Monday, 15 February 2016
15.02.2016 - 15.02.2016
Rain squalls threatened as we sailed into the harbour of Port Louis the capital of Mauritius. The morning routine was disrupted as all 2000 passengers were required to present to Immigration Officials for a 'face to passport' check. It was simplified as there was just a need to compare the face to the passport photograph. We then surrendered our passport and the search for a free page, the application of the rubber stamp and initials was performed while we were ashore.
The shore excursions have been delayed by an hour to allow for the immigration process. As the process was so swift we had almost an hour to fill in. The meeting place - the Wheelhouse Bar was rather crammed as large numbers crowded in. At the due time we were escorted to the wharf where we boarded the coach. We drove out of the port area into the morning traffic rush of the nation's capital. There were police on point duty but despite their best efforts it seemed to take ages to get moving. Before long we were on the highway heading Northeast to the Botanical Gardens at Pamplemousses. The gardens contain trees from all over the world with many specimens being over 200 years old.
We spent an hour being escorted around by our tour guide. Her stories about individual trees were delivered with a strong French accent and seemed tedious at times. The shade of the trees was most welcome as the temperature climbed to 30 °C and up. After an hour we returned to the welcome air-conditioned coach. A shot trip took us to what was the island's largest sugar mill. It has now been converted to a museum presenting the history of Mauritius, the processing of sugar and the distillation of rum. The material is displayed amidst the original machinery, the processing tanks and old pipe-work. All painted and suitably illuminated. It would take a day or more to go through all the material.
After the museum there was the obligatory 'gift shop' selling many interesting items, many associated with the theme of sugar. Co-located with the old mill is an elegant restaurant set in some beautifully maintained gardens. We'd been allowed an hour and a half but I found myself looking for things to look at in just over an hour. Having visited sugar mills and rum distilleries previously, there wasn't much in the way of new material. There were at least a dozen people from our coach also looking for some shade.
Back on the coach we headed for a short stop at a fabric/fashion outlet store. We all got off but only one or two people actually bought anything. This stop was not included in the tour description and was a bonus. Back on the coach we continued through the narrow and busy streets of Port Louis on our way up to La Citadelle where the ramparts provided an amazing 360° panoramic view over the city. The driver then performed some incredible feats of precision driving to squeeze the coach down the narrow streets back to the city centre.
Back to the ship for a refreshing shower and a short nap. The tour was interesting but did little to endear me to Mauritius which left an impression of a poor country with many of the issues faced by some of the Latin America countries we visited last year.
Lovely dinner in the dining room after which we returned to the cabin to watch a movie as we've seen this evening's entertainment a number of times on previous cruises. Seven days at sea as we head for Fremantle. The Captain has warned us of a possible encounter with a cyclone to the North of our track.
For today I've selected an image of the giant lily pads in the botanical garden, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony