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Travel Diary: Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Monday February 25, 2019

PORT 10: BAY OF ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

Our first day ever in this wonderful Country was spent with Querida and Graeme Smith whom we had met on a prior cruise. We have met some nice people on our three prior cruises, one of whom I correspond with but have not seen again. My relationship was and continues to be only with him. The other three are really nice couples. Leaving these “Smiths” for last, one of the other couples, also with the surname Smith, is from Perth, Australia. They visited us in Florence one day when the cruise they were on docked in Livorno. More about them later when we get to Bali for two days, because we are spending that time with them.

The second couple is from Atlanta. They came to my 75 birthday party and are getting on this cruise shortly in Sydney and going to Tokyo which is the next segment.

Now to the “New Zealand Smiths”. They are really an outstanding couple---very nice in every respect and extremely intelligent. They are now world travelers because the Wife, who used to be a teacher decided to open up a business and ultimately sold it at a very attractive price. It turns out that they are also extremely generous as they would not let us pay for a thing the entire day.

I cannot think of anyway to learn more about New Zealand than to spend time with our friends. The United States could learn a lot from New Zealand which is geographically huge but has only about 5 million people. It is also gorgeous.

New Zealand handled its “Indian” situation much better than did the United States. We spent several hours learning about the Maori and going to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It was a very informative and fascinating experience and one we recommend to everyone who has the opportunity to visit this part of the world.

We then a car ferry across a beautiful body of water and had a very nice lunch at The Duke of Marlborough Hotel. It is not a secret that this is a good place to go because we ran into several people from the ship in this area known as “Russell”. The hotel is 4.5 stars.

The real highlight, however, was spending extended quality time with these wonderful people, whom we, obviously, liked, but now we have made really good friends. That is not so easy to do at our ages when we really are cutting down our universe of friends so that we can spend more time with those we really care about and whom we think care about us. I expect this is not a unique thought for those of us to realize we are playing the 18th hole of life with the clubhouse looming.

We learned a lot about each other, and believe me when I say “we did not talk about the rhubarb crop.

We give our experience our first A plus the plus because of the great pleasure of adding such high quality people to our lives.

HOT TIP: If you are really interested in learning about a country—its culture and its history—find thoughtful people who live there. There are great guides almost everywhere and one can learn a lot from these guides. Nonetheless, we feel we learned more from our friends than we could ever learn from the best guide.

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