Saturday, 26 December 2015

Mauritius Part 4 - La Route du The (Bois Cheri, Saint Aubin) and Grand bassin

We drove south from the black river area... drove along the coast to get to St aubin
The scenary along the coast was amazing



We wanted to visit both Saint Aubin and Bois Cheri of the la route du the.
(We skipped the sugar cane museum because we have seen it all in Cuba...)
The website stated that they open every day 7 days a week including public holiday.
But when we arrived there on Christmas day (After driving 1h 30 from the guesthouse), we were told by the security that it was closed!!! rahhh...

We had to try again on boxing day..
It ruined our whole plan though :( we didn't have time to go to cavela safari park ..
Oh well...

Anyway, we got there at the end.
There wete quite a lot to see there

A little zoo with  chickens, monkeys, peacocks, deer, goat etc






They played a video of how vanilla is grown.(l
(the video was prob made 20 years ago...)
Then we walked around the plantation..
Its not big industrial scale..
So they only make enough for locals (and tourists)


Its the climbing archid around the pillar...

We bought a few ...  ( and we used it to make creme brulee last week ... omg.. it was SOOO GOOOOD)


They have a little herb garden... doesn't have much though

They have converted the colonial house into a restaurant.

We wanted to try their creme brulee - coz it uses the vanilla grown on site.
BUT they ran out :(
so we just had a lemon sorbet.. which was also very nice.
The food being served to other tables looked good though.
I would recommend having lunch there if you have time. 
We wanted to move onto bois cheri asap..as we were hoping to visit the factory...so we just had a quick snack/drinks there.


Rum distillery
We've seen all these in Havana.. so it wasn't overly exciting for us.
Of course it involved lots of tasting at the end of the tour....
We didnt buy any... It was alright....


We then went to the Bois Cheri factory. 

 

We wanted to visit the factory but they were finishing off by the time we got there. 
I would advise going as early as possible if you want to see some action at the factory.. 
We asked about their offical operation hours but they said it varies -- depending on the demand..  
So we opt for the museum + tea tasting instead... 

The museum was interesting - showed how tea is made... some old vintage machines.
Learnt the difference in the production between green tea/ oolong tea / black tea...



Farm


The tea tasting is done at the top of the hill - a 10ish 15 minute walk? from the factory
Most people drives up..
But it was a nice pleasant walk.. if the weather is nice, why not?
We had lunch at the restaurant there. 
Although the menu was EXACTLY the same as the restaurant at St Aubin, the service wasn't as good  there at Bois Cheri..
Maybe we went at the wrong time, they were super busy.
We had to wait for a good 10 minutes before we were served. 
Bread served with butter, chilli sauce and TEA CHUTNEY! 
The tea chutney was interesting.. 
It was nice.. garlicy and it does go well with bread
but I don't feel the tea actually add much to the flavour.. 


For thw starter I had seafood gratin and keith had calarmari.

For the main, I had their signature dish - Vanilla chicken
It has a nice fragrant


Keith ordered fish vindaye - which is a Mauritian specialty.
It was very nice.  Apparently they add mustard instead of coconut cream to the curry paste. 


We ordered creme brulee made with saint aubin's vanilla
but it was disappointing..
Where is my crusty sugar top?!
It looks like they have flamed the top early in the morning and just put it in the fridge afterwards..
so it was all soft :(

Tea tasting
The service is slow again ..
But at least we can enjoy the view while waiting ...

It was really strange - it rained on our left hand side while it was clear on our right..
Didnt manage to capture it in the photos..



We love the vanila and Rooboi tea.
The tea wasnt extraordinary in terms of quality..



We then walked around



Grand Bassin was close by... so we stopped by





Thursday, 24 December 2015

Mauritius Road Trip Part 3 - Le Morne

We went to quite a few diff beach while we were there ...
At first - our plan was to go to a different beach everyday..
but we just fell in love with the beach at Le Morne and kept on going back
 
The great thing about the beach in Mauritius is that - they are all public!
Even if the beach is right by an exclusive resort, you can just lie out your towel without feeling guilty.. haha
There are some public car parks in between hotels.  People just park there and walk along the coast and find a rest spot.

Found this website and it was really helpful..
http://www.discovermauritiusisland.com/discover/beaches/le-morne/

We started with Le Morne 3 - passed the "one eye" and Riu resort.
Think there is a kite school there.





