Travel

Celebrating Mauritius

When someone turns 70 years it is an achievement and when someone is gifted a package to a destination like Mauritius, friends and near ones are called to join these celebrations.

Celebrating Mauritius 2020

My wife Anju turned seventy on 2nd January 2020 and Maya, my sister, turned seventy on 10th January 2020. They had decided to celebrate this occasion jointly and planning for the same was done by Maya.

On 8th January 2020 she decided to take a flight to Mauritius and Feroz, Tarangini, Archana, Nita, Bina, Maya’s friends and Anju and I joined. We had to take the Air Mauritius flight from Mumbai and hence the Ahmedabad group, Archana, Bina, Nita, Tarangini, Anju and I took the Go air 7′ January 2020 night flight to Mumbai. We reached Mumbai old Air port and had to go to the New International airport. We took two local prepaid Taxis to reach the Terminal 2 as there was no other means of transport available.

As the Air Mauritius check in counter was to open at 0300, we had to wait at a cafeteria in the general waiting area. We ordered food and had to kill time before we could check in and then use the Business class lounge. After a Couple of drinks and some snacks, we proceeded to the Business Class check in counter and were given Business lounge passes before the flight.

Feroz and Maya later joined us at 0345 in the Business Class lounge and everyone individually went to the well laid out food counters and got their own meals and beverages. At 0530 we all departed to reach the departure gate to take the Air Mauritius flight to Mauritius.

All of us were shown to our seats and unfortunately, my seat was Right window second row whereas all others were on the left window seats. Anyway, as the flight was of Six hours, each one had their own drink and breakfast. The ladies had Champagne while I had my regular single malt. We relaxed in our space and some went to sleep and some watched the in flight entertainment.

8th January 2020 We reached the Mauritius International Airport, SR International airport, “Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam” which is south of the main Island. Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean 2000 kilometres off the coast of South east coast of Africa and is a mélange of multiple ethnicities, languages and religions. It was colonized by the Dutch, French and British, who came for its natural resources, from ebony trees to vanilla, sugarcane and Peppercorns. The Republic of Mauritius consists of four islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega and St. Brandon. The language spoken here is Creole.

The Oberoi Beach resort, Baie Aux Tortues, Balaclava, Terre Rouge, 20108 Phone: $230 204 3600 where we were booked, was about 55 kilometres from the airport. We were greeted at the airport by the Oberoi deputed person and he took care of our luggage and took us to our Van which was to drive us to the Hotel.
The road to our hotel was the highway and our driver was well versed with the beautiful country spots. I was in the front seat behind the driver and took some great pictures. The Van was air conditioned as the temperature outside was a bit warm and humid.

We reached The Oberoi Beach Resort and were greeted near the entry by the general manager of the Hotel. We were taken to the visitors greeting point, where we were served welcome fresh soft drinks.

The Oberoi Beach resort is directly located on the pristine white beach of Turtle Bay, natural marine park. The resort is spread over twenty acres of lush sub tropical gardens. We were guided to our rooms and our luggage was tagged and would be delivered directly to our rooms. Our rooms were Luxury Pavilions garden facing with a king Size bed and 754 square feet. Room number 304 was ours. We were allotted Rooms 302, 303, 304 and 305.

We decided that after half hour or so, we would go to the restaurant near the beach. Anju and I go ready and within an hour, we reached the open air restaurant, “On the Rocks” perched on top of dark volcanic rocks, near the beach, serving grilled salads, Pastas and Pizzas. We had a great meal and the service was excellent. I tried their local beer “Phoenix” which was good.

After a grand lunch, we all retired to our rooms for a nap and decided to meet early evening 1800 at the Visitors greeting point of the Hotel. This place was very beautiful with a free falling water fall and from here we could see the reception area. Maya and Feroz later joined us here and we went to “The Bar” an open sided area, with a traditional thatched roof offering endless ocean vista. They served specially curated beverages. Melodies are played here every evening by various artists. We ordered various cocktails. As the ladies had brought some snacks from India, we had taken these too. Seating was comfortable on Sofa’s and sofa chairs with rustic oak tables. Today there was a crooner and a person playing the guitar. I was impressed by the guitarist and after a couple of drinks; We proceeded to the dining area. This was also open on all sides, had a high ceiling and a typical thematic thatched roof.

After a sumptuous meal, we returned back to our rooms. It was a long walk, passing the “Gun Powder room”, “The Herb trail”, the reception and the visitor meeting point. Thus ended our first day in Mauritius.

9th January 2020 early morning, I got up and had a cup of coffee in the rear veranda overlooking the garden. After this, I went to explore the Hotel property. I visited the Turtle Bay swimming pool which faced another Hotel property across the Bay. I then returned to my room. Anju and I got ready and reached the restaurant. It served Creole, Indian and International cuisines for breakfast and dinner. We decided to place the order for dinner as there were varieties of orders by our gang. We had a good breakfast, of course self service first and then the staff helped us with tea, coffee and toasts. After Breakfast, we returned to our rooms and decided to meet at the Visitor meeting point as Maya had decided that we visit the capital city, Port Louis. We asked for two cabs and were ferried to Port Louis. They dropped us at a drop off zone and said that they will return at 1530 to take us back to our Hotel.

After being dropped off, we decided to see the old city and passed through and underpass to reach this street. It was like any other city street, congested. There was a small street which sold typical artifacts. As the others were shopping, I went to a bank and got my US dollars changed to the local currency ‘MUR” Mauritian Rupee. On returning, I was informed that all the ladies were not very pleased with this area and hence we returned to where our Taxi’s had dropped. There was another shopping mall here and the ladies went in for shopping. hey bought a few things and as it was afternoon, we decided to take lunch. There were a few estaurants and we decided to sit outside and ordered our “Phoenix” beer and food. This was served by lone lady and it took a while but the Pizzas were delicious. As we finished our meal, it was already time for us to leave for the Taxi drop off zone. Both Taxi’s were ready and we left for our Hotel.

