About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

31 December 2016

Aquarium de la Reunion

We saw a sign for an aquarium on the way to the hotel, so we decided to investigate this morning. It's a small, compact aquarium with a great ambience. It's a great way to spend 90 minutes. 

30 December 2016

Madison du Geranium

Perched high above on Le Maido, on Reunion's West Coast is an area called Petit France, filled with, it seems, distilleries for perfumes and all that goes with that (gardens etc). The distilleries seem rather basic, and tours will require some knowledge of French. M had heard of this particular distillery, and it seems popular based on two bus loads of cruise tourists that stopped (many from South Africa actually), but there were quite a few on the route.

The drive itself is spectacular, but the weather was cloudy and misty :(

29 December 2016

Want some chouchou with that?

Pronounced as "shoo shoo", almost very meal in Hell Bourg comes with chouchou - also known as chayote, a gourd like vegetable that is somewhat like a melon. I have had it before elsewhere, but creole cooking does seem to elevate it far more than other cooking.

Fruit Rum

The hotel in Hell Bourg, had a fairly large collection of home made rum, made from various fruits - on the left orange, the litchis, then orange,pineapple and cinnamon mix. There are a few others, and I have seen similar in another hotel in Hell Bourg (where we went for dinner) and our current hotel on the west coast - but not the variety. 

Hell Bourg

The scenery is beautiful, food is great, and the place does have good tourist infrastructure - serving for both English and French. I would come back here - if only to explore the hiking opportunities more.

Grand Iles

Reunion is born of two volcanoes - the dormant one from long ago in the west, and the still active one in the east. The dormant one, eventually collapsed and years of erosion later ended with three cirques, effectively a circular region of mountains - Cilaos, Mafate and Salazie. Hell Bourg is the main destination in Salazie, with Grand Iles, across the cirque the other main village/town.

Unlike Hell Bourg, Grand Iles is far sleepier, with no real tourist shops and just didnt seem to have any activity. We went there for the views, and well there was nothing else.

Le Bistrot de la Porte des Lilas

Despite the strong Indian heritage, vegetarian food is quite limited in Reunion. Actually, I find food to be  overly expensive - especially given the island's fertility, I would expect more food production on the island leading to cheaper prices.While food in Reunion obviously has French roots, the aim cuisine is creole - which has a lot of Indian influence.

 We found this bistro rather fortuitously today, after parking nearby while stopping over in St Denis. The main thing that drew my attention was a full blown vegan menu in addition to the standard menu. The chef was the most fluent in English, so he gave us some recommendations and the meal was superb! The menu itself was more fusion French than creole, which was in itself a pleasant change.

M had the vegan option - soya, creole goat curry style. I had the line fish - amazingly juicy and tender. 

Museum of the Music of the Indian Ocean Islands

The recently opened museum, located in Hell Bourg, explores the musical traditions and ancestry in the Indian Ocean islands - although it's focus really is on Reunion, Comores, Madagascar and Mauritius.  The story of migration - forced and otherwise - of Indians, Chinese and Africans is a major theme explored, although the resultant music is not - except for the case of Madagascar. 

The museum's technology is also very cool - instead of the standard audio guide, numbers are associated with performances of the instrument. Video players also render audio through the audio guide, and multiple audio players can be synchronised.

The museum also has a great collection of art pieces, especially African art.

The first time, I have seen an exploration of Indian tribal musical instruments. The similarity with African instruments is striking,

It's a great museum, and well worth visiting.

28 December 2016

Bassin Boeuf

Although well sign posted, this was probably the most remote. By the time we got the, it was late afternoon, and so it was also less busy. There are two paths down - a steep path down the road near the car park, or over the falls through a shaded path (and a makeshift bridge) to the bottom.

Cascade Niagra

A lot less water than its namesake in North America, and probably far more accessible. There is a small car park, and the stony beach at the bottom starts within a few steps off the tarmac. Not as scenic as the others though.

Bassin la Mer

About 1.5 km from the parking at Bassin la Paix, and further upstream is Bassin la Mer. It's a fairly easy walk, except for the lack of shade for most of the walk. The sign posting at the end is also a bit iffy - but you get a bigger pool and a lot more space.

There are a few more rapids and pools along the way, and it is possible to go down to at least a couple of them. We didn't go down, but the views were spectacular none the less.

Bassin la Paix

There are numerous photos of reunion with waterfalls with clear pools below, surrounded by lush jungle. After consultation with the waiter at the hotel, we discovered there are a few near St Andre, back towards the coast from Hell Bourg. 

Bassin la Paix is probably the easiest to access, well sign posted from the high way between St Adre and St Benoit. The car park was busy, but it is summer and peak season right now. From the car park, it's over a short bridge and a short hike with a very steep stairwell down to the pool. From the bridge, the rapids are well worth watching, and we were just a bit late in seeing a group finishing white water rafting.

The pool is very much a photo story of tropical paradise - water streaming down a waterfall with crystal clear, and cold, pool. The Lonely Planet stated that swimming was not allowed here - perhaps due to the current - although there were a few swimmers close to the edge.

27 December 2016

Église Notre Dame de l'Assomption, Salazie

It is an imposing church for a fairly small town/village. Although it is quite a modern construction (Google search suggests construction started in 1939), the style is representative of an earlier era. The interior is fairly plain, as is the art on the walls - but the stained glass windows are awesome, and well worth a stop en route.

Cascade du Voile de la Mariée (Bridal Veil Falls)

Spectacular set of water falls that are visible from both the roads to Grand Ilet and Hell Bourg, and makes the winding downhill from Grand Ilet even more enticing. There is a small place to park and it is possible to hike to the waterfalls (I assume from Salazie).

Hell Bourg's Old Thermal Baths

The village of Hell Bourg started as a spa destination for the rich and famous, with a natural hot spring. Over time, the hot springs lost its mojo, and then a few failed attempts to fix and a cyclone caused landslide ended the baths permanently. Now the village is the centre for hiking and related activities and the ruins of the old baths are one more addition on the tourist stop. It's a short hike from the main village street, and can be accessed as a loop with the road around Hell Bourg.

3 Cascades

Hell-Bourg is one of the key villages along the hiking routes on Reunion, so there are a number of options for hikes ranging from under an hour all the way to full day hikes (and off course the multi day hikes). The 3 Cascades (waterfall) hike was labelled as a short, easy 90 minute return hike by the tourist office. The 90 minutes was spot on, but it was hardly easy - while not technical, the hike has a very steep ascent from the start point with very short respites all the way to the waterfall. The route itself is mostly in the shade, surrounded by large bamboo.

You can hear the waterfalls before you see them, with the main trail ending rather abruptly by a small shrine. There is a small pool, with cold fresh water - but not more than just wetting your feet. At the far end, is the main waterfall - spectacularly set against the lush vegetation. Just to the left, is a steep drop to an amazing looking pool - though I could see now way down.

We met an older French couple on the trail, who spoke a bit of English, and had a small printout of the trail. Just before the end of the trail is a small detour by a bamboo grove and behind a fence, there is a short lookout by a dam, providing a better view of the main falls. Without this information, I don't think I would have found it - haven't seen it written elsewhere in English!

The return is uneventful, although the steepness of the climb is equally difficult to go down. There are great views of Hell Bourg once you clear the trees.