealand interprets them!!


Next stop: Some other bar with something called "chicken bites" on the menu. We decided that part of the sport would be to make guesses for what would actually arrive. In this case, I think we both guessed boneless chicken pieces and one of us thought they would be buffalo style and the other did not. We were both wrong but also a little bit right:

Definitely not what an American would call a "bite" and the flavor and interior color led us to believe that they may have been lightly dipped in a buffalo-esque sauce before battering them because there was a TINY bit of tang and a SLIGHT orange glow, but these "bites" and the accompanying blue cheese dressing were sad.

This taste-test-the-"American"-things strategy was super solid except that there are really only like five restaurants in town. We'd just hit two of them, another was heavy on the seafood and didn't have any Americany items on the menu and one was the bar from the night before, which left us with a very questionable looking pizza place run by Eastern European women. We ordered the nachos and Coronas (which I mentioned before appeared to be the trendiest beers everrrrrrrr) and SCORE, when you buy two Coronas you get a free Corona hat!!! SO WE BOUGHT FOUR.

And now we both have Corona hats that we got in NEW ZEALAND.

But about the nachos. In New Zealand. At a pizza place. Run by eastern Europeans. We were nervous.

We had a full set of predictions. We thought they'd have marinara sauce on them instead of salsa (they did not, though they didn't have salsa on them either). We thought they'd have mozzarella cheese on them (CORRECT!). We thought they'd be a non-tortilla chip (WASH: They were tortilla chips, but the chips appeared to be a single serving bag of Cool Ranch Dorito-style chips, which I'm counting as a point for "the chip will be wrong").

I can't remember what the meat situation was -- I think we determined that there may have been a can of chili-like food in there, but I remember it being sweet -- like possibly a can of BBQ baked beans.

The grand plan of Americany food taste testing was relatively short lived -- in part because of the small number of restaurants in town, but also because we were we did what any smart girls would do and we went back to visit our BFF Ross the dread'd white guy for a little bit.

I remember sitting there thinking that it was SUCH A SHAME that this was our last full day of vacation and that IN AN BLINK OF AN EYE we'd be back in our business'y business lady outfits. But on this night, we were full, we were damp, we were wind and sun burned, we had new Corona hats, and we were happy to be there.

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