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Day 2 at the Resurgence Abel Tasman National Park New Zealand

I have to apologise that the dates are getting a bit out of sinc. Travelling and writing is not as easy as it may seem, often hard work and lots of self discipline to keep the travel blog up to date, but I made notes here on Dec 26th.

This guide is all about the exceptional; the exemplary and we had great hopes for the Resurgence hoping and expecting to write good things about it and Alexandra and I have discussed this at some length: The accommodation is… pretty good to ok. Our hosts Peter and Clare – pleasant, but food, (sorry Clare) – just really, really poor and we simply cannot recommend it. How there are so many reviews that wax lyrical about the Resurgence we just can’t work out!

The Abel Tasman National Park is the most stunning place to visit – the Resurgence though at $560 nz a night: NOT the place to stay whilst you do.

There are some good things to say here: Peter is clearly very conscious of the environment, proud to be re-introducing indigenous trees to the area and quite an authority on indigenous bird live. However Peter (nice chap) proudly tells the story though of how his and Clare’s decision to get into the hospitality industry was (and I quote) “driven by Clare’s love of cooking” – love it the poor woman may – do it well, she regrettably can not and astonishingly poor the food is as a result.

Supper on our first evening began with a cold smoked fish brulee which tasted as bad as it sounds and most left it. The next course was a salad of kinds with small piles of; grated carrot, French beans, 3 halved cherry tomatoes (one with a tiny sliver of Mozzarella) and 6 slices of cucumber.

The main course was a very plain unseasoned salmon fillet (which we could not decide whether it was poached or baked) sitting on a bed of plain boiled rice (with a few whole grains included) with a little wilted spinach and I really wish I could say I was exaggerating.

Supper on Christmas day started with a broccoli and ricotta mouse, turned out of a soufflé mould and garnished with one single sprig of (I think) chive. Being a little lactose intolerant, mine – announced Peter – was a broccoli timbale – although in essence a raw broccoli omelette which – readers, I jest not was a real mess anyway and any chef worth his salt would have dumped it and started again.

The next course was to our surprise a pretty tasty risotto, but seasoned well as it was we genuinely wondered if it had been cooked by the someone else. The excitement waned  when the main course arrived; consisting of a very tired and grey looking fillet steak, that whilst in itself very tender was spoiled by someone who didn’t know how to do it justice and accompanied by 3 small pieces of potato, 2 raw asparagus tips, 1 baby carrot and bizarrely… a small mushroom pie. 

Why Clare doesn’t look at the amount of food being returned on each plate and question why some 5 out of 6 guests on our table didn’t eat her much lauded chocolate mousse (that was so very bitter and lumpy that we just couldn’t eat it), is quite beyond us!

Breakfast is equally unexciting, packed lunches poor and very expensive, the wine list limited with the cheapest red being $46nz.

If  Clare or Peter would care to respond I would very happily engage and publish the discussion as our aim here is not to trash the poor, but recommend the exceptional. The Resurgence though has been so highly recommended by so many we just felt we should give our view.

 

Moving Hotel within Nelson New Zealand

Still around Nelson in the North of South Island, just close to the Abel Tasman National Park, we drove from Mapua to the 5 star Resurgence Lodge, but dumped our bags to get back to Kaiteriteri beach (as I mentioned yesterday), where to confuse us, the tide went out about one hour later than yesterday. You have to ask, what happens in another 12 days then? Rhetorical question but if someone would care to comment that would be great.  The weather was not quite as good, but the plume appeared as expected and many enjoyed the ride. A word of warning though; I banged both legs on a rock as the water rushed down to the sea (made a big thing of the blood hoping for sympathy, but that was wasted) – nothing too bad really, but a warning none the less. Having said that – what a laugh and we were not the only grown up “kids”.

Our accommodationfeels high quality, with our room being in the main house, the balony though is tiny with just about enough room for 2 chairs. The 50 acres of mountainside owned by our hosts (to confuse things, another Peter and Clare), includes a number of cabins which takes the total number of rooms to 10 and 20 for supper in family style around or 3 tables. If you like meeting other travellers, this is the style for you.

