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South Africa, Mauritius and Italy.

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turtlemichael

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It's time to hit the skies and the roads again. This time it is to South Africa, Mauritius and Italy for 12 weeks. We have 6 weeks in South Africa, one in Mauritius, nearly 4 in Italy with a few days in Hong Kong and Sydney tagged on at the end.

We have been to South Africa twice before and to Italy numerous times but this will be the first time in Mauritius. It is pure coincidence that we happen to be in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg at the exact time the Australians are playing South Africa in their 4 Test cricket series. At least that is what I am telling the OH but I am not sure he believes me. ;)

The plan is to have a reasonably quiet time in SA. We'll be moving around by plane and car but are trying to uses bases rather than continuous movement. In Italy we'll be travelling by train.

All of the long haul flights are using miles from AA, QF and VS in J. Most of the internal flights in SA will be paid for and will be in Y.

The trip starts tomorrow when we fly to Sydney to overnight prior to getting onto QF63 for the flight to Johannesburg.

Below is the overall map of the trip which does not make a lot of sense. The map of the first section, over 10 days, MEL-SYD-JNB-MRU follows.

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I hope some people get some enjoyment out of this trip report as I am sure we will doing the journey.
 

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Sounds great and I don't believe the cricket accident either LOL
 
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tgh

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Very much looking forward to this Tm, we plan to be on Mauritius later in the year prior to boarding the little Silversea rust bucket……..
 

Major

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That's a really big round trip with lots to see and do
 

henleybeach

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Sounds great , interested in Mauritius.
Loved South Africa last year when we went
 

turtlemichael

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On the way! QF440 was about 30 minutes late out of Melbourne and only slightly late into Sydney. It was the first flight we had taken where we would have had to pay for exit rows. We didn’t and were okay in 15C and D.

We overnighted at Sydney Hilton. Rates there and at the Curio we high from the time we booked and I figured it was a combination of Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year. Most restaurants seemed to be full on Valentine’s night, but the Hilton lounge was very quiet. We were told the hotel itself was very full. There were no real upgrades to be had from our base room but we did get moved to a corner room which has an extra metre or so of width making it comfortable for laying out open suitcases and not breaking your neck heading to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

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Corner room Hilton Sydney with plenty of room for open suitcase.
 

turtlemichael

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QF63 was the best part of an hour late. I didn’t hear any explanation though the captain made an apology. We’d hooked 3E and 3F which I think are the only pair of seats with aisle access. No climbing over anyone. The negative is that you feel quite exposed and they lack privacy. As this is essentially a day flight that was okay. The Qantas seat droop was not too bad.


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QF Business Class Lounge International Terminal Sydney.

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The view from 3E

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Panko chicken lunch

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Departing cricketers.

We were joined on this flight by the Australian Cricket team. They were distributed through the J cabin and mostly played video games or listened to music for the 14 hours. The communication shutters were definitely up which is not surprising I guess.
I did manage to meet Peter Handscomb, Nathan Lyon and “your captain Steve Smith”.


Fascinating conversation with Steve Smith in the galley area waiting for the loo. TM: "Hi Steve, pleased to meet you. Good luck on the tour. We are following you round the country so hope to see some good cricket." SS: "Noice." End of conversation.


The crew we came into contact with were friendly, helpful and professional. They were also very visible during the 8 or so hours of “lights out”. Well done Qantas! The food was however nothing to write home about. We decided to skip the second meal which was a light dinner before arrival at 4.50pm local time and eat in the hotel a bit before an early bed time.
 

turtlemichael

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We'd decided to stay at the Intercontinental JNB because it is a great use of points – 30,000 IHG points per night – and because we were to be heading off to Mauritius 36 hours later. It is literally 50 metres from the terminal. A two night stay in this hotel was basically designed to get over jetlag. While this is a very good hotel, one of the best airport hotels I’ve stayed in and this is the third stay, paying real money for a room here is hard to justify given the very high prices and the fact that there are a couple of good hotel which are a lot cheaper at the airport. But it is certainly a decent hotel with a reasonable restaurant and bar, good gym and pool. The pool is overheated and quite small though. I seem to recall they have a club lounge here, though I might be wrong, but my IHG Royal Ambassador days are long gone.

