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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Jaro's residence at Mauritius....

The rent is 20,000 rupees/month - about $650, not including utilities - quite reasonable.
In Southern California, a similar place would probably cost about three times as much. Can't complain......

A cyclist lives here:   Residence Beau Soleil, Albion.

Funny thing is that the pool is very rarely used by anyone here - hardly seems worth the trouble to maintain it.  Also note the absence of rooftop solar water heaters on most of the buildings; this is quite different from Réunion, where the vast majority of buildings have them.  Instead, here they have just unheated water in the kitchen, while the bathroom shower has a small electric heater just upstream of the shower head.  I have seen gas-fired versions of these in Chile, but this is the first time I've seen electric ones.  Seems a bit counterintuitive to have an electric appliance in the shower, but it actually works quite well.

A couple of new souvenir bike jerseys....the graphics design and production is pretty basic, but at only 650 rupees (about Can$ 21) each, I'm thinking I should have bought more....

The local brew - very nice beer.

The lighthouse at Albion is a short distance from my residence - less than half-an-hour's bike ride.
Here looking north towards Port Louis, maybe 10km away.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Our tenth stop was Papeete, Tahiti......


I am from a small town in Northern Alberta, so was happy to dock at a city - Wednesday at Papeete, Tahiti, Society Island.    

Again, I took Holland America's tour around the island - costs were $130.   The tour left at 8:30 and lasted for the morning.   It was a nice bus - there was a tour operator with very good English.  He told us lots of history, plus he told us what it was like living there now.


The houses were older, but the lots seemed big....

They took us to a garden with a nice waterfall.

We also stopped at the Paul Gaugiun restaurant, where there were drinks set out for us.  I had a pineapple juice, the young woman next to me ordered a beer, so I also ordered a beer.  I was told, very politely, that there was only 1 drink apiece.  The young woman gave me half her beer - it was local beer and quite good.   I wanted to know the costs of food, but it was displayed only in French with francs, and the waitresses spoke only French.  There was some aquariums set up outside with live fish and sharks in them.

Then I went for lunch at the ship, and back out.   At the tourist booth, I tried to use the computer card that I had bought in Bora Bora.  They told me that they had another system, and I could walk across to the docks and try it there.  I was walking that way anyway, but the card did not work.  One of the computer technies told me that if you stayed on the ship, went and sat outside on Deck 10, the card would work there.  So if you buy a computer card in Bora Bora, use the hour there.

I went to McDonalds for supper - no wifi there either.   There was a chicken at McDonalds.  It is more expensive than at home - I had a ham and cheese pananni, fries and a coke - costs $12.

The stores closed at 6 o'clock, so I headed back to the ship and just sat outside for quite a while.

Next blog, continuation of Tahiti.....

 Photos belong to Phil Bianco and Dorothy Lloyd. 

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Taking the ferry to Mauritius......

A day trip to Saint-Denis, Réunion, prior to departure for Mauritius in late afternoon....

The city park and museum is also a popular playground for kids, with one corner having an area with many water fountains and jets that kids can spray each other with.

The ferry ride from Le Port, Réunion, to Port Louis, Mauritius - the price was €157.72, which included supper and breakfast on board.

The company only publishes schedules for the two ferry boats for about two months in advance, so I shall have to get my return date adjusted for late April, once the new schedule is published in February.

The passenger cabin for economy class.... (this was on one side of the ferry - the other side was empty - went there later in the evening to stretch out for a little snooze overnight).  No WiFi on board, by the way...

Maneuvering out of Le Port harbour......

Arriving at Port Louis, Mauritius, in early morning on the ferry ship "Mauritius Pride" from Réunion.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Our ninth stop was the island of Moorea...

After my experience with Bora Bora, I was thinking about Holland America's tour around the island.  The other 3 that I sat with at dinner always took the tour - they all agreed it was a little too expensive, but a good chance to see everything.  I decided to take the tour around Moorea if I could go with them.  While they waited in line to be seated for supper, I went to the tour office and bought the ticket - about $90.

The tour left at 8 o'clock - too early for me.   The bus was comfortable, and just about full.
Everybody shared the road.

There was just the bus driver - he had a mic, but the people in the back could not hear.    We went to a Tiki village.  You could put on a temporary tatoo, and some did.....

When you reach the ocean, they have some drinks set up there for free - pineapple juice in the front and rum in the back.   The rum was good....

Then we stopped at a bay in the ocean - I noticed that lots of people did not get off the bus.

We climbed up a mountain for some more photos.   It was raining, and only about 6 of us got off the bus.  I could have taken a raincoat, instead I got drenched.

