Auckland, city of surprises and green spaces was a brief fling in the sunshine.
Then I was off again, this time leaving The Antipodes for good. I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning on Saturday 27th April; flew to Sydney and left there at 10:30 still Saturday morning, arrived in Los Angeles at 7:00 still on Saturday morning, 27th April. Not good for the brain or the body. A final Antipodean irony: the menu on Qantas Business is provided by Rockpool chef: Neil Perry. Breakfast was OK, but supper was not much of an improvement on my Spice Island experience!
Made my way to my hotel, which happens to be The Queen Mary on Long Beach. A once-in-a-lifetime indulgence, like flying on Concorde, something that seems like a treat that can be enjoyed once. The cousins (first cousins-once and -twice removed) are coming in to see the ship today, the little boy will be more interested perhaps than the grown-ups. This is still a ship, but some of the grandeur has been polished off by the many trippers and tourists who have tramped her decks since she became a hotel. That said: the staterooms are still stately and extremely comfortable.
Many of the classic features remain, although some of the functions are no longer required, in the cupboard beside the bed the bottom shelf has two holes to hold the water (whisky?) bottle and glass steady in rough weather. The Queen Mary rolled in heavy seas as until quite late on she had no stablilisers. The bath is fed with hot and cold fresh or salt water!
I am not sure if you can still choose that option, but you can get special soap that will lather in salt water, though looking at the bay here I wouldn’t really want to wash in it now. Maybe when at sea it was more appetising!
Music is piped throughout the ship, all day and all night! This seems rather strange since guests are asked to restrain noise as the cabin walls are steel plate and conduct sound; so to wake at 5:30 and hear 1930s jazz still playing is rather a bizarre experience, maybe it is one of the renowned QM ghosts. Is QM2 similarly favoured?
Plenty of birdlife to watch from the promenade deck, no bird book though so I am only guessing at what I am seeing, but terns diving for fish is unmistakeable, they drop like a stone and then fly up from the water with a silver dot wriggling in their beaks; little egrets a possibility; rock pigeons, also a slight query; and a wagtail of sorts. Cormorants and another dark diver which I cannot identify and long necked birds which fly like swans but aren’t, they must be a goose of some sort I think. I now think they might be pelicans, and will be on deck early with my binoculars to check out this supposition.
Lots of boats, a three masted schooner left this morning but I only caught her through some really rather dirty glass!
So apologies for the bad quality, who is responsible for washing the windows I wonder? Furthermore it has taken me all day, and still waiting, to get a chair put in my room!
But it is a good place to chill out, the rain stayed off and it got warm and sunny. The cousins enjoyed strolling around the ship, though the little boy was disappointed that we didn’t go anywhere! From here we can look over at Long Beach and that area and see the polluting fog, we cannot even see the hills, at least out here it is relatively fresh. So, no doubt you are all wondering why I am not doing stuff. I just need to re-charge my batteries a bit, before heading off across America and this seems like a good place to do that, my batteries and all the batteries in my other electronic equipment.
Many of the famous features of the ship, wonderful photographs of the rich and famous, of the liner at sea, of the building of the ship and cases full of the original china, silverware and even the playroom are still visible today, though as museum pieces only, but the corridors and public areas still have the veneered satinwood finish and the inlay, Art Deco details, and paintings in the Grand Salon and the like.
Apologies too for the fact that I have not mastered the alignment/text wrap in WordPress on my iPad. I can do it on my PC, but so far the technique for text wrap has eluded me, and alignment seems to be somewhat arbitrary.
But “i woz here”