You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2007.

Africa 2 Pensao – This is a fairly clean pensao at the bottom of Ave 24 July. The rooms are standard but nice but make sure you get a room with a bathroom. Some rooms have bathrooms separate. There is breakfast included but we missed it cause it ends at 9am.

Pensao Martins – we moved here on the second day primarily because there is a pool and restaurant at the back. But be warned, the pool is booked out for kids parties on weekends so poolside lazing is out. But the rooms are cleaned daily, there is airconditioning and free internet in reception. Also on Ave 24 July.

Mundos –  probably one of the more well known eating, drinking spots in Maputo but it comes at a price. The pizzas are good but one would hope so given they are more expensive than eating out in a reputable restaurant in Joburg or Cape Town. We were charged a 175 Mtn service fee, only to be charged this again on a separate, later drinks bill of 3 beers! Someone is trying their luck.

The Polana Hotel – had cocktails here. Very yummy and beautiful setting. This is a typical old school colonial era type hotel with palm lined grounds, large balconies and leather couches in the bar area. The cocktail menu consists of signature cocktails from all the Serena group of hotels around the world. I had a David Livingston, from the hotel in Vic Falls.

Mimmos –  a South African chain restaurant serving Italian, this is a fairly safe bet but can be boring if you’re looking for a more Mozambican experience. The service is good, pizzas and pasta too.

The Arabic takeaway place of Ave 24 July – can’t recall seeing an actual name but this was a favourite lunch spot. Can get falafel or humus sandwhiches, in a pitta bread for only 50Mtn and it’s good! The Arabic pies were a disappointment as there was about 1 mm of filling in each – but what can you expect for 10Mtn…

The bookshop next to Villa das Mangas – if you’re looking for a map of Maputo or a road map of Moz, this was the only place we found that had them, also had a guide book to Moz. And they have English mags.

Vintage Indian Restuarant – this also hails from SA but they have great curries and the decor in the Maputo branch is far more cosy than the one in Cape Town. The manager/owner is very helpful but watch out he tends to order dishes for you that lean on the more expensive side – if you’re watching your budget ask the price first or just order from the menu.

The Maputo Waterfront – a restaurant and large pool catering for the rich mainly expat community of Maputo. The service is great, the views good and the food looks good. I only had some chips. I wouldn’t say this is the most exciting spot in town but that could be my own aversion to feeling like I am in mini SA when in a totally different country.

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Having lived in Mozambique for a while now, it is surprising that I have never, until now, had the chance to explore the capital city, Maputo. Oh I have heard plenty about it and most of the reviews I get are sparkling and enthusiastic accounts of a vibrant city with lots of places to see and shops to visit. Okay, many people go on and on about the virtues of Game, a South African general dealership type store that is one of my least favourite places at home but somehow seems that much more appealing when living in extreme no shopping mall conditions!

 

So, when the opportunity arose to fly in to Maputo, spend a day or 2 there and then drive the rest of the way up to Nampula came up, I was quite excited about the possibilities for exploration and discovery.

What I didn’t count on was being stuck in Maputo for 5 days, 4 days longer than I needed to realise it wasn’t all that I had built it up to be. I also went there straight from a 2 week stay in SA, so the shops didn’t seem so exciting as they could have been had I arrived hungry for a shop, just any shop I could spend some money in.

 

It’s not that Maputo is a bad place but it is too much of a combination of South Africa and any other big African city and to me has less of the uniquely Mozambican charm that is found up in the north. Too many people speak English, the big restaurants are all South African chains and it costs way more for a meal than at the same place in SA. The city also has more of a grimy feel to it and there is a dangerousness that seems to have been borrowed from its neighbouring capital, Joburg.

 

But there were some good places. The Pensao Martins where we stayed from the second night was clean and well kept and the restaurant behind, Restaurant Rimini, makes great pizzas, and, as we discovered on the last day, have a daily buffet lunch special during the week. The pool is clean and welcoming except on weekends which seem to be reserved for kiddie’s parties. There is plenty of seafood to be found, if you eat it. And there is free wireless hot spots almost everywhere!

It’s just a pity about the prices – a taxi costs double than in Nampula, the DVD’s sold on the street, same thing, drinks and food is costly, at times more so than in SA and accommodation doesn’t come cheap either. It is strange that this is the case in such a poor country. In Nampula I can understand some costs, as certain goods need to be transported a long way to get there and there is less competition but why is Maputo, which has so much more access to goods, more expensive? One has to wonder, is it the fact that it is the capital and more people earn more money there, is it that there are more tourists around, and they tend to push the prices up or are we all just being ripped off?

Although the typical island holiday involves nothing much more than lying on the beach, taking dips in the sea, and eating and drinking, there does seems an inordinate amount of planning that goes into perfecting the deserted island holiday.

I am of course so used to my own needs on the island that to start thinking about what others want is a bit of work.

 

So, it is both exciting and labour intensive planning a group trip to a paradise island.

First off, I needed to convince people to come. Now that was big surprise number one because I thought most people would jump at the opportunity to get out of the city and into the middle of the ocean. They did, BUT the time wasn’t right, they couldn’t get off work, they weren’t sure about the journey, they weren’t feeling up to it etc etc. I did feel a bit odd giving a sales pitch for a free holiday that most people only dream of.

Once we had everyone on board I had to organise fuel for the boat, gas for the stove and fridge on the island, fuel for the car journey and drinking water. This was quite tricky until I actually knew the numbers.

Next, food and refreshments – this involves the biggest shopping trolley and the ability to ward off the temptation to buy enough for a few months rather than days. There is some switch in our brains that tells us we need this and this and more of this…

Drinks of course are important to all, and I think we had a few returns to the shop to buy more over the course of the day before departure – lucky we did cause seems we drank it all!

While all this is going on, the guys at the coast camp have been informed of our trip and are hopefully doing essential stuff like checking the boat, making sure the skipper will be there when we need to leave etc….  as it turned out the boat was out of oil and somebody forgot to mention that the snorkel gear had moved from the island to the river camp, but we made a plan and survived.

The biggest mission of all was convincing all island goers that we should leave earliest in the morning to get the road journey over with and once that was done, to actually get everyone packed and on the road by the designated time – we almost made it, only 1 hour out….

It is all made much easier by the fact that we have tents and beds and lamps and kitchen goods on the islands already so after the fuel and the food and the fun loving crowd, all we need pack is personal items of clothing and a game or two if someone remembers …