Our alarm went at 6.00, and by 7 o'clock we were packed up and ready for our journey to Sao Vicente island. We hung around, hoping that someone might appear so that we could get some rolls for breakfast, but everywhere was dead, so we checked out and drove into Praia. There were already quite a few people and animals about on the road.
We stopped to fill the petrol tank, hoping that the little shop attached might have something that would do as breakfast, but no! We tried the supermarket where we had bought a few things on our arrival in Praia. It was just opening at 8.00, when we got there, but there was no fresh bread.
We headed for the car hire, and were pleased to find that the chap was there. He was pleasant and efficient, and soon he was driving us to the airport.
As soon as we arrived, a man (porter) took our bags and transported them to the departures area. After the usual procedures (I was asked to take my watch off for the first time. We had some water left in our bottles, and the lady just said 'drink', which we did), we made for the departure lounge. From a crummy little cafe Adrian bought a filled roll, and I had a slice of pappy but warm pizza.
Our flight was only ¾ hour again, but once more we were given a beaker of water, with some nibbles, and then a boiled sweet and a wet wipe. The weather was hazy, so we saw very little, except the barren mountainous outline of Sao Vicente.
Everything was easy at the airport, and then a taxi raced us to Mindelo, the capital, where we'd booked into Residencial Jenny, on a cobbled road above the port.
We climbed the stairs to our room, which did have a balcony, but it was far too hot to make use of it! Adrian got the air conditioning going, and once we were sorted, we walked out to try and get some lunch.
View from our balcony in Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island
We walked downhill on the cobbled track behind some building work, and came across a simple little eating place where we were the only diners. I had tomato soup and Adrian had vegetable crepe. We bought a large bottle of water from the pleasant waiter.
Afterwards we walked around a short way, sussing out somewhere to eat tonight before traipsing back up the hill, feeling very hot!
In our air-conditioned room, we worked on the website and sent the first email. We phoned Emma, sending happy birthday wishes for Ruby, 16 tomorrow.
By about 5.00, it was pleasantly cooler on the balcony. We sat there with our aperitifs, before walking down the hill, looking for somewhere to eat. Everywhere was very busy, but the eating places seemed to be fast food type cafes. We chose one we'd looked at earlier, with a few locals sitting inside in the heat, but most seated outside. Then began the long wait! The waiter was pleasant enough, but although there was a menu, the only fish they had was tuna (everything else was 'finished'). I chose a seafood, but all they had was octopus (we think). We ordered two beers, but when we ordered a second later (still waiting for our food), we got the last two! Guests on the next table weren't so lucky.
We tried to enjoy the atmosphere, sitting by a busy little square next to the sea in the balmy evening, but our patience was tried! At least the meal was cheap!
Monday 13th November Sao Vicente in the mist 37km
Breakfast was served on the top floor, so more stairs to climb. We were out of luck again, as the large group of French walkers had eaten almost everything, and it hadn't been replenished. And the coffee was cold! We sat outside on the terrace, above the port. The sun shone eerily through a hazy mist.
We'd hired a car for the next two days, so Adrian went off with the same taxi driver as yesterday to collect it. He returned some time later, hot and flustered, as they couldn't find the place. On the second attempt, he located the car hire place and returned with a small Renault. Although he was pleased with the car, he was dismayed to find that the air conditioning in it didn't work. We set off in the car, stopping at a supermarket to buy some drinking water. I was surprised to see police in the street and in the shop – we haven't seen any sign of trouble.
Back at the car hire place, the man said 'no, it's not working in that car'! Luckily they were able to let us have another one, so it was 11.30 when we left, stopping to get some fuel, and then travelling back in the direction of the airport, once Adrian had found his way. There are not many roads on Sao Vicente. Tomorrow, as we should have more time, we plan to drive around the eastern side of the island, now that there is a newly built road joining the two roads going north-east and south-east.
Night time view from our balcony
We drove back past the stony football pitch to go in the other direction, bothered by flies as we stopped to have our rolls under the shade of acacias beside the vast barren beach.