Today though is Christmas Day; it really doesn’t feel like it as I look out of the window to the mountains on this gloriously Sunny day, though really quite windy with a chill in the air. We got up at a half sensible time and had breakfast with a family from Germany; the daughter Karherina, speaks such good English we thought for a moment she was perhaps from New Zealand and puts us (with our poor grasp of other languages) to shame. Ah, apart from Alex being fluent in Serbian of course (but we don’t count that) – oh! and I can order a coffee in Portuguese 🙂

I’ve spoken to my children and wished them Happy Christmas as well as Paul (Ashton) and Veronica who we hear are following the blog! Great fun and really nice to hear – lots of love to you all. I hear Adrian (Allen) would follow it but he can’t be bloomin bothered (in joke) and then there’s Briggsy who has worked so hard with us over the last few months on a number of projects and of course our staff back at Web on High in UK, thanks for your hard work throughout 2010 – here’s to a great 2011.

Ok so I’m rambling now, but what’s a blog for? You know, we met a lovely family whilst in Eden Villa, Eden. Jonathan is over here on holiday with his Vietnamese wife and their children and currently the whole family are living in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam whilst Jonathan works there. Finding that we will be in Vietnam in the next couple of weeks they have offered to take us out to supper – really nice of them: We have exchanged contact details and are really excited at the thought of sampling some real Vietnamese food and being shown around by people with local knowledge.

Back to today and it is with some trepidation we will eat here this evening – more to come on that… sayonara! (don’t ask me where that came from)

 

… from Mount Eden to Mapua

We flew from MouHousent Eden Village to Nelson yesterday and after a bit of hassle with (amongst other things) hire cars, we arrived later than planned at our luxury (definitely) 5 star apartment in Mapua, just South of the Abel Tasman National Park. Our hosts Peter and Clare could not have been more welcoming and the apartment more spectacular. Had Claire have known about the World travel guide, I might have thought that the home baked bread, fruit bowl, wine and everything we needed for  breakfast was a misguided sweetener – but none of it, they are just a delightful couple who take a deal of pleasure sharing their wonderful home with guests.

With Peter and Clare’s recommendation we set off this mKayaking in Abel Tasman New Zealandorning early (yes we had to get up at 06.30hrs and that can’t be right) to  go sea kayaking in the Abel Tasman: After about a 45minute drive we went through the usual safety briefings as one might expect and were off paddling by about 09.00hrs. the steady paddle took us about 3 hours to reach Waterng grove from Marahua Bay and after a cup of coffee (provided) we went back by water taxi, then took ourselves off to Kaiteriteri for lunch and spent the afternoon on the beach.

However, this was no ordinary beach as when the tide began to go out the reason for the danger signs became clear as the water from the estuary continued to rush down to the sea forming a natural water plume and by 14.00hrs the warm rushing water was full of adults and giggling children that sped down the inlet to the sea on anything from boogie boards to beach balls to be dunked unceremoniously in the (much colder) sea and caught in the inflatable boom that separates the Southern end of Kaiteriteri beach from the rest, where water sports are allowed.  

Well I know what you’re thinking and yes! we did join in, but not until our lunch had gone down and a bit late to enjoy the experience to the full so… we’re going back tomorrow!

 

so from Waiheke Island to Mount Eden Village, Auckland

My goodness! Sunshine at last – after a lovely breakfast in our historic B and B we headed off to take a look at Mount Eden to appreciate the 360 degree views over Auckland from the rim of this extinct volcano.

Waitakere RangesFired with enthusiasm (mainly due to the Sun!) and armed with towels and other beach paraphernalia leant to us by Christine, (who with husband Anthony runs the delightful Eden Villa bed and breakfast hotel) we decided to head West on the Scenic drive though Waitakere mountain ranges to KareKare beach – sweeping black volcanic sands, bordered by huge lava bluffs and lush rain forest made the visit both worthwhile and a little surreal.

Circus Circus CafeBack at Mount Eden Village, we have chosen for the second night to eat locally rather than to head up to Ponsonby in Auckland as there is an array of eateries – Thai Eden restaurant which served us as good a Thai meal as we have eaten in any town or there is Frasers cafe bar or the “Circus Circus” Cafe, the later wining the Best Cafe awards New Zealand 2010, great fun for a late evening or breakfast.

 

From Bay of Islands, South again to Waiheke Island

On an equally rainy day, we head South again today, back to Auckland to catch the car ferry from Half Moon Bay (East of Auckland) over to Waiheke Island. Waiheke is World renowned for having a large range of wineries in what is effectively quite a small area, the Island has a number of micro climates which provide ideal conditions for a large variety of grapes and hence some wonderful wines.

