Monday, January 27, 2014

Report # 30 Papeete, Tahiti January 27, 2014 Monday Cloudy, chance of rain, 88 degreesMost are sold out by noontime

The Amsterdam docked in Papeete
Tahiti is the largest island of French Polynesia. Papeete is the capital city and primary center of government, commercial, industrial, and financial hub. It is also our port of call for today. Many years ago, Tahiti was one of the most intriguing places we had wished to visit, after Mexico, Hawaii, and the Caribbean. From the first time we set foot off of the jet and were greeted with leis of frangipani, we have never tired of our repeated trips to this part of the world.

Obviously, many other folks around the world feel the same way. The ship, Amadea, that happened to be right behind us as we transited the Panama Canal, pulled into the berth across from us. Guess they have been sailing in the same direction that we have been going all this time, and we did not know it. Anyway, it's nice to have some company.

Cranes in the harbor

Volcanic mountains in the backdrop
Papeete Harbor


An educational vessel

Ferry to Moorea
Debby Bacon's piano outside tonight
Having taken just about every tour available, and seeing the island from top to bottom, we are content to stay in town, enjoying what the city has to offer. Some folks have commented that Papeete is another fairly large city, crowded with traffic, and chock full of tourist traps. We do not see it that way. For one thing, the ship was docked right in town. The locals at the very nice tourist center greet you as you walk towards the gate. Tables of Polynesian shell jewelry and t-shirts wre set up outside the center. While you are checking out the pricey items, you can watch Tahitian dancers vibrate to the sound of the drums and ukeleles. 

Gangway reception

Local entertainers

Parked right in town
A string of vendors also entice you to book a tour of some sort tomorrow in Moorea. It can be a good deal if you are looking for a snorkel tour to see the tropical fish, sting rays, and friendly? sharks. The going price ran from $50. to $60. depending on if you wanted to include a BBQ lunch buffet. A similar tour with the ship was running around $150. or more. So the savings can be great. Perhaps accident insurance would not be included, but that is a chance many folks are willing to take. 

Visitor's center

Pomare Blvd.
Different local art of graffiti
Two fabrics and one pareo
A couple of items not to be missed in Tahiti are fabrics and flowers. The first stop we made was at a fabric store about a block away from the gate. Took about 5 minutes to chose a couple of lengths of floral and geometric rayon blend for blouses. Searching for a special t-shirt proved to be difficult. We located the perfect one last fall, but could not find the correct size. Today, we could find none of that particular type. Oh well, maybe next time.

Arts and crafts of Tahiti
Island clothing
More local art
A delightful place to spend some time is at the Municipal Marchee, or marketplace. The lower level is full of trinkets, food items, a veggie and fresh fish section, and a flower area. Upstairs, you can find a cafe in the middle of clothing stalls, jewelry displays, and pearl sellers. The decision not to purchase another pareo fell by the wayside when one particular one stood out among the many being sold. The background color was a soft turquoise green with pale peach-colored hibiscus on the border. These versatile pareos last forever and are quite useful where we live in the summertime.

Marche Municipale

Last sign of Christmas

Tropical flowers

Pre-dished lunches

Fresh fish

Looks like tuna

Fresh catch of the day
Many varieties of fish

Most are sold out by noontime
Watermelons cost over $20

Not sure what drink this is?

Local produce

Loose pearls sold separately

A little bit of everything

Local garden and pet center
We were also in search of a small bag of potting soil, which in hindsite, we should have bought at least two bags in Manta. Remembering a garden/pet shop we visited years ago, we found it once again. Only the smallest bag of soil they had was about 100 pounds. Nope, a little too big, duh. What they did have were several small pets for sale. Mostly birds, koi carp, and two lop-earred bunnies. So we got to pet a rabbit today, not something we expected t do, but always fun.

Downstairs we located the bunches of tropical flowers for sale. They consisted mostly of ginger, ferns, and some flowers that do not look real. An added addition were a few ants, but not as bad as we have had in the past. Sometimes these bouquets are sprayed with insecticide when we enter the ship. Not so today.

Ginger comes in many colors

Another arrangement
On our way back with the flowers
Too early for lunch, we slowly made our way back to the ship to stash our purchases, and cool off with lots of ice water. Going back out after noontime, we walked the promenade along the waterfront. Part of it was being remodeled, and it was closed off with a metal fencing. 

Waterfront walkway
A hut along the way
Bill on the rocks

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Wooden-carved statue

Conservative Catholic church
A nice park has emerged little by little over recent years along this shoreline. It includes numerous wooden benches, many tropical plants and trees, restrooms, but little areas of shade. A couple of playgrounds for the little ones are also there, and are well maintained.

Parc Bouganville on the waterfront
Meandering walkways

Birds of paradise

Plumeria blooms

Park is full of ponds and creeks

Canons and statues

Barreling of the canon

Eglise Evangelique Church
Evangelical Church
L'Api' Zzeria Restaurant
About where the large, pink, copper-topped Eglise Evangelique Church (1818) is located, is the best Italian/pizza place in town in our humble opinion. It is called L Api-Zzeria, and could easily be passed by, since it is located behind a high concrete wall with only two large wooden doors in the center. It is not your typical restaurant, since most of the tables are set on a floor of gravel, surrounding the wood fire ovens and kitchen. Perhaps this building was once a private home and gardens. Now the garden area is covered with roofing, like an outdoor patio, with overhead fans and some umbrellas as well. But it is the food that draws us back. They have one of the best pizzas (margherita) we have tasted. Of course, they offer two dozen varieties, as well as pastas and other entrees. 
Restaurant sign

Great place for pizza

Closed on Sundays
Best local beer.....Hinano
We prefer to keep it simple. To compliment the pizza, we always order the local this case, Hinano draft. Great way to spend the warm and humid afternoon, while waiting for the breeze to cool us off. We have never been rushed here, since we always arrive after the busy part of the day. In fact, the owner/chef was visiting at a nearby table of guests, with no hurry to go anywhere. Neither were we.

The kitchen

Patio tables
Margherita pizza

Nothing better than ice cold beer on a hot day
All aboard time was late....really late, because we were scheduled to leave during the wee hours of the morning, floating to nearby Moorea for tomorrow. Because of this, the ship held a Polynesian BBQ in the Lido Pool area. With camera in hand, we checked out the roasting piglet, steaks, and skewers of shrimp, chicken and pineapple pieces being cooked. The affairs always draw a big crowd, much to the delight of the dining rook and Lido waiters, we are sure. If we had tasted any of the fare, then we would not be able to enjoy dinner. 

The Polynesian BBQ at the Lido Pool

Skewers of chicken and pineapple

Piglet on the spit

Cooking for the crowd

A houseboat

Flaming steaks

Finger-sized desserts

Shrimps and pineapple skewers

Carving the pork

Veggie carvings
Getting ready to race kayaks

Mary Ann watching the race
We always go to the dining room, no matter what, since the food is more to our likng and our waiters are beyond excellent. Guess most of our tablemates felt the same way, because all but two of them showed up at 8pm.

A very special treat this evening was an award winning dance group by the name of Tahiti Ora. Having seen their show in October, we made it a point to return for an encore performance. Yes, it was the same, but just as well-performed as before. The drummers of this group also deserve special praise, since they outdid themselves. Great way to end the day.
Tahiti Ora Group

The ladies

The fellows
Tomorrow, or sometimes tonight, we will be in Moorea, the most beautiful of the islands, we think.

Moorea in the distance
Another popular restaurant

Parking lot where locals set up food stalls

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