Now we drove back again, past the airport and into Mindelo, after driving briefly along the southern shore of the bay to Lazarete, where the road ended at army barracks.
In Mindelo, we stopped to look in at the large fish market and also the main market. The walls were covered in fine Portuguese blue & white murals and had stalls selling clothes, shoes jewellery - and armchairs!
The fish are landed at Sao Pedro and loaded for market
Past the airport (the runway of which almost ends on the beach) we came to the small fishing village of Sao Pedro, looking evocative in today's haze, which never cleared. A boat had just landed in the sandy bay, and people were dashing to bring up the fish in plastic trays and load them into a truck, which then sped off. We presumed later, that they were rushing to the fish market in Mindelo. Many more brightly painted boats were lined up on the shore. Nobody took any notice of us.
Sao Vicente’s runway ends by the beach!
We drove on north through the town and on to the end of the rough track where there was an old gun from the former artillery battery.
The fish market and the main market in Mindelo
On the way back to Residencial Jenny, we looked in at the ferry terminal where we will be leaving from on Wednesday for Santo Antao island.
Back in our room, we found that the fridge had not been mended. Adrian went down to tell them, and a new fridge was brought up. He also said the the bucket from the air conditioning was full of water, thinking that they might use it, as water is such a scarce commodity here. All she did, was empty it over the balcony onto the road!
It was 4 o'clock when we got to have our cup of tea on the balcony – just cool enough today because of the mist (29°C).
We returned around the large semi-circular bay, stopping off at Laginha Beach, just north of the town. This had a wide beach of gritty white sand, supposedly imported. It was virtually deserted, but was a good place for us both to refresh with a swim. The water was an unbelievable turquoise, looking strange in the mist. It got deep really quickly.
An old gun in the mist
After a refreshing swim at Laginha Beach, Mindelo
Later, when we were enjoying our aperitifs on the balcony, we spoke to the couple who had arrived next door, from Austria/Germany. They, like others we have met, thought that they'd met us before.
We had no more success with our meal tonight. We chose an upstairs restaurant – right opposite the apartment we will be coming back to for one night after visiting Santo Antao. We ordered, and not long afterwards a meal was brought, but it wasn't for us, but for the people on the next table. We appeared to have been forgotten! By now, large groups of people had arrived, and we wondered if we'd ever get served. We'd have got up and left, but we needed to eat!
When the food came, it was good – bacalau for Adrian and 'stick fish (skewered fish) for me.
After our meal, we went across to get money from a cash point (most things have to be paid by cash here), watched eagerly by a group of children which made us a bit uneasy. As we walked back up to our hotel we could hear the drumming that we'd heard earlier. It seemed to be close to us, but must have come from across the bay.
Back in our room, we sat on the balcony, enjoying the lovely warm temperature.
A ‘nice cup of tea’ on the balcony
Tuesday 14th November A tour of the east of Sao Vicente island 67km
Breakfast was more of a success this morning! We sat outside again, looking out over the large almost circular bay, which had been an important stopping place for mariners in the past.
We left at 9.30. As a cruise ship had come in, there were more people wandering about the town.
We drove past the football pitches in the dry ribeira and soon began the long and winding cobbled ascent up steep, bare, almost vertical Monte Verde. We passed one or two buses, but there was no room for them at the top, so when we got there, all we had was a large group of cyclists.
Soldiers guarded the entry to the many masts. We had a misty view down, past the agaves, the lantana and the tiers of maize. Although the visibility wasn't good today, yesterday there would have been no view. There were flat topped mesas as well as pointed pinnacles.
The all important football pitch (in the dry river bed)
Having had our look around, we stopped on the way down and had our coffee sitting on a low wall.
Continuing on our circuit of the north east of the island, we drove next to Salamansa, a forlornly drab village set on a semi-circular bay of yellow sand facing north. Apparently it is good for kite surfing. Three young girls surrounded the car and tried to sell us beach shells.
We continued along to the northern end of Baia de Gatas, where the village of the same name was set back from a shallow semicircular lagoon.
On top of Monte Verde and the view down
A couple with a toddler were the only people enjoying the beach. There were fishing boats here, and tiered seating for a large musical festival which is held every August.
