I said my goodbyes to Tassie a couple of days ago. What a wonderful, comfortable, beautiful place to visit. I feel so lucky to have spent this time there. Dave, Amanda and Barry made it that much more special as they are great friends. We all owe Barry a very big thank you for the great job he did setting up our accommodations and helping sort out the route. It was really well done.
Tassie itself, as I said earlier in my blog, is just like one big small town. The largest cities, Hobart and Launceston, have beautiful old buildings and are very easy to navigate. Tassie is sparsely populated and no one is in a hurry. The island has great beaches. Uncrowded. Wild in many places. Wilderness is also a big part of the country. The west side is quite mountainous, contains lush dense rainforests, and consists of small friendly towns. Traffic is certainly no problem anywhere. It’s a place with a very high quality of life as far as I’m concerned. I will come back here.
I met my good friends Scott and Lee Bergstrom yesterday morning at our hotel in Aukland. I had arrived late the previous night while they had had the day before to check out this very modern upscale city. We were only a few blocks from the waterfront and wandered down among all the boats both big and small. So many yachts you wonder about all the money sitting here bobbing in the water. The two cruise ships in the harbor were quite simply immense. We all speculated on just how crazy the logistics and scale of supplying such a boat would be. Hard to imagine.
Aukland is quite a contrast to Hobart or Launceston. The Tassie cities are very laid back, consist largely of very old, beautifully maintained stone and masonry buildings while Aukland is a place of tall architectually modern steel, glass and concrete structures. The skyline downtown is dominated by the Sky Tower, a needle like structure 328 meters high. It has three viewing towers you can elevator to and a place to bungee jump off of if you feel the need. I was quite happy on the sidewalk below.There was a some real adjustment here for me in this bustling busy metropolis after almost a month of such a tranquil life in Tassie. Each has its beauty and place. When I arrived at our hotel it was after midnight and there was no one at reception. They had an intercom which I buzzed to no avail. My shuttle driver waited for me to try to get in so I tried again and finally got an answer from someone who gave me a code to a lock box where my instructions and key were located. i was feeling a little jangled with all the security and a cold looking glass dominated new home where I didn’t feel at home. I knew that in the morning it would all be fine but yet I wasn’t quite ready for this change.
We all hopped (17 of us) into a large tour bus the next morning for the three hour ride up to Pahia, a pleasant beach town on the Pacific side of the North Island. We had all loaded our bike boxes into a trailer which would follow us up there. This town is lovely and a world apart from downtown Aukland. Yes, now I feel back in my element. Scott, Lee and I have been busy meeting all of the folks we will be riding with, and after a lunch on the wharf with some of them, all three of us felt really good about our group. People from South Africa, Germany, New Zealand, Australia and Canada as well as America were all mixing together with cycling the common thread. This evening we will assemble our bikes and tomorrow morning take a little shakedown ride to be sure everything is working well.
All for now.