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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Jaro's flight home to Montreal....

A shop in Bambous that sells fairly decent bikes for about $120 (Rs 3700) - even an MTB with a front suspension fork.  For those coming for just a week or two of vacation, this might be an alternative to hauling your bike on planes.

 A bit of souvenir shopping in Flic en Flac today.  Tee shirts for Rs375 each - about Can $12.40 at the current exchange rate.
                                                                                  Flic en Flac   
 Layover in Paris, France......


First Airbus A380 to land at Mauritius airport on March 12 - also marked the opening of a new terminal.

We hope that you have all enjoyed this blog.  See you in November for the next bike trip. 

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Jaro's ride to Port Louis and Koenig......

Today was only the second time I rode my bike through the capital of Mauritius, Port Louis.
Moreover, thanks to my riding partner Quincy, it was a bit of an adventure that I would never have attempted myself - we rode straight down the main highway into downtown Port Louis.
Try that in Montreal....

Lots of slow traffic on the way into downtown, but cleared up on the way out, continuing north.  Very nice country roads took us back by way of route B20 and Congomah (which is west of the Nicoliere reservoir), then Camp Thorel, Quartier Militaire, Phoenix and Rose Hill.  Some rain along the way, but back to sunshine again in Albion.

With the fleur-de-lys logo, one might be tempted to think this jersey is from a Quebec club.
In fact, PLMCC stands for Port Louis Municipal Cycling Club, based here in Mauritius.  Thanks very much Quincy !!

A brief visit of the Chamarel rum brewery....

A wide selection of Chamarel rums....

Tour Koenig, across the bay from Port Louis....

Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Jaro's pictures from more rides.....

Just a short ride today out to Pointe aux Sables, which is basically across the bay from Port Louis, the capitol of Mauritius. 

Quite photogenic nonetheless, with a few historic sites in front of a mountainous background....

Glad I brought my camera for the bike ride today - some interesting sights along the way, on a 3.5-hour ride to Nicoliere, Bon Accueil, Lalmatie, St-Julien, Camp Thorel, Esperance, and return by way of Moka & Rose Hill.

It is fairly unusual to see the sugarcane fields ploughed like this....

There was some sort of popular event happening at Camp Thorel - no idea what the occasion was, but it looked a lot like our Halloween.

I find that usually the worst pavement is on sections going through towns, and then it gets better once you get out of town.

Roads are fairly narrow, and on top of that the sugar cane plants encroach on the side of the road, making it even narrower.
Photos belong to Jaro Franta.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Waxed my antique wicker furniture with a squeezy baster from Beyond the Rack.....

It is spring cleaning time, and my antique wicker furniture needs polishing.  Before, I always did this with a cloth and oil, and it would take forever.

I like to cook, and order lots of equipment for my kitchen from BTR.  I ordered a Zyliss Squeezy Baster to grease my pans, and I thought this would work on my antique furniture. 

The baster was $8.99 and the Restor-a-Finish in Natural was about $8.00 - any hardware store would have this. These two, with an old enamel bowl to hold the finish, is all you need.......

When you are ready for a break, use up the finish, and just sat the bowl and baster outside.  This gets rid of the smell, and it won't freeze or stiffen up - you can even leave it outside for two or three days, and nothing will happen. 

The baster was particularly good for doing the bench - fast and brushed away the dirt.  It was also good for doing underneath and on the posts.

When I was doing the roll around the top, the baster got rid of any old dust.

The baster would give a good polish, especially underneath. 

So here it is - all done and it only took me about an hour. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Jaro's bike ride to Midlands and price comparisons....

Unusually cool weather here today, with only about 22C in the central part of Mauritius - about like late May or early June in Montreal.  That was great for biking, along with the partly cloudy skies - another 6.5h ride today.  Started out on the familiar route from Albion to Beau Bassin, Rose Hill and Moka, then south to Côte d'Or, Hermitage and Belle Rive.

The plan was to continue to Ville d'Avray and Fressanges.  But I noticed a paved pedestrian path going off towards a lake, so I decided to try that.  Very scenic, with nobody on it.  Perfect.

What I didn't notice on my map, until returning home, is a little note saying that a dam and lake at Midlands are under construction - so I was thinking that I was at a completely different lake, because the one at Midlands is only indicated with a dashed blue line, and of course the roads shown going through it are completely different now.  I was totally disoriented.

After a bunch of false starts (roads ending in dirt tracks), I ended up doing a loop around Midlands and all the way back to Belle Rive, before it dawned on me what happened... no problem.  Great ride.

