Mauritius… A Dolphins Delight!

The second weekend in Mauritius was absolutely one of the greatest ever! Not only did I experience an amazing boat trip, I also snorkeled with wild dolphins in the open sea, barbecued on a small island called Île aux Benitiers and enjoyed a lot of sunshine with the coolest anthropology students! Just NOT too good to be true, because it was real and yes, every once in a while in life a dream comes true…

Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true? Yes, of course! I did pay to get access to this piece of paradise, but this boat trip actually only costed +/- 35 USD so not to bad at all for a heavenly experience! If you ever visit Mauritius, don’t forget to check out this amazing area called Le Morne (where you find the biggest cliffs), Île aux Benitiers (and its blue waters surrounding it), and the wild dolphins of course! But let me talk to you about my trip first to make you feel excited for it as well!

Mauritius Day 12, 13 & 14 131

Speed boats near Le Morne

Rule number 1: if you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up. And sometimes that means early! Especially when you want to see wild dolphins. Apparently they hang around the coast early in the morning, so our boat trip had to start at 8AM, and so we took a bus ride from Pointe aux Piments to La Gaulette, 55 km further on the west coast, so good for an hour and a half driving.

Rule number 2: if you want to spot wild dolphins, you better take a speed boat in stead of a catamaran, as it is much easier to spot the dolphins as they move fast, and you can follow them better. But… You have to be patient and lucky anyway, because nothing guarantees you that you will actually see them as they are wild dolphins, and Mauritius is not SeaWorld! 😉

It is indeed a very unique experience to spot these magnificent marine mammals in their natural habitat in Mauritius, especially in this wonderful scenery with great landscapes! And I must admit, I was very excited about this trip, but also a little bit stressed at the beginning, as I really hoped to see the dolphins, but it took about 3 times to jump in the water and snorkel while looking for them, before actually seeing one. But the fourth time our boat stopped and the captain shouted: “JUMP!” I saw not one dolphin passing by just underneath me, but at least twenty! I could not believe my eyes (my snorkels)… This marine underwater world was too remarkable and coming face to face with this wild dolphins was absolutely striking.

Of course it was difficult to focus both on photographing as on jumping in the water to swim with them, so I do not have good images of it. I did find a Youtube video about people who had a very similar experience during such a boat trip in the same area in Mauritius, and I must say that this video explains better than any of my stories how it felt to swim with those dolphins. Just watch it, and imagine you were there, because I wish you would have been… ❤

Oh my god… I still get goosebumps everytime I think about this unbelievable dolphin experience… But mostly because of a little crazy spiritual superstitious experience of myself… Well, a few years ago I had a dream. I was standing on a cliff near the sea, and I jumped a lot of meters down into the water. Of course, that would mean suicide in the real world, but in my dream I survived. Moreover, as soon as I was under water, my human body was gone, and my soul transformed its physical appearance in a dolphin. I started swimming very fast, I had never felt so free before in my entire life… Suddenly, I was swimming together with many other beautiful dolphins who looked just as happy as me, and I could feel how my whole body was full of energy, and how powerful my tale was while I was reaching a high level of speed in the ocean.

There came no end to the unlimited capacity of water, and so on. This dream was by far the greatest dream in my life, because it felt so real and natural, but at the same time it supposed to be very surreal, right? Well, the feeling that overwhelmed while I jumped off the boat and while I was swimming with those wild dolphins in Mauritius, was somehow familiar, as if I was coming home to dream I was dreaming years ago already. As if I had been here, doing this before already. Almost as if I was one of them, and my human body was trying to become one again, but my long capacity, and the limitations of my human legs brought me back to reality fast. In this life, I am not a dolphin! I am Julie! #expectation #reality

julie

Me, surrounded by blue water near the Crystal Rock

After snorkeling and swimming some more near the spectacular reefs of Mauritius, having some unforgettable views over Le Morne Mountain, and visiting the Chrystal Rock, it was noon fast, and time to head of to Île aux Benitiers, where a BBQ and wonderful meals were prepared by our boat staff ‘à la minute’ while we were enjoying some relaxation time: tanning on the beach, having a fresh coconut with rum, buying some souvenirs, and walking around the endless beach of this small island…

