Time for the next leg of my Indian Ocean tour. I’d wanted to visit Madagascar, but the logistics of that were prohibitive. So instead I was heading from Mauritius to nearby Réunion Island (formerly Bourbon Island), which is part of the French republic and, therefore, a part of the European Union. They use the Euro as currency and have an active volcano – what’s not to like!? There are a very limited number of flights coming into and flying out of Réunion every week, though. So you have to be extra vigilant and get the airport on time, because missing your flight could mean being trapped there for days!!
As usual, I got the same typical #FlyingWhileMuslim welcome from Réunion airport border staff that I get in other parts of the EU as well. This really is a piece of France sitting off the coast of Africa. The main airport, Roland Garros, is close to the capital Saint-Denis, but it was more convenient for me – or so I thought – to fly into the smaller airport nearer my accommodation.
Day one, and I have to admit my choice of the Novotel wasn’t as wise as I’d imagined. In the European mainland, Novotels are mid-range hotels for corporate customers. They’re clean, modern, classy and gorgeous. This tropical island Novotel was none of those things. It wasn’t even as good as a Euro-level Ibis hotel. But it was a good base from which to explore Réunion’s beaches and urban coastal areas.
Le Cirque de Cilaos
The highlight of my visit to Réunion was a day trip to see Le Cirque de Cilaos.
Not all of Réunion is beautiful scenery and tourist attractions. Some parts of the coast are downright dangerous and in bad weather – which happened often – it can look as miserable as the British seaside!