Let’s start with the first question we get from friends and the Moms – “Where are the Seychelles?” It’s an island country (115 islands) off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean with a population of about 95,000. It’s east of Tanzania and lies about 4 degrees south of the equator.
We flew from Johannesburg, South Africa and spent 2 nights in Victoria, Mahe, including Thanksgiving. Marie Antoinette is a highly-regarded Creole restaurant that just happened to be next to our little hotel, Hilltop Boutique Hotel, so that’s where we ate Thanksgiving dinner. The people were friendly and the food was yummy!
Next stop was the island of Praslin, reached by a 1-hour ferry ride. We hung out there for 9 days at the Old School Self-catering – translation: apartment. The apartment is in Baie Ste. Anne village so we checked out the various shops and markets. Our favorite market was ISPC because it actually refrigerates its white wine and has A/C for the red wine. Many of the other stores were HOT and we didn’t want to think what the heat did to the wine on the shelves! Wine is very expensive in restaurants but wasn’t badly priced in the stores.
The apartment was lovely and clean and above a bakery. We bought many an item from them, including some roasted chickens, quiches, meat pies, desserts for dinner. Peter and Shirley were lovely to visit with and get information about Praslin. Yes, they know most of the population of the island!
Curieuse Island is home to Marine National Park, home to Aldabra Giant Tortoises, and made a great day trip from Praslin. After we visited with tortoises who wander freely, moving more quickly than I ever imagined, we hiked 2 km. across the island to Anse St. Joseph for a BBQ and to meet our boat again.
Two kilometers (about 1.7 miles), you say. How hard can that be?? One version of the “walk” was it would take about 20 minutes. Another version was “it’s a short walk”. What everyone failed to mention was the mangroves to walk through (easy and flat on boardwalks); the trails filled with tree roots and big rocks; and the up and down over the rocks and roots (not so easy). Did I mention the heat and humidity?? We each had 1 large bottle of water with us, thank heavens! By the time we reached the other side, all I wanted to do was jump in the clear Indian Ocean to cool off – and we did! Oh, it took us 45 minutes to walk this.
We had a small world moment in the middle of the mangroves. Mark wore his Fort Collins University of Iowa shirt and we heard “Fort Collins? Are you from Fort Collins?” It was a guy who grew up in Wray, Colorado; graduated in Fish and Wildlife from CSU and is now a pilot for Austrian Airlines and lives in Vienna.
Another day, we took the ferry to La Digue Island (population 2000) to see some of their beaches. We spent the day at L’Union Estate on the beach Anse Source D’Argent, the most photographed island in the Seychelles. The water is incredibly clear and warm with fishes swimming all around. This beach has no waves – just water to float around in.
After 9 days on Praslin, we took the ferry back to Mahe on what can best be described as a rough crossing. The ferry rocked and rolled for the entire hour. Then we spent 6 days at Le Meridien at Fishermens’ Cove on Beau Vallon/Bel Ombre. Great hotel, super location, nice people. We’d met a Finnish couple on our Curieuse Island Expedition and they ended up staying 2 hotels from us so we enjoyed a few dinners with them.
Americans don’t make it to the Seychelles too often since it requires about 20 hours of actual flying to get there. Most people guessed we are British and that means we don’t like spicy food. We were warned all the time “This food is spicy”. Then we’d have to explain we’re American and we like spicy food. Of course, none of the food even came close to being as spicy as some we eat at home! Even Susan didn’t think it was spicy.
After 17 days, we headed back to Frankfurt, Germany on Condor Airlines, the only direct flight to Germany, even though the flight was 10 hours long! As we exited the plane in Frankfurt to 32F temps, the flight attendant told Mark “I hope you have some warm clothes packed”. Yes, he was wearing shorts!