The tour lasted for the morning. There did not seem to be a downtown, so I went back to the ship.
I felt that I had seen the view points, but I did not get to meet the local people. 
Photos belong to Phil Bianco and Norm Burgoyne. 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Jaro's bike ride to La Fenetre de Makes.....

La Fenetre de Makes - that was SOME WINDOW yesterday!  A fab ride up to a belvedere overlooking Cilaos, the high altitude town I biked to a couple of weeks ago. The lookout is about 500m above Cilaos, which is at about 1150m altitude.

One can also see all the peaks surrounding the caldera - or at least the ones that aren't shrouded in clouds:  Le Grand Benare (2898m) and Les Trois Salazes (2132m) on the west side were most prominent, with the Sommet de l'Entre-Deux (2352m) to the east.

Piton des Neiges, the highest peak on Reunion (3070m) was visible on an almost direct line of sight behind the town of Cilaos, slightly off to the left.

Odd things growing on a rock face....

Arriving at the lookout point....

Route Forestiere 11.... nice road, beautiful forest.

Very foggy on this side of the ridge, a little over 1,000m altitude.

On the way back, a view of St-Louis and St-Pierre in the distance...

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Our eighth and most anticipated stop was Bora Bora.........

Next day, we tendered in to Vaitape, Bora Bora. 

About 10 days ago, the couple from Saskatoon and I were in the Crowsnest, and there was a meeting going on.   A woman stood up and said that her and her husband had booked a helicopter ride in Bora Bora and it was going to cost $750 each - she asked for three other people to help cover the costs.  The three of us signed on, and this was my first helicopter ride ever. 

The helicopter office was right besides the dock, and the pilot spoke English.  The costs were $346 Canadian money.  The pilot took us in a van about 10 minutes to the helicopter - there was one seat in the front, and four seats in the back.   I had a window seat in the back - the husband had a really good camera, sat in the front, and took all the pictures for e-mail. The pilot had told us not to spend time taking pictures but instead to enjoy it.  The ride lasted about 35 minutes - beautiful. 

Then the three of us went back to the ship for lunch.   In the afternoon, I came back ashore and stayed there for 4 hours.

I bought an hour on the computer from the Visitors Centre for $7.  They said it could be used on any island, so I used it for 20 minutes, then saved some.  I asked where were the post office and grocery store  - they told me both were closed because today was Sunday.

I sat on a nice wooden chair outside a closed store for about half an hour, then walked downtown. The church was there - you would think they would have some greetings and a few volunteers there, but it was empty.  All the tourist shops sold exactly the same - t shirts and pearls.


There was a cafe - had a coconut ice cream $4.   Bought a post card - $1 and a stamp $2 - and mailed it at the Visitor's Centre because the post office was closed.

There was not too much to do - I thought I would rent a car and drive around the island, but when I went to the car rental, 2 hours rent - $140.

The streets were shabby, the houses downtown were unkept, no volunteers, and the clerks disinterested.   I found that much anticipated Bora Bora was boring, boring.  We were here for two days -  I didn't go ashore the next day, but I did love the helicopter ride. 

Photos belong to Norm Burgoyne, Judy Mysak and Dorothy Lloyd.   

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Jaro's bike ride to Le Maido......

The loooong ride to Le Maido:  Route Forestiere des Tamarins, to a lookout at 2205m altitude and lots of clouds.  View from route D3 near Trois Bassins.

Clouds blasting up from far below.  The lookout is on the rim of the Cirque de Mafate - the north-west one of the three giant volcanic calderas (the other two being Salazie and Cilaos). 

They got this one right.... 

Fantastic, magical forest....

Like riding a bike through a botanical greenhouse.

Seems to be a forest of Cryptomerias of some kind.....with lots of picnic areas around...
Higher up, no more picnic areas, just a road through the wilderness.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Our seventh stop was the island of Raiatea....

The ship docked right up to the town of Uturoa, Raiatea.

There was a restaurant right besides the ship, with a couple of chickens and a rooster....

I had lunch here - french fries $5 and a can of coke $7.   I could have had a local beer for $5.

Downtown was right there.  I looked for somewhere to hook up my computer, but the clerks said the post office had wifi, but it was closed today.  I mailed some postcards home - high postal box.

There are government buildings if you walk about three blocks.  Very nice gardens and buildings.  Keep on walking and you will find a gate that is open, even though today was Saturday.

They had a farmers market set up for us, with free pineapple, coconuts, music and hula dancers.
Lots of jewelry here - a seashell necklace was about $70.

It was very hot, but I quite enjoyed this island.
Photos belong to Dorothy Lloyd.