Mauritius Day 12, 13 & 14 331

The beach at Île aux Benitiers & magnificent view on the Le Morne Mountain

Mauritius Day 12, 13 & 14 396

Making friends with a Local Beach Hat Vendor

After spending more than 2 hours chilling and eating at the islet, we went for another few snorkel stops in a magnificent lagoon with shallow water. Did I mention already that Mauritius is almost entirely encircled by a coral reef? Well, then I don’t have to explain you why it is a superb snorkelling destination with many top spots to swim around! With a water temperature between 21 and 28°C, this island is a paradise for snorkellers and divers! And the waters around Le Morne offer some excellent visibility. However, I must admit that I was too tipsy from all those coconut-rums to focus on recognizing all the various species of fish, but hanging around the boat was a lot of fun!

Mauritius Day 12, 13 & 14 458

One of the Anthropology students found a Sea Urchin!

Well, and to all good things comes an end at a certain point, and so it did to this amazing excursion. In the late afternoon our boat returned to La Gaulette, where we spent the last hour at the beach before heading home for sunset. What can I say? This day was absolutely perfect! There was no where else in this world I wished to be, with no one else to have as companion, and even though I did not have everything, I felt the richest person on earth. Because yes, I can’t emphasize it enough: look at all this beauty… And confirm it: travel is the only thing that you can buy that makes you richer! ❤ And most importantly… Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true! So live simply, dream big, be grateful, give love, laugh lots… And I am sure that good things will come your way. So yes, some might say that karma is a bitch, but only if you are too! So be good, and good things will come your way…

x Carpe Diem x

From Julie with Love

paradise

THE BIG TRIP – Day 3: Granada

TRAVELOGUE – Blogpost 5: Day 3 (30/3/13) – Granada

Saturday, 30th of March 2013. Kim took the train at 11 am, and 5 minutes later my road trip car picked me up already. Talk about perfect timing! Christophe, Hervé and Nafisa left around 8:30 this morning from Gandia to Alicante, to pick me. From here we travelled on to Granada, our destination for the day.

Zaterdag 30 maart 2013. Kim nam om 11 uur de trein, en amper 5 minuten later kwam mijn roadtrip-wagen met reisgezelschap daar al aangereden. Over perfecte timing gesproken! Christophe, Hervé en Nafisa waren deze morgen omstreeks 8u30 vertrokken vanuit Gandia om mij in Alicante op te pikken. Van hieruit zouden we verder reizen naar Granada, ons reisdoel van de dag.

BIG TRIP (1) 507Christophe – Me – Nafisa – Hervé

I just feared that my backpack would not fit in the car because we would all bring baggage, so of five people: Ula’s luggage would also have to added. But the Opel Corsa was capable of more than we thought, and everything was okay. No pasa nada, no stress.

After a super cool week with Kim, I was already pretty well exhausted, so I used this time to take a nap. Occasionally I was awake and I saw the beautiful scenery around me in the car. We saw for example the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range snow on the tops.

Ik had even angst dat mijn rugzak niet meer in de auto zou passen, want we zouden bagage van vijf personen meenemen: Ula’s bagage zou er ook nog bij moeten. Maar de Opel Corsa kon meer aan dan we dachten, en alles was oké. No pasa nada, no stress.

Na een supertoffe week met Kim, was ik wel al redelijk uitgeput, dus gebruikte ik deze tijd om een dutje te doen. Af en toe werd ik wel wakker en dan zag ik de prachtige landschappen om me heen in de wagen. Zo zagen we onder meer de Sierra Nevada, een besneeuwde bergketen.

BIG TRIP (1) 453

It goes without saying that it also referred to colder weather (about 18 °C) compared toAlicante (about 26 °C), made quite a difference.

Het spreekt voor zich dat het hier ook wel kouder was (ongeveer 18°) tegenover Alicante (ongeveer 26°).

BIG TRIP (1) 452

Around 15:30 we reached the hostel where we had reserved for the four of us. Perfect timing, it seemed to us, because at 17:00 we would have access to the Alhambra of Granada. The tickets were booked, which is really needed for this landmark, and so we were perfectly prepared.

