Have decided I need to do this in installments other wise the blog post is going to be way too long
Day 1 – Auckland to Apia
I only slept two hours 2am – 3.45am before we headed for the airport. We left Auckland at 7.05 am 24th June and arrived Faleolo airport 11.30am 23rd June (nothing like going backwards in time across the International date line). It was 10° C when we left Auckland and we arrived to a very humid and sticky 31° C and the sky was quite overcast.
Discovery Rentals (the rental car company) met us as soon as we walked out of Arrivals gate. They greeted and introduced thiemselves and accompanied us to their office. They were very apologetic that instead of the 2004 Hyundai Tucson they had booked us for, they had to give us the 2010 modelas the 2004 model wasnt available yet. It didnt take us long to say it would be no problem especially as it wasn’t going to cost us anymore. We booked into our hotel and were shown a rooom where we quickly got changed out of our wintery NZ clothes and then we decided to go out and explore central Apia , approximately a 5 minute drive from our hotel.
We walked around the main streets of the centre of town which only cover a small area, and familiarised ourselves with where things like the Post Office, ATMs, restaurants (including the only McD’s in Samoa – which YD was fixated on us taking a picture of it for her to see) and internet cafes were. We drove up the western end of Apia harbour where the Fale Fono is (Samoan House of Parliament)and then drove to the Eastern side of the harbour and saw Aggie Greys hotel where we would be staying the last night in Samoa. We went to the little supermarket on Beach Rd and stocked up on snack foods and bottled water and other drinks. and while OH walked back to the car with the groceries I walked down past the Samoan Tourism Authority and sat on the sea wall waiting for OH to catch up. Unfortuntely this was when we realised that without me having a cellphone he couldnt find me. I had said I would keep walking that way and he thought I meant I would only walk to the corner by the main roundabout so while I was sitting on the walll waiting for him he only came as far as the roundabout and waited for me. I ended up walking back the way I came to find him there. We then decided we had done enough walking in the heat and headed back to the western side of the harbour and Mulinuu Point and went to Sails which is a restaurant on the seawall at the point, I had a cocktail called ‘Sails Sunset’ which I thought was very appropriately named for my first “island cocktail” and OH had his first Vailima (Samoan beer). We decided to stay for dinner there and catch the sunset – the sky had cleared a little during the afternoon.
Day 2 – Apia
It was raining when we woke up this morning, but cleared as we were getting ready to go down for breakfast. Breakfast was served on an open air patio adjacent to the reception area. We had the Samoan national netball team staying at the same hotel. They had test matches versus South Africa while we were there.
When I walked out onto the balcony to take a picture my camera took foggy photos when it hit the humidity outside after being in air-conditioned room, I also had the same problem with my glasses fogging up every time I got out of the airconditioned car until we turned the a/c up to 25°C and drove around with the windows open half the time. After breakfast we went had a look around the flea market – lots of little craft stallsand bought some postcards and stamps so I could send a postcard to YD. I had a lovely pineapple frappe at the Sydneyside Cafe and we had lunch at Roma cafe in the same little pedestrian mall by the US embassy. I bought a woven fan and lavalava and also stocked up on insect repellent and went back to the hotel for a small siesta. I also realised that I hadn’t packed my bactroban ointment so am hoping for no infections while I’m away (can’t afford to get an infected scratch or bite on my IBC side).
The afternoon was spent driving around Vaitele, where my dad was born and grew up, trying to get lay of the land as it is no longer all plantation. I got some nice camera shots up on the hills looking down towards the bay over Vaitele and surrounding villages. Some cars driving past when I was taking pictures of a small coconut plantation just thought I was some silly palagi tourist taking pictures of random coconut trees but didnt realise I was trying to get a picture of what Vaitele would have looked like when my dad lived there.
We went to Paddles for dinner -I think this is the best restaurant in Apia that we tried – owned by Italian/Samoan family. Its on the eastern side of Apia harbour with gorgeous view of the sunset and lovely food and service – more cocktails for me of course and a gorgeously presented affogato for desert.
Day 3 – Apia
We thought we had woken up really late and almost missed breakfast as OH had misread his watch as 8.40 when it was only 7.40am. After we had breakfast we headed for Vailima – Robert Louis Stevenson’s estate. Our guide around the house was Margaret whose village is Vaitele, so she was interested to know why we were visiting Samoa.
I found the Robert Louis Stevenson story quite sad and wondered how many more great stories he would have written if he hadn’t died so young (he was the author of ‘Treasure Island’ and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ etc – who spent his last 5 years living in Samoa and died when he was 44 years old having always suffered form lung problems, possibly tuberculosis) Villa Vailima is a beautiful house and you can wee shy RLS and his family loved it here on the slopes of Mt Vaea.
We walked up the steep path to his tomb at the top of Mt Vaea – it was rough and slippery from rain in places but well worth the climb – on the path we saw birds, geckos, hibiscus and other tropical flowers. We were both quite surprised how well I handled the climb as I thought I was more unfit than I actually was- although I got a little breathless a little on the way up once we got to the top my recovery time was infintessimal. The view from the top over Apia and of the other mountains to the East was spectacular- we stayed up there for about 1/2 an hour.
We then decided to take the ‘easy’ way down. This was less steep but in some places quite big trees had blown over and taken the path with it so it presented its own set of challenges but made it a bit more of an adventure. We washed our shoes off in the pool at the bottom of the track – a pool they had made by damming the stream.
My camera had stopped working just after we left the top of the mountain – we don’t think it was the humidity as my camera is supposed to be waterproof but it would no longer take pictures although it would still work in replay mode. After going back to the hotel and showering and changing we headed back to downtown Apia to look for a replacement camera as we weren’t going to be able to get mine fixed while we were travelling and I needed to be able to take photos from my perspective. After we had found a camera – was more expensive than we would have liked – I went and emailed the girls and OH posted the postcard that I had written the night before for YD. We then went back to Sails for a Vailima or two before deciding to try out another restaurant Wildfire (which is just down the road from Paddles). the food was quite good and a vast array of cocktails on their list (but no mention of ingredients) but the service let it down – they didnt bring me cutlery until we reminded them. The food was flavourful but the presentation was definitely up with Paddles or even Sails. there was only one girl doing most ofr the service and although she was nice she wasn’t as efficient as she should have been given she was the only waitstaff.
When we got back to the hotel and went to plug in my new camera to charge onl to realise that it had an american plug so we had to borrow an adapter from the hotel owner/managers. We got a call from the rental car agency saying they wanted to swap cars before we went to Savaii to the originally booked 2004 model. The 2010 was apparently the bosses carand they were a bit protective of it. It was a pity to see it go.
The netball team staying at the hotel lost their game to south Africa but then invited all the Teams back to the hotel. We had hoped for more of an earl night iwth heading to Savaii tomorrow but did not begrudge the girls their fun. We packed our bags roughly as we didnt need to have everything in the suitcases as we do when flying. I felt sorry for Lupe (owner/manager) as she had a late night with the girls then had to be up earlyfor a guest arriving and to give us breakfast as we needed to be away by 7.30 – 8 am
You will find the photos of these first three days in my facebook album here