Magical Mauritius

Ok so here it is, my long awaited next blog, and thankfully, it’s a bit more light-hearted then my last.

A LOT has happened since my last post, a whole season, a couple of holidays and my wedding ! That alone will be a blog in its own, I can go on for days about functions 🙂

For our honeymoon we went to Mauritius, its so cliché for honeymooners I’m almost embarrassed, but so well worth it ! The embarrassment probably stems from the “all-inclusive” beachcombers package we took.
When I lived in the Caribbean we used to laugh at the Sandals tourists as all they would do is swim in the pool and stay in the hotel 🙂

Beaches

I don’t actually know where to begin with Mauritius is certainly has all the same “French” influences as the Caribbean, in fact my husband got sick of me as around every corner I would say “wow the buildings are so similar to the Caribbean”. Its famous for things like vanilla tea (yummy), and being the last ever place that Dodo’s exsisted

We stayed at the Medium ranged (in terms of price, not quality) Le Victoria Hotel, its rated 4.5 stars and is part of the beachcombers group. We wanted to explore as much as we could, and knew we wouldn’t be in the rooms that much (although we could have as they were lovely). The drive from the airport was horrendously long though, and in peak traffic (probably the only downfall of the entire trip).

What stood out the most in Mauritius was the service. 5 star all the way, attentive , hard working, polite. All round; so refreshing !

Secondly there is so so much to do ! So much so that on our 4th day all my husband wanted to do was sleep! He came on honeymoon to “relax” and not to explore all day 🙂

Picture Perfect

So what to do there?
Mauritius undoubtedly provides the A-list treatment – you can walk with lions on a safari tour, take a helicopter over the island, swing on a 6,800m golf course or dine by candlelight on the beach. There really is something for everyone. Keen on Water sports? Mauritius is surrounded by water and has every water sport imaginable. Adrenalin junkie? Climb the Mountain or parasail, or for the braver try kiteboarding. Spa Treatments? Check again. Amazing snorkelling? The water is so clear and temperate you can literally spend the entire day and not even notice. Nature Lover? Mauritius Safari and Bird Park, Yemen Natural Reserve Park, safari quad-biking adventures the list goes on..

A definite must? A trip on a catamaran to one of the nearby islands, we did the popular trip to Gabriel Island. It was a full day of relaxation, a brilliant fish braai and a chance to see some of the most beautiful and preserved islands of Mauritius. Our crew were friendly, vibey and our entertainment was provided by some French tourists that had a fabulous time with the rum punch 🙂

 

15479_10151143521941105_738201881_n

 

Of course you cannot come to Mauritius without taking a dip in the turquoise sea and lie on the white silky sand. In the north the beaches are mainly white, fine sand, but as you go east, the beaches change colour and texture and the sea changes from calm lagoon to full on “surfing” Ocean.

Do not let this beauty full you however, Mauritius is surrounded by coral reefs and as a result there is an awful amount of coral off most beaches. For a shorty like me, this wasn’t that much of a problem as I couldn’t stand most places, but for the taller folk such as my husband, aquatic shoes are a NON Negotiable. Certain individuals ended up with cuts on their feet and it tends to ruin walking on the beach or swimming in the sea at all.

Grande bay is picturesquely beautiful and reminded me a lot of the Spanish colonized islands in the Caribbean, window boxes with flowers and thin cobbled streets. Its also the hub for clubs/ restaurants/ cafés. We attempted to cycle there one day from our hotel; Not even a Kilometer from the hotel, with sweat dripping down we decided to turn back due to the heat 🙂
The Best part of the trip? Swimming with dolphins! What a magical, surreal experience; to swim with wild dolphins and to see them playing in their natural habitat. You have to a strong swimmer to keep up with them, and if the current is too rough the tour guides won’t let you jump in, but just the experience alone of being surrounded by about 200 hundred wild dolphins is extraordinary.
After the 2 hours outing with the dolphins, we travelled to L’ile aux Benitiers for lunch on the beach (a fish braai again followed by yummy banana/ coconut dessert) . The afternoon was spent snorkeling and swimming in the magnificent lagoon. We also visited the Crystal Rock and you could jump off it into “the swimming pool” around it.

