Monday, January 29, 2018

Days 14-18 -- Mombasa, Kenya, and Mahe, Seychelles

Days 14: Mombasa, Kenya

Mombasa is the 2nd largest city in Kenya, and its major port (and I do mean MAJOR).  We had two days in port--on the first day, we took a tour of the city, and on the second day, we took a shuttle back into town and wandered around.  As with the previous two ports, it was nice and hot.

A welcome at the cruise port

Some lower class housing on the way into town

Our first stop was at a craft collective where carvings were made to sell at souvenir shops.  Below are a few shots.

We had expected there to be all sorts of Obama posters and souvenirs in Mombasa, but the poster below was the only one we saw in our two days there.

After leaving the craft collective we drove around the center of Mombassa.


The major form of transportation in Mombasa appeared to be brightly decorated vans and "tuk-tuks", (3-wheeled covered scooters).

We made a brief stop at a Hindu temple, where we learned about the dangers of consuming alcohol.

A lot of the transportation vans had some unexplainable  decor.

A map of Africa in a park

Next we went to Moi Avenue, the main street in Mombasa, and saw the city's most famous site--huge aluminum elephant tusks, erected for Princess Margaret's visit in 1956.

Along Moi Avenue

Our next stop was the entrance of Mombasa's "old town", which consisted of a lot of decrepit buildings dating from the 1900's.  As we got of the bus, there was a soldier taking pictures of us, so I returned the favor.  In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have done that, but I wasn't arrested.

In Old Town

At the end of our walk we came to a restaurant that had a nice view across the water.

  Next to Old Town was Fort Jesus, which was built by the Portuguese in the 1590's.

This was the only part of the fort that has been completely restored

In the fort, I encountered the bathrooms below (there were similar ones for men).  I ultimately figured that they didn't have separate bathrooms for upper class people, but the signs referred to Western (high-level) and Eastern style (low-level, or squat) toilets.

Some school kids visiting the fort

A souvenir shop next to the fort

No racist stereotypes here....

From the fort, we headed back to the ship, passing through some of the nicer areas, where the expatriates lived.

A baobab tree

I don't think "integrated" means the same think in Kenya and the U.S.

Back on the ship, we ate at "La Dame", the specialty French restaurant, which was a $20 upcharge, but well worth it.

Drinks (free) in the lobby bar before dinner
Inside La Dame
Dinner about to be served

A satisfied customer
Day 15: Mombassa, Kenya (again)

On our second day in Mombasa, rather than booking a tour, we decided to take the ship's shuttle back into town, mostly so I could stop at a bank to get some Kenyan currency and coins for my collection.

Back in central Mombasa

On the news stand

When we arrived at the shuttle stop, we were immediately accosted by several local citizens who wanted to be our guides for a walking tour.  We said we didn't need a guide, and started walking down the street.  All of the would-be guides peeled off, except for one guy who followed us literally a half a mile, despite my continually telling him that we didn't want a guide. 

On Moi Avenue

Some government buildings

Another baobab tree

The guide is still with us

Eventually, after almost a mile, we wound up at the entrance to Fort Jesus, the guide still with us.  We told him that we wanted to take a tuk-tuk back to the shuttle bus, and he said the driver would charge us $20 (way too much), but he could get us a ride for $10 (still too much).  He flagged down a tuk-tuk, and we thought we were free of him, but he then climbed in the back seat with us!

In the tuk-tuk

Approaching the tusks

Eventually, we arrived back at the shuttle stop, and we managed to get rid of our "guide" for $20.  Well, at least it was an experience.

More of Mombasa on the way back to the ship

Finally made it to the dock

On our balcony

Tonight, we ate at another one of the ship's specialty restaurants--at night the convert the tables by the pool into tableside grills, where you can cook your own food on a (very) hot stone.

View from the restaurant

Awaiting our stones

Poolside melodies

We ended the evening with some star gazing.

Days 15-16: At Sea

Nothing happened.  We were not attacked by pirates.

Day 17: Mahe, Seychelles

Our cruise ended when we disembarked at Victoria, Mahe in the Seychelles.  (Seychelles is the country, Mahe is the island, and Victoria is the capital city).

Departing the ship

Our flight home was not until 11:50 PM, so we took a tour of Mahe that ended up at a hotel where we spent the rest of the day until we left for the airport at about 8:00 PM.

The Seychelles are relatively prosperous compared to the other stops on our itinerary and Victoria (population about 19,000) is a very pleasant town.

A square in Victoria

The first stop on our tour was the Botanical Gardens.

Climate change exists in the Seychelles

Large (about 4 inches long) escargot

Giant tortoises at the garden

Breadfruit, I think

The "national emblem" of the Seychelles appears to be the coco de mer, a type of coconut which unfortunately, looks like a human butt.  It turned out to be very difficult to find a souvenir of Seychelles that was not a coco de mer.

Coce de mer

After leaving the gardens, we took a walking tour of central Victoria.  Victoria is one of the most racially diverse cities I have visited.   It turns out that 89% of the population is Creole, a mixture of African, Asian, and European.

The center of town

The Victoria Clock Tower

St. Paul's (Anglican) Cathedral

A local shopping street

The local market

Hindu temple

At the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke market

Not for sale

Back on the street

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Former priests residence, now a hotel

 From Victoria, we drover over the mountains to the other side of Mahe, and got some nice views.

Central Victoria from above

Our ship is at the center left

A house in the countryside

A deserted beach on the west coast

A school on the west coast

The first line is in Creole

Eventually we arrived at the hotel  (Avani Barborons Resort)

Tourist on the beach

The hotel pool was amazing--it was huge, with 85 degree water, and you could lie on your back and see only palm trees.

At the pool

Overhead view from the pool

View from the hotel bar
The beach at sunset

The pool after dark

At about 8:00 PM we headed to the airport. where we had to wait about an hour and a half to check in because the computer system was down.  We then went to get dinner at the airport Burger King (the only real option), and enjoyed two double cheeseburgers and one coke for $29.95.

We flew from the Seychelles to Dubai and from Dubai to JFK on Emirates Airlines.  The flight from Dubai to JFK was an an Airbus A380, which is a *huge* double-decker.  If you ever have the choice between Air France and Emirates, go with Emirates.  The only downside of the flight is that we were on the lower deck next to the wing, which arched up, so fro Dubai to New York, the only thing I could see out of the window was the wing.

That's Dubai in the far background

 And thus concludes our African journey!