laupäev, 9. märts 2019

Bonjour, Mauritius. Blue Bay.

We woke up in our spacious and bright room. I walked to the window and looked at the ... ocean. The same sea view that wasn't supposed to be there. Yes, there was a pool and a row of palm trees in front of it, but still a lot more sea view than we would have had lying down on the floor of the previous guesthouse pushing the branches aside. The sun had just risen, we got dressed and walked to the restaurant to have breakfast. The tables were covered with piles of croissants, chocolate pastries, fruits, cakes and fairly boring beans and similar. There was also an eggmaster who made you eggs any style you wished. Omelets, scrambled, you name it, he made it. Freshly fried pancakes were on the menu as well.

Scott went back to our initially booked guesthouse to tell them that we found a new and more suitable place to stay (yesterday when we moved out the reception was already closed) and they please be so kind and refund us the money paid for the accommodation and also compensate for the hours we spent looking for new hotel instead of lazying on the beach. I had to stop by in the reception to validate our key card, where they told me that since we had to go to bed hungry yesterday (due to checking in after dinner time), they compensate it with free lunch today.

We had planned to visit the most picturesque village on the island today and right after finishing all the errands we took off direction Mahebourg. Local chicken bus took us there with 20 minutes. We walked around, looked at the nice architecture and rats running around wild at the sea shore, had some coconut water and returned to the resort.

Still full from breakfast, it was all the same time for lunch. Buffet again and piles and piles of food on tables. We filled us up even more.

After lunch we made a snorkel and beach round. "We" being sort of conditional here, since the currant was so strong that I couldn't even stand in water, not to mention floating there with the mask. I lied on the beach.

We sat some more on the balcony and looked at the fox-sized bats flying over our heads, when we noticed that they had started to set the tables for dinner. Obviously we were far from being hungry, but one can fit many sheep in one belly and so we went to the restaurant. I swear, the dessert table just keeps getting longer and more delicious every time. Anyway, I had lamb and lots of cakes, fruits and chocolate mousse.

reede, 8. märts 2019

Bonjour, Mauritius. 23 colors

We went to check-out in the morning and since we had few suggestions on improvement, we mentioned those as well (they should clean the shower cabin also behind the shower door, there shouldn't be half-eaten candies from previous guests in the middle of the floor, it would be preferred to have the mugs and glasses washed after previous guests have used them to just mention few). Anyway the manager made 8 calls after hearing our complaints and yelled at half of his team in front of us. As compensation he cancelled all our restaurant bill for 4 days and suggested that we forget that "little problem" now and part our ways as BFFs.

Since we had to move to the east coast of the island, we decided to combine it with a daytrip and at 10am there was Preetam to take us to the adventure and nature park with 23-colored earth. We booked the 500-meter ziplines and Scott also the 350-meter Nepali bridge over the forest and valley. So, he crossed the bridge, where I was able to barely take 3 steps onto it. On the zipline we both took our rides, me carefully starting from the edge of the platform and Scott running himself off.

In addition to the adrenaline the park had already mentioned 23-colored earth, 2 waterfalls, few dopey tortoises and some tailless peacocks. As a bonus we saw a dog and one chicken.

After we arrived in the park, Preetam took off with our bags and promised to be back by 2pm. Who wasn't back by 2:25pm still, was Preetam. Scott called him and already at 3pm there he was, blaming the little "latening" with traffic. Trying to make it up to us, instead of taking the shorter road to Blue Bay, he took the "Know-Preetams-Village" route and later when we asked for a supermarket stop to stock up on drinks, cheese and crackers, he took us to the most disappointing store in the neighbourhood. With the wish to help us save money, I'd guess.

We had booked a sea view room on the beach in Blue Bay and that's where Preetam dropped us off. We went to the reception, checked in, took into knowledge that the promised pool is on the other side of the road and followed the girl to our room. To get to the room, we had to go through our private terrace, which was completely dark due to having a pine tree, dense as primeval woods right in front of it. Obviously it wasn't any lighter also in the room. The girl seemed satisfied that next pleased customers are well served, when it turned out that the mentioned customers are not pleased or satisfied at all. Since I'm not used to grope in the dark, I asked directly where our sea view was. It appeared that if we crouch or better yet, lie down on the floor, we can see some from under the branches. What followed was 15 minutes of negotiations, where it became clear that they have no room with actual sea view to offer and they also can't cut down the tree.

