It takes me two full days getting from Denmark to the Seychelles – exactly 24 hrs more than planned. Firstly I fly via Arlanda, Stockholm where – due to snow – only one of the two runways is operational. The operational one is also sometimes closed since snow and ice is continuously removed. My plane from Stockholm to Addis Abeba originates in Oslo and – as opposed to my incoming flight from Copenhagen – it gives up landing and returns to where it came from. I later find out that this is due to lack of fuel (!). This plane is normally fueled for the Africa trip in Stockholm – I later find out – but why a pilot on a very snowy day does not bring enough fuel to circle over Stockholm for more than 30 minutes – hence eventually causing a five hour delay and causing more than half of the 300 passengers to miss their onwards connections from Addis – I simply do not understand.
In the waiting time Ethiopian treats us with a 110 SEK meal voucher. A nice gesture – the only slight problem being that we are in an enclosed area of the airport with only one small kiosk open and all they have is four cookies and two apples which is somewhat inadequate for the 300 hungry passengers.
After five hours of waiting we are finally on our way. I know I will miss my connection out of Addis to the Seychelles but have already been rebooked to the next days flight. So, I end up with a 22 hrs layover in Addis instead of my scheduled day in the Island paradise I am destined for.
But at least my plan B worked out. I chose Ethiopian exactly because of their direct and daily flights Addis to Seychelles that I thought could come in handy in case of delays – and since I could get a four country multi city ticket for Euro 1.150,- (of which I might get 600 Euro back in compensation for the late flight).
“My name is Abinet. It’s like cabinet without the c” says the young and forthcoming guy in my hotel lobby. He smells heavily of perfume and he is clearly drunk even though it is only 5pm. ‘Very good coffee’ and ‘thank you very much’ I tell him in Amheric – his own language. It is about the only words I know from my previous visits. When I have told him that he gives me the Ethiopian hug – shoulder against shoulder and hands in and out three times. He now apparently thinks that we know each other well enough for him to invite me to the wedding he is attending at the banquet hall of my hotel. Soon after five gorgeous and curvy young ladies all dressed in slim fit white dresses immerges as if to signal that this will be a good party. The wedding has several hundred guests, about five official photographers, a professional DJ and a stage with high chairs for the bride, groom, bridesmaids and best men. Dinner is of course njara – the national dish of Ethiopia – fermented bread with toppings of meat and vegetables. Never in my life have I seen food piled up so high.
The next day I finally arrive to the Seychelles. In both the immigration and customs, they seem to think that arriving as a solo traveler is highly suspicious so I get to show my (many) onwards tickets and my bags are thoroughly examined. Outside the air is hot and moist like inside a Russian steam bath. But the sun is shining – event though it is presently rainy season.
After I have signed all the car papers, taking full responsibility for any fines imaginable, accepting the 1000 Euro pre-authorisation of my credit card to cover potential damage and accepting the MORE THAN 30 damages already made to my (relatively new) Hyundai i10 I am ready to roll in seconds. First however I run to the ATM to get cash. When I return two minutes later my car already has a parking ticket(!). It is parked right in front of the rental booth and I haven’t even turned the ignition key yet…Daniel – the guy from my rental agency (Exoticar) has of course already left and closed up the rental desk. Hehe – nice start… a local guy grinningly informs me that the fine is only a 100 rupees (7Euro) and that I shouldn’t pay it – and then he just takes it and walks off.. (Later Exoticars claim that I am responsible for the fine – but after a few emails they change their mind and pay it themselves…)
While The Seychelles is obviously famous for being luxurious and expensive I stay for just 44Euro a night in a wonderful apartment called Chez Lorna a couple of kilometers north of the capital Victoria. It has balconies with great views of the island and the sea. Lorna is a nice elderly local woman who runs this charming and inexpensive little guesthouse. My car rental costs 37 Euro a day so for just 81 Euro a day I have wheels and lodging (could be split by two or more persons if not travelling solo)
I have been so lucky to self-drive either a car or a motorcycle in 50+ countries and to my surprise The Seychelles range among the most difficult of them to drive. Perhaps the roads have been designed by the same man who invented the electric hairdressing apparatus. Even the coastal roads are unbelievable winding and as soon as heading inland the roads go totally hairpin-bend-bonanza. This however does not seem to affect the crazy bus and truck drivers much. With no fear of death they are throwing their metal monsters round the bends taking up almost 75% of the width of the two lanes in the proces. And even though my Hyundai i10 is small it is not a half-width car so I need to give a little extra attention to the brake pedal here. Add a bit of congested rush hour traffic in the capital Victoria (through which many roads seem to lead) and maybe you have a small picture of what driving in the Seychelles is like.
I spend one and a half hectic day driving all around the main island of Mahe. I visit a few national parks do a bit of trekking and visit all the famous beaches. I even visit the four seasons hotel. Here you can park at the car park and they will escort you in a beach buggy to the lovely ‘Petite Anse’ beach. I am still not sure why – but my best guess is that the hotel is not allowed to completely privatize a public beach – so they must give access to visitors. This again means that if you want to spend your time at a beautiful ‘four seasons beach’ while staying at a cheap guesthouse it is perfectly possible. A garden villa (the cheapest double room) here costs Euro 1.000 pr night – and the most expensive (6-bedroom) villa costs 10.000 Euro pr night.
On my third day on the island I had planned a day trip to the other two main islands – Praslin and La Digue. Praslin has a beach that is often voted as ‘the best beach in the world’. Unfortunately, due to my late arrival I unfortunately have no time for this little (pricey – 128 Euro return on public catamaran) excursion. (to make up for that you can check out picture no 4 in the album)
Having said all this I have to admit that I think the Seychelles is a bit overrated. Of course, the beaches are gorgeous, and the climate is amazing. Hence for resort holiday I am sure it is fine. But the roads are bad, some people drive like crazy, you can get easily car sick and I thought that the locals are a little hard to get close to (probably because they see so many tourists coming and going all the time). On top of this sadly the Seychelles has massive drug problems (it is situated on a drug trading route) and according to Lorna in my guesthouse up to 2% of the population are now addicts (primarily using blending products with heroin) – so The Seychelles is not only an island paradise but also a place to lock your room at night and not leave valuables in your car. But then again it is not a bad place – it is – as most people say – an island paradise – I just think that other island paradises (in the Pacific and south east asia) offer equally terrific beaches and much better value.
Enjoy the pics – PS picture no 4 is ONLY taken because it is a very beautiful beach!