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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: -17.52, -149.56
We left Adelaide on Saturday, June 1st anticipating a long 2 days of being in transit. We first flew to Melbourne and then had a four hour wait, fortunately in the Qantas Business Lounge. Here we had a sit down meal of Chicken Laksa washed down by a very nice Tasmanian Sauv Blanc. We then had a three hour flight to Auckland. With changes in time zones we arrived at Auckland airport at 10-45pm. I had booked an airport hotel on-line so a quick phone call and their shuttle was there in 10 minutes. An overnight stay was all that was needed.
The next morning the shuttle took us back to Auckland Airport and we were able to check in for our Air Tahiti flight at 11-00am even though it wasn't leaving until 5-20pm. Here we met up with many familiar faces, as various officials etc heading for Tahiti gathered in the Qantas Business Lounge to wait for the flight. Again we could have a couple of drinks and this time plenty of catch up chat to pass the time. Great to see Bill and David, Geoff and his wife Pauline and Wendy and Dwayne King.
The plane was packed as
teams from NZ, Australia, Tonga and Papua New Guinea as well as officials and other tourists took up most seats. It was a 5 hour flight but we did a Dr Who and arrived in Tahiti 22 hours before we had left at 9-30pm on Saturday night!! That is what happens when you cross the International Date Line. The passport queue was unbelievably long as only 3 officers dealt with 2 plane arrivals full of passengers. Unairconditioned, the fans were not very helpful so we emerged into the arrivals hall very wet!! There it was all efficiency. The locals welcomed us with leis, collected our baggage and drove us to our hotel, the Tahiti Nui.
The next morning, June 2nd again, we woke to a sunny day and could just see the sea from our balcony. After a forgettable breakfast at the hotel we went for a walk along the seafront. Everything was closed as it was Sunday morning so the streets did not look all that inviting with shopfronts closed with roller shutters. There is also a major litter problem here. However, we found a park with a statue of Louis Bouganville and crossed the road to the actual waterfront.
Here there were some great views out to Moorea and a marina with interesting boats of many kinds. It was pleasant strolling along with a lovely breeze keeping us cool. We found a memorial in one of the gardens to all those who had been affected by nuclear testing in the Pacific erected in 2006 under a president of Tahiti who was a native Tahitian rather than a French expat.
We then found the venue for the evening's Opening Ceremony with volunteers busily putting out chairs. We returned to the hotel for a short rest and then sallied forth in search of lunch. Only a couple of places were open, but the Le Retro proved to be a good choice with a lunch of local fish, Mahimahi, accompanied by the local beer, Hinano. Allan Cherry, an official from NZ, joined us.
The highlight of the day was the Opening Ceremony.This was held in a park on the waterfront in front of a large Rotunda. We walked there with others from the hotel and had front row seats. The parade of the 22 countries along the seafront and then into the cleared space showed how many competitors were here and each country got
a cheer, especially Tuvalu, the newest member and smallest team. Then there were the formalities with speeches from the local Athletics president and then Geoff Gardiner, the President of OAAA. The representative from the IAAF was Lord Sebastian Coe who is Vice-President. We had chatted to him earlier in the day as Fletcher had met him before at various Aths events. He spoke well and then we had the Tahitian dance troupe. They were spectacular with the accompanying band beating out great local music. When they grabbed people out of the audience to dance with them it was amusing to see everyone trying to emulate what they did so gracefully and with ease.
After that we had dinner at the Roulets. These are vans which move into the open space each night and set up minicafes to cook and serve great food. Again a new experience but a very enjoyable one. From there it was back to the hotel for a nightcap where we chatted to Sebastian about the British origin of the Olympics. He is very nice and surprisingly down to earth. He had really enjoyed the ceremonies and was looking forward to seeing the competition. This starts tomorrow.
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