Since our idea of spending last view days of the vacation, wasn't feeling our way in and out of the room, we went down to the beach and started to check out every house that looked even remotely like an accommodation. Most of them turned out to be private homes, but thanks to my talkative husband they all got the picture of our situation and agreed that it's unfair to sell a cave under the tree as a sea view room. The luck didn't smile at us and we went to have dinner. Tuna that was supposed to be served with garlic butter had been overcooked and instead of the garlic butter it was accompanied by melted margarine. French fries were just reheated. Scott seemed to be quite happy with his palm heart tartalette and pizza.

We weren't yet ready to give up and spend three days in the cave, so we sat down in our reception (there was no wifi in the room) and tried to find something better online. And there it was - spacious room, sea view, breakfast and dinner included and only 200 meters from us. Price slightly higher than in the current den, but Scott told me that he would rather like his wife eating happily croissants at the breakfast table rather than finding her way with the help of the flashlight. So, we beelined to the hotel, where the receptionist assured us that he has the room, but still no sea view. He even showed us the room and the view. We considered the view of the pool better than no view at all, booked the room, ran back to the first guesthouse, packed our bags and moved into our three times bigger room with balcony.

neljapäev, 7. märts 2019

Bonjour, Mauritius. When your husband asks you to join him on a romantic walk on the beach

Also for today we didn't have any plans but relaxing, eating, lazying on the beach and by the pool.

We did all that until the afternoon and then Scott thought that we could take a walk on the beach. Should someone now think that it was a romantic pre-sunset walk, then think again. Half the time we floundered through the water, since it was high tide and once we made somewhere with a view, it turned out to be view of Port Louis industrial harbor and heavy smoke of some kind of fire. On the way back we took few pics of the aloe or something that looked like the tallest asparagus in the world and walked back to the hotel. Just before reaching the hotel, there was a full rainbow over the houses and the beach.

Watched the sunset and packed our bags.

kolmapäev, 6. märts 2019

Bonjour, Mauritius. Coral Beach

Today we had planned to do nothing. So, we were up by 6am, Scott went for a run, sat at the breakfast table by 7am and shortly after 9am were waiting for the bus to go to the capital.
We visited the market, walked on the waterfront, gambled some, won few euros and went to one of the 9 best coffee shops on the island to have a great coffee and cupcakes. Arriving there, it turned out that they have a great menu and only one type of cupcake, so we decided to have a decent lunch there. And had coffee. Me, that is. Walked a bit in the park and returned to the hotel. 
My snorkeling later, was as usual very careful :) Scott spent at least 1,5 hours in water.

teisipäev, 5. märts 2019

Bonjour, Mauritius. I scream, you scream

Few days ago we had booked Preetam and his car for a full day south-east daytrip. We had the illusion that this way we can only visit the places we want to see and skip all the commercial stop. Well, guess again...

We were waiting in the lobby for Preetam to arrive when he was already standing in front of us in his fresh button up blue dress shirt and black leather shoes ready to hit the road. We told him where we wanted to go and where not (i.e. no shopping or anything) and hit the road to make the first stop in ... model ship workshop and store. We walked through it and were ready to get back in the car when Preetam told us that he would finish his cigarette and we can take a look in the cashmere store meanwhile. The cashmere seller, who conveniently stood next to us, started to escort us in her shop. Last moment we noticed a jewellery store across the road and to the obvious disappointment of the cashmere seller decided to go there. Being inspired by our interest in jewellery, Preetam thought that we need to visit one more, the best jewellery shop in the neighbourhood and alrady parked in front of that. We made a quick walk through it and saw a clearly disappointed Preetam while getting back in the car.

Earlier he had mentioned his friend's rum shop, with free tasting. And that we have to go there, it's free after all. We thought that we have had enough commercial stops by now and told Preetam that now we go and see the crater. Preetam agreed and turned into a parking lot of the next shop... Rum tasting, free. In a corner of souvenir and cashmere shop there was a shelf with bottles of rum, where the lady of the house with enthusiasm of a golden retriver started to pour us drinks. I tried the one with coconut. It tasted like liquid soap. We tried few more and blamed it all on Lufthansa that we can't buy any of those delicious drinks and walked out.

