Chateau Grand Mercure

I know, that’s not a very exciting heading, but I haven’t had time prior to this to try to get this entry into my blog sorted. I’ve been too busy with trying to create this year’s Christmas card (fail, so far) and real life in general.

Anyway, D.C. discovered that Pukekohe Travel were hosting a train trip on the Northern Express to National Park, followed by a shuttle to the Chateau Tongariro. (Once the premier hotel in New Zealand), and Christmas dinner. The following morning, it’s the train back to Auckland again.

We couldn’t resist. And so that’s why I’m typing this in a bed in the Grand Mecure, Custom Street, Auckland.


 

We caught the 9.50 bus to Auckland and our driver was Grumble Guts. We loaded the bags into the bus and then got on board. The front two seats behind the driver both had reserved on them, and, as I’d emailed Intercity and requested front seats (since we’re poor travelers) and told them that we accepted that it wouldn’t always be possible if unaccompanied minors were on board. I received an email in reply, assuring us that the note would be made on the driver’s waybill. Naturally, we assumed that the two front seats were reserved for us. The last time we had this driver, and had done this, he went butchers. And he did it again today. We told him that we had booked the front seats, (Not that he was listening to me) and that every other driver’s waybill had said that we’d booked the front seats. He said that there was no note on his waybill (why him and no one else?) and told us that if we took the reserved seats again, he’d kick us off next time. We told him that if he did that, we’d report him. It wasn’t even as if there were any children or obviously invalid people who would have a right to claim the front seat. I’m going to write a letter of complaint when we come home.

But for all that, it was a good trip up.

We got to Auckland and walked to the Grand Mercure Hotel. The staff here are very nice, and looked after our bags until our room was ready. We went over the road to The Coffee Club and had banana bacon pancakes. Very nice, although it could have done with a little more maple syrup. After that we went over to Queen’s Wharf to see if anything was happening there. Nothing was, so we came back and sat in the foyer of the hotel for a short time. By then our room was ready and a male member of staff (they are all called “Storytellers”) brought our bags up. He looked cute with Kally on his shoulder.

We were just getting ourselves settled when there was a knock on the door. It was a male storyteller with two, much appreciated, bottles of water. A short time later there was a phone call and it was a female storyteller to check that we were happy with everything.

We relaxed for a while, watching the TV show “Tipping Point” and I typed this.

At 3.30pm we went and caught the Manukau train to Glen Innes. (That was fun.) We were met at the station by Aunty Sally and Karen. They took us back to their new place, via our old places in 4 Hilton Place (still there, including our Rangitoto Pohutukawa) and 10 Taniwha St (Gone to make way for new developments.)

Their new home, in Coral Place, is very nice and roomy and they started out by giving us the grand tour, and the exchange of Christmas gifts. They don’t have any pets of their own, but are surrounded by dogs (barking), cats (came in to stand on its hind legs and get a photo from the bird bath), and doves. Dinner, as expected, was wonderful. Orange chicken, boiled potatoes, stir fried vegetables, strawberries and blackcurrants, ice cream, Christmas mince pie, and custard. Afterwards we sat and talked, before, at 8.30pm, Uncle John and Karen brought us back to the Grand Mercure.

Tomorrow we’re on the train!

Tomorrow

We packed up what we could, made ourselves a cup of mint tea, and then went to bed.

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