From here we took the 'new' surfaced road, although the crash barrier was completely rusted through, so not that new! This road followed the splendid east coast down to Calhau. The southern part of the island has no roads at all.
Tour buses obviously follow this route, and we passed some parked by the sea, with the occupants climbing along a sand dune. We continued to a purpose built picnic site (!!) above the sea. We sat at a concrete table in the peace and solitude – just us and a tiny lizard. Below was the black beach, and behind us the barren mountains. Bliss!
Baie de Gatas
Further along, we came down to an orange sandy beach known as Praia Grande, where we both had a paddle. It was an image of orange, black and grey. There was just one lone man, and a woman sunbathing.
A picnic site to enjoy our lunch at!
At Calhau, where we joined the road back to Mindelo, there were just a few houses, a couple of fishing boats and the usual dust football pitch.
Lovely Praia Grande
The route back followed a dry ribeira. People had tried to irrigate it in the past, and we saw several old wells. Crops were growing in the flat valley floor. The little village of Madieral was struggling along, with the lack of water.
And then we passed the incongruous site of an aquapark!
Back in Mindelo, we trailed around looking at restaurants to eat at tonight. With two separate but not linking maps plus the erratic sat nav, unmarked one-way streets and very few road names, it was frustrating! Many were inside, with no air conditioning, others were fast food places. We drove right up to the end of Laginha Beach, where the best option seemed to be a cafe set on the beach. Before returning to our hotel we stopped at the supermarket for more drinking water, the bank for more money, and the ferry terminal to check out boats again.
At 4 o'clock we relaxed with a cup of tea on the balcony, and later with our aperitifs.
We started driving out for our meal, when we saw that the restaurant just along the road was open. We went in to have a look. It was a bit smart, but we decided to go for it. We were the only diners, and nothing was in English. Adrian drove the car back, then we had a pleasant meal – Adrian had grouper, and mine turned out to be skewered fish again.
Back at our hotel, we enjoyed our last night sitting on the balcony here. Tomorrow we are off to Santo Antao Island.
Struggling to survive in the dry valley
Wednesday 15th November To Santo Antao island by ferry 3km
Breakfast on the balcony for the last time here. It was cloudy at first, but then cleared to be really hot.
All went well when we went to return the car, stopping first at the ferry terminal to buy our tickets for this afternoon, and at the supermarket for some butter. From the car hire we were driven back to our hotel, where the insalubrious little door was locked. We had to knock several times before we could get in!
We had been told that we could stay in our room until 2.00pm, when we want to leave to catch the 3.00 ferry. We sorted our bags – not quite so difficult as packing for a flight, with all the restrictions involved.
Before we had our lunch, we started on the second website. Adrian had asked a taxi to come at 2.15 (the taxi driver had thought 2.50), to take us to the ferry terminal just below us. It wasn't far, but too much with our luggage and in this heat. Once there, a 'porter' conned us into transporting our bags for a very short distance, when we had to take over.
We waited in the busy ferry building until people started queuing for the boat. A 'boat porter' grabbed our two large bags, and carried them onto the boat, along with a collection of plastic boxes!
The almost hidden entrance to Residential Jenny
We found seats, and enjoyed the view of the bay all around us, as we left for Porto Novo, on the island of Santo Antao. The sea was smooth, but the old tub bounced up and down.
Waiting at the ferry terminal, Mindelo
Our bags - plus all the rest!
The crossing took just one hour so this is the only way to get there (the only airport on Santo Antao, is always closed due to severe cross winds).
When we arrived, it was pandemonium! We all waited to go down the stairs to collect our bags. Then it was 'harry grabbers', as people dived in to get hold of their various bits of luggage. And it was various – large plastic bags, plastic boxes, a bundle of canes, all sorts. We managed to get off with our stuff, past all the touts trying to grab them and carry them for money. We found a trolley, but then came to a building where a uniformed man spoke in French, which we tried to ignore, but he was saying that we couldn't take the trolley any further. This terminal has the only escalator in Cape Verde – somehow Adrian was able to pull both large bags up safely!
