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A Journey in Port Louis, Mauritius

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Most people first consider how much they would have to walk in the sun, if the tubes of sun tan they brought would not be defeated by the glaring noon sun of Port Louis or whether it is oh so very safe to be walking around dressed like oblivious tourists but I prefer thinking of the best prize first, after all priorities matter and since you are on holiday, the priority is fun. What can be more fun than a plate of good food? The answer is not much in case you were wondering. So, what would you be doing when the clock is about to ring 11 o’clock as you are being an avid explorer of Port Louis? Yes, find somewhere to eat at. The most adventurous answer is to find something new and dig in. It is Port Louis after all and you just have to turn around to see yet another restaurant or hawker of some sort selling a wide variety of food.

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You will find everything from Indian, Chinese, Thai, Korean, African, European cuisines and much more. Though to be honest, most places prefer to focus more on fusion style cuisine given the multicultural aspect of Mauritius and how everyone has integrated fully in this way of life and exploring is the normal action. While there are certain restaurants which specialise in Creole cuisine as in the typical rougailles and ladobs, unlike Reunion Island which has many traditional cuisine restaurants, most Mauritians like to keep that for them to make at home. So, what you will find on the streets of Port Louis is what Mauritians consider as somewhat exotic and keep as a treat when dining out.

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If you want to be classic, walk all the way to the bus area and you will find many kebab stands to choose from. If you are at Victoria bus station, there will be Gloria fast food and there you will find a wide assortment of middle eastern food with an Indian twist to it. Chicken kebab, lamb doner kebab, brochettes kebab, chicken fillet burger and more are the usual favourites. If this is not to your liking, next to it is a more fusion-istic outlet. You may get some stir fried veggies or chicken, fried noodles or fried rice among other menu items they propose. The concept is easy, buy food, eat there or on the go in relative ease and with some speed.

And if you have a missus to indulge, buy a rose at the flower stand which is literally less than ten feet away. The lady will even wrap it nicely in cellophane with a pretty ribbon to tie it and a card if you ask. All that for less than two dollars, well just the rose I mean! If you are particularly generous, buy a bouquet or if it is lonely day and you are solo-ing your adventure through Port Louis all by yourself, buy the rose for yourself. It cheers you up!

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Now, we have been assuming that you are okay with slumming it for a day but what if you are more into the luxury style vacations and a kebab is not exactly to your taste? There are many restaurants in the vicinity that may appeal to you. One of them is the Lambic. Right on St Georges Street in the busy and loud city of Port Louis is a nice and quiet refuge which also happens to serve food and quality beer. What else would you wish for?

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The restaurant self identifies as an international one and serves mighty juicy burgers on soft breads, all creating an atmosphere of peaceful gluttony. But despite its great burgers among other food items, this is not what makes the Lambic famous even outside of Mauritius, it is the restaurant’s jaw droppingly huge collection of beer. From imported to local, all can be found under the same roof. If you happen to be a beer aficionado, then you will be blown away by this. A slice of countries around the world right in the heart of Port Louis! Another plus point- it serves absolutely fantastic fish and chips, so British people, you will definitely get a taste of home at the Lambic, just you go and give it all a try!

Just walking around is a wonderful experience in Port Louis if you don’t mind the crowds in certain places such as more to the centre of Port Louis where most of the public infrastructure is concentrated. It is a place which has seen centuries of history and traces of all that remain till this day, just awaiting your keen exploration. Mauritius, despite being relatively small as a country and very young when you compare with empires of the past which have gone through major historical events such as wars, famines and mass industrialization further developing throughout the decades as they went by, is still a little pearl of wisdom.

A country of immigrants who came here impoverished and some enslaved, all together made a country today worthy of being called paradise of the Indian Ocean. The economy is stable, given so many financial crises since the last few years, it is very impressive how Mauritius has maintained a good standard of living with very low inflation and no jaw dropping ly high debts.

Tourism has nearly always been the backbone of the Mauritian economy, so you can rest assured that your holidays here are going to be great. Hotels in Mauritius endeavor to make your vacations one of the best and tempt you to come again and again. Not only that but there is so much to do while you are sojourning over here that it is extremely attractive of a holiday package. You don’t just have to laze on the beach for the full duration of your stay even if you could do just that if it is what floats your boat or you could get into exploring. Whether it is mountain hiking or extreme activities, you have the possibility of a wide range of entertainment depending on your own taste. If you are more into academics and like to explore history, there are museums all around the island, some in old colonial or even pre colonial buildings which have been maintained in an impressive manner since centuries with many memorabilia from years gone by. Descriptions of each item conserved since so long are available for greater comprehension.

Since we are already talking of museums and you are in Port Louis, the Natural History Museum of Port Louis is a good place to visit. A casual visit will not take you long, unlike some of the museums in the country, this one is in a newer building and is more appropriate for young students who are exploring history with a more first hand approach than just sticking to reading text books. So the setting is created to ensure a comprehensive approach for anyone who might be unfamiliar with even the basics. The museum is most comprised of photos, three dimensional diagrams and charts on the walls as well as some (not authentic in some cases but rather to give a concrete idea of how things really look like) embalmed species.

From  a whale on the smaller size to what really is the star of the show- the Dodo. It was made with reference to the only complete skeleton set of the dodo in existence. Some experts disagree with the interpretation believing that the scale is faulty making the bird seem bigger than it actually was but that alright- when and where would you see a log extinct endemic to one island in the whole wide world ever again? So, dropping in for a quik visit would be quite fun to say the least even if only for the giggles if you have children with you as well as a rare opportunity to teach them about marine life- yes, the museum also has a very detailed exhibit on various kinds of fish. After you are done, you may continue on with your day in Port Louis, perhaps a few hours at the Caudan Waterfront would tempt you?

Historically, the Central Market of Port Louis has always been an important place of the city. It was once the main spot for most transactions and the location has not changed ever since except for some minor deplacement to allow renovations which happened mostly in the last two decades. The market is nowadays more hygienic and well separated in sections to allow a more smooth shopping experience as compared to how it used to be. Of course, the whole thing will not be as rustic as it would have been had you decided to visit in the 1990s when you might have made friends with many a little rodent running around at your feet but I think nobody will feel much regret about that particular factor!

The market has within walking distance several international fast food outlets such as Subway, Debonnaire’s, McDonald’s and even KFC if you feel like walking a mile or so. Depending on which of the great door you use to enter the market, you will see different things. One of the main doors opens to a spice section along with some artisanal products on sale. You will find souvenirs such as key chains and hand made bags among other little things with the dodo or a map of the island quaintly embroidered or painted on. It is not covered so you will keep feeling the sun, a few meters ahead, you will find people selling fried indian cakes- try some if you have not already. They are vegetarian and usually vegan as well.

On your left will be where everyone in Mauritius love to go when they go to the market- Alouda Pillay- a cold refreshing milky drink with some chewy agar agar strawberry flavoured jelly and a generous scoop of ice cream on top. It really adds to the charm of a great day out if you are well hydrated and this is one of the best places to do it if you are lactose tolerant of course!

(to be continued)

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