Thursday 31 December 2009

Marine reserve Cousteau, les Ilets de Pigeon

Another great dive today: in the marine reserve Cousteau, where we have been diving once a day for the last 7 days....below i would have loved to share with you some videos this time. Unfortunately Blogger does not (want to) upload my videos for the last 2 weeks, so again just some pictures.Some more underwater shots can be found here.

Squid reserve Cousteau

Tuesday 29 December 2009

Smell of coffee and vanilla in Guadeloupe...

coffee flower robusta

coffee plant

Guadeloupe has been producing coffee for almost 300 years now (since 1723). And it still does: grown on the slopes of the volcano, La Soufrière its pure origins and the system of locating coffee trees in the shade of banana trees have all made it the product of choice for connoisseurs. Today, coffee farming is gradually re-emerging. Now the crops cover 370 acres (150 ha), yielding around 30 tons per year. The 3 factors for great (arabica) coffee are: altitude above 600 m, volcanic soil and humidity.

On the first picture you may admire the flower of the coffee robusta plant. The second picture shows the coffee bean of the coffee arabica. We have visited "La Grivelière" in Vieux-Habitants, where plenty of the vegetation was shown and explained to us. Like the vanila lianes (picture below). As vanilla requires plenty of manual care during at least 10 months time, the final product is very expensive

Vanilla pods can be found in every supermarket and smell just lovely:-) Guadeloupe has right now nr. 14 in the vanilla production in the world with some 8tonnes a year...

On the last picture i am posing with a corossol tree, the fruit is still on my list: to be tasted:-)

Friday 25 December 2009

MERRY Christmas/Joyeux NOEL to all of U:-)))

A very warm Christmas wishes are coming right now to you. Here it is 11 am, no snow around and the sun is really strong (air temperature is 30 and water temperature: 28).
We are leaving in 15 min to a Christmas dive, below you can enjoy the underwater beauty of our second diving destination (les Ilets Pigeon), we did the first dive here 2 days ago. And found the frog fish (check for it on the yellow picture):)

Thursday 24 December 2009

Intro to exotic fruit+vegetables -part 2

The carambola is a very beautiful fruit, which is mostly used for food decoration or for making refreshing juices (i confirm the last one). I found this carambola-tree covered with fruits in Les Saintes. Another funny thing here is the size of the avocados: they are almost twice or three times bigger than the ones I have seen till now:) One could be up to a kilogram! Even if mostly it is used for salads or salty dishes, the avocado is a fruit, and not a vegetable.

Something pretty new for me is "pomme d eau"(in French, see below), very lovely fruit at first sight, but it tastes watery and has no specific flavour. On the next picture you can see the half of the papaya I have enjoyed this afternoon, very sweet and much more orange than the ones we get in Europe normally.

The world of exotic vegetables is enormous. There are plenty of eatable roots. The most famous Christmas-vegetable is the "igname" (in English: yam), a brownish-black root, which is cooked and prepared as potatoes. I had some today for lunch, it was a puree in a glass in my plate (between the shrimps and the rice). Yams are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese and because of all this they protect against osteoporosis and heart disease.

Another funny root is the "christophine" (in English: chayote), which looks like a white peer. It is served as gratin and has a very special taste (I personally prefer the yam:-)
Some other typical and widely used roots are the sweet potatoes (patates douce), which have rose colour.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Intro to exotic fruit+vegetables -part 1

exotic fruits Guadeloupe

At the UCPA (where we were staying in les Saintes till yesterday) we had Olivier, a very knowlegeable local, presenting to us the typical fruits and vegetables from the Caribbean. A huge basket was waiting for us. One of the most important fruit/raw material here is the sugar cane!It used not only for the production of brown sugar but also of the most famous drink in the French Antilles the rum.

cut sugar cane

passion fruit Guadeloupe

A fruit i have never heard of is "pomme-canelle" (in English "sugar apple"), on the photo below. The inside consists of soft white flesh and seeds. There are also plenty of different bananas sorts: "banane plantin" for cooking, "banane figue" are very sweet and short bananas. Sweet pineapple and yummy passion fruit (or as they are more often called "maracuja") are some of the other fruits to be found here...

pomme cannelle fruit Guadeloupe

Almost every day we enjoyed fresh pressed juices and punches with fruits...very yummy...and to be continued:-)

fruit juices

Friday 18 December 2009

The French Caribbean: this time from under the water surface...

The program for this week has been one dive a day in the amazing underwater world of the Caribbean sea. Till now we were lucky to meet daily one turtle and plenty of colourful fishes!
The underwater world here is famous with sponges, some of them are almost as big as me:-)One can spot them in yellow, purple, red or green. Yesterday we were literally blown away when we saw a group of 20 almost transparent calamars, lined up one after the other but still swimming!
The weather has been extremely wet, 2 days ago it rained almost the whole day. The dive on that day was very relaxed, as underwater we enjoyed even warmer temperatures that above the water surface: some 28 degrees!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Coucou from les Saintes!

Les Saintes Plage Guadeloupe
A very shaky ferry crossing took us on Monday from Pointe-a-Pitre to the cute island group Les Saintes. The islands were named Los Santos by Christopher Columbus, who arrived there on All Saints' Day of 1493. The first French settlers arrived here in 1648. Because of their strategically important position, the Îles des Saintes were fought over by the French and the British in the Battle of the Saintes; they have remained under French control since 1816.
Iguana Les Saintes Guadeloupe
The archipel consists of 2 inhabited islands: Terre-de-Haut (High Land) and Terre-de-Bas (Low Land) and 7 non-inhabited islands. The local population is 2850 people at a total surface of 13 km². On Terre-de-Haut Island one can also visit the Fort de Napoleon, which was distroyed by the British in and then rebuilt during the Napoleonic Era, but never saw use in battle, and was instead used as a prison.