Regarding prices, there are some interesting comparisons to take note of.  For example, here in Albion, there is a "fresh chicken store" which sells nothing but chicken stuff - everything from chicken legs to frozen sausages made from chicken - apparently a very popular commodity here on Mauritius.  To illustrate, the other day I bought 10 chicken legs for a little over 400 rupees - about $13.  In Montreal, a similar purchase would cost about 30% more.

A few photos from Flic en Flac....

There are some good deals on wine and spirits here too - a local convenience store sells nice South African red wines for the equivalent of about $7.  Locally-made rum can be had for even less - $6 for a 700ml bottle!

The Winner's supermarket, a bit farther away, is more expensive, but a loaf of whole wheat bread costs just 29 rupees - about 95 cents.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta. 

Sunday, 7 April 2013

My 34 day first cruise is over.......

After the 6 sea days, we docked in San Diego.  We docked at 7 in the morning, had breakfast, and were off the ship in about 4 hours. 
After I was home, my son asked me what they had done for my birthday.  I guess they had phoned Holland America and booked something.  But nothing had happened, except the whole lounge sang me Happy Birthday, and the dining room served us cake.  They e-mailed Holland America, and this is their reply.....
"We are very sorry that your client was disappointed with the lack of acknowledgement of her birthday. We hope her celebration was otherwise enjoyable, despite the lack of recognition by onboard staff. Our records indicate that her booking was indeed noted for this special occasion. We are honored that she chose to celebrate this milestone on a Holland America Line cruise, and we truly regret that we let her down.
Although we cannot atone for her disappointment, we would like to offer her, as a token of our apologies for this oversight, The Art of Cruising: Fine Art and Antiques of Holland America Line. This beautiful 176-page full-color hardcover coffee table book brings a new perspective to the art collection aboard the ships of Holland America Line, and we sincerely hope she will enjoy it as a very special gift.  
As a gesture of goodwill, we would also like to extend to your client VIP status on a future sailing with Holland America Line. Please be aware that VIP status includes a bouquet of flowers in the stateroom, a bottle of sparkling wine (non-alcoholic also available), and an invitation to the Officers’ cocktail party. 
Besides the book, they also sent me a postcard collection and some luggage tags.  And I think that VIP status means that you don't have to wait in line to board the ship.  The next cruise that I am going to take is from Boston to Quebec City, and, of course, I will be celebrating my birthday on the ship. 
I hope that you have all enjoyed this blog.  

Photos belong to Phil Bianco, Norm Burgoyne and Dorothy Lloyd.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Weather in Mauritius......

March 30th - Breaking news - 15 vehicles have been completely damaged by the torrential rain near Hindu House, Cassis ..... Incredible, and this has never happened before in Mauritius.  News later said that 11 people were killed in this storm. 

 It seems Port Louis always floods whenever there is lots of rain - the city, and especially the downtown close to the waterfront, is on a flat low-lying area, with poor drainage.  On top of that, it is right next to some big mountain peaks, which seem to just rip the clouds coming in from the south-east, causing them to drop all their water on the city and the hills.

Plus, of course, the hills drain water that drops onto them down into the basin below - there are a few other spots on Mauritius that can flood like this, but in a big city, it makes a big mess....

I should add that rain here is very much tied to the geography - the great majority of rain falls in the hilly middle and south parts of the island.  Often, one can see big dark clouds hanging over the peaks in the distance, but they never make it to the west coast at Albion.  When there is rain here, it is more likely a system that is travelling out in the open ocean, and just happens to side-swipe the west coast.

The division of Réunion into a "dry" side (west) and a "wet" side (east) is in fact an official designation.  The situation is somewhat similar on Mauritius, but because of the much lower topographical relief, the differences between east and west coast are generally less pronounced. 

One does occasionally see some amazing cases of microclimate in the mountainous south of Mauritius, where heavy rain may be falling in one small area (at the inland end of a bay, closest to the mountains), while at the other end, particularly if there is a point going further out into the sea, it is completely dry and maybe even sunny.

Some of the rain left by cyclone Felleng last month, seen from the second story of my residence in Albion.

Just outside my front door here in Albion, a snail like I have never seen before.  Moreover, there was a bunch of them off to the side, enjoying the vegetation after a bit of rain.  Also, found them in the hills of the National Park in the south of the island - including a nice empty shell, which I took as a little souvenir.

Photos belong to Jaro Franta and local newspaper.