Thursday, March 28, 2013

Our 115 day World Cruise, day 82, Victoria, Seychelles

Today was like most other to Starbucks, Curves and QT!  A rather uneventful morning!

At 2:00 Vicki had her ECHO  cardiogram.  They had a hard time finding her heart but when they did find it it seemed to look good!  Next is the stress test on Tuesday.  It looks like she has found an insurance policy that we can get and not have to cancel the cruise.  We are keeping a posotive attitude that we will be able to go.

The weather here is beautiful!  I just went out and wiped down the patios.  Here are the pictures

I went outside and cleaned up the courtyard so it would look nice today when Tessa comes.My little frog that is sitting on the ground, lights up at night!  It is really cute.

This part of the courtyard is all ready for someone to come and sit in it.  The tree lights up at night.

I even wiped off the patio furniture and it too is ready for someone to sit on it!

Tessa and Vicki are looking at family pictures and talking talking talking! lol!

Where we did not go today....but the Amsterdam did!

 Victoria, Seychelles March 28, 2013 Thursday

Although a group of 115 isalnds comprise the Seychelles, the largest of the central islands are Praslin, La Digue, and Mahe, the port of call for today. These three islands of the Seychelles are made of granite, reportedly the peaks of a huge underwater plateau that fell off of the edge of India 65 million years ago. Mahe is rich in vegetation.....a truly tropical paradise, and home to peculiar type of coconut palms, orchids, bouganvillas, hibiscus, gardenias, and frangipani trees. Victoria, the island's largest city, is one of the smallest capitals in the world. It also has the largest seaport of the archipelago, despite the fact that much of the city has not changed much since colonial days.

We have the honor of saying that this is our fourth visit here. Yes, we have taken almost every tour, but short ones. So when we saw the 7 hour tour with lunch, we decided to book it with our travel agency. We would visit some familiar sites, but also go to a few new ones. With our bag packed with sodas, we met in the Ocean Bar to get "stickered". Kween Karen spotted us first, and said to get on bus D, accompanied by Maureen, the arts and crafts gal who we know.

Scheduled to be docked by 8am, we were delayed because a naval vessel was in our spot, we think. It did not set us back by much...only about 20 minutes. Even at 8am, we could tell it was going to be a very hot day with temperatures in the mid 90's. Occassional clouds did help to cool things off.

The tour buses are all small in Victoria, mainly because the roads are full of narrow hairpin turns. A total of 16 passengers were on each vehicle. The first stop was at the Botanic Gardens in town. The highlite of the steep walk into the gardens were the giant land tortoises that reside there. On past tours, we were allowed to feed these old tortoises with leaves of cabbage. Not so today. We just filmed them as they roamed around the enclosure. Later on, a group of guests on their own (no guide) went into the pit with them, and were amused that the giant tortoises were coming at them. Thinking they liked their cameras, we informed them that, no, they were looking for food, and without it, they could be bitten. Funny how fast they exited that pit.

Continuing up the main road, we saw the famous "coco de mer" palm trees with the extra large double seeded coconuts hanging from them. Many souveniers sold here depict these coconuts in an x-rated fashion. However, to buy one of these real coconuts and export it off the island would cost one over $200. for a special permit to do so. Other attractions in this park were the numerous fruit bats that were content to hang upside down in the huge endemic trees. Granite cliffsides, pools of water lilies, and grassy knolls were near the top of the garden, and along the road back down to the entrance. One hike up to the top left us all soaked from sweat.

Glad to be back on the air-conditioned bus, we drove to the center of town, passing the antique clock tower, the National Library, a temple, a mosque, and a few churches. Our guide then led us through the bustling market, which was housed in the city center. Here were multiple stands of fruit, veggies, fresh fish, and chickens for sale. It was so crowded trying to pass through there, that we wondered why. Our guide stated that since this was Easter week, and all of the shops and markets would close early for the weekend. All of the locals were shopping today to stock up for this special celebration. As for us, we had another added mission today.....looking for a new camera lens.

Last week while in Langkawi, our good camera started to misbehave. We attributed the problem to excess moisture, and hoped it would correct itself after we returned to our room. Well, it never did, despite all of the suggestions we got to fix it. With our safari coming up in South Africa, we figured our best bet would be to find a new lens. Well, even with the help of our nice guide, we were unable to locate anything close to a lens in Victoria. Just like the majority of us, we figured the internet filled the needs of the locals for such items. We will continue our search in each port we visit, and hope to have some success. We do have a small camera that will work, but it eats up the rechargable batteries very quickly. The crazy thing is that all we had to do was take the extra lens with us that is now sitting at home. Hind sight is 20/20 right?