Coming into Porto Novo, Santo Antao Island
Well! The taxi arrived at 7.00 and drove us down into the town. We passed the young German couple who are staying at the hotel (the only other guests) walking down – it seemed a long, rough way, but they ended up at the same restaurant as us..
We ate at Lampara Gorgio - a restaurant owned by an American/Italian chap. The son was a real 'wise guy', but Adrian enjoyed being able to discuss with him in a common language. His Italian father (who was there too, and we presume had set up the restaurant) had lived here a long time, the son had been here 3 years and loved it. His mother lived in Baltimore. The chap reminded us in his stance of our friend Paul Gallagher. However, he was very happy-go-lucky – a moneymaker, with no conscience, or thought for others. Or so it seemed.
The food was more expensive than most, but Adrian thought the best yet. He ate serra, and I had 'grilled fish' – we asked, but weren't told what it was. It was a long time in coming as always. A taxi took us back to our hotel.
There was a nice sky though!
Thursday 16th November Unexpected dramatic canyon scenery 77km
Breakfast was upstairs – similar to other places, but minus any egg, and all set up individually for us.
The owner, in French, said that we were to move back into the suite, as the air-conditioning would be mended. She was just off to Sao Vicente until Saturday to meet her daughter.
And so – having just got ourselves sorted, we moved it all back into the 'suite room'.
Adrian went off by taxi to collect our car. The young girl assistant tried to talk to me, and later to Adrian, in French, but we couldn't understand her. After a very long time, we think that she was asking if we needed anything, as she wanted to go home. Mind you, she was back before we left, as a workman fixing the front door.
I'd washed out a couple of things, and put them over the window bars to dry. It was quite breezy – I looked out to see my shorts on top of a tiled roof! Luckily, with extended hiking stick, Adrian was able to retrieve them!
It was 11.15 when we set off, driving through Porto Novo, and then on a stretch of tarmacked road! After 5km, it turned to cobbles, so the rest was a bumpy ride!
Adrian arrives back with the hire car at Yria Residential
The land was barren and stony, with green trees in the areas where the ribeiras flow. We drove west for a few miles, then turned north, following the Ribeira das Patas. This just became more and more spectacular – we weren't expecting that!
A road off went to the west coast, to a place called Tarrafal (again). We knew that that was a really difficult road. Ours was cobbled – except for one stretch which must have got washed away in the rare rains. A crew of men were rebuilding a bridge and relaying the cobbles, while we made a dusty diversion.
We get into gorge country
We drove through a couple of simple, steep villages, but otherwise it was just us and the remote, stupendously high and steep barren canyon sides. Very occasional flat areas had rich deep soil, with crops planted. There were a few terraces too. The rock strata was magnificent – bands of black, deep red and white, with lines of 'Walls of China' jutting out from them. There was virtually no other traffic, except for a cavalcade of 7 or 8 cars, whose occupants stopped several times – we presume doing some kind of survey.
Repairing the washed away road
We stopped to eat our lunch, sitting on dried grass, with aloes in flower and a derelict hut nearby and gigantic vertical slopes around us.
We stopped at the pass at the top at 1200m (3600ft).
The ‘walls of China’ and the cavalcade of cars
Then it was down, down, down until we reached the end of the road at Ribeira da Cruz. It was here that we spied our first breadfruit tree, growing amongst the palms and mangos. We'd come to know them so well in the Marquesas Islands in 1998.
We stop for lunch before descending to Ribeira da Cruz
We now began our return journey. It was only 34 km from Porto Novo, but had taken a long time (3hrs).
When we'd got almost back to Porto Novo, we drove down a long and bumpy track to the place we had originally booked, at Praia de Topo. There were just a few houses above a remote black sandy beach, plus an odd beach bar with a model skeleton on its roof. I managed to put my feet in the sea, before we returned to Porto Novo.
Before driving back to our hotel, we looked in at a place to hopefully eat at tonight.
Then some more disasters – the air-conditioning still didn't seem to be working. The lovely young girl appeared, with her little boy of about Edward's age, and Adrian managed to switch it on (but it was only blowing hot air about!).
