Reunion can be described as an Overseas Department of France. This was quite evident by the language, the euro, high prices and the attitudes.
That Captain indicated several days earlier that wind conditions were not favourable and we may not make to Reunion... but to what I attribute my blessing from the day before, we made it in...
We docked at Le Port which really is quite an industrial port. Options were very limited here. You could book a Princess tour, take the Princess provided shuttle into St Gilles le Bains ($8 each way), take a taxi somewhere, take the free shuttle into Le Port, where many did this and then took the local bus into the capital St Denis. From all reports that we have heard the best option if you wanted to tour was to book with Princess. Taxis became scarce quite quickly and booking a private tour on line was nearly impossible as no one could get any company to reply.
Today after much contemplation we decided to keep the day easy and relaxed. We were going to take the shuttle to St Gilles, a small seaside resort town for a little bit of sun and swimming.
Shuttles to St Gilles were to start at 8am...... just as were to buy our tickets we were informed that they were not going to start till 9.30 am.... hmm was it really a broken down bus or just too early for some?!!
Not wanting to wait that long we decided to find a taxi to take us there. With 6 other people we thought we hit the jackpot when we snagged a taxi to take us in his van for 50 Euros.... All was going well till we drove out the port gates... There to greet us were several bureaucratic agencies which included the Police and the Taxi Gestapo. They pulled us over and we sat and waited as each of these agencies inspected the van and the 2” folder worth of paperwork and certificates that our driver had to carry around with them.
We sat there for over 20 minutes as our driver was interrogated in French too fast for any of us to understand, and eventually everyone seemed satisfied with all the information they had gathered. By the ranting of the driver as we drove off made us think that he may get a nice surprise in the mail. We think that word may have got around as there was a definite lack of taxis around the port after that.
Despite the bumpy start,the trip to St Gilles was very pleasant with some lovely scenery as we drove around the coast. St Gilles is a small resort village with lots of shops, restaurants and bars. A marine full of yachts and fishing boats, reminding me of modern little Honfleur.
We sat with Bob and Robin drinking coffee and writing postcards until we decided that we really need to have a swim in the very inviting water in front of us...
The water was lovely and refreshing and we swam for what seemed like ages as we didn’t want to get out. A baguette for lunch and a beer for dessert, and then it was time to head back to the ship... Unfortunately we had to wait quite a while for the shuttle that was supposed to come every 20 min. Apparently there were 2 buses shuttling the 30 minutes to and from the ship.... but one driver decided that he would stop for lunch at 1 pm leaving just one bus to do the round trip. Tempers were flying as people started to realise that not only had they had to wait, but there was no guarantee they would get on the bus as there were more of us than seats... The poor little girl in charge was frantically on the phone... we made the first bus and I think it was only another 10 or 15 minutes before the next one came along.
Although the wind picked up we made it out of the harbour safely and we are now on our way to Durban and our next exciting adventure... Our 3 night safari at the Rhino River Lodge reserve.