The Exotic Layover
I’ve been great at making the most of my layover. When I found out I had layovers in both Abu Dhabi and Seychelles I excitedly email the airline to extend my layover from the original 4 hours to a few days. I extended Abu Dhabi to 48hours and Seychelles to 4 days. They extended it at no charge :).
I landed in Abu Dhabi around 1am, went through the smiley immigration lady and took the free Etihad bus to Dubai. Arrived at the hotel 3 hours later and went straight to bed after booking desert safari tour for later in the day (last minute planning). Woke up a few hours later to admire my hotel – I had a one bedroom apartment to myself :).
Around 4pm, I got picked up for the evening desert safari. We started out slow, visiting a store where they try to sell you everything under the sun. Lol. I bought a scarf and the full caftan dress. Then the fun started, the drive to the desert was scary as hell. I managed not to be scared, maybe because of the really annoying girl who screamed the whole time. Anyways, got to the camp in the desert. Rode a camel for the first time ever! Met a girl from Ukraine, had henna done and enjoyed a yummy dinner at sunset. Great way to spend my first 24 hours in UAE :).
Next day, I was to do a city tour but it was cancelled so I took a taxi to Emirate mall to do the hop off hop on city bus tour. Expensive. $65 for the cheapest rate. Anyways got to see a lot in Dubai like this. At 3pm, took a shared taxi back to Abu Dhabi for $4. Went straight to the airport to check in my bags and left again to see the Grand Mosque. Sadly, by the time I got there, the mosque was closed to tourists as it was time for breaking fast. Went back to the airport and waited for my flight to Seychelles.
This was some expensive layover. In 48hours, I spend close to USD$500 hotel included. However, intriguing experience it was. I want to revisit after Ramadan fasting is over.
This country is great at catering to luxury travelers. The cheapest available place I could find was 88 Euros a night (the most I’ve ever paid for accommodation)! And this is for a basic standard place. Thank God, it was just for one night. I stayed with a couchsurfer for the remaining three nights.
This was also the second time on my summer trip that I would have a sh**y experience at immigration. I was bombarded with several questions. They called my guesthouse to confirm my reservation and escorted me to an ATM to check how much money I had. I think I handled it well (with a slight attitude off course) especially when I was asked why am I traveling alone. My response (in my very Nigerian attitude)–‘because I can plus I have the money to’!
Left the airport to my guesthouse which was about 20mins away uphill. The view at the guesthouse was amazing. The lady in charge gave me a ride to town where I did a bit of sightseeing in Victoria – the capital of Seychelles. I took the bus back – that was the easier part. The painful part was walking up a very steep hill to the guesthouse. Never again!
The next day, I hired the same taxi driver for a tour of Mahe Island for USD$106 (1500 Rupees). Money well spent. The island is amazing, every town has an amazing beach. The most popular are Anse Major, Anse Lilot, Sunset and Beau Vallon beaches. We stopped at the tea factory and a few non-beach attractions. Mahe (the biggest island in Seychelles) is absolutely beautiful. Later in the day, I met up with the couchsurfer I was going to stay with at Beau Vallon. There was a street fair – lots of food, drink and performance.
Following day which was a Thursday, I went to a smaller island – La Digue. I was torn between that and another island Praslin but locals recommended La Digue since I had just a full day to explore. There was no direct boat to La Digue so took the ferry first to Praslin before taking another to La Digue. One special thing about La Digue is that you can ride your bicycle or walk around the island. Since I don’t ride bikes, I walked. I didn’t walk the whole island, only walked half of it (10miles long). I went to the number 1 beach in world (Anse Source d’Argent). I cannot do justice to this beach by describing it. You walk through rocks to get there. Once there, there are lovely rocks at various location making the beach look divine! Oh, before getting to the beach, you pass by a tortoise pen when you see massive tortoise.
After exploring and chilling at the beach, I passed by two other equally beautiful beaches (Anse La Reunion & Anse La Passe) before getting to Anse Severe beach. Concluded my day in La Digue with delicious late lunch at Fish trap restaurant – close to the jetty (ferry back to Praslin-Mahe). You can choose to sit outside on the beach or inside where you still have a beach view. At 4.30, took the ferry back to Praslin then another to Mahe.
My last day in Seychelles, I went to work with my host. She teaches at a Montessori school and I was curious on how things worked at Montessori schools. The kids loved me :), they thought I was their new teacher. Left at noon and pretty much relaxed at Sunset beach until early evening. That night, we partied. First at Eden Island (a manmade island for the rich that is connected to Mahe by a bridge) and ended up at a club in Beau Vallon. We got back home at around 4.30am and I had to wake up at 6.30 for the airport. So no sleep for me.
Note: I was able to experience these two countries only because I made good use of my layover.
My trip continues on to other countries in East Africa. Seychelles was a brilliant introduction to East Africa.