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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mauritius

We've been home from our trip for over two weeks now, but as usual life has gotten in the way of my blog writing. Gastro bugs and head colds, school and playdates, and more safari adventures have been the order of the day round here instead. Nevertheless, I must write about MAURITIUS!!!!

We spent two beautiful weeks on this tropical island, setting off from Francistown on a chilly Thursday morning. We caught the direct Air Botswana flight to Jo'burg, which is always easier and less stressful than plane hopping through Gaborone. Our mate Jerome travelled with us, his family already in Mauritius waiting for his arrival.


LL waiting for the Air Bots plane to arrive


Due to Air Botswana's sometimes unreliable reputation we decided to overnight in Jo'burg to save us the pain of missing our Air Mauritius connection. In the end the flight was on time and all would have been fine, but when traveling with two small children it's sometimes best to be a little more cautious.

We decided to catch the Gautrain from the Jo'burg Airport to our overnight accommodation. Rather than mess around with taxis or a hotel shuttle, I thought this would be more fun and easier(?). Plus I knew LL would love it! Going on a "real" train!

Despite having to haul our luggage and our kids on and off the train and to our hotel in Sandton, it probably was still easier. We stayed here at Sandton. Nothing fancy, just a regular, comfortable hotel. We did a little window shopping here, but the kids were tired from the travel so we rested in our rooms before having some dinner and hitting the sack.

There was no real rush the next morning to get to the airport as our flight wasn't until after 1pm. So we took our time, got the Gautrain back to OR Tambo, checked in, and then of course .... waited! LL's record track got a little stuck on the tune of "when are we going on the plane", occassionally switching to, "I want to hop on the plane", but thankfully some food and the view of other planes landing and taking off distracted him until it was time to go.

Sadlly, our flight to Mauritius wasn't pleasant. Whilst the plane itself was comfortable, the staff friendly, and the actual flight quite short (4 hours), our two kids were overtired, irritable, and both had meltdowns at various stages. Miss J screamed for about 30mins when we first got on the plane, until she eventually passed out in Mr B's arms. LL happily nodded off to sleep on take-off as he so often does, but then proceeded to be upset upon waking, wanting Mummy and nothing else. It was quite an exhausting flight to say the least.

I had organised a hire car for the first 11 days of our trip, so we picked that up at the airport, and then our friend Jerome drove us to our accommodation. I was so relieved that Jerome travelled with us. He was such a huge help with the kids, plus being a Mauritian he knew where he was going, taking the stress off Mr B having to jump straight into driving in a foreign place.

Conveniently we were staying in the neighbouring beachside bungalow to Jerome, his wife (and my good friend) Irene, and their kids. Whilst nothing fancy the bungalow was clean, comfortable and convenient. It was located on the beautiful beaches of Trou aux Biches, at the northern end of the island. We had the luxury of a maid for our whole 11 night stay, which meant other than cooking the kids some dinner, we didn't really have to do much at all. Bliss!

My parents arrived two days after us from Australia. As Mum and Dad had never been to Mauritius I suggested that they join us. They were only too happy to. Of course it then made it a bit more of a holiday for Mr B and I, with plenty of adult hands to take care of LL and Miss J.










We spent our days quietly with plenty of time on the beach, mixed in with a bit of tourist stuff, and maybe a spot of shopping or two. The neighbouring town of Grand Bay had the hugest supermarket I think I have ever been in - Super U. Whilst being exciting to have so much choice and to see so many Aussie products on the shelves, I also found it rather overwhelming and stressful, and it made me wonder how am I really going to fare when living again in Australia?

Two highlights of the trip for me were two of the days we spent doing tourist stuff. Our friends Irene and Jerome were very keen to do a boat cruise to Gabriel Island and asked us to come along. Initially we thought all six of us would go, but at the last minute Mum and Dad decided it might be best if they kept Miss J at the bungalow with them and just Mr B, LL and I go. Was so glad we made that decision. The trip out to the island was quite rough with fairly strong winds and large swell. Several times throughout the hour and a half cruise just about everyone on board the catamaran got drenched.


 




The island itself was very nice - white sandy beach, crystal clear water, and some walking tracks to go and explore. A delicious lunch was also supplied, and devoured by all in minutes.