Anyway, continuing on, we joined the bus after a quick stroll through the souvenier stands in town. Everything being sold was very expensive, and only a few folks bought stuff. It was time to leave the crowded city, and head down the east coast on a winding seaside road. Every cove presented a picture-perfect beach lined with coconut trees. It went on for miles.

We stopped at a Craft Village, where we could observe local artists displaying their traditional items for sale. There were paintings, coconut crafts, model boats, and local jewelry, as well as the usual t-shirts and pareos. We stayed long enough for all to make a pit stop before we left for the next venue.....lunch.

At a local restaurant, we were led to an open-air patio filled with picnic-style tables. There were problems however, because lunch was not close to being ready for our group. We were all handed a ticket for one drink, either soda or water, which we had to get at the bar. From there, we lined up to wait for the buffet line to start. We waited for 1/2 hour, and quite patiently we may add. The restaurant was right on the beach, where we were to be given some time to swim or stroll in the surf. Waiting in a buffet line was not what we had planned, nor did any of our friends. The other problem was that we were crossed over with the HAL group once again. It turned out the restaurant staff were waiting for more buses to arrive before setting out the food. Our hosts and guides did try to get things rolling, but the staff was not cooperating. This must be like island time, such as in Hawaii.

Finally, we did eat, but most of the food was not to our taste. The safer bets were rice, top ramen noodles, and the potato salad. Chicken chunks and sliced sauage was cooked Creole-style, spicy and hot with peppers. The dessert was good with slices of a fruit cake, some type of banana custard, and banana fritters with a fruit topping. Only one small bottle of water was complimentary. Beer and extra water was at our own expense. On past excursions with our tour group, we always had wine, soda, or beers with extra waters on the buses. Guess that is a thing of the past now.

Since we had been delayed, twitttling our thumbs for 1/2 hour, our group was told we would have until 2:15pm to enjoy the beach and surf before departing. Walking the white sandy beach was pleasant, although blistering hot. Some of our friends went swimming, but there was a whole lot of seaweed drifting in the waves. It was more fun combing the sands for seashells and small bits of broken coral, while cooling our feet in the surf. There was a line of mangrove trees along the narrow strip of beach, and that was where the locals were hanging the shade.

It was essential for us to purchase two large bottles of water before leaving the restaurant if we chose to survive the rest of the tour. At this point, we had a long ride around the southern tip of the island and up the west coast. The bus brought us through one village after another, passing resort dwellings old and new. Some of the luxurious hotels were perched high on the hillsides, while the older ones, some now abandoned, were beachside. Near the north end of the island, we stopped at the Mission Viewing Station, once the site of a school for children of the freed slaves. Very little of the school exists now, just a pile of ruins. What has been added to this site was a covered viewing platform of the valley and scenic ocean below. Our guide remarked that the kids in the old days walked here daily from Victoria to attend classes. That was a feat within itself, since it would be a vigorous hike straight uphill in the heat.

We also had a stop at a tea plantation where we were able to enjoy a cup of the local brew or have a soda. We opted for the cold beverage, which was an old fashioned orange Fanta. Boy did that bring back memories of days gone by. Boarding the bus, we had a short, but rainy ride back to Victoria where we began our journey. At one scenic viewpoint, we stopped to take photos of our ship docked in the harbor, complete with a rainbow over it.

Hoping to buy a new t-shirt at the pier stands, we found we were out of luck. The few that remained were not the right size or color, so we left here with only our memories. Sometimes, that is a good thing.

Sailaway was at 5:30pm where we watching the fishermen sorting through and cleaning the nets that were recently used for the tuna catch. You could smell the fish aroma, probably coming from the oil left on the netting. We were tied up next to one of the large boats, while more were arriving to do the same off-loading process. In the company of some new friends from Australia and old buddies, we ended up staying on the aft deck well beyond the setting of the sun....a truly spectacular sight this fine, warm evening.

Having spent such a long, hot day in paradise, we really appreciated the extra hour we got back on the clock tonight. After a very much needed day at sea tomorrow, we will arrive to the island of Madagascar on Saturday.....a new port for us.

Bill & Mary Ann

 Victoria, Seychelles

We had a wonderful day in the Seychelles with Ed & Becky…..  We got off the ship at the first opportunity and headed for the Botanical Gardens.  One of the highlights there were the giant tortoises.  It really was a beautiful botanical garden with some interesting critters.  Next we walked into town and went to the local markets.  Great place to see day to day life and catch a few people photos.  Next up was the beach!  We took a taxi to Beau Vallon beach.   We ended up planting ourselves at the Beau Vallon Hotel where we had lunch and the spent time swimming and sunning on the beach.  Later in the afternoon, we headed back to town for a final bit of shopping and sightseeing before heading back to the ship.  It was a great day!

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