Worse – our only 13A to 2-pin plug broke, with one prong left sticking out – live (We'd mistakenly left the spare plug behind at the first hotel). Even electrical engineer Adrian was not sure how to solve this one – we need electric to run the computer, charge the sat-nav & camera batteries and boil the kettle! Much anguish, but by using a plastic fork he got the pin out, and with tweezers and the hotel penknife on the corkscrew meant to remove the bottle cap, managed to mend the plug. At least that bit of the crisis was over!
We drove back down to Restaurante Felicidade to eat. We sat outside on a terrace, surrounded by lush green plants growing in pots. We both had 'cooked fish', as the baked fish would have taken an hour. Adrian thought that it was tuna. It came with vegetables – carrots, potatoes and welcome cabbage, and also rice. We enjoyed a bottle of Vinho Verde with it. There were one or two other diners.
It was nice to see a breadfruit tree
Friday 17th November More unbelievable scenery on Santo Antao 108km
A cold shower wasn't too bad, but not having anywhere to put the soap etc was difficult! Adrian had mentioned the lack of hot water – but nothing done yet!
There was only us for breakfast. The young girl cooked us a fried egg and baked banana.
We had wanted to get off early, as we knew that today was going to be a long one, but it was 9.30 before we left.
Today we were driving to Ribeira Grande, in the north, over the mountains. It wasn't far in distance, but we knew that the going would be slow.
We took the good cobbled road northwards out of the town, soon reaching the barren mountains, with the road often edged with yellow flowering aloes, and the countryside dotted with trees. We had misty views across to San Vicente. Soon we came to deep canyons, with brown sides, and then we reached the level of the pine trees.
We turned off to drive for a way eastwards towards Pico da Cruz along the ridge, with immensely steep slopes down on either side, which did nothing for my vertigo!
A good cobbled road towards canyon country
We smiled to see a goat tethered high above Ribeira de Paul, far below. Later we saw donkeys tethered too. We wondered if they ever suffered from vertigo!
Donkeys and goats were tethered high above Ribeira de Paul
We had glimpses of the sea long before we reached Ribeira Grande, on a never ending winding descent. Stupendous scenery which was hard to imagine. Sugar cane was often grown on the terraces.
Once down at Ribeira Grande, we ate our rolls for lunch, sitting on a wall above the dark stony beach. We thought that the town had a nice feel, as we passed children in their school uniform (green short sleeve shirt and long trousers here, even the girls, although some wore skirts.)
Stunning views as we make the long descent to Ribeira Grande
Two ribeiras reach the sea here, Ribeira Grande and Ribeira de Torre. We followed a cobbled road up the fertile valley Ribeira Grande for some way. Crops were being grown on the flat floor, and sugar cane further up. I was enjoying having the height above me, not below!
We stop to eat our lunch at Ribeira Grande
We returned to Ribeira Grande, and followed the stunning road a few miles northwest to Ponta do Sol. The road was set in the high vertical black cliffs above the sea.
Ponta do Sol was a smart, attractive town set beneath the stark, sheer black cliffs. The narrow little harbour was crammed with colourful fishing boats.
Driving up the Ribeira Grande
Now we began our homeward route, taking the road around the coast.
We stopped at the town of Paul, where the thing to do is to walk up the Ribeira. We had a drive up the cobbled road for several miles. We could see the attraction – it was very green, with bananas, breadfruit, sugar cane and occasional bright red flowers growing in the immensely high gorge. Lovely!
Colourful fishing boats at Ponta do Sol
The disused airstrip at Ponta do Sol
We continued along the coast, passing stacks and sea arches.
Lovely Ribeira de Paul
At Janela, there was a 'new' road and so it was surfaced until just before Porta Novo. We were now driving through barren hills above the sea.
Once back in Porto Novo, we stopped at the car hire, where we were really pleased that we could have the car again tomorrow.
We looked at two more restaurants, then stopped at the petrol station and the bank, so didn't get back to our hotel until nearly 5.30. Neither the air conditioning nor the hot water had been fixed!