15479_10151143521926105_1655368909_n

Come 17h30 every day we were in the glorious pool at the hotel, sipping cocktails, where we stayed for hours on end. Every evening we were blessed with a short rain shower, with warm drops of fresh tropical rain falling. It was glorious. Big contrast to sitting in rush hour traffic on your way home from work 🙂

Downsides?
Prices are shocking in the hotels, they will try and spin you for every ride they can! If you can go into town and stock up on your waters/ drinks etc,
Every island has its “ugly”, thankfully if you are a typical “package” tourist you wont even notice them. Gridlocked traffic. Unchecked pollution. Dirty Grey walls, Debilitating shortages. Slight racism and definite corruption !

10070_10151143515716105_172630292_n

I think ill write a separate blog on the fantastic Le Victoria Hotel, it needs its own dedication. The Food was insanely amazing (not at the big generic restaurant) , but at the two smaller “smarter” restaurants. L’Horizon, which specializes in seafood and we got to experience Marlon Carpaccio, and the Italian restaurant of La Casa. The hotel would be the PERFECT destination for a whole group of friends/ family as well. It boasts a kids club, Gym, Tennis courts, Bikes for Hire, Boats, paddle boats, jet skiing, beach volleyball, table tennis, pool tables, the list goes on and on… It was an absolute dream! But more on that later xx

10034_10151143536446105_471505596_n

What are you waiting for? Explore Mauritius and for South Africans it’s a mere 4 hour flight ! Im definitely going back, there is no better way to spend your days then canoeing, paddle boating, snorkling x bliss xx

Advertisements

Romeing Rome ….

This time last week I was getting ready for my girls night out in London (bachelorette number 1 🙂 ), now I’m siting at my desk wishing I could be walking the streets of Europe once again.

I’ve been contemplating for a while how do I best summarize Rome, from a tourists point of view, in one blog. THERE IS JUST SO MUCH to write about.

The best way may be just to summarize the top 5, or rather, my top 5 things to see/do:

1) Trastevere

DESPITE the distance, it’s only actually about a 10 minute walk from Campo dei Fiori. A beautiful area FILLED with beautiful café’s/ bars washed in yellows and covered in ivy. Here you can get lost in the many alleyways filled with bars, café’s, restaurants and of course, gelateria’s. Around the main piazza (Piazza Santa Maria, surprise surprise) there is always a vibey atmosphere with the obligatory grand fountain and exquisite church. This area is absolutely beautiful and popular with both locals and tourists alike. Sit and people watch for hours on end and soak in the electric atmosphere

2) Pantheon/ Campo Marzio/ Spagna

No matter how short your stay you need a day to do this area! By far one of the poshest areas, but certainly per square meterage this area is RICH in history. Must see in this 2 block area include the Pantheon, the majestic Trevi Fountain, The Spanish steps, Piazza Navona and numerous piazza’s filled with well-heeled Italians. Its home to some of the coolest nightclubs and bars too. After surrendering to one of the many coffee bars in the area you can head to Bar Della Pace or Bar del Fico (just off Piazza Navona) two of the most popular area’s filled with gorgeous Italians, drinking, flirting and filling the entire piazza. Closest Metro stop is Spagna. In this cobblestoned area you will also come across Via dei Condotti (for designer labels) and Via dei Corso (more high-street). GOOD LUCK NAVIGATING YOUR STILETTOS ON THESE COBBLES. Suggestion? Low Wedges!

