Day 131: It Will Soon Be Christmas

Sat. 22nd December 2012

Well it is Christmas!The day did not start well, with muesli in a mug with UHT milk, as we refused to pay 20 Euros each for the hotel breakfast. Then  it was 9:45 by the time we had sorted our laundry and taken it to reception, only to find the laundry is collected at 9am. Tomorrow we check out, so that will be too late and most laundries have closed for Christmas. How much hand washing do we need to do to be not too smelly?

Frustrated we head out to catch the bus into town, which according to the timetable is due any minute. There is no sign to say if Christmas hours are different, but after hanging around for 20 minutes we give up waiting and start walking as it is only 4km to the centre of town. The sun is beginning to get hot and the road is uphill – time for a coffee stop!

The Noumea CathedralCathedral is south of the centre and quite modern, but impressive all the same. We are not sure why there is a large statue of Joan of Arc outside but it does reinforce our view that there is a strong French influence over Nouvelle Caledonie. Tahiti was more Polynesian than French, but Noumea could just be part of France.

It is almost noon when we start window shopping around the main plaza, only to find the travel agents shut at noon for the day and the shops shut for lunch from noon until 2pm. Just like they do in France!

The main plaza however is buzzing with Christmas stalls. Dave was tempted to have his photo taken with Santa’s two young lady helpers in short red dresses, but had to settle for this huge blow up Father Christmas instead.

As the shops were shut we headed out to the cruise ship terminal which was deserted as no ships were in today. We had a very pleasant and lazy lunch sat in a restaurant overlooking the harbour, which was surprisingly busy given there were no cruise ships in.

Smaller boats in the MarinaWe continued walking back along the coast in the general direction of the beach and our hotel, past the closed fish market, to the to marina and then as it is pretty and sunny we decide to keep walking to a shopping centre in the resort in the next bay.

American MemorialOn the way we pass a number of monuments and memorials including one “In honor of the American Forces whose presence during the Pacific War from March 1942 to February 1946 insured the freedom of New Caledonia her people are deeply grateful”. Further along there was one dedicated to the French too.

The shopping mall was typically French and a bit upmarket and no chance of buying a fridge magnet for our collection here (or any new knickers for me, as the constant cheap laundry service and hand washing have turned mine grey – I will have to wait until Sydney next week).

By this time our feet are telling us they have had enough, so we consult the bus timetable to see if one is due. We finally catch the bus which is only 5 minutes late. Buying a ticket is a bit of a performance though – you pay the driver, who gives you credit card sized tickets that you then have to put in a machine to be time stamped. Oh well, it is all very French!

Time for a swim in the hotel poolAfter all the walking we decide we deserve a swim and opt for the hotel pool which is surprisingly quiet. The whole town although buzzing does not seem to be at full capacity and certainly our hotel is far from full.  The upside is that we easily find free sun loungers and can swim without bumping into anyone.



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One Response to Day 131: It Will Soon Be Christmas

  1. John says:

    Hi both, we have all the girls home and last night we watched a film on BBC called mr stink, basically it was about a tramp who smelled a lot but funnily enough (bit like your swim pool experience) every where he went people made themselves scarce, anyway hope you get to wash soon. Despite the Laundary sounds like you are still having an amazing time Happy Christmas to you both from all the Edwards and Blewbury.

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