Steve’s Sojourns : Victoria Capital of the Seychelles
The Seychelles are thought of by many as the ultimate all year round paradise holiday destination and rightly so. However, they are not as expensive to get to and stay there as you would believe.
Your flight will arrive into the main island of Mahe where you can get registered taxis with their red sign on the roof to take you to your hotel or give you a tour of the island, especially through the mountains. If you want to hire a car then you’ll be delighted to know that as a legacy of the British colonial times all the islands with roads drive on the left.
Do make sure you have time to explore Victoria first. One of the world’s smallest, compact capital cities it’s easily walkable and is mixture of French, Chinese, British, Indian and Creole cultures.
It’s a place of surprises with its mosque, intricately carved Hindu temple and a silver-painted clock tower replica of London’s Big Ben. You can explore it in a pleasant three or four-hour stroll. The streets are quiet, except on Saturday mornings, when they’re heaving, and there are many places where you can stop and buy a beer or a coffee.
The Seychelles National Botanical Gardens showcases endemic palms and orchids. The first thing you see as you pass through the gates is the sight of the biggest nut in the world, the coco de mer. As well as giant tortoises and fruit bats the garden holds brightly coloured birds. It’s a living green quiet getaway opening at 7.30 a.m and closes at 5 p.m.
Close to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is the imposing La Domus, built in 1934 to house Catholic missionaries.
No trip to Victoria would be complete without a stroll through its compact, covered Sir Selwyn Clarke Market. It’s a small bustling, colourful place with families and tourists all buying and soaking up the atmosphere. Alongside fresh fruit and vegetables, coconut and vanilla oils, local spices and herbs, you’ll find stalls with souvenirs and clothing with many others spreading out into the surrounding streets.
Early morning is the best time go, when the fishmongers display an astonishing variety of seafood, from parrotfish to tuna, barracuda and shark. It’s at its liveliest on Saturday but beware as everything closes in the city at noon to allow the Seychellois to start the weekend by heading to the beach. There are no private beaches in the islands, so you can explore as many as you wish.
Do go, you’ll love it and more to the point you’ll never forget it.
The official Seychelles tourist board website is found at http://www.seychelles.travel and has an excellent FAQS page which will answer most of your questions.
The official currency is the Seychelles Rupee and you can get these at ATMs, hotels and authorised money exchangers although many places also accept the Euro and credit cards.