Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the category “Islands”

Looking back, falling in love with New Caledonia

That's a gorgeous view of the ocean isn't it?

That’s a gorgeous view of the ocean isn’t it?

It had been a long long journey. 19 hours to be precise. Two transfers and a lot of waiting around drinking airport coffee. But the moment the plane started to hover around a tiny patch of green, my eyes adjusted to the sight and a sigh escaped from my lips. “C’est l’aéroport,” said the portly gentleman on my right, drinking his beer. I smiled, I was finally about to land in New Caledonia!

On the drive from Tontouta to Noumea

On the drive from Tontouta to Noumea

I had never heard of Nouvelle Calédonie to be honest but when I got the chance to visit the tiny French overseas territory in the southwest Pacific Ocean in the summer of 2012, there was no way I could pass up on the opportunity now could I?

I couldn't wait to dive into the clear blue water!

I couldn’t wait to dive into the clear blue water!

To reach New Caledonia, one has to fly into La Tontouta from Australia, the quaint little airport in Grande Terre. The runway is nestled between hills covered with every possible shade of green. As the plane landed, my heart skipped a beat. The beauty around me had captured my imagination and I was in no mood to let it slide.

I was staying in Noumea, the capital. It takes over an hour to drive there from the airport. But the long-winding journey is worth every minute. It’s so peaceful. You see a second vehicle on the road maybe every 10 minutes. The shades of green and brown change colour every second as you drive down the highway. Soft music playing in the car just adds to the romance of the idyllic drive. I was in love, at first sight.

Which way do you want to go?

Which way do you want to go?

If you stay in the heart of Noumea, wake up really early to go for a run. It’s quiet and the blue of the sea is astounding. Joggers are already out running by the boardwalk while swimmers are getting ready to jump in. The sea calls out your name and before you can think, you become one. It’s heavenly.

Walk amidst the greenery in the heart of Noumea

Walk amidst the greenery in the heart of Noumea

Now, imagine this. You’re in the Pacific on an island. What do you eat? Well, I devoured fresh prawns and squids, lobsters, scallops and salmon with relish. But surprisingly, I didn’t really find good fresh fruits you would expect.

Heaven on a plate

Heaven on a plate

Is it weird that I had the best Carbonara in Noumea?

Is it weird that I had the best Carbonara in Noumea?

DELICIOUS!

DELICIOUS!

Just look at that! Red, green, brown and blue in harmony

Just look at that! Red, green, brown and blue in harmony

One day I was taken to the interiors of the island. Nickel mining is one of the main sources of income in New Caledonia. You go through the dusty red roads, pass innumerable little springs and waterfalls to reach the mines. It’s a different kind of beauty there, very rustic. There’s no sound except of your own breathing. The winds sing you a song, asking you to embrace what lies before you – the majestic natural beauty.

Crossing many streams...

Crossing many streams…

Gushing water, singing over the rocks

Gushing water, singing over the rocks

View from my hotel! Just imagine!

View from my hotel! Just imagine!

That's the race course by the way, in the heart of Noumea

That’s the race course by the way, in the heart of Noumea

I had to bid adieu to Noumea after three days of lazing around, swimming and eating delicious food (I worked a bit too, promise) but surprisingly, I didn’t feel sad. Instead, the warm and friendly smiles from the locals, the cheerful laughs and ‘bonjours’ are so inspiring, that somewhere in my subconscious I knew that I would go back one day. In those three days I still feel I left a part of me on that island, to search for which I would have to return.

Walk along the water in the evenings. There is good nightlife for those interested.

Walk along the water in the evenings. There is good nightlife for those interested.

Don't worry I'll be back... one day...

Don’t worry I’ll be back… one day…

Important tip: Currency used is French Franc. 1INR = 1.45XPF

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