On the way to the UCPA (the French sport association we are staying with) we met some of the most famous local: the iguana. The young ones have green colours, while the adult ones are grey-white ones. Another island inhabitant is the brown pelican, they like to relax on the boats of the fishermen in the harbour.
Brown pelicans Les Saintes Guadeloupe
Coat of Arms Les Saintes Guadeloupe
Next blog entry will be with some underwater images, yesterday was the first dive and it was very relaxing and beautiful under the sea surface.

Monday 14 December 2009

La maison du cacao, Pointe-Noire


DEDICATED to my parents: the biggest chocolate lovers and cacao addicts I know:-)


Once in the garden of the "Maison de cacao/ House of the cacao" I was truly amazed. The cacao trees (cacaoyers in French) looked almost unreal (and so perfectly beautiful): covered from top till bottom with cocoa fruits in different colours (from green to orange or pink). Did you know that its scientific name "theoboma cocoa" means "food of God"?

Imported from Amazonia and Central America the cacao tree is indeed a special tree that not only grows in hot and humid areas, but lives in the shade of other trees. The cocoa has been produced in the French Antilles for almost 2 centuries, but now no more big plantations are left.

In the "Maison du cacao", in between the lovely cacao trees garden the cycle of cocoa production is displayed: from the cutting of the ripe fruits from the trunk with an axe, through the fermenting of the seeds in the sun and the drying process till the ready cacao paste.

We enjoyed the most the cacao-tasting session at the end of our visit. It included tasting of a fresh cacao bean, then a dried one and ending up with the best chocolate drink (cacao paste melted in water plus cane sugar) I ever had…Last but not least we tried also the "liqueur au chocolat"(mix of rhum and cocoa paste) and plenty of other home specialties.

From this Monday onwards (14-21.12) we are for a week on the archipelago Les Saintes for some diving and exploration:-)

Sunday 13 December 2009

First Caribbean impressions from sunny Guadeloupe!

It takes whole 7000 km from Europe (Paris) to get to the Caribbean (sea)! And we needed 2 more hours drive to arrive at our first accommodation: the private property "Sous le vent" with cute creole style bungalows, on the hill at the west side of Guadeloupe, next to the village Bouillante. For breakfast we were greeted by plenty of curious colourful honey suckers (colibris in French and Bulgarian) flying around in the beautiful garden with exotic plants.

Jet-lagged and with headaches we headed for some morning shopping of exotic fruits (fresh papaya, bananas, pineapple, avocado) and relaxed later on the balcony with a sweet home pet (the cat was used to the hammock already). The delicious creole lunch (on the picture: grilled fish and 2 different gratin of local vegetables) was followed by another siesta on the beach Melandure (from where the picture of the local girl comes from).

Even if it rained 3 times in the night, it got really hot already by 10am and the refreshing wind close to the coast was more than welcome. Due to the high air humidity the 28-30 degrees feel like 35-38…but we are not complaining:-)

Wednesday 9 December 2009

...almost ready for the Caribbean sun in the French Antilles: Guadeloupe + Les Saintes:-)

On Friday (11.12.2009) its time for the departure to Guadeloupe: a 3,5-hour train to Paris and then a 8,5-hour-flight will take us to Pointe-a-Pitre, the capital of the "Butterfly island".

Caribbean sea_Antilles_map

Guadeloupe has this funny nickname because of its shape of a .... butterfly. The programme includes 1 week diving at the little archipelago Les Saintes, then 9 days of sightseeing in Bouillante (next to the National Parc of Guadeloupe) and one week relaxing on/around the beaches of Saint-Francois and Sainte Anne.


Martinique, Guadeloupe and the half of the island of Saint Martin are 3 islands which are overseas French departments, in French the so called DOM: département d'outre-mer.

Below I would like to share with you some shots from my stay in Martnique in 2005. The sea colour is a dream, the underwater world is sooo amazing and all this is rounded up by the friendly local creole population and plenty of delicious local rhums (made by the natural fermentation of the sugar cane juice).

Caribbean sea Martinique



Wednesday 2 December 2009

Christmas is in the Munich, Bavaria!

Munich Christmas lights

There is something magical in the colourful decoration which lighten up the shop windows and the rest of Munich as of end of November every year. Next to some 20 Christmas markets (the famous German "Weihnachtsmärkte") the smell of cinnamon and "Glühwein"(warm spices scented wine) help your nose and mind get into the mood for the coming Christms holidays.

Munich Christmas angels FünfHöfe

To be used with moderation though as the Christkindlmarkt on Marienplatz tends to get really crowded, but then some smaller and cozier like the Haidhausener weihnachtsmark offers a good alternative...

Munich Christmas lights

A walk in the evening in the pedestrian street (Neuhauser strasse and Theatiner strasse) is one of the best ways to discover and enjoy the beautiful lights perfomances turning the city in a real "Wintermärchen"/winter fairy tale:-)

Munich Christkindlmarkt air view

Above you can enjoy the view at Marienplatz and it famous Christkindlmarkt from the restaurant Glockenspiel.