After our walk, we’re refreshed but soggy. We return to the room (actually small suite with a sitting area with a leather sofa and armchair) and turn on the gas fireplace to ward off our chills and to start drying our wet clothes. Peter hops into the huge whirlpool tub to soak; I grab a quick hot shower and sit down at the desk to try and catch up with my blog posts. I write a bit, but will wait to post; the in-room internet service costs 40 cents per minute.
Mark, whose room is right door, pops over at 6:30 pm to share a bottle of white wine we’ve brought with us from Napier. Although we’ve been in the car together all day, it’s a nice chance to relax and catch up before dinner. At 7:30, we head downstairs to the dining room, where we treat ourselves to an A+ meal, including a rib-eye steak, lamb chops, and pork medallions wrapped in bacon, all topped off with a decadent bottle of red. (Yes, we’ve imbibed in more than our fair share of wine on this trip.)
After dinner, we move out into the lounge, where a few folks are playing billiards, a group of German tourists have camped out in front of the fireplace, and a young man is playing piano and singing. After listening for about 45 minutes, Peter and I introduce ourselves to the musician, whose name is Jeremy. We learn that he’s a “duty manager” at the hotel and plays in the lobby “just as a hobby”. Most amazingly, he can’t read a note of music; he plays entirely “by ear”. Having studied piano for ten years myself, I am especially taken by Jeremy’s talent, his arrangements, and his wonderful soulful voice.
We crash at about 11:00 pm and before getting into bed, we open two windows. The wind is howling and the rain comes down hard, and it’s perfect for sleeping. The next thing we know, Mark is knocking on our door; it’s already 9:00 am and it’s time to check out and continue heading north. Next stop: Auckland via Rotorua.