Complimenting these wineries as one might expect are some fabulous opportunities to tour and partake of wine tastings and enjoy the signature restaurants that so often come hand in hand in New Zealand. One such renowned restaurant is the “Mud Brick”, but dinner there to be truthful was a disappointment. Nestled in between its vineyard’s the Mud Brick has all the hallmarks for something great, but completely lacks soul. Its spectacular views from the restaurant and magnetic and one can understand those who get married there, but poor service and mediocre food left us disappointed. Having said that, the views may just compel you to visit for a light lunch and a glass of wine.

But we were spoilt! The weather being poor did little to dampen our enthusiasm for the “The Boatshed”, the most wonderful Boutique hotel, run by Jonathan Scott, whose family have owned the property for some 30 years. Views from the hotel are just amazing;  even on a grey wet and windy day the bay of Little Onerua beckoned below and we took the short walk for a paddle in the rain and surprisingly warm sea.

 Jonathan smiles a wry smile when admitting to being somewhat obsessive about The Boatshed, but that obsession translates into fantastic interior design, beautiful accommodation, exquisite food and a very personal service – go stay there!

 

From Auckland, North to Bay of Islands…

From Auckland we travelled North by car to the Bay of Islands; quite a long journey and worse still it was dull and raining, but the scenery is quite spectacular with undulating hills and valley’s through which we took or time.

The main road North from Auckland is called the “Twin Coast Discovery Route”, but given the rain we didn’t “discover” as much as we had looked forward to.

We stayed in Opua which is broadly the setting for the signing in The Treaty of Waitangi which now forms the basis of modern New Zealand’s society and takes its name from the place in the Bay of Islands where it was first signed, in 1840 (who’s been reading his history then) – but interesting stuff.

Boat HouseOur accommodation was the most wonderful  5 star apartments called “the Boat House” not to be confused with our planned accommodation on Waiheke Island – a fantastic 5 star boutique hotel  run by Jonathan Scott, called “The Boat Shed” (yes I’m confused too) enough of that though, we will write more and publish soon

 

and so to Auckland…

AucklandThe overnight flight from Honolulu to Auckland New Zealand was not a great one with turbulence pushing Alexandra’s dislike of flying to the edge again. I have though, to share my admiration for a woman who just won’t like such a simple issue as being simply petrified of flying, get in the way of her love for travel!

New Zealand Air are not the greatest in our experience – the plane a shiny new Airbus 760/300 (I think I’m right in saying) with probably the most leg room for economy class we have experienced. Having said all that, the food was rubbish, on demand films quite limited and air stewardesses efficient but brash.

We landed in Auckland at 06.30 am local time having crossed the dateline so left Friday and arrived Sunday after an 8.5 hr flight – still seems odd J.

Having arrived early in the morning, our room in the Westin Hotel Auckland (understandably) isn’t ready yet, but the staff have been wonderful and we settled for an early breakfast whilst they sort the room ASAP. The manager Greg (favourite past-time heavy metal poor sod) has been most accommodating and we might just grab a couple of hours sleep when the rooms ready.

The weather in Auckland New Zealand was dull and drizzling with rain when we landed this morning, but the Sun is coming out now and we look forward to a bit of exploration of the city later today.

 

Honolulu – Hawaii

Waikiki beach honoluluWhat is it about Starbucks (OK, free Wi-Fi access) but sitting outside Starbucks in Honolulu, just over the road from our Hotel – Trump international Honolulu. The hotel as you might expect is wonderful, exceptional service and quality food with fine wines and spirits, but their promotional literature is clever – you’d think it was on the beach and it isn’t!

Each hotel room has a cleverly designed balcony that does indeed give an ocean view although the cheaper hotel opposite has a beachside restaurant – boo hoo…

The weather in Hawaii has been fantastic as you might expect although today its been overcast and raining! God we didn’t allow for that as we were going to see the surfing championships at the North of Oahu and its been delayed. Mind you it gave us a chance to enjoy a Chinese lunch in one of the many Asian restaurants here. I say Asian because there is a large Asian population in Hawaii including Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese to name but a few and eating out options expansive.

We fly out tonight to Auckland, but the city is already beginning to full up as its the Honolulu marathon on Sunday – its going to get manic and probably a good time to leave!

