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Oceania » French Polynesia
June 10th 2013
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: -17.52, -149.56

Sunday is a non-event in Papeete. Very few places are open as most people, women dressed in blinding white dresses, go to church. So it was another rest day for us. At lunch time we ventured out to find an ATM and had lunch at one of the few restaurants open, Le Retro. I had a ham and goat's cheese salad which mainly consisted of fruit (pineapple, mandarins, pawpaw) surrounding a stack of lettuce tied around with prosciutto and then deep fried goat's cheese balls dotted among the fruit. Very delicious.

We spent the afternoon again reading, updating blog etc and at 5-30 Bob Snow came to our room for a predinner drink and then we walked to Le Mandarin Chinese restaurant which Fletcher and I had spotted during our walk. This was upstairs in the small street parralel to ours. The decor was rich and the lighting dim. We chose a set Touristique menu for ease which consisted of Cantonese duck, Beef with ginger and Chow Mein. Good standard Chinese food. They had a live (animation) singing group there to entertain us.

On Monday we headed to the Ferry station to return to Moorea. Several of our group also had the same idea. This time we were on a smaller ferry but the trip was the same. Alighting at Quai Vaiare we walked to the Avis depot and collected our yellow Fiat Panda. The others had hired a 9 seater van. We headed in the opposite direction from the other day to see the side of the island we had missed last time. The mountains in the centre loomed above us with their peaks enshrouded by cloud.The drive was pleasant, with the beach on our left and the dense growth on our right.

Our attention was caught by a large statue of a tattooed warrior holding an enormous pineapple. This was outside a small hotel/resort complex which unfortunately was closed at this time, called Le Painapo. However, we stopped and walked through the grounds to the small beach. What a beautiful spot. The narrow stretch of sand abutted the beautiful greeny blue lagoon and as we stood on the edge of the water we saw a stingray moving through the shallows. There was a young couple there snorkelling over the rocky sections. This would be a great place to stay rather than one of the big flashy resorts.

We drove on to the point where those big flashy resort hotels were situated. We went into the Intercontinental to have a look. This is situated on a very pretty part of the island at the point of a small bay, with very white sandy beaches. We sat by the pool and had a beer watching the guests frolic in the water and lie on the beach. Very relaxing, but you could be in any part of the Pacific. We then drove back to the small bank of shops nearby. Here we found Le Plantation restaurant and decided to have lunch. Our waitress( and I suspect owner) was a small Polynesian lady in her 50s who greeted us warmly and complimented our French.She spoke excellent English, thank goodness. Fletcher decided on the groper but she told him to try what they call "saumon" but is a deep water local fish, moonfish. When I tried to order tagliatelli she admonished me and said have that in Italy so in the end I had local prawns cooked in a flambe whiskey sauce. Delicious!! We were entertained by watching one of the locals, a small green gecko, climb the verandah post. The meal was excellent and the Bourgogne white matched it well.

At the nearby shops Fletcher bought a new Bula shirt in Tahiti colours of red and white. The young man who served us struck up a conversation. He was originally from Mauritius and his English was good but our chat switched from French to English frequently. A pleasant interlude. Back in the car we now came to the two large inlets which make this island look like a paw with three toes. The first was Uponoho Bay which was where Cook originally anchored in 1777. This is surrounded by high cliffs coverd in trees and vines. Today a great old restored steam yacht was anchored there. We stopped to get a good photo and walked to the water's edge through a maze of trees and vines. It had started raining but it was still very warm .Around the other side of the bay we stopped again at a local beach where several people were swimming and sitting on the grass. Another stunning view across the bay and out to the lagoon.

In the next bay, named after Cook,we passed many other buildings and resorts including the Hilton and a campus of the University of Berkely. This bay is also stunning. The sacred mountain, Mount Mauaroa, towers over the island with its curious round hole just near the summit. It rained again but the shower was brief and soon we turned off on the small track which led to the beach we had visited the other day. There we had a swim and relaxed in the clear, cool water and stayed for about a half hour. Then it was back past the Sofitel to the port to return the car and wait for the ferry. It had been a great day. We enjoyed the beauty of the scenery and the freedom to stop when we wanted and of course, a tasty lunch.

Back in Papeete we eventually walked down to Les Trois Brasseurs for dinner. It was busy but we both had a gerat steak for dinner. We were amused at the large glass kegs of beer that were placed on tables and Fletcher managed to get a poto of one with a group of locals enjoying themselves. Tomorrow will be another quiet day while we pack and get ready for our 4am start on Wednesday/Thursday morning. Our travel time in total is likely to be about 20 hours as we are scheduled to arrive in Adelaide at 9-45pm on Thursday night.



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