It seemed that Preetam gave up and took us to the crater. So, we looked at that crater and all the other great views from top of that mountain. We walked back to the parking lot, where Preetam introduced us his good friend, who, what a surprise, has a ... cashmere store. And he also sells Abercrombie & Fitch. And the prices are as good as in America (we had told Preetam earlier that it's a lot cheaper to shop in US). I told that we are delighted to meet a fair local businessman, but my closets are full of cashmere I've brought back from my numerous Nepal trips.

Next stop was the Sacred Lake, the already mentioned goal of hindu pilgrimage. Since yesterday was the last day of the festival and last hindus left the lake today morning, it looked like huge construction site and garbage pile.

Preetam was convinced that by now the tourists were starving and he knows such a special place, where we can experience the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of eating from banana leaf, he didn't consider driving us half way back too much to take us to the mentioned restaurant. Since I've had delicious and cheap banana leaf lunch several times in Malaysia, the plan seemed good. We sat down and got the menus, which turned out to be more expensive than in the noble fine-dine eateries around here. Cheapest one was vegetable meal that did cost 20 EUR and adding chicken, fish, beef or seafood raised the prices up to 60 EUR. That moment I felt that having Marge with us on the daytrip would have saved us 40 EUR, because after taking a look at the menu, she would have told that the prices are not to our liking and we would prefer to eat in more reasonably priced place. But since by that time Preetam has left in every direction (most likely to some other area in restaurant, where he got a free meal for bringing tourists in), we didn't really have much choice, but looking what we're going to get for that 20 EUR.

As a starter we got the bana leaf with snacks - one potato samosa and two fried veggie cakes. After that the covered the banana leaf with different veggies, curries and souces - tomato sauce (the only actually good thing there), a pile of ugly mushy spinach (like rotten and melted Shrek, I didn't dare to try), squash (tasteless), grated banana curry (not too bad), beans, salad (good), pumpkin (fairly good), rice and bread. Scott also got two pieces of chicken. None of which is worth to being described any longer. Since that amazing meal also had dessert included, as the last course we got plats, covered with pappadumi, where under the pappadum sagoo was hiding - cardamom flavoured tapioca pudding. Scott, who doesn't eat jellos or puddings, quickly covered the offending dessert with the "lid" again.

We visited the twin water falls, looked how the sun created a rainbow there and saw the 7-coloured earth. By the entrance Preetam jumped out of the car, got the tickets and told that we can pay him later. Can't fool a seasoned traveller tho, so having a coffee break by the 7-colored earth, I double-checked the entrance prices in internet.

Since there are no shops or restaurants anywhere near our hotel, we on the way back stopped in a supermarket and to avoid further buffee dinners, stocked up on cheese, salami, joghurt, beer and wine and once back in the car, packed all that like proper smugglers in the backpack, so that when entering the resort they wouldn't see us carry food for a smaller village. There are signs here that no outside food or drinks allowed on hotel premises.

We asked Preetam, how much were the tickets to 7-colored earth, to which he, without batting an eye, told us that 900 rupees for two. I showed him a screenshot (well prepare, tourist, right!) that hte price for one ticket is 250 rupees and for 450 rupees there was also some rare forest and maybe few more things included. Preetam must have understood that with those cheeseparing tourists he won't make his usual profits and admitted that he must have made a mistake when buying the tickets, so it's ok, when we give him 500 rupees for two and he will go back and ask for the refund, because we never went to that forest.

We brought the food to our room, put the drinks in fridge and rushed to the beach to see the sunset.

esmaspäev, 4. märts 2019

Bonjour, Mauritius. Mystery Shoppers.

Woke up with akne like some teenager today and cursed all the bread eaten here. We went for a run and looked at those garbage piles that had appeared overnight in our beautiful, empty and clean beach. Run was followed by sunrise swim, breakfast and packing to move to the next destination.

Few days ago a local hindu gave us a lift and didn't want any money, but said that "I help you, you help me" and that he would love to bring us to Arsenal one day and bring back too. All we would have to do in the mentioned village is to visit four shops which would result in him receiving a gift from each shop. We took his number and told him that we'll be in touch. We looked at the map later and found that Arsenal is in the same direction as our next hotel, so we did let Risti, the taxi driver know that next Monday we would love to be taken to Arsenal and pretend to be crazy shoppers.