 

Another few days in San Diego

Hotel Del CoronadoAnother couple of days of our San Diego city break and first leg of our trip.

Walked along the beach this morning in Mission Bay, wrapped up against the slight chill although enjoyed the bright sunshine and sea air.

We visited  Coronado and “ Hotel Del Coronado” the historical Victorian hotel whose claim to fame is that Some Like It Hot was filmed there in 1958 (one of my favourite movies). It’s an upmarket hotel and its restaurant “ 1500” has a good reputation although we did not eat there. The cost of parking at the hotel is USD15 per hour and if you are a guest it is USD25 per day which is extortionate so beware. We were lucky we noticed before it was too late.

Coronado’s Orange Avenue though, is nice to while away a few hours as its full of deli’s , cafes, boutiques and a few restaurants.

We also spent a few hours and drove to the Carlsbad Outlet Mall. It’s about 30 minutes drive from downtown and highly regarded, but don’t bother. Its not worth it and like any other mall the world over but without a lot of choice.

Seaport VillageAnother place to visit is Seaport Village in San Diego. A tad touristy bordered by the Hyatt and Marriot hotels with tacky souvenir shops but do not let that put you off. It is a lovely setting on the bay with some nice restaurants and a picturesque promenade around the bay which is great for a stroll on a bright sunny morning or afternoon. If you are feeling energetic join the local joggers or the San Diego fire brigade who park up and jog most mornings. One for the girls! It’s also not far from the Gaslamp District which is full of bars, clubs and restaurants . I humoured Alan and we visited the USS Medway  a couple of blocks down from  Seaport Village. The Medway is a huge aircraft carrier which for 10yrs was the biggest ship in the World. It was decommissioned in 1992. Frankly, it was more interesting than I thought it would be. Certainly great for kids with some accessible fighter aircraft from the forties and current models such as the F18 Hornet (So Alan tells me) and flight simulator rides.

We spent last night in the restaurant “Alchemy” on 30th Street. Modern Californian fusion cuisine all sourced from local farms with “in season” ingredients. 30th Street has grown up over the last 5 years as San Diego’s restaurant row and set in a residential area is supported by the local community and most of these restaurants support sustainability and operate a farm to table policy.

All in all our impression of San Diego is a good one. Its clean, cosmopolitan and welcoming. For a city break or holiday it is much better than LA and also close to the Mexican border and Baja for excursions and only a couple of hours into the desert.  We are visiting in one of the quietest months and although we have not been able to appreciate the miles of beaches ,swimming and sailing as it is a tad too cold for us we have still enjoyed our stay and look forward to writing about the city and our experience in  more detail in our travel guide.

 

San Diego

La Jolla Starbucks San Diego

Writing travel guide blog in San Diego sunshine...

Currently in San Diego the fist leg of our worldwide travels. Drove down from LA which took about 2 hours.

 They say that November is one of the sunniest months if not the warmest and it is certainly living up to that reputation. Beautiful blue skies but a slight chill in the air. Typing this blog whilst sipping a Starbucks coffee, basking in the sun in a bit of a sun trap on the terrace.

We are of course off season so everywhere is extremely quiet which is lovely. Had breakfast yesterday morning  at our San Diego hotel ( Paradise Point Resort & Spa)overlooking Mission Bay and headed off to La Jolla for the evening after spending the day sorting out a replacement Sat  Nav  which we think was stolen whilst we were unloading our luggage. Not an auspicious start but it has improved since.

 La Jolla is an affluent seaside area full of galleries and restaurants. George’s restaurant is somewhat of a destination  with three floors all of which have fantastic views overlooking the pacific. Three different dining options of fine dining, casual and the gallery bar area with bar snacks. Had a lovely meal of Mahi Mahi on a bed of potato Gnocchi and shitake mushrooms in a lovely sauce. Will write about the restaurant on the site latterly but it is highly recommended.

We had breakfast this morning at Brockton Villa, La Jolla’s historical landmark overlooking La Jolla Cove. Historic is used in the loose sense as it was built in 1894 but I suppose that’s old for the US. Crab Benedict with poached eggs on an English muffin with a spicy tomato coconut sauce. Unusual but tasty.  It’s around lunchtime now and will be heading off to Coronado, another area of San Diego which is meant to have  quaint village feel with Victorian architecture and nice restaurants. Yes you are right… a lot of our travelling does revolve around food!

 

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