3) St. Peter’s/ The Vatican

How could I write about Rome and not include this powerhouse? A MUST see for believers and non-believers alike. If you can I would certainly suggest a tour guide for the visit; allows you to jump most of the queues and the knowledge they have is unsurpassable. The vatican is absolutely jaw – dropping, there are no words to describe the magnificence of the halls and the Sistene Chapel. Did you know the main reason for photographs being banned in the Sistene chapel is NOT due to the flash of the camera’s damaging the artwork? It IS infact, due to the fact that a certain Japanese Camera Company bought the RIGHTS to the images of the Sistene years ago? For something like 500 Billion Euros or something insane like that. Did you also know those rights just expired? Hence i ignored the “NO-PHOTOS” guard 🙂 But shhh you didnt hear it from me!

St Peter’s whether by day or night, is simply spectacular. When it comes to shopping or eating though AVOID – products in this area are generally catered to tourists and prices are testimony to that. Highlight of the day, an over friendly waiter, while serving us a Café Latte slight spilled it and exclaimed “ahh you see, you are so beautiful, my body shakes for you !”

4) Campo dei Fiori

Ahhhh where do I start with this eclectic little Piazza? Funnily enough it was one of those places that we literally kept on accidently “stumbling across” (while trying to get to Trastevere or Navona) Its actually very close to Piazza Navona, if you don’t get lost in the alleyways. This Piazza is a MUST SEE. No matter what time of night you arrive 2/ 3/ 4 am the surrounding streets are always buzzing and are hugely popular with tourists and locals alike.

The Big draw card (in the day) is a very famous open air market offering flowers, vegetables, cheap clothes and touristy knickknacks. By night it transforms into a hive of activity with bars/ café’s and teenagers hanging out on the square. Really worth the trip. JUST around the corner is Piazza Farnese, a more tranquil piazza which is home to the jaw-dropping French Embassy “Palazzo Farnese”. The palace was first designed in 1517 for the Farnese Family. Just outside you’ll also see the exquisite bathtub fountains made of granite believed to be from the Baths of Caracalla. If you are a woman, DO NOT walk these ally’s alone , you will get mobbed. There were there of us and we still got mobbed (in a nice way) by about 10 young italian men trying to get us back to the party….

5) Colleseum and the Roman Forum

Often ranked number 1 in the top things to do in Rome.

Every time I visit Rome I have been lucky enough to stay in the Grand Hotel Palatino, which is literally a stone’s throw away. You will also need a full day to visit both of these heritage sites.

The Colosseum was actually originally built as the largest man-made lake under the rule of the Emperor Vespasain around 70–72 AD. The site chosen was a flat area on the floor of a low valley, through which a stream ran. It was devastated by the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, following which Nero seized much of the area to add to his personal domain. Although the Colossus was preserved, much of the Domus Aurea was torn down. The lake was filled in and the land reused as the location for the new Flavian Amphitheatre Again for the Colosseum I would recommend paying an extra 5 Euros for the official tour which takes you to the “dungeons” where the animals were kept and right to the top. DON’T be fooled by all the “tour guides” outside who will try and charge you double.

The Colosseum is the most extraordinary of all Rome’s monuments. It’s not just the amazing completeness of the place, or its size, but the sense of its gory history that resonates: it was here that gladiators met in mortal combat and condemned prisoners fought off hungry lions and elephants. Two thousand or so years on, it’s still hauling in the crowds. Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for contests and public spectacles such as, animal hunts, executions, few people also realize that they actually staged “mock” sea-battles here and the arena would be filled with water! Incredible.

The Roman Forum is located in a valley that is between the Palatine hill and the Capitoline hill. It originally was a marsh, but the Romans drained the area and turned it into a center of political and social activity. The Roman Forum is situated in the area between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Starting from the Arch of Septimius Severus, the pathway winds through the most unique place in the world and passes beside the imposing Basilica di Massenzio, one of the most magnificent buildings of Imperial Rome, and ends near the Arch of Titus, where you will get a glimpse of the unmistakable Colloseum.

There’s my top 5 things to do ! Ill post more tips on how to get around, places to eat and all the rest. For now, I have to start planning my next Italian trip! Don’t forget another non-negotiable is to eat your body weight in Gelato every single day 🙂 arrivederci xx