The wonderful coast road back to Porto Novo
Saturday 18th November Shades of brown 87km
We left at 9.30 on a sunny morning, stopping at a little supermarket to buy drinking water & pears – there was nothing else there that we wanted.
We drove the few miles of tarmac as we had on the first day, then came to the cobbles. We were driving towards Tarrafal (another one) on the west coast. According to our recently published guide book, this road is notorious for being more than slow! 2½ hours to do about 20 miles.
We were delighted therefore, to find that it had been cobbled for much further than was suggested.
We had a panorama of the barren brown sandy mountains all around, looking stunning against the blue sky. Much further up, we came to one or two houses, and tiny patches of sugar cane. We passed a couple walking along, carrying a baby.
We climbed to 5197 ft (1600m), where we had shades of brown all around us.
Stunning views as we drive towards Tarrafal on Santo Antao
We delighting in the surroundings, but 8 miles before Tarrafal, the cobbles ran out, and the road was just a bumpy dusty, stony track. We continued for a short way, bumping along and being shaken to pieces. As soon as we could, we managed to turn around. Swifts swooped above us. The only other vehicles we'd seen were a few alugeurs, taking their passengers for a bumpy ride.
We reach the top
On our return, we passed again the groups of goats, and wondered what they could possibly find to eat.
We were pleased to reach the cobbles again.
The bumpy track to Tarrafal
We stopped where another bumpy track led off to Norte, further up the coast.
As we came to the top of the pass, we had the magical misty view of Sao Vicente, looking like a lumpy pavlova.
What can the goats find to eat?
We reach the relative bliss of cobbles
We stopped under a lone tree by a derelict house to eat our lunch - there had been nowhere shady to pull off in this wilderness. We had views down towards the sea as we enjoyed the absolute peace and quiet.
We drove back to Porto Novo, enjoying the few miles of smooth tarmac at the end. At the ferry terminal, we went in to buy our tickets for tomorrow morning's ferry. The girl was entirely disinterested. The escalators only work when a boat comes in, and the toilets were locked!
We looked in at a restaurant for tonight, then continued a couple of miles to Praia de Curraletes, a beach of black sand. Apart from a few kids playing by the building at the rear of the beach, it was deserted. We both had an enjoyable swim – just us.
Looking across to Sao Vicente island
We find a bit of shade for lunch
Back in Porto Novo, we filled the petrol tank before having a walk on the pleasant little town beach, with its smattering of colourful fishing boats.
Praia de Curraletes - another nice swim
Then it was back to our room to get sorted for our ferry back to Mindelo for one night tomorrow.
We thought that we'd have our aperitifs on the balcony upstairs, but were thwarted, as the door was locked! Instead, we sat in front of our open window, with its 2 inch balcony! There was a nice sky.
The town beach in Porto Novo
Sunday 19th November Back to Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island
We were up early to get sorted for our ferry to Mindelo. Our effervescent hotel owner was back from her trip to Sao Vicente, so we didn't see the young girl this morning.
We had an anxious moment when Adrian thought that he saw the ferry arriving, and wondered if the sailing was 9.00, and not 10.00.
We drove down to eat at Nova Cidada restaurant – almost the only diners again. Adrian had serra and I had fish Milanese, which tasted like Wiener schnitzel! We sat on the terrace opposite the ferry terminal. As we were leaving, we saw the chap from our first night here, who at the time hadn't been able to locate his hotel – he said he had now!
The short crossing was quite choppy - a couple of ladies asked for sick bags. Soon we were back at Mindelo - I was first down the gangplank while Adrian collected our bags – not quite the mellee it had been on our arrival at Porto Novo.
Farewell Porto Novo
Looking back to the town beach
A taxi took us a short distance to our hotel – Aparthotel Avenida (Residential Jenny was full when we booked). We were on the third floor (all those stairs again) - a spacious room with a view over the sea, but no balcony.
We settled in for our one night, before our flight to Sal tomorrow.
We spent some time in working on the website, before going out for walk around – it is nice to be in the centre of town, and right by the sea.
