Napier, first port of call
BY EDOUARD GARCIA
Every time I go on a cruise, I really get frustrated wondering why the Philippines is not included in the cruise circuit of international lines. We have 7,100 islands and I’ve visited ports that were smaller than Hinobaan, even ports without a port!...where we would disembark with tenders (boats used for emergencies) and land in small docks like the one at Lakawon Island.
The night before arriving in Napier, we were briefed on the forest fires that devoured hectares of wooded lands. Our event director encouraged all the passengers and crew to help spark the local economy by going shopping, taking sightseeing tours, and patronizing the local restaurants. With a thousand passengers onboard, if each only spent $100, that would add up to a hefty sum.
Well, this is why Gay Pride is celebrated worldwide. With each gay tourist bringing in a minimum of $1,000/day, the winners are definitely the communities and cities that promote such events. Sydney alone, where our cruise would end, takes in $55 million from their Gay Mardi Gras.
Driving into Napier, we enjoyed the sight of its beachside promenade called the Marine Parade. Getting down the city center, I was impressed with its palm-lined streets, world-class art deco architecture, and the Pacific Ocean crashing down the beachfront. If they call it one of New Zealand’s most attractive retail and business hubs, I was in for a SURPRISE. The shopping area was a small street with around 25 stores selling beachwear, souvenirs, and books. Restaurants were mostly Asian or coffee shops and a couple of hotels that serve food only for lunch and dinner.
But I enjoyed the laidback atmosphere, the barefoot lifestyle and the English scones and tea available. The downtown park was beautifully landscaped with colorful flowers and a fountain full of exotic coral colored lilies.
What blew my mind was the carillon of bells that sounded the half hours. For awhile there, I thought I was in heaven!
Watch out for my social report on a royal wedding happening here right on our island!
My prayer: The message of the cross is folly for those who are on the way to ruin, but for those of us who are on the road to salvation, it is the power of God.*
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