Saturday, November 25, 2017

A short visit to Boston downtown

I had few hours to spare in Boston before taking the flight. After making quick visit to Middlesex fells, I decided to spend some time in Boston downtown. The weather was gloomy but it did not dampen by spirits!!

The central part of Boston has many narrow, one way roads making it difficult to drive. The traffic would not be intense as it was weekend but parking places are hard to find and very expensive. Hence I decided to park my car next to Sullivan square subway station on the outskirts of Boston and take subway to downtown!! In that way I could peacefully spend some time without worrying about driving.

A cold day!!
Boston subway (called as “T”) was very efficient though the trains and stations had decrepit looks. There were many options for tickets and I chose “return ticket”. The machine did not like my credit card as it did not show any response and I had to put in cash to get the tickets!! 

"India Street" in Boston!!
Unlike Europe or many other parts of the world, USA does not have much to show about its history. Boston fares bit better in this aspect as there are many events during the independence movement in 18th century. One such place was Boston Massacre site which is near to old state house.

Old state house
Nearby Faneuil hall was a nice place to sit and watch. It is mainly a shopping place with lot of open space outside. It is also interesting to see lot of street performers showing their skills in this area. I spent a lot of time just enjoying it.

Faneuil hall

A "head down" performance

Street performer at Faneuil Hall

I continued walking and reached Boston public garden. Here the Ice skating rink attracted me. Though I thought about giving a try, it did not look fun to do it alone.

Ice skating
The park had some nice ponds with some good landscapes. But a group of people were holding demonstrations for freedom (from ?). The police outnumbered demonstrators and it looked like the area was under siege. With helicopters on the sky, it looked like Boston police had a busy day. Inadvertently I stepped into the demonstration area and then police were not letting me outside!! I had to take a long detour to get out of that area. 

Boston public garden
The street performers were everywhere. Even a bucket was good enough for them to perform. They were very impressive.

Street performers
I walked along the waterfront area. One of the prominent places was “Boston tea party museum”. That was one of the historical incidents I remembered from my history textbooks and hence it felt good to be in the area where it happened.

Boston tea part museum
Boston aquarium looked really impressive but I did not had much time to spend. So it walked around the area and watched seals that were put in the public area. It was time to head back to subway station, pick my car and head to airport.

Seals at aquarium
Overall, it was a good visit though I could not cover many places.  Aquarium looked promising. Skywalk observatory would be good for some nice views of Boston skyline. Boston has many museums and would be worth visiting if you are interested in history. Nearby Harvard university and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) would be definitely interesting!!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

View of Boston

I had few hours of time to spend in Boston before flying out. While I was browsing for the places to visit, Middlesex fells reserve drew my attention. It was a large natural park just before Boston with lot of hiking trails. Due to limited time I could not spend time on hiking. One of the highlight of the park is the Wright’s tower from where you could get a nice view of Boston city. 

I reached South Border road but found the parking lot full. There was only limited parking place which was occupied by early comers. I drove a bit further but could not find any parking place. I thought that it was not my day and decided to head to Boston downtown. While going back, I saw a Good Samaritan pulling his car out of parking lot. Immediately I rushed and occupied the slot!!

Trail to the tower
It was about 10 minutes of walk with a bit of climb to Wright’s tower. The view of the top were indeed great. The nature reserve with a busy I-93 and the city provide a panoramic view!!

Wright's tower

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Black gorges national park, Mauritius

When I looked into the map of Mauritius, a large “green” patch of area caught my attention. It was the “Black Gorges National Park”. In the quest for blue beaches, it is very easy to overlook some of the other aspects of Mauritius. It is also one of the few remaining rainforest in Mauritius. All these aspects made me to include this as part of my itinerary.

Black gorges national park

Plaine Champagne road
There are many entry points to the national park. One of them is Plaine Champagne road deviating from the route to Chamarel (seven colored earth). This route going from east to west cuts the national park. The lookout that provides the nice view of the forests is definitely worth the visit. 

A view of forests in Black gorges national park
Further on this road is the deviation to Alexandra waterfalls. While the place was serene and beautiful, the waterfalls itself was dry. Understandable considering we were in the summer season!! It would be a good place to visit during rainy season. But the area is peaceful and a good place for picnic.

Alexandra waterfalls
This route ends at Le Petrin that has an information center and also the starting point (or end point!!) for some treks. 

View of the ocean
Les Gorges road
This is the deviation from A3 that runs along the east coast. The road ends at the visitor center that has some nice information about the national park. We went to this place on the last day of our trip. This place is good to visit if you like to walk into the forests. There are many trails in this area. We walked along a trail that provided had some stream crossing. As went deeper, the place was very peaceful where we could hear the chirping of birds, feel the motion of the winds and water flowing in the stream. Amazing place.

