7 March 2017

Exploring northern Mauritius

On our penultimate day in Mauritius, we explored the northern part of the island. My friend, who spent her summers in Mauritius as a child, said we simply had to visit the botanical gardens and the surrounding area, so we did.

We started the day bright and early, picked up from our hotel at 9am. We were the only people booked on the selected tour that day (intriguingly titled 'Charms of the North'), which meant we got a private guide - which was pretty cool.

Our first stop was Grand Baie, which was utterly breath-taking. With beautiful blue hues as far as the eye could see, it's home to the cutest little Catholic church, popular - we 're told - amongst Asian Mauritians.

We wandered to the end of the pier, enjoying the breeze (my goodness, it was sticky that day), facing towards the sky and feeling the sun on our faces.

 Cheesy smiles

We were due to visit Goodlands Market, but it was closed (!) and in a pretty scary area. We happily skipped it and carried on our tour to the Historic Marine.

This place was incredible. Model boats, made from scratch, every part carefully crafted by hand, and painted by hand.

The boys absolutely adored it. Every important boat in maritime history was in the showroom, had been commissioned, or was a work in progress.

We were lead to the back room where the hard work took place. Or as they used to say in MTV: Cribs, where the magic happens...

Yep, even the Black Pearl has been made here

And here it is!

The detail was *just* incredible, and we left completely in awe of the craftsmanship.

Next on the list was Chateau Labourdonnais, a beautifully restored 19th century estate. 

It was a rather fabulous insight into society back in the day. I just liked this extract.

And the Franco-Mauritian elite sure knew a thing about how to do a wrap-around veranda...

And flowers. But maybe that's not limited to the 19th century.

The best bit about the estate? The rum! They used the sugarcane to distill rum, and they offer tastings on-site.

I went for spiced rum and vanilla rum.

Delicious, but dangerous on an empty stomach. We left the tasting area a little giddy, and veeeery hungry.

For lunch, it was off to Chez Tante Athaly, who specialise in classic Creole dishes.

It also happens to be open-fronted, making most of the display classic cars scattered along the lawn.

The motoring paraphernalia continues indoors, too...

But what of the menu?

We started with a battered potato dish, served with a delicious tomato salsa. The salsa was so good that I begged my brother for his, and polished that off too.

That salsa thoooooough

We had a choice of chicken or fish for a main (no veggie option, I'm afraid) - I opted for the fish, which was marlin FYI. The chicken was apparently awful - my Mum and brother left it completely - but the fish was delicious.

It was in a pickled, curried marinade, served with rice, a sweet mango chutney and black beans. I ended up mixing it all together to enjoy the flavours, and I wasn't disappointed. 

For dessert we all went for the battered banana with a rum puree and ice cream, which wasn't very photogenic (a bit phallic, haha) which was tasty but too sickly for me.

Oh, and a big shout out to this tropical cooler we got on arrival. Much needed.

Sufficiently full, we jumped into our ride and travelled to our final destination - the Pamplemousse Gardens, otherwise known as the botanical gardens.

Luscious, green, and full of mozzies (that bit us viciously).

The one thing I simply had to see was the lilypad pond, so I dragged the family there, first...

En-route was a monument, because anywhere that's important needs a monument

The botanical garden has everything, including creatures great (turtles, anyone?)

And small.

Shortly after this, we were witness to a tropical rainstorm, the kind you only get somewhere like Mauritius, which began slowly, slowly, then all of a sudden - BAM - downpour. Which lasted for about 10 minutes, constant, warm, drenching everything, flooding the path we had to navigate through.


On to Dubai... 

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