Today at 11:30am Risji picked us up and took to the first shop, where we looked all that jewellery and cashmere. Was actually pretty nice. Next shop next door. There we saw Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren and other brand items sawn by fairly unskilled Mauritians. A tank top like beach dress by Abercrombie & Fitch had the price tag of 140 EUR, when I lifted it from the selfi, the price dropped to 70 and later to 30 EUR. We told them we'll think about it and went to the third store. Guess would be proud if they knew about all the different items sold under their label here. I tried some few-hundred dollar sunglasses on and off we went to the last shop. There it wasn't enough to just looky-looky, we had to put the chosen item on the table and promise to come back. As a bonus we put even two scarfs on the table, told the lady that we'll think, which one would be better for Scott and come back tomorrow. Risji got his four gifts (4 t-shirts), took us to the hotel and as a result of an hour  windowshopping we saved 800 rupees.

We went for a swim, one of us also snorkeling, had lunch, watched the sunset and went for dinner. It was Indian buffee today. Desserts are woth mentioning - carrot cake (if it wouldn't have been write, I would have thought the tasteless dry piece was chickpeapie), tapioca pudding with pistachio (again, based on flavour I would have thought it was rice pudding with shredded coconut) and really delicious profiterols filled with cream and covered with a layer of crunchy caramel.

pühapäev, 3. märts 2019

Bonjour, Mauritius. Thank God, it was Monday!

Few days ago we told one local dude (and everyone else, who wanted to listen, but they are not relevant at the moment) how much we like our long and empty Mont Choisy beach. The dude told us to wait until Sunday and assured that we won't see any empty beach then.

On Sunday we grabbed our hammock and snorkeing stuff (for each their own, right) and went to the beach. The road that is usually empty, was already parked full by 9:30 am... We hang the hammock, went for a swim, Scott went snorkeing, I napped in the hammock. An hour later when we started to pack our things, a loacl family was already at our footsteps and before I managed to take the first step, they already pushed their picnic table into my knees.

We once again had cheese and salami lunch and had planned another beach round wiith sunset for later. We walked down to the beach and by 5pm our peaceful, white sand beach and pine tree forest had turned into more crowded space than Copacabana beach during Ricky Martin's concert. Under every tree there was a family or two with their tents and open air kitchens. Younger ones were partying, the families ran after kids. Every picnic corner had their own 96oz jar of local fruit rum or several bottles of fancier alcohol. Only ones not drunk seemed to be kids and muslim women. The only thing, I could think about, was that thank god, we didn't arrive a day earlier, last Sunday. If there would have been similar gipsy camping when we arrived, I would have started to look for a new accommodation the same evening. Like our kipper told to wait until Sunday and this time as bonus it was the end of the months (everyone had money) and tomorrow a national holiday (day off), which also made a lot of people to stay the night.

We watched the sunset, as entertainment we had a slavic couple all those 30 minutes taking pictures, where the lady wearing a bikini walked into water, kneeled down, took a sexy pose and made a circle with her hands around the sun. Her boyfriend, instead of getting his own lazy butt up, told her to move to the left or right, to get higher or lower. Took few pictures which didn't satisfy the lady and the fun started all over. All the 30 minutes.

We took taxi to the restaurant we chose yesterday in the hope that the chef had turned up today and scored ourselves also the return ride with the same taxi driver - the restaurant had to call him a bit in advance to come and pick us up.

The restaurant was indeed open and the chef present. We decided to give another chance to the octopus salad, ordered a crab soup and for mains red snapper (white fish, right) in creole sauce and braised beef. The octopus salad was the best so far, delicious and soft octopus in an amazing lemon and olive oil dressing. I guess, the restaurant had read my rant about the lobsterless lobster soup in Cafe Truffe, because the crab soup arrived with half of the crab, legs hanging out of the bowl. Scott wasn't really keen on working for his food, but took the equipment and started to clean the crab. Soup itself was very good. Red snapper and the creole sauce incredible and the beef wasn't too bad either. For the desert we decided to take the Chef's Surprise and the chef decided to surprise us with fruit gratin (look at the picture!). Was very good!