A stream in black gorges national park

Last words

Black gorges national park is in the South western part of Mauritius. It is definitely a nice place to visit for anyone interested in forests and hiking. A nice break from the beaches!!

Flora of Black Gorges national park

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Albion lighthouse, Mauritius

I have a fascination about lighthouses. Wherever I travel, I rarely miss opportunity to visit the lighthouse. The recent trip to Mauritius provided an opportunity to see a lighthouse. Though not a tourist spot, I added Albion lighthouse to the itinerary. Opened in 1910, it is interesting to note that the lighthouse is still operational!!

Albion lighthouse
We went there on one of the evenings. It was about 30 minutes drive from Flac En Flac on the west coast. Very few vehicles parked indicated lack of tourist attraction for this place. We went around the lighthouse and spent some time there. It was not allowed to climb up.

Albion lighthouse from the front
To get good shots of the lighthouse we walked in the grasslands. On one side, I met a group doing wedding photography. It seemed to be a big business these days. One can also get some good views of the coast from the lighthouse. Unlike many places in Mauritius, the coast here was lined with cliff with rough waters. But the place was completely peaceful with very few people.

Albion lighthouse from grasslands
Overall, it was a very nice place. The best time to visit the lighthouse is in the evening.

Ocean view from lighthouse

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Port Louis, Mauritius

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Port Louis, the capital city of Mauritius is more seen as a commercial center than a tourist place. It is a crowded city on week days and slow moving traffic is a common sight. Things change dramatically on Sunday where the city looks deserted. Through parking is generally free in Mauritius, Port Louis is an exception. But parking on weekend and Sundays are free!! These factors made me to plan a visit to the city on Sunday. But Chaya felt that I deliberately planned to foil her shopping plans!!

View of the street at Caudan waterfront

We visited Port Louis while coming back from North Mauritius beaches. Our main idea was to visit Caudan waterfront. Having parked our car in the parking area, we roamed around the area. The shopping complexes were empty but restaurants were open. We had some snacks at an Indian restaurant.

Caudan waterfront

For people interested in Hindi movies, this is a nice place as many Bollywood movies are shot in this area!! 

Posters of Bollywood personalities

There are few statues, namely the first prime minister Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam and few museums. The museums were closed on Sunday. A historical place that could be visited is Apravasi Ghat (Coolie ghat), which was the landing point for Indian laborers in 19th century. 

Empty street of Port Louis

An highlight of Coudan waterfront is umbrella street, where colorful umbrella’s were placed above the street. Chaya and Tanu were especially looking for this and were overjoyed!!

Umbrella street
We spent couple of hours in the area and it was indeed a peaceful and relaxing place. If you are looking for shopping, visit during weekend. While I promised that we will be coming again during weekday, we felt that there was no need to shop in Mauritius and dropped the idea!!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

North Mauritius beaches

Mauritius is filled with great beaches and so it is difficult to pick a particular breach!! But when you look at the map of Mauritius and concentration of resorts in the country, the part of Mauritius north of Port Louis certainly pos up. Majority of the tourists flock to that area for the beautiful beaches. From our place of stay Flic En Flac, the North Mauritius was about an hour’s journey subject to traffic conditions at Port Louis. We visited these beaches on one of the days. Here is the list of few beaches.

Sunset in Mauritius

Trou Aux Biches
Little difficult to pronounce, it translates to a pond where deer used to drink water!! It is a Long Beach lined with resorts. Public can enter from both ends of the beach. One of the best beaches for playing in water and indulging in water sports activity. 

Trou Aux Biches

Mont Choisy
North of Trou Aux Biches, this was the beach we liked a lot. With the backdrop of casuarina trees, Mont Choisy beach looks lot scenic that other beaches. It gave an opportunity for my daughter to play “hide and seek” games!!

Mont Choisy beach

Grand Baie beach
Grand Baie is an area filled with resorts having their private beaches. The public beach is rather small but a good place if one likes to have street food!! Not a good place for swimming due to the presence of fishing boats. 

Grand Baie public beach

Pereybere beach
Further north of Grand Baie is Pereybere beach. It looked like it was more popular with locals. Lot of parking place and eateries. The water is deeper but not rough. A nice place to spend some time.

Pereybere beach

We went on for beach hopping but if one likes to stay in beach resorts, these beaches provide lot of options. But if you are looking for peaceful location, then South Mauritius beaches (yet to write about them) are better. If you are interested in submarine ride, then their office is between Trou Aux Biches and Mont Choisy beach.