Mauritius is renowned for its watersports and outdoor activities, but, in the midst of all the sailing and hiking, visitors to this intriguing country should take time to savor its history by visiting the charming Villa Eureka

Villa Eureka - a Creole colonial mansion that masquerades as a museum - is located in the island's western quarter near Moka town and lies peacefully in the shadows of the majestic Moka Mountains.

Visitors are drawn to this hold-over from the past not only because of the fine wooden house's genteel decorations and the temptingly tasty Creole cuisine that's served to all-comers but also because of the property's fine gardens and picturesque Moka waterfall.

A typical visit to this gracious villa, which dates back to at least the late 18th-century, should begin fairly early in the morning with a leisurely stroll around the mansion-cum-museum's many halls and chambers.

Sharp-eyed visitors will notice the fine china, the ancient family photographs and the mysterious old books while those used to seeing only the larger picture will wonder at the delicate wooden chairs, the lovingly preserved rugs and the sturdy dining tables with their snowy white tablecloths.

After the tour, guests should take the opportunity to treat themselves to a five-star luncheon featuring creatively Creole cuisine and other island delicacies. Fragrant curries flavored with cinnamon and cloves, salted snoek seafood Rougaille and thick and creamy lentil soup may all be on the menu, followed by a refreshing sweet 'gateaux' for dessert.

Meals are served either on the villa's front porch - from where diners are treated to stunning views of the cultivated garden - or, for the more adventurous, in the ravine alongside the nearby Moka River.

After lunch, it would be time to tour the gardens - look out for the exotic badamier trees - and then to trek down the river-ravine to the waterfall. Those who wish to refresh themselves after a long day's sightseeing should come prepared with trunks and towels as the waterfall basin is one of the area's most popular swimming spots. After the swim, there should just be time for one last walk through the gardens before bidding the Villa Eureka farewell.

There's a lot to see and do in Mauritius, and, for those wishing to acquaint themselves with the past, visiting Villa Eureka and partaking of its old-world hospitality should be on top of the list.

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