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Published: August 23rd 2015
Seychelles is one of the most desirable couple destinations in the world. This beautiful pearl of the Indian Ocean is an international magnet for romantics, honeymooners, and families. The idea a solo traveller should be in their midst has thrown my fellow European holidaymakers into a spin, and some of the reactions I've received over the course of the last fortnight are hilarious. Couples walk along the beach and suddenly stop by my towel in deep conversation; European ladies face their bikini bodies towards me and preen themselves for minutes on end; and couples at restaurants simply race to sit next to me. Who is this strange person, where is his partner, and what on earth is he doing here? It's great fun and I've noticed many Russian comrades in bikinis at Beau Vallon beach, with Seychelles an increasingly popular travel destination for Eastern Europeans.
So where were we? Oh yes, the journal left off in Madagascar, at the end of an unforgettable adventure in the incredible island. Air Seychelles introduced direct flights to Seychelles from Madagascar this year, and I'm happy to put my hand up as a beneficiary. Prior to this year travellers had to fly to the
African continent, more than likely Nairobi or Jo'Burg, and then back to Seychelles at exorbitant prices. I was puzzled by the check in guy at Antananarivo airport asking if I was flying to Paris. What was he talking about, I've been in the Indian Ocean for the last month. Paris France, I asked him quizzically? Yeah that's right, it turns out flights go on to Paris after transiting in Seychelles, so at least that's one mystery solved.
My AirBnB host greeted me in the evening at the airport, and together with her business partner we drove to a serviced apartment a stone's throw from Beau Vallon beach, one of the most famous tourist spots on the island of Mahe. I made myself at home, and next morning my host was back to give an introduction to the island, and we spent ages poring over maps. But I was faced with a dilemma, as she is a genuine Russian beauty. There I am sitting close to her and trying to pay attention, with a map dutifully spread in front of us. She talked in great detail about the island over the course of a few hours and I was appreciative,
but seriously distracted by her presence. How could I fail to take in those facial features as we chatted: the blonde hair, porcelain skin, high cheekbones, full lips and mesmerising blue eyes. I mean, those trivial maps seemed to be the last thing on my mind. So what's that she is talking about again? Oh yeah, that's it, um … Seychelles I believe it's called, and that's a map of Mahe Island right in front of me! But during the course of our discussion my inner dialogue would not be quieted. I mean seriously, is it such a crime to want to kiss your host?
So armed with a full itinerary, it was time to get out and about. What strikes travellers from the outset in Seychelles is the strength of the sun. The Seychelle Islands are close to the equator, and the sun beats down all year round with a rare intensity. I've had afternoons approaching 5:00 o'clock and still feel like I'll be well fried without sunscreen. However the latitude does have it's advantages, with the warm water and fine white sand a real attraction for travellers from around the world. The locals are relaxed and slow
paced as you would expect in this tropical climate, but the prices in Seychelles are off the charts. Everything is very expensive, and some serious calculations are in order if travellers are to make the most of the islands as a travel destination without breaking the bank.
Beau Vallon beach is gorgeous, and became my regular haunt during the course of the visit. As my host pointed out, it is extremely popular with Eastern Europeans. It's one of the most fascinating parts of travel how destinations change so dramatically after spending just a few hours flying. Seychelles is Creole and apparently the language spoken in it's purest form, but otherwise Mahe feels very different to the Mascarene Islands. The clientele are a complete turnaround, but that's what has always fascinated me about international travel. I fell in to my stride in no time, and was able to keep expenditures at a reasonable level by eating at the beach where a guy barbecued tuna with rice and creole sauce for under ten dollars. It pays to steer clear of the tourist resorts and restaurants, as their prices may even outstrip Western Europe.
The capital of Mahe is the elegant
little town Victoria. It presents immaculately, and every time I visited there were workers keeping the streets just so. I loved the town, and had occasion to catch the bus up over the hill from Beau Vallon several times. Many of the buildings in the centre are in the old colonial style, and there's a famous clock tower at the main roundabout that is well worth a squizz. After a few days I was keen for an adventure, and my hosts arranged a boat trip to the marine national parks for the day. Incredibly I headed out solo with the young skipper and his female mate, and was in the water snorkelling with schools of tropical fish before I knew it. The reef has magnificent coral and so many fish I was worried I would whack them just by swimming along. At times the colourful fish were right up against my goggles, it was amazing. And the water temperature on the reef is warmer than in the Mascarenes, so I had an excellent time of it snorkelling.
When I looked up I saw a group of Chinese being transferred to the boat, and they became my buddies for the
rest of the day. They were pretty cool, and definitely up for snorkelling and having an explore. We stopped at a deserted island that was so beautiful, and wandered around for an hour. Then we headed to Moyenne Island National Park for a superb barbecue lunch, and the chance to check out the giant tortoises that live on the island. The tortoises are fascinating, but nothing really happens in a tearing hurry for them! After lunch the young skipper took us out to another spot for more snorkelling, and then headed back to Victoria harbour after a full day on the water. The boat trip to the national parks is terrific value and highly recommended. Fortunately I have an extended stay in Seychelles as my final destination in the islands of the Indian ocean, so spent a few more days chillaxing at Beau Vallon beach, while planning more adventures. My impression from spending a week in this tropical paradise, basically all of you should be here now!
Men always want to be a woman's first love - women like to be a man's last romance." Oscar Wilde
As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now
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