Sunday, December 14, 2014

Here in Paris (of the South Pacific)

Noumea is a contemporary city with good infra-structure.
Noumea is known as the "Paris of the South Pacific" and it is obvious with the French language, wines and food. We were looking forward to a change of cuisine and also found a change in temperature and humidity. It is less tropical here. In fact, it feels like spring or fall - cool nights and sun-warmed days.

Crabs and shellfish galore!
Fish of every color, size and shape.
We won't see all of the islands in this group this year, but it will give us something to do next year! I think our cruising is going to extend out another year if all continues to go well. There is just so much to see and so many places to visit and people to meet!

And some really huge lobsters!
Many, many stalls with much of the same stuff.
Our first day in Noumea took Dennis on a long wander around town for Customs and Immigration while I stayed on the boat waiting for BioSecurity. Rumors had it that they were going to take all meat, dairy, eggs, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. I was bracing for the frustration of watching our provisions drop into the big black bag. Luckily, we had a lovely agent who believes if it is good enough for us to eat, it can stay on the boat as long as the meat is cooked. Just don't take any food ashore. Great! So we did not lose too much. 

Can't you just smell these goodies!

Saturday was a day off the boat to explore the city. We started at the market near the marina. They have a fabulous seafood market right on the quay. It is open from 6 AM to noon everyday except Monday. There was every imaginable kind of fish and shellfish there. Some of them were huge.

And a coffee break in the middle of the food market.
In this market area, there are several other buildings that house the fruits and vegetable stalls, as well as handicrafts. Outside in the parking lot were artisan tents and others selling clothing they obviously purchase to resell. There are a lot of fun things here. I may have a unique wardrobe when I return!

Fresh cheese; many choices. Yummy!
I had fun with the lady at the cheese counter. She spoke no English and I speak no French. We did a lot of hand motions and apologizing for not understanding one another. Then she offered me samples until I found a cheese I liked. Then Dennis came along and we went though it again with the sausages. After sampling, we bought one as we were hosting Sundowners that night.
Their version of Rice Krispies!

Craft tents with some real nice things and then some
others with interesting clothes.

We found the big Casino supermarket and checked it out for future provisioning. Then we explored the town. Several others said it wasn't a very nice place, but it wasn't terrible. There are areas I would not go at night, but that is true everywhere. And I wouldn't go off on my own here, but I don't do that in strange places either. We even saw a McDonalds! Didn't try it, though. But we probably will as it seems to have the best free Internet in town!

Salade Verte with Seafood
However, we found a lovely park with the Tourist Office and a nice French restaurant where we had lunch. We don't speak or read French so the menus are going to be challenging here. This place did not have an English version and the waitress did her best. Between the two of us, I figured out the majority of the menu before Dennis joined me at the table. I took a guess at what looked like we might like and it was just fine.
Seared Tuna Plate
The Finale: Chocolate Lava Cake
Our lunch was most enjoyable. Of course, a bottle of wine and fresh baguette will make anything taste great! Then we checked out the dessert menu. The only word I knew for sure was: CHOCOLAT! So we order it.

Heavenly! It was a warm chocolate lava cake with two spoons! Life is very good!!!
Dennis even found China Town on his wandering.

After lunch we wandered through China Town. What a collection of "stuff" for any occasion, but not great quality. A lot of "knock-off" designer items. I doubt if you could get them past US Customs if you tried to take them home. Anyway, I don't need designer purses to wear with my sulas!

Then we spotted a cathedral high on a hill so headed up there. Not only was the view of the city and harbor great, but Mass was starting in 45 minutes so we took a seat and enjoyed the peacefulness of the place.

It is the Cathedral of St. Joseph and we sat in the row across from a stained glass window of Saint Monica (Dennis' mother's name). Totally unplanned. I sat down and settled in for some quiet time and looked up to my right and there she was! We haven't been to Mass in a while since we have not been on land on a Sunday or close enough to walk to a church.

Then it was back to the marina as we were having guests on board for Sundowners. Mike and Catherine, who we met in Fiji are on the same dock as are two of the German boats from the World ARC. S/V Starblazer has gone out sailing with family who arrived from Hong Kong.

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