Opening the curtain revealed a stunning blue sea, a myriad of little islands and fluffy little clouds hanging in the early morning sky. We had docked in the Seychelles capital Victoria, around 7.30 am and the ship had eased into its berth without waking us. Nice one Captain Gianfranco La Fauci.
Breakfast for once was packed and it took a while to find a table, I guess most passengers had chosen like us to eat in the buffet restaurant to disembark as soon as possible, either to catch their excursion or get into town before the heat of the day built up. It had been forecast for more than 30 degrees.
We got off the ship by 8.45 am and by then it was already searingly hot. There were local tourist stalls set up on the quayside, but we ignored those and finding the information, grabbed a map of the town and continued on our way waving away any taxi driver that enquired if we wanted to go to a beach.
It was a short walk into the town. Victoria is reputedly the smallest capital in the world. Our first visit was to the Art Museum, but this turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as many of the paintings had been taken down for a coming exhibition of French culture (I didn’t know they had one). What paintings there were, we did like and spent some time discussing their use of bright colour and authentic rural scenes.
Moving across the road we visited the Kenwyn House. We have no idea why it is called so, but it is an impressive traditional wooden colonial building and now houses a jewellery shop downstairs and a local arts establishment upstairs. It was lovely and cool inside, a tribute to traditional building techniques. As we were its only visitors at that time we had a little tour of the gemstones on display and the resident jeweller showed his portfolio of designs and a ring that he was working on at the moment. He came from Colombo and was very skilled at his job.
There are quite a lot of tourist stalls and shops on the roads leading to the centre of the town and we visited many of these, mostly because of the shade they provided and some because of the air con. It was hot and you could see the locals finding it difficult. We spent some time in the Catholic church off Francis Rachel St. As with Mauritius, many of the place names are French and indeed the language is also spoken, though the currency is tied to the pound and it was once an English colony. I bet, like New Caledonia, if they were still part of France, they wouldn’t have been given their independence.
At the end of this street is probably the most famous landmark in Victoria, the clock tower. It is painted silver, resembles ‘Big Ben’ and strikes twice on the hour. Once, to give the time and again as a reminder. I quite like that. Great for goldfish and Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Having visited the catholic church we came across the lesser-known but much more impressive Anglican church. Again it was lovely and cool inside, so we dallied here a while. The heat was beginning to get to Sue and thoughts of returning to the ship came to mind.
Heading back into town we stopped at the Tourist Information Bureau to find out where the Botanical Gardens were as this had now been moved from our morning schedule to the afternoon. Oh, heaven. Luckily there were some picky German tourists before us occupying the staff, and for once we didn’t mind the inane questions they were asking as this place had the coldest aircon ever! With our question answered we emerged back out into the cauldron and made our way as best we could from shady tree to shady building, returning to the sanctuary of the NeoRomantica.
Two icy-cold drinks from our fridge and a shower set to the coolest setting and we were approaching something like normal body temperature. Up to the restaurant for lunch to take on more liquid and add a little bit more to our daily calorie intake.
Returning to the cabin, Sue said she couldn’t face going out in the heat again and wanted to have a nap instead. We moved the Botanical Gardens to tomorrow. While Sue slept, I checked my emails and had a quick chat with Charlotte on messenger before spending an hour in a deserted gym. While I was working out we had a tremendous storm that saw the rain pour like a river down the glass roof I was exercising under and my view of the town and mountains was obscured for a good 10 minutes. I guess we were lucky we had changed our plans.
Sue was still asleep when I returned, but my showering woke her up and together we made our way up the decks for afternoon tea. Shocking! I wasn’t the least bit hungry but satisfied myself that any calories I was taking in were making good the deficit of the previous hour.
Sue took the binoculars up on deck and I stayed in our cabin to start this blog. Now and then I would glance out of our porthole at a truly wonderful view. Watching the little boats speed across our field of view against such a fantastic backdrop (the storm clouds had long since gone) and framed by our circular window on the world was lovely, though not conducive to speedy blogging. When Sue returned from her spying mission I took the binoculars up on deck and had a good look at the surrounding islands and very nice hillside properties while she watched Al Jazeera.
After the evening meal, we lay on the sunbeds and watched ‘ABBA in Japan’ on the big screen up on the very top deck of the ship. What a great band. I hoped Victoria enjoyed them as I guess they heard and saw the video too.
From there we shot down to deck 9 and listened to a string quartet play in one of the bars and when they finished we raced off to the stern of the ship to see a show titled, ‘Seychelles Folk Dancing’. A band played through a history of the development of dancing in the islands and two young girls bopped and wiggled their bums to the various tunes, keeping in time with some very complicated melodies and having the occasional colourful costume change. Very entertaining.
Later, Sue was keen to move on back to the top deck to see a South American band but it was 11 pm and I pointed out she had slept that afternoon and I was tired, so she would have to go on her own.
We both hit the pillows.