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Standard King Room.

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Quills restaurant.

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Prawn cocktail.

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Mixed grill of things South African.
 

turtlemichael

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Off to Mauritius we go. We’re on the weekly BA flight to MRU which departs at 9.00am. It’s scheduled at just over 4 hours so, with the 2 hour time change, it gets in a little after 3.00pm. Again, I didn’t do my homework properly as I did not realise that there was a SLOW lounge in the International Terminal at JNB. I knew the BA lounge would be closed. We therefore had an early breakfast before we left the hotel. The SLOW lounge spread was excellent but we just had the barista coffee! Indeed, the whole lounge was very high quality.

The Comair 737 was quite new and, in Row 4, the leg room was a lot better than the Club Europe equivalent. Food, another breakfast, was better too!

We are staying for a week at the Hilton Resort on the west coast of the island. It took the best part of an hour to get there on quite decent but packed roads. This tiny island is apparently the most densely populated country in Africa (is it in Africa?) and they all seem to have cars but at least they drive on the left side of the road..

The Hilton resort hotel is dated but in good condition. It is like many you’d find in Bali or Thailand. I’m using Hilton points as rates here at the moment are sky high (think Euro 400+ per night). The room is comfortable with a good bathroom and the location is excellent on a pretty beach. We had the Mauritian buffet last night as we were too tired to venture out and it was good – some very good seafood and curries in particular. Wines, however, are extremely pricey. There is a house wine that comes in at around AUD65.00 a bottle and the rest go up from about AUD90.00 with includes a 15% VAT. We’ll be mainly eating out as I have some restaurant recommendations in the area. The breakfast, free for a diamond, was good this morning.

We have had one annoying problem so far. We have a very effective air-conditioner but it floods the floor anytime you open a door to the outside humidity. I’m hoping they can fix it as I don’t want to have to pack up to move.

Today is a “by the pool” day and we’ll start some exploring tomorrow.

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JNB International Terminal SLOW lounge.

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Leg room in Row 4.

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Crossing the coast of Madagascar.

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Landing at Mauritius

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Grand Deluxe King

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Breakfast view.

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Excellent breakfast omelette

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turtlemichael

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After a restful day yesterday we have done some touring today. . We visited Le Morne, a mountain rising out of the sea, on the South-West tip of the island. We thought it would take about 30 minutes to get there from the Hilton but that wasn't allowing for how packed the roads are. You need to allow extra time wherever you go anywhere. The cars here too are clearly not made with indicators as no one has use for them :) At times it felt like Vietnam but with cars not motorbikes.

During the slave trade, Africans and Madagascans hid out at Le Morne, living in the many caves on the mountainside, in the hope of escaping slavery or as runaway slaves.. Parties of police were sent at intervals by the government from Port Louis to capture them, but many hiding out on the mountain jumped from the peak when they saw the police coming rather than risk being sold to the slave traders. On 1 Feb 1835 when Britain finally abolished slavery, a police party was again sent to Le Morne to tell those hiding there that they were free. But the Africans thought they were coming for them again and all jumped from the top of the mountain, not knowing that they had been freed. As this had happened many times before there is belief that the British knew exactly what would happen when they approached the Mount again There's a Monument to their memory on the spot today.

There is also a memorial to Matthew Flinders who was held in captivity by the French after he put in for repairs on the way back to England from Australia. He was held more than 6 years as the French were at war with the British.

Our tourist day was cut a bit short by the torrential downpours we got in the afternoon. I felt like I was back in Cairns.

Pics are of the Mount, the lovely beaches the slave memorial and the memorial to Matthew Flinders just before the rain came.

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