As suggested, it is super windly and would probably be perfect for wind/kite surfers




We then went to Le Morne 2 by luxe hotel / St regis
This was our favourite - clear water.. not too busy






We did think about doing a bit of hiking...
but.... we decided to just lie around at the end

Mauritius Road Trip Part 2 - Curerpipe, Chamarel, Black river gorge

We drove south and stayed near the Black river gorge on the second part of our holiday

 We went via Curepipe because we wanted to visit this ship model workshop 
http://www.bobatoshipmodels.com/en/home.php

The models were amazing. 
It was really interesting to see how it was done.  
It's called "factory" on the website, but I would say it's just a small workshop - with only 3-4 people working when we were there.  
A range of ship models - different in size, details and PRICETAG! 
They aren't cheap!  
We were tempted to get one but with two little kittens.. the ship will not last long unless we store it in a glass/plastic box. 



We have got this instead.  This dodo bird was made by bamboo!!! 
The different shade of colour was done by burning the bamboo.  


We had lunch at the guesthouse.
We stayed at Vanilla House and we would recommend staying there if you are traveling with a budget.  Very clean and well equipped.
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g951345-d3301954-Reviews-Vanilla_House-Riviere_Noire.html

It has a little cafe called Vanilla bean and we had lunch there.
Just simple french cafe food .. 
Smoked salmon souffle


Quiche Lorraine

Creme Brulee 

We then drove to Charmarel.  The drive there was very windly.  
I personally would hate driving on that road... but we did get rewarded with some amazing views:
 
we got that at the end.
Waterfall

Wild cat family - with 3 little kittens :) 
Look very different from the cat here.  Not sure what breed are they .. 

Then we went to the coloured earth.  
We have been warned by other travelers from tripadvisor that it is just a "glorified sandpit" 
I would agree with them :p 


Next to the entrance, there is the curious corner of Chamarel - which I can imagine would be something fun to do if it rains..
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g1168948-d6413027-Reviews-Curious_Corner_of_Chamarel-Chamarel.html

There is a big supermarket at le Gaulette.
Nothing overly exciting but I wish I got some vanilla pod while I was there..
It was the cheapest I have ever seen.
I guess the vanilla are from Madagascar .. rather than locally grown.
The one from St aubin was 15 rupee per gram
so for the same amoutn (150g) - that's  2250 rupee, which is more than double the price. 



For dinner, we went to Kozy garden.
We enjoyed our dinner there.
It has a pool in the middle ... with ome nice seating area either for drinks/dinner.
The restaurant is next to a furniture shop. 





The starters were all very good
Seafood curry Brusetta

Citrus tuna tartare

Ceviche


Main was average
- Chicken curry with banana.
It's a bit weird to have big chunks of cooked banana in the curry..

Veal Escalope

The next day, we went to Black river gorge
It's very pleasant to drive the coastal road in general.  Not too much traffic..
but we have to go through same windly road when we drove to Chamarel.... 


I couldn't really find much information about the Black river gorge national park online.
So I took some photo of the pamphlet I have found at Vanilla house and have put it here.

We were going to try out the Savenne trail - being the shortest and "easy".
But we didn't have time at the end (well .. or we chose the beach over hiking :p )
We just drove to the main viewpoints :p
I don't think the trail will be very well marked.
I would recommend finding a guide if you are keen...




Amazing view at the top



Alice-in-wonderland like :p
didn't see any rabbit hole...

It was Christmas day and many of the restaurants were closed.  
Found this little restaurant - Les Palmiers
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1168948-d3773643-Reviews-Les_Palmiers_Restaurant-Chamarel.html


Palm Heart salad  with bit ofcitrus fruit and pepper

Prawn beignets
 Octopus curry
DON'T ORDER sausage creole style

The food was generally good - starter was nice - had palm heart salad and prawn beignets.
but I was super disappointed with the main I ordered.
My husband ordered octopus curry and it was nice.
I read in the guidebook that sausage croele style is supposed to be really good but I ended up having frankfurter with tomato sauce!!!
It just ruined the whole experience.
I spoke to my Mauritian friend and he told me that I went to the wrong place - it isn't supposed to be like that ..
so yes.. it has to top my "best" Christmas meal EVERRRR...