Having spent the last two days contemplating whether to get the Edge Card, then today decided, “Fuck it. I’m getting one.” Who knows when I’m going to be on a cruise again and you know what they say: “You always remember your first time.” I nabbed myself a Silver Card which granted unlimited ventures of most activities and away I went.
The Edge: Zip Lining
First up, Zip Lining. Suiting up and sliding above the Lido Deck was awesome but the experience was way too short and I wasn’t sure getting this card was worth the dinero. As days went by, I ticked off most of the Silver Card liberties and while I had fun, I still wasn’t entirely convinced. It didn’t help that I was a 28-year-old amongst mostly kiddies… Why advertisements must you use adults in your promos, why!
The Edge: Walk The Plank
Later in the day, it was time to do away with the renegades: pirate style. For the crime of mutiny, we were forced to go planking but rather than throwing us to the sharks, they spared our treacherous plebes lives and lets us sail in the land of the living for one more day. How very foolish of them!
Arriving In Noumea, New Caledonia
Spared from becoming chum, it was about this time that we were heading into our first island destination, New Caledonia. Navigating gently past tiny islands, long peninsulas and deep blue inlets towards the gloriously beautiful capital city, Noumea and its stunningly lush, mountainous backdrop on what is essentially a 14-story building was an absolutely magnificent way to be introduced to this new place and the slow pace of the ship as it navigates the waters allows you to soak it in and appreciate your surroundings as you linger on the beauty that is before you.
Ride Ze Tchou Tchou Train? All Aboards
Getting off the ship, the sky was crying. Dark clouds loomed all around and our first pre-book item on the trip was looking to be a miserable, wet mess. The fun looking Tchou Tchou train, (which is essentially a road train, but not a road train as in a train sized truck. Like, it’s an actual train on the road.) had its plastic windows rolled down and visibility was appalling. This little late afternoon adventure was looking like it was not going to be awesome…
Our train was completely full and itching to head out in this sopping wet mess that was getting heavier, but luckily, some unknown delay meant that by the time we did finally leave, the clouds decided they were done for the day and BOOM! Bye, bye protective plastic windows.
Oh my, the train was bouncy!!! That is not necessarily a complaint! It made it fun, but damn, you could not take a decent picture to save your life. Riding on the right side of the road for the first time was novel and waving to all the friendly locals and having most of them wave back made us feel very welcome.
The scenery was stunningly beautiful with the city being surrounded by lush, green mountains and the heavy atmosphere of the threatening dark clouds and distant rain gave a very mystical and foreboding feel which for me, as someone who loves weather, photography and moodiness, made it even more special than it would have been if it were just sunshine and lollipops. It was mist-ifying. (HAHAHA.)
Setting aside the very loud, shout-and-laugh-at-everyone-we-drive-by passengers filling out the rest of the carriage, we really enjoyed the commentary the woman gave in her French accent, the local boys who raced our train, the cyclist who was beat us up the very scenic Ouen Toro hill and the guy who did a burnout at the top for us with his buddy in the bay of his ute.
Stop Right There
The two stops at Roche a la Voila & Ouen Toro were very picturesque, especially the latter, THEY WERE WAY TOO SHORT! Five and ten minutes at each respectively is NOT COOL! We didn’t even get to have a look at the gun emplacements which were right there, after rushing around getting a handful of photos of the scenery.
Getting back to the boat right at sunset, I managed to snap a few shots before the light had disappeared then it was just us, left to our own devices to explore Noumea while we still had a couple of hours of darkness left.
Despite all my research for this trip like ensuring it was a good time of year to go accounting for things like weather and not school holidays and all such similar things, one thing I forgot to consider was local holidays. I just happened to book a cruise that landed in New Caledonia on a public holiday, the one day that we would be in the city and practically everyone and everything was closed… Eek!
Aside from the cruise terminal that had an amazing array of souvenir offerings (We nabbed some zip purses, magnets, a candle and the coolest axe ever!), the city was pretty much completely deserted. Absolutely nothing was open, except a gift shop that was open for Cruiselings which despite every intention of visiting, we took too many photos, a wrong turn and way too long shopping at the cruise terminal so by the time we found it, it was closed. Yikes!
We plodded our way around the vacant streets and aside from the occasional car and local passing by, we were pretty much all alone, which was both cool and kind of unsettling. Taking some snaps of Coconut Square, we wished Noumea a fond farewell before we heading back to the ship. Ah, how we wished we could have stayed longer and enjoyed the beauty that is Noumea and its surrounds. Well, I mean, the 3pm arrival at port is kind of peculiar but we can’t have everything our way.
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