Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day 27: FJG to Arrowtown

Day 27: FJ Glacier to Arrowtown

Pics: Ribbonwood B&B, signs along the way, one of the few scenic shots that could be taken, DB scores some wool in Wanaka

Breakfast at Ribbonwood B&B: eggs and toast and ham (they call this bacon, which is different from streaky bacon) and muesli, included. THB says: if you are going to the glaciers, stay in their cottage. A bit pricy, $220 a night including breakfast, and one of the best places we stayed, rivaling the Desert Pearl outside of Zion NP for lodging near a tourist site.

Today was a driving day, and not just any driving day: you start with visions of the glaciers, then wind along the ocean, through mountain gorges with spectacular white water rivers, along lakes that rival Patagonia for beauty and color, visit small nice upscale resort towns (Wanaka), see fascinating plants and forest, and finally up and down through mountain passes that yield up unbelievable panoramic views of picturesque valleys way way down below (i.e., above the flight pattern of aircraft approaching Queenstown).

One of the top 5 all-time drives, rivaling the Dordogne Valley, around Bariloche, some of the red dirt southwest areas in and near the national parks. Awesome!!!!!! Unsurpassed, all in less than 7 hours.

Now, here’s what really happened to us today: it rained pretty much the entire first 6 hours, mountains were wreathed in clouds and fog, the outlooks and walks were no-go zones due to weather, you had to concentrate on the roads due to lack of straightaways (though not much traffic, phew!), and lunch was at noon in the only cafĂ© for 100 kms in either direction. Salads, a soft drink, and a one week old NYT travel section (the cruise issue) and a one week old Chron Home and Garden section. $35

After 5 hours, we got to Wanaka and DB found a very nice wool shop (see pic) and bought some wool (being shipped back) and down the street some earrings at one of the first decent art galleries we have found (also being shipped back, the earrings should beat us, the wool probably not). Two Deep South brand small ice creams: THB has the hokey pokey, vanilla with little bits of caramel in there somewhere (skip this one) and DB some ultra chocolate flavor (good). Total: $5

The weather cleared as we neared the summit of the pass overlooking Queenstown and Arrowtown, and definitely worth a stop, and a detour to visit.

Now we are ensconced at the Arrowtown Lodge, a small, quaint room in a B&B less than 2 minutes from downtown Arrowtown, a very quaint too-touristy one street selling machine. It’s clear and we’re walking to dinner, 4 minutes away.

Saffron: a loud California-cuisine style. Starters of fig, pancetta, pomegranate seeds, cheese and bacon (very good and a slightly different type of fig than we get) and fried white bait (must be an acquired taste, these are sort of like thin soggy french fries). Main courses: a tangine with kingfish and prawns with sides of couscous and hummus, and pan-grilled blue nose cod (local fish) with Mexican samosas and a guacamole mousse, both very good. Two vodka gimlets (tart) and three glasses of wine, total $155.

A short stroll back to the B&B where we actually get a bit of a pink sunset…it’s 9pm. In fact, it rarely gets totally dark anymore, more of a constant deep twilight; just about any time THB wakes up it seems like it is after 6am (and most days it is after 6am, THB is breaking a record for sleeping in on this trip).

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