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The Scenic Spice Isle

Honeymoon - Grenada

all seasons in one day 30 °C
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After a very long and stressful day yesterday, this morning was another early start as our tour was leaving at 7:30am. We had arrived on our final new island, and the most southern on the trip - Grenada, and we would be going on an exciting tour for the tastebuds.

After getting up for breakfast, we headed out to yet another dark cloud, and braced ourselves for some possible showers whilst watching the MSC Sea View (the same ship we had seen back in Naples a few years earlier) park up next to us.

MSC Sea View arriving

MSC Sea View arriving

Before long our tour guide arrived, we boarded a minibus, and started heading into the town. We drove past the bus station, market and stadiums before heading up a very steep and windy road into the mountains.

The Winding Roads

The Winding Roads

Grenada was exceptionally lush, with green vegetation everywhere. Although only around 5km from the sea, we were now at around 600m above sea level and we stopped at the Grand Etang National Park, where there were views of the lake in the crater of the volcano that formed the island.

Grand Etang Lake

Grand Etang Lake

There was also a little museum that gave a bit of history to the national park, and detailed the effects that Hurricane Ivan had had on the ecosystem back in 2004.

Visitor Centre

Visitor Centre

We then began to head down the other side of the mountain, where the sun finally began to shine. We headed past the river tubing sites before eventually arriving at the Belmont Estate in the north of the island.

This former plantation is famous for it's chocolate, which they both grow and produce. We saw all the stages of chocolate from growing on the trees, to harvesting and production.

Cocoa Pods

Cocoa Pods

We were shown what the cocoa pods look like, we tasted the pulps, and then saw how they roast the beans to produce the cocoa powder, before being offered some hot chocolate from their own site.

Cocoa Roasting

Cocoa Roasting

Then we headed into the factory and saw how they turned the powder from the beans into chocolate, before finally getting to taste the different types on offer which they also sold.

Mixing the Chocolate

Mixing the Chocolate

After this interesting stop, we headed along the east coast of the island, stopping off en route for a rum punch.

Our tour guide and driver used to work as a chef on Grenada, and had the nickname 'Soup'. Everywhere we went everyone seemed to know him, and shouted out "Hi Soup!"

After a refreshment, we headed south to a rum distillery, where they showed us how they turned sugar cane into alcohol. Sadly these days, they don't actually grow any sugar cane on Grenada anymore, and instead this is all now imported from abroad. We had a tour of the rickety old factory, which was a little unnerving and must have broken several European safety standards!

The Distillery

The Distillery

We then headed into the shop where we had the opportunity to taste the rum they produce, at various different strengths, and infused with many different flavours. 35%, 70%, pure, passion fruit and chocolate cream amongst others.

Rum Tasting

Rum Tasting

It was a really interesting experience, and after a lot of scenery and beaches, it was really nice to get a different feel to the Caribbean here on the Spice Island.

We had a brief chat with the owner of the factory, who told us she used to live in Enfield(!), but had left and moved to Grenada as her husband owned his own rum factory! We then headed back to the minibus, where we drove back through parts of the capital, which was incredibly hilly!

Grenada had been one of the strictest Covid islands, with only excursions being allowed for cruise tourists. However a few days earlier, they had relaxed their rules and so we were able to have a quick wander around unaccompanied. We headed out of the port building and went for a short stroll around the portside streets.

The Sendall Tunnel

The Sendall Tunnel

By now it was only mid afternoon, but with the early start we had already been out for around 6 hours! We had had a very good tour encompassing the island, and after buying some souvenirs in the terminal building shops we headed back to the ship. It then began to hammer down and so we made a run for it back to the ship. A rushed end to what were going to be our last steps on dry land before the end of the trip.

Tonight was also the last of the four black tie events. We once again went for a fancy meal, this time finally managing to get ourselves an Amuse-Bouche!