Omstreeks 15u30 kwamen we toe in de jeugdherberg waar we gereserveerd hadden voor ons gevieren. Perfecte timing, leek ons, want om 17u zouden we toegang hebben tot het Alhambra. De tickets waren gereserveerd, dat is echt wel nodig voor deze bezienswaardigheid, en dus waren we tot in de puntjes voorbereid.

BIG TRIP (1) 661

Then it began … We decided to drive by car to the Alhambra because it was cheaper and faster than by public transport etcetera. But … Because of Semana Santa and all sorts of circumstances we did not manage to reach the Alhambra. We were TOO LATE!! And I never thought we’d get there in a descent time anymore, because the Alhambra works with very strict time slots.

Toen begon het… We besloten met de wagen tot aan het Alhambra te rijden omdat het goedkoper en sneller zou uitkomen dan met het openbaar vervoer etcetera. Maar… Door Semana Santa en allerlei omstandigheden geraakten we er maar niet. We waren TE LAAT!!! En ik dacht nooit dat we nog binnen zouden geraken, omdat het Alhambra met erg strenge time slots werkt.

BIG TRIP (1) 651

We parked the car somewhere, and eventually we still had to do quite a lot walking and climbing up the hill. The road was very steep and went straight up. Moreover, we also arrived at the wrong entrance and we had to make a detour, everything that could go wrong .. went wrong! But … well that ends well, we finally found the correct entrance gate and heavily over time we managed to get still inside the Alhambra and Nasrid Palacios. A smile does a lot 😉

We parkeerden de wagen ergens, en moesten uiteindelijk toch nog redelijk wat stappen en klimmen. De weg was steil en ging erg recht omhoog. Bovendien vonden we ook nog eens de verkeerde ingang en moesten we nog een omweg maken, alles dat mis kon lopen.. liep mis! Maar… Eind goed al goed, we vonden uiteindelijk de juiste ingang en geraakten zwaar over tijd toch nog binnen in het Alhambra en de Nasrid Palacios. Een glimlach doet veel 😉

BIG TRIP (1) 662

So we had quite an ordeal yet there, straight away as a group, and I must say that the atmosphere among us was very good. We walked through the Alhambra as long as we could … After all, we had access until 8 PM.

Zo hadden we er meteen al een hele beproeving op zitten als reisgroepje, en ik moet zeggen dat de sfeer onderling heel goed mee viel. We wandelden door het Alhambra zolang we konden… We hadden immers toegang tot 20 uur ’s avonds.

BIG TRIP (1) 456

Something about the Alhambra itself now. What is it? The Alhambra in the Spanish city of Granada is one of the main tourist attractions in the world. Every year tourists from all over the world come out to Granada, to visit this fascinating miniature city from the Middle Ages. Inside the fortress walls of the Alhambra, the visitor with get in contact with the grandeur of Arab palaces, the fragrant gardens of the Generalife, the imposing Renaissance Christian churches and medieval towers that bring them back to the 14th century.

Even over het Alhambra zelf nu. Wat is het? Het Alhambra in de Spaanse stad Granada is één van de belangrijkste bezienswaardigheden van de wereld. Jaarlijks komen toeristen uit alle landen naar Granada afgezakt, om een bezoek te brengen aan deze fascinerende miniatuurstad uit de middeleeuwen. Binnen de vestigingsmuren van het Alhambra komt de bezoeker in contact met de prachtig en praal van Arabische paleizen, de geurende tuinen van het Generalife, de imposante Christelijke renaissance kerken en de middeleeuwse torens die je terug in de 14de eeuw brengen.

BIG TRIP (1) 461

The main attractions in the Alhambra are:

  • Alcazaba (fortress and towers for defense)
  • Generalife (The Garden of all Gardens)
  • Nasrid palaces (Mexuar – Comarespalace – Lions Palace)
  • Palace of Charles V (Christian palace)

De belangrijkste bezienswaardigheden in het Alhambra zijn:

  • Alcazaba (Fort en torens als verdediging)
  • Generalife (De tuin der tuinen)
  • Nasridische paleizen (Mexuar – Comarespaleis – Leeuwenpaleis)
  • Paleis Karel V (Christelijk paleis)

BIG TRIP (1) 462

We admired all that, but the Alcazaba we could not visit because it was closed due to circumstances. Such a pitty!