The cruise back to the mainland was a lot more relaxed with the wind having died off somewhat. Not really being a "boat person", I was initially worried about sea sickness and the fact that the cruise was an hour and a half each way. In the end though I really enjoyed it. And it was especially nice to do it with friends :)

The other highlight was our day of sightseeing at the southern end of the island. We spent the day with Jerome and his kids who took us to Vanilla Park or La Vanille Reserve de Mascareignes. The park is home to the largest number of reared tortoises in the world, with over 1000 tortoises (including giant tortoises), 2000 crocodiles and lots of other animals and insects. This place was really great and the kids had a blast. Their excitement was contagious, as the adults were also in awe of all the giant tortoises. LL was very brave and not only held a baby croc, but also showed no fear "riding" and feeding a giant tortoise.







After 11 nights at the northern end of the island, we spent our final three nights of the trip staying at a resort at the southern end of the island. As I've previously said here on the blog, I generally prefer self-catering styled accommodation. I find it easier with little ones, and I guess the control freak in me, likes to know exactly what my kids are, and will be, eating. However, when organising this holiday to Mauritius I felt it wouldn't be quite right to visit a tropical paradise and not stay in a tropical resort. Hence, I booked us in to this place, and we were not disappointed.











LL enjoying some french pancakes :)
Having never really stayed in a resort like this before, I was blown away by the helpfulness and friendliness of all the staff. It seemed we were constantly being asked how we were, or if we needed anything, as we enjoyed all the facilities the resort had to offer. There were three different beaches to relax on, sun loungers everywhere, two kiddie friendly pools, five separate restaurants and bars, tennis courts, a golf course, kids club, etc. It was all included in the price, and we weren't left wanting for anything really. In the end we only dined at one of the restaurants as no booking was required for the buffet, and it was the only one welcoming of children under 12. We weren't fussed though as each night the menu was different with so much to choose from and entice us with.

The only thing that was a little frustrating for me was the set meal times at the buffet. Dinner was not available until 6:30pm and as this is normally when my kids are going to bed, our dinners at the resort were often rushed and chaotic, as we tried desperately to avoid the overtired meltdowns.

So glad we spent the last three nights of our holiday Shandrani. It capped off a great holiday perfectly. It was nice to be a little bit spoilt, to not have to think about cooking and what to cook, to indulge (or in my case over-indulge - those chocolate croissants at breakfast were just too good!!), and to just plain enjoy ourselves.

Our return flight to Jo'burg was a lot less stressful. We were given the bulkhead seat so had a little extra room, and I think both LL and Miss J felt less confined not having a chair right in front of them. Also having my parents on the fight with us (they have returned to Bots for a 4 week stay!!) helped prevent the boredom for both kids - playing with Grandma and Grandpa as well as Mummy and Daddy.

After two weeks in nothing but shorts, t-shirts, and bathers we returned to a chilly Francistown where both LL and Miss J found themselves looking like this ...



It was a brilliant two weeks. So lovely to see and experience somewhere completely new. I would highly recommend it as a holiday destination for young families - sun, sand and water - what more could kids want?

Friday, 17 May 2013

A Teddy Bears Picnic

Today at LL's Playschool there was a Teddy Bears Picnic. LL was asked to bring along a teddy bear or stuffed animal to take part in the fun. It was all very exciting this morning as he headed off to school with one of his stuffed dogs. Mr B and I noted that he didn't take either Sheepy or Ted, the two friends he sleeps with, but rather a random stuffed dog, that usually just sits on his bed. Maybe he was worried they wouldn't come home??

Once LL and I arrived at school I asked him what the dogs name is. He said "nothing". I said well you better think of something as Aunty Chris will probably ask you. So he said, "Doggie". Very original :) 

Sure enough as soon as he walked into class, Aunty Chris said, "And who have you brought to show us this morning Lachlan?" ... I didn't catch his answer.

On the way home from school, LL said the picnic was lots of fun. Aunty Chris sang the teddy bears picnic song to them. And he ate up all his lunch, but didn't share any with his dog. Poor Doggie :(


Thursday, 16 May 2013

Finding Her Feet

Miss J is slowly starting to find her feet.

Furniture cruising has been getting steadier and steadier. 

And her confidence is growing.

The last day or so this has been happening ...






And this ...


Before I know it, she'll be off and racing :)

Piggy Tail Girl

Miss J is growing up so fast ....

Grandma is here visiting at the moment, and so the first thing that had to be attempted was putting Missy Moo's hair in pig tails.

It was a success ... and she looks pretty cute :)








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