Tonight's Menu

Tonight's Menu

Posted by kmmk17 14:44 Archived in Grenada Tagged sea chocolate lake scenery caribbean meal rum Comments (0)

Casually gatecrashing a wedding

Central Asia - Samarkand

overcast 22 °C


After a relatively quick drive of just 5 hours from Bukhara, where we debated what is and what is not a country for a "visited countries" list, we arrived in the historic Silk Road city of Samarkand - one of the real highlights of the tour.

Family photo

Family photo

After checking in at the hotel we headed to a fancy restaurant for a meal in our tour guide's home city. Upon arrival we found that a local wedding reception was taking place downstairs and so from the balcony next to our table (and with a vodka shot each) we enjoyed watching the local customs.

Local wedding

Local wedding

After Ian threw down some notes to the wedding below, a member of the wedding party then came upstairs to invite us down! Next thing we knew we were in the wedding party itself, even dressed in our sweaty tourist day-wear. With our evening becoming longer by the time dessert was served up, we were ready to go - but as it was extremely tasty I wasn't going to let this go to waste and helped myself to six puddings! We then made our way back to the hotel, stopping off at the night-lit Registan square.

Inside the Ulugh Beg Observatory

Inside the Ulugh Beg Observatory

Our full day tour of Samarkand started after breakfast at the Ulugh Beg Observatory, before heading outside the city to a silk paper factory and back to the Afrasiyab Museum. On our return into the city we headed to Timur's mausoleum, the Gur-e-Amir, before lunch. After another 4 course meal, we finally visited the grand attraction, the Registan - a large public square surrounded by three madrassahs.

Registan

Registan

Taking in the views we walked around the complex before being let free for some hours in the afternoon to explore Samarkand by ourselves.

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrasah

Inside the Tilya-Kori Madrasah

I headed to the supermarket opposite to grab some snacks for the next few days - which despite not being much added up to 24,000 som. Paying in 1000 som notes I then found that in order to count cash, the Uzbeks use casino style note counters! I then headed to the tourist street to buy myself a souvenir before going back to the hotel for a rest and to make use of the free WiFi.

Local Show

Local Show

We were treated to a theatrical show showing us the history of Uzbekistan through traditional costume, performed by locals - which as usual meant mostly ethnic Uzbeks, as well as the odd Russian chav. We then made our way to dinner where yet another local party was going on.

Gur-e Amir

Gur-e Amir

With one more look at the Gur-e Amir complex, this time by night, we then made our way to the train station for our overnight train to Termez.

By this point I had grown quite close to several members on the tour, and James and Christine had quickly become my travel mum and dad. As we boarded the four berth train carriage we coincidentally ended up in the same cabin! To add to the hilarity, we then called over Daniel, who I had first met on arrival at Ashgabat, and was my travel brother, to join us in our family cabin!

After being given our bed sheets for the night we then all settled down for our train ride to the Afghan border.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Uzbekistan Tagged mosque wedding culture meal centralasia silkroad Comments (0)

End of Semester

German Adventures - Bremen

semi-overcast -10 °C
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So guys, I am now back home, having finished all my exams for this semester and I will be back in Bremen in April - but for now I am travelling.

Goodbye Meal

Goodbye Meal

So, all the way back in January I was finishing my last lectures, revising and sitting exams, and saying goodbye to most of my friends who were leaving back to their home countries. Although perhaps the partying did get a little too much....on one occasion the police even came to stop the party. At the end of January it got exceptionally cold, for three weeks it didn't reach over freezing point, with the nights reaching -20. For over a week it was -10 in the day. The river froze - but still, we didn't get any snow. On the day I left it finally warmed up, and the river in Hamburg looked like the coastline of Antarctica - huge blocks of ice floating in the sea.

Elbe River

Elbe River


21st Birthday

21st Birthday

After I got back it was finally time for my 21st! And I had a really great night with everyone who came!

Viel SpaƟ Kevin.

Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Germany Tagged ice friends birthday meal cold erasmus Comments (0)

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