We bewonderden dat alles, maar het Alcazaba konden we niet bezoeken want dat was wegens omstandigheden gesloten. Helaas!

BIG TRIP (1) 463

Als je meer wil lezen over het Alhambra: http://www.viagranada.be/alhambra-in-granada.php

BIG TRIP (1) 471

The Alhambra is a huge complex with a grand yet greater history that lies behind it, and it is really worth to watch this short video if you are interested in this historical treasure:

Het Alhambra is dus een gigantisch groots complex met een nog geweldigere geschiedenis die daarachter schuilt, en het is echt de moeite waard om dit korte filmpje te bekijken, als je geïnteresseerd bent in deze geschiedkundige schatkist:

You can therefore imagine that we, after all that you can admire here, were exhausted. We went back to our hostel after sunset, and on the road somewhere we caught a take-away pizza. After our bellies were filled, it was therefore quickly time to sleep!

Je kan je je dus wel voorstellen dat wij na dat alles bewonderd te hebben, uitgeput waren. We trokken dan ook terug naar onze jeugdherberg na zonsondergang, en pikten onderweg nog ergens een take-away pizza op. Nadat onze buikjes gevuld waren, was het dan ook snel slaaptijd!

Some more pictures of this beautiful monument:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next day the weather forecast was just about everywhere in the surrounding areas not so good (rain!) and we would hear of Ula later where exactly in the region we would pick her up.

Eventually the daily schedule was provided as follows: in the morning departure to the Mediterranean city of Malaga, to spend the day there and in the late afternoon we would meet Ula in Ronda, a beautiful village in the middle of Andalusia. Both very different destinations, and not less interesting! So, definitely look forward to the next blog post!

Voor de volgende dag was de weersvoorspelling zowat overal in de omgeving wat minder (regen!) en we zouden van Ula nog te horen krijgen waar exact in de regio we haar zouden oppikken.

Uiteindelijk werd de dagplanning als volgt voorzien: in de ochtend vertrek naar de Mediterraanse stad Malaga, om daar de middag te spenderen, en in de late namiddag zouden we Ula ontmoeten in Ronda, een prachtig dorp in ten midden van Andalucië. Beiden zeer verschillende bestemmingen, en daarom niet minder boeiend! Zeker uitkijken dus, naar de volgende blogpost!

BIG TRIP (1) 664P.S.: this bull you see everywhere on the roads in Spain. Thesy have become a kind of culture icons. They were announcements of an Spanish brandy company (Osborne) and they have been in our roads for around 50 years. I looked this information up…

P.S.: deze stieren zie je overal langs de wegen in Spanje. Ze zijn een soort van cultureel icoon geworden. Ze waren oorspronkelijk advertentieborden van een Spaanse sherry fabriek (Osborne) en staan naar het schijnt al meer dan 50 jaar langs de wegen. Kun je nagaan, via Google ofzo. 

Travelogue structure / Reisverhaal structuur:

  • Blogpost 1: Introduction
  • Blogpost 2: Day 1 (28/3/13) – Altea
  • Blogpost 3: Day 1 (28/3/13) – Benidorm
  • Blogpost 4: Day 2 (29/3/13) – Alicante
  • Blogpost 5: Day 3 (30/3/13) – Granada ==> you are now reading this blogpost!
  • Blogpost 6: Day 4 (31/3/13) – Malaga
  • Blogpost 7: Day 4 (31/3/13) – Ronda
  • Blogpost 8: Day 5 (01/4/13) – Gibraltar
  • Blogpost 9: Day 6 (02/4/13) – Albufeira
  • Blogpost 10: Day 7 (03/4/13) – Lisbon
  • Blogpost 11: Day 8 (04/4/13) – Sintra & Lissabon
  • Blogpost 12: Day 9 (05/4/13) – Fatima & Porto
  • Blogpost 13: Day 10 (06/4/13) – Porto & Braga