We arrive back at Mindelo
Looking out from our room at Aparthotel Avenida
We had a skype conversation with Simon, also talking to Millie and to Laure.
We ate out tonight at Nautilus, which we'd come across on our walk around. It was just along from us, situated in a large open 'barn', right by the sea. As we arrived, we were aware of loud drumming, and soon realised that this was the sound we had heard from Jenny's, along the bay. It was intense and very loud, and came from the building next door – luckily it was fairly short lived. We saw afterwards that it was in a 'cultural centre' next door, and seemed to entertain people of all ages.
The meal and service were very good. Adrian had grouper (sea bream was 'off'), and I had fish soup, which had far more texture than the one I had the other day.
Afterwards we walked 'around the block', enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. Back in our room, the sounds from outside below us made me think of Neil Diamond's song 'beautiful noise'.
Memories of Copenhagen!
The Tower of Belem
Activity below our room as the light fades
Monday 20th November We fly to the island of Sal
We were up early again to get organised to fly to Sal.
We had a good breakfast – two floors down, looking over the sea -only us there.
The taxi for the airport came at 10.00. We enjoyed our look at 'real' Cape Verde, as Sal is very much a tourist island.
When we arrived at the airport, we had an early tea/coffee from our flasks, as it was too early to book in. We've never been too early before! We had to wait to leave our bags, and then again for the gate to open to go through security – it seemed that they only let you through an hour before the flight time. Then we all had to wait for the one scanner. At least it was light and airy at the airport. The only nuisance was the flies – even on the plane!
It was a long trail across the tarmac to the plane, but not a hardship in the warm sunshine!
Once airborne, we ate our rolls with the beaker of water given. Again there were little bags of snacks, a boiled sweet and a wet wipe handed out.
We were the wrong side of the plane to see the island of Sao Nicolau, but it wasn't long before the island of Sal came into view, looking like a brown relief map, with patches of green where they must sometimes get water.
It was a pleasant landing, but then a wait as we were a bit early, and the ground staff weren't ready!
Again it was warm as we walked across to the terminal building. Everything is so much easier and more pleasant in a small airport.
Taking off from Sao Vicente
Later we walked around the cobbled streets, which had a different feeling from other islands, with far more white people than black. Everywhere there were bars and eating places plus souvenir shops.
There was lush greenery by some of the smarter hotels, which seemed rather obscene, when the island only gets 8cm of rain each year and is drastically short of water. There was a nice sandy beach, which we plan to visit tomorrow.
Adrian wanted some tonic for his gin. We'd looked in at a mini market below us, and that is where he got his tonic after our search around!
We came back and enjoyed aperitifs on the balcony.
We'd looked at some eating places earlier, but when we came to Cafe del Mar in a covered terrace by the sea, it looked good. A 3-piece band was playing – one on vocals, with guitar, the other two with drums. It was very atmospheric – and busy!
China cups for our tea!
Adrian ate 'fish of the day', and I had calamari. From where we sat, we could see the chefs at work in the kitchen, which was very clean and organised. Being in a tourist area, we could feel the different standards, and could speak to the waiter. We decided that it was time we tried the Cape Verdi 'pudim', so shared one – a very nice solid crème caramel.
On our walk back, we could hear loud drumming, and spied a man and woman playing inside a derelict building. As we got back to our apartment, the man from the little shop downstairs was playing his guitar, sitting outside. Two men had been working all afternoon, concreting the floor outside the cafe next door – they were still at it, and didn't finish until late.
We ended the day with a nightcap on the balcony.
Cafe del Mar, Sal
Tuesday 21st November Our last day in Cape Verde
Our breakfast was included, and was served in the cafe just downstairs Afterwards we bought a roll for lunch from the bakers which was part of Cafe del Mar. There were just a few rolls on sale, nothing else.
We enjoyed our last day in Cape Verde, having no pressures on us. We'd decided to stay around Santa Maria, rather than try to see any of the few sights that the island has.
Late morning we walked out along the magnificent long white sandy beach, joining the many tourists – all white - on the beach, and then having a delightful swim in the warm, turquoise water.
We could see a