Time to see what's up north on this island. Our first stop was Port Louis, the Island's capital. It was first settled by the Dutch in the 17th century. Parking at the Caudan Waterfront was easy. The restaurants, cafes and shopping were like many other waterfront areas, pricey and new. Big working ships, luxury boats, grain elevators, and older buildings surrounding the port were all within view of the walkway taking us from the parking area.Umbrellas, high above us, decorated the entrance to the pedestrian space once in the main shopping area. The craft market drew us in because this one was known to have Mauritian made items. The items were pretty pricey but fun to look through; well for me more than the boys.
Balaclava is a place about 10 km north of Port Louis known for its black lava rocks. Off the main highway now, the small narrow coastal road passed through tiny Point aux Piments before reaching another stopping point at Trou aux Biches. The map indicates that the scenic route starts at Point aux Piments and goes all the way to Mont Choisy. The public beach is stunning! The sand is whiter and finer than around Fick en Flac. Expensive resorts line the beach. Getting out of the car to walk the beach turned out to be fantastic. The most enjoyable part of the walk today included admiring an old lady in her short, vibrant coloured beach wear walk the beach unaided and enter the ocean on her own next to a family member taking her photos while she performed some dance type moves. I can only hope to be just like her when I am her age. The guide book describes the beaches here as 'gorgeous stretches of casuarina-lined sand that continues almost unbroken to sleepy Mont Choisy'. If we could have, we would have had our lunch on the beach here.
Back in the car to find a lunch spot. We drove through sleepy Mont Choisy and on to Grand Baie. Here I wanted to visit one of the temples open to the public, have lunch and see the beach. Lunch was overlooking the bay, the beach and the boat harbour.
The Temple we chose was disappointingly small and had very little in the way of information for tourists. I guess it is not set up for tourists, it is just one of the temples where the public is allowed to enter. A few photos were taken and a chat with the person working on upgrading one of the statues before we left.
The road leads farther north where the coastline becomes rocky and the waters a little rougher. A viewpoint has us looking out to the nearby islands. Pereybere north to Cap Malheureux was scattered with small villages. A small fishing village here has a much photographed church, Notre Dame Auxiliatrice, with a red roof. It sits on prime land overlooking the ocean. It is worth a look around because inside there is intricate woodwork and a holy water basin made of a giant clamshell. A sign outside the church prohibits newlyweds 'faking' a church wedding for the photographer. I can see why this would draw photographers.
It is getting late in the afternoon and Al still wants to try and see the Botanical Gardens on our way back. It is here where we turn inland to the plateau area going south towards port Louis. The Pamplemouses is one of the islands main attractions. It gets its name from the grapefruit-like citrus trees.
Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, (try saying that quickly), was nearly empty when we arrived because it was only open for another 35 minutes. We decide it is worth it and head in. With a map in hand, Al orients it to the main attractions we want to see, one of which is the massive Victorian Amizonica water lilies native to South America.Young leaves emerge as wrinkled balls and unfold into tray-like leaves up to 2m across in a matter of hours. I wish I could have witnessed that. The flowers open white one day and close red the next. Pink and White lotus flowers stood tall in the pond waters with all their beauty in a different area.
Birdlife, a dozen aldabra tortoises, and deer also draw people to the garden. International dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela, Indira Gandhi and a host of British Royals have planted trees in the garden as well. We could have used more time here but the park was closing. From here it was a short drive through the mountains of the plateau at sunset. It was another long but interesting day.