We reached our Hotel and as it was early evening, we decided to go to the beach and relax at one of their pavilions. Anju and I went to “The Herb trail” and passed the “Gunpowder room” We all relaxed at the Beach house pavilion and took pictures of the Sunset and Feroz took a nap. After going back to our rooms to change, we decided to meet at “The Bar”. The bar tender was now aware of our likings and made us great cocktails. There was a couple playing but they were not as good as yesterday. Anyway, after drinks, we went to the restaurant for our dinner as ordered in the morning and as we wanted to rest, we bid good night.

10th January 2020. Maya’s birthday. All ladies had decided to wear RED colored similar dresses with similar scarves, which they had organized from Ahmedabad.

We gathered at the Breakfast table at 0900 and we were now given the same table and the same team of bearers. They served us well. After breakfast, we decided to take the glass bottom boat, which the Hotel provided, for viewing the underwater corals and fishes of the sea. Archana decided that she would not come and sat near the boat house. The glass bottom boat ride we exiting but due to the climate change, the Corals were almost dead and there were hardly any fishes. Anyway, we enjoyed the ride and returned to the beach, thanking the boatman. There were others taking a speedboat ride and some were kayaking.

The view from our boat of our Hotel was breathtaking. The ladies sat on a couple of beach chairs under one umbrella and Feroz and I sat on two other beach chairs under another umbrela. The ladies ordered Margaritas and I ordered my beer. Feroz ordered a soft drink. A beach hawker saw prospective buyers and approached the ladies who bought trinkets and other artifacts from him. In Mauritius, all beaches belong to the Public and not to a specific hotel and hence our Hotel had security gaurds along the beach so that the hawkers and other local fishermen do not enter the hotel premises. As it was getting very warm, we decided to sit inside the Bar. We sat there for some time and then went back to our rooms to rest and change clothes. As it was going to be a grand evening, we returned to ‘The Bar”. The sunset was magnificent. A fisherman was trying his luck to catch some fish. Today, there were two crooners and a piano player. The lady and the gent crooner were great and sang almost all our requests. We danced and had fun after a couple of great Cocktails made by the bartender. Feroz also danced with Archana. It was a fun session.

The Hotel had arrange a special table for us on the beach as they knew it was Maya’s birthday and also had arranged for a cake and a bottle of Champagne. The food, as usual, was good and the experience of dining on the beach was unforgettable. After a great evening we retired in our rooms.

11th January 2020. The next morning after an early swim “On the Rocks” pool, Anju and I went for breakfast. After breakfast, it was decided that everyone can do their own thing and Anju and I decided to go to “Grand Baie” a town 15 kilometers North of our Hotel. We took the Hotel taxi to Grand Baie, 30 minute ride and the driver showed us various sites on the way. He also took us to a shop on the way as Anju wanted to buy something but the items were quite expensive as it was a tourist shop. He dropped us at the “Super U” mall in the heart of the town and informed us that he will be back by 1200 to pick us up. Anju and I went to this mall and I informed her that she had an hour to herself in this mall. I went to a Money changer outside this mall on a street. I returned and called Anju. We went to the first floor, visited a few shops and then returned to the parking area, where our driver had dropped us. He was on time. We returned to our Hotel and were on time for Lunch.

We went to the “On the Rocks” restaurant again and ordered our food. After lunch we strolled on the beach for some time and then returned to our rooms for an afternoon nap.

In the evening, we returned to “The Bar” and after cocktails, all friends and Anju had rehearsed and recorded a couple of songs dedicated to Maya. They played the song on Bluetooth and performed. We then went to the dining area and had our dinner. All of us went back to our rooms after a fantastic evening of fun and frolic.

12th January 2020. The next morning, I got up, had my coffee and went once again for a swim. Returning to my room and got ready for breakfast. After breakfast we were going to visit the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden.

The Garden, commonly known as Pamplemousse Botanical Garden near Port Louis and is the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. It has 500 plant species including giant water lilies and tail pot palms, spread over 60 acres. The botanical garden was not up to our expectation and we roamed around for an hour and more. As Archana could not walk, they had taken a wheel Chair and we were dived into two groups. Archana, Tarangini, Nita and Bina in one group and Maya, Feroz Anju and I in another. We went separately and decided to meet near the exit. It seems, we got lost and I reached the exit first to be joined by the other three. The first group had already reached and was waiting for us. The taxis were parked in the parking lot and we called for them and returned to our Hotel.

This was our last day in Mauritius. We went to our rooms, changed and packed for our flight back to Mumbai, India. Maya and Feroz went to the reception for the checking out formalities and we decided to meet at the visitor point where we were given a send off by the Hotel management. We boarded the Van to reach the airport by evening as we had late evening flight of Air Mauritius to catch. We reached the International airport, the same route which we had come. The driver dropped us at the Drop off zone and we entered the airport, went through security and waited in the Business class Lounge for our flight.

This lounge had two levels and Anju had to do some last minute shopping at the duty free. I was on the first level but was later called down as all others were waiting down stairs, after their Duty free shopping. As our flight was announced and it was almost at the other end of the terminal, we reached our gate. After waiting for some time, as the management of air Mauritius was chaotic, we boarded our flight and were shown to our seats.

The flight took off for Mumbai and thus ended our
Mauritius Celebrations