Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

We were up early again this morning, in time to see the Adonia dock in Point-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe. Gaudeloupe is one of the French overseas départements and it looked quite a well-developed port, from what we could see from our vantage point on after breakfast on Deck 9. The currency here is the Euro.

We disembarked the ship to meet with the rest of the tour group. This morning we were booked on the “Guadeloupe Highlights” tour which would give us a good overview of the island.

We walked through the cruise terminal buildings, passing many colourful stalls selling clothing, souvenirs, drinks, bric-à-brac, spices and everything else you could think of. We thought the prices were a little dearer than elsewhere in the Caribbean. We would need to find an ATM as we didn’t have any Euros with us, only US dollars. But that could wait until after the tour.

We boarded the bus and the guide introduced herself as Natalie, with Gilbert as our driver. We set off through the charming little streets, each with very individual private dwellings, many with French cars (Peugeot, Citroën and Renault) parked outside them. It looked as if it was a place where I could live quite easily. Many of the houses were semi-concealed behind lush herbiage, and a lot of them featured their own swimming pools.

Our first stop was at a waterfall, the Cascades aux Ecrevisses. We made our way down a series of stone steps, following the roaring sound of the water. The steps were quite uneven and you had to watch where you were putting your feet. The waterfalls cascaded into a lovely natural pool, which was obviously deep judging by the people swimming in it. I wished we’d brought our swimsuits and that we had more time, because it looked absolutely idyllic. Trevor clambered over some rocks to get a good enough view for a photograph, but I prudently stayed where I was, as I didn’t fancy slipping. Natalie told us that the waterfall was one of numerous ones to be found around the island.

Back on the bus we continued on our way, passing fields where the ripening sugarcane grew tall. Natalie explained how the slave ships brought the plantation workers over from Africa to plant, harvest and process the sugarcane which was (and still is) used to make refined sugar as well as one of the Caribbean’s most famous exports, rum. 🙂

Next we stopped at the botanical gardens, and alighted from the bus into the hot sunshine. As we walked through the lush, tropical gardens with their colourful flowers and plentiful greenery, we kept in the shade of the trees where possible. Many exotic birds flew around, including hummingbirds, which looked particularly striking with their black and bright blue/turquoise plumage. They flitted from flower to tree to flower again, their little beating wings creating a blur. The wings of hummingbirds flap at approximately 50 times a second, meaning that they can hover like bumblebees and even fly backwards. I managed to get a good photo of a hummingbird perched on a vivid pink flower.

It was lovely in the botanical gardens, sampling a small example of what Mother Nature had to offer. We looked at many different trees (some with breadfruit, nutmeg, coffee and cocoa) as well as herbs and other medicinal plants, and of course lots of exotic blooms, insects and birds.

After about 45 minutes it was time to go along to the small concession area, where we had a voucher to collect a cool glass of guava juice, as well as the chance to use the restrooms if we needed to. We sat in the shade and enjoyed our juice, and watched as a little bird flew down and dipped his long beak into one of the beakers of juice on the bar.

Suitably refreshed, we were all back on the bus for the next stop, which was to a rum distillery. Rum is my spirit of choice so I was looking forward to this part of the trip. 🙂

We arrived at the Longueteau distillery and alighted from the bus, where a short walk took us to the cane processing plant. Where once the sugarcane was cut by hand, using hundreds of workers wielding machetes to cut down the tough stalks, nowadays the cane is all cut by machine, and each cane is chopped into lengths of about 6” which makes it easier to put into the machines which press the cane to extract the juice.

We saw the long conveyor belts carrying the sticks of cane to the chopping and pressing machines, and also a couple of very large vats in which the sugar cane juice was bubbling and fermenting away in its quest to make rum. Afterwards we were shown the barrels (the most popular size of which was the hogshead) in which the rum was stored to mature. Some of the barrels had previously held sherry or port, and this served to impart a delicate flavour to the maturing spirit.

Afterwards it was into the shop to taste the various rums and rum liqueurs and punches on offer. We tried an aged golden rum which was like brandy, as well as a white rum and some of the blends, including piña colada and coffee. We decided to buy a bottle of the golden rum to take home, and a bottle of the piña colada for consumption in our cabin. 🙂

There ended our tour and it was now time to return to the Adonia in time for lunch.

Back on board we enjoyed a light lunch before venturing ashore once again, to do our own thing. We found an ATM and withdrew some Euros, then we walked along the very busy and very hot streets – a nearby temperature readout showed that it was 32ºC, and it certainly felt like it. There were lots of shops, mainly selling clothing, shoes and household linens such as curtains, sheets and towels.

We found a newsagent and bought half a dozen postcards, then purchased the stamps at a nearby bar-tabac. All we needed now was to find a bar and enjoy a cold beer while writing them out. 🙂

Eventually we found a pleasant little place which had chairs and tables in the shade outside. We enjoyed a glass of Stella Artois each while writing out the cards and people-watching. Then, after posting the cards, off we went back to the ship, as the time was now getting on. On the way, however, we passed a supermarket that sold booze, so we went in and got a couple of bottles of cava to enjoy in our cabin, as the Adonia doesn’t seem to have any Prosecco! 😉

Back on board I took a refreshing shower and did my hair, then just spent the time pottering about until it was time to go to dinner. Tonight, however, we didn’t go to the restaurant, but instead to the Conservatory, where they were serving a Thai Buffet. We enjoyed a selection of spicy and delicately-flavoured foods (including ginger-spiced prawns, which were delicious) all washed down with cold Tiger beer.

Then it was along to the Curzon lounge for tonight’s show, a West End singer called Phillip Browne. This former London bus driver has starred in The Lion King, Porgy and Bess, Show Boat and several other productions. He was a great singer, a deep bass-baritone with a voice like melted chocolate – smooth and mellow. I would probably say that his show was the best we’ve seen so far on this cruise, and we looked forward to seeing a further performance from him.

Afterwards, as ever, we took part in the syndicate quiz with John and Linda, but we didn’t win this time. Mind you, we didn’t come last either, so it wasn’t too bad.
We finished off the evening with a couple of drinks up in the Crow’s Nest before heading back to cabin A006 and settling down for a good night’s sleep.

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