Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category

Beautiful Mauritius, Part 3
May 4, 2013

For such a small island Mauritius has many places of interest to visit. The capital, Port Louis was founded by Mahe de Labourdonnais in 1736. It has great character and in some parts has a battered elegance. Off the main square the, “Place d’Armes” is set amidst giant palms trees. For people who are interested in the architecture of the past, there are fine French colonial buildings like Government House built in the 18th century and the Municipal Theatre built around the same time. There are two cathedrals, a Supreme Court, 18th century barracks, a Historical and Natural History museum all watched over by numerous statues of various people of importance from the past. On the fringe of the town, nestling at the foot of the mountains is the Champ de Mars which was originally laid out by the French for military parades and now serves as a race course. A must when in Port Louis is the vibrant covered market where you can see the amazing crafts, tropical fruit and veggies and many other wares sold by the vendors dressed in colourful attire. Before leaving the town, make sure you visit the Port which is the main reason for the creation of Port Louis and lies quietly in the shelter of a semi-circle of mountains, holding its secrets of the past of the Spice Traders, battles and sunken ships.

Leaving the town, you pass through its suburbs, Beau Bassin, Rose Hill, Quatres Bornes and Vacoas where you must make a stop and view the extinct crater, Trou aux Cerfs some 280ft deep and more than 200 yards wide. You can stand on the rim and look out over one of the most spectacular views of the island, (a great place to take photos).

Then drive on to Curepipe which is the island’s main urban shopping centre. Here you will find retail outlets and good restaurants where you can have a meal before heading on to Mahebourg, one of the main fishing centres, situated in the bay of Grand Port and has a historical museum which is housed in the French Colonial Mansion where, apparently, in 1810 English and French naval commanders were both wounded in the same battle, and brought to the mansion and given medical attention at the same time, (I wonder what they had to say to each other? Perhaps they were too wounded to care.) Apart from naval relics, the museum has copies of the priceless Mauritius “Post Office stamps, such as the “Blue Mauritius.”

Travel back, towards the village of Souillac and a little farther along the south coast you can see where the island’s distinguished poet, Robert-Edward Hart de Keating lived in a delightful little house called “Le Nef” which is built of coral and volcanic rock. It now serves as a museum standing on the cliffs, looking out over the sea; – no wonder Hart was such a great poet! –

In the south west of the island, close to Le Morne, are the “Coloured Earths”, an amazing geological phenomenon which is believed to have been caused by weathering of the layers of rock. Try and see this sight on a bright, sunny day as this is when the colours are seen at their best.

Do not miss out on seeing the Black River Gorges where you shall discover great picnic spots and spectacular scenery as well as heavy forests bejewelled with rain drops, where there is an abundance of birdlife.

Passing the Moka Range of mountains, Le Pouce, 2661ft, which can be climbed and is categorised as “easy”, Pieter Both, 2700ft, categorised for experienced climbers and rock-climbers. Then head back south of Port Louis and stop at Le Reduit, the French colonial residence of the Governors’ of Mauritius and walk in magnificent 325 acre gardens that roll out in front of the residence majestically.

To the north of Port Louis you will find my favourite place on the island, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Pampelmousses, an absolute haven of peace and tranquillity. Founded in 1770 as a nursery for tropical crops, it was from here that cloves were first introduced to Zanzibar. Famous for its pond where you will see the huge floating Victoria Regia lily-pads that look like large round trays proudly displaying their exquisite purple flowers that reflect into the pond’s liquid surface.

The tear-jerking French classic, “Paul et Virginie” the novel by author Bernardin de St. Pierre was written by him after his stay on the island of Mauritius and the Pampelmousses are wrapped into the saga. This is a must-read book to pack in your travel bag when you plan to visit this tropical paradise.

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Chicken in Paradise
February 7, 2012

Last Sunday we decided to go to the local restaurant here in Morrumbala called “Paradisio Resturante”.
The proprietor is a rather paunchy Old Portuguese fellow, married to a local lady who does all the work whilst he looks on and shouts instructions every now and again.
Usually he can be found slouched in his chair at the entrance to the restaurant’s pub, with one of his pet poodles lurking between his ankles.
As you pass by, the poodle makes a rush at you, growling and gnashing his pointy little teeth until his master swats at his backside, shouting “comportar-se voce merda, se comportam!” (“behave you little shyte, behave!”)
Tail between his legs, he slinks back under his boss’ chair and waits for his next victim. 
It is not the cleanest of places and definitely not the best I have ever been to. They serve char-grilled peri-peri chicken and chips and the beer s are ice cold. So, if you ignore the state of the kitchen and make darn sure you do not use their bathroom, eating there can be a reasonably good experience.
Also, if you close your eyes to the t-shirts that the waiters are wearing, and do not allow your imagination to run riot as to whether they really do have AIDS, as broadcast in the slogan stamped in large letters on the front, you can get on with the business of ordering your meal.
It is also a pleasant change to being confined within the OLAM cotton complex compound and Graham was concerned that I was going a little stir-crazy after three weeks lack of Internet and unable to communicate with people on the “out-side world”!
We got there and said hello to the landlord, avoided his poodle and made our way to our usual table in the corner.
Then the noise started.
A high pitched yowl permeated the four corners of the place.

“Wow Babe,” I said to Graham, whilst looking in the direction of the kitchen, “someone must have ordered goat for lunch.”
I visualised a goat being slaughtered outside the kitchen door.
“Nope,” Graham pointed at three men sitting around a table some distance away, “there’s your goat.”
It did not take long for us to realize that one of the men was a very drunk deaf mute.
He was interesting to watch as he acted out what he wanted to do with one of his companions. It was not very friendly. He mimed that he’d slit his throat, stab him in the chest and then every now and then forgot about that and indicated that he was hungry and wanted to eat.
Or perhaps I was being naïve and he wanted to eat his friend after cutting his throat.
Our chicken had arrived and we tucked in, trying to ignore the blood curdling yelps from across the room.
Above us was a pergola with a tangle of creepers covering it,  I looked up, there looking back at me was a large black rat, his beady eyes darting backwards and forwards, looking at our food.
Then the poodle arrived at our table and sidled up to my chair.
“Shoo!” I shouted at him when I saw what he was about to do. He hopped off on three legs, the fourth leg waiving half-cocked in the air.
The cacophony of yelps continued from the drunken man.
“Sounds like a yeti. Well what I think a yeti should sound like,” I mumbled as I tucked into my peri-peri chicken.
“Time to get out of here,” Graham growled, standing up and pushing out his chair.
We returned to our house in the OLAM complex.
The three shebeens (moon-shine bars) in the shanty town were competing with one another for customers and blasting out their loud local music.
“Even they are quieter than that noisy guy in Paradisio,” I remarked.
“Yes,” agreed Graham, “but at least here we can close the doors, shut the windows and turn on the air-conditioner to drown out the noise!”
I am not sure that we will return to Paradise in a hurry.
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