We woke up on the fourth full day of our cruise and looked out of our stateroom window and got our first real glimpse of the beautiful green hills of New Zealand. We were sailing into the harbor in the town of Dunedin. I snapped several beautiful photos, including one with my wife Alice standing on the balcony with the hills in the background.
Once we had breakfast, we headed out for our first official shore excursion, a bus tour of Dunedin. Our first stop was at the First Presbyterian Church of Otago. The original settlers arrived in 1848 and established the town and the church. The current church building was built between 1867 and 1873 and a picture of the building with its tall spire is included on my Facebook post from December 31, 2015 (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100010589645735).
From the church we went to the train station, another historic landmark. Because of the rough terrain of this beautiful and wild country, most travel was done by boat or train. The beautiful architecture of the train station was mirrored in many of the buildings in the city.
This is a very Scottish community, as most of the original settlers were from Scotland. Our guide on the tour was a Scot dressed in a kilt and talking in a strong Scottish brogue. His animated talks were both amusing and informative. We felt that he must have been attached to some theater group. More about that later.
Our final stop was at a beautiful garden called Glen Falloch. We were welcomed off of our bus by a Scottish piper that I have included in the Facebook photo album. He led us to a quaint pavilion where were served morning tea (and coffee) along with some delicious scones and some strawberry jam and whipped cream on what appeared to be a pancake.
After tea, we were entertained by two beautiful young ladies performing a Scottish Sword Dance, where two swords were laid on the floor in the form of a cross and the lasses danced around the swords to a tune played by the bag piper.
Finally we were entertained by our guide who quoted Robbie Burns’ (That’s Robert Burns, the famous Scottish Poet) Ode to a Haggis over a beautifully made haggis. Here is a link to a version of the ode with translation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kzYaIphbzU
). Enjoy. After having a tot of scotch, we each had a taste of the haggis, which I thought was wonderful. We had some time to ourselves at this point and I took some pictures of the flowers in the gardens. I included just one for your viewing pleasure.Then it was back to the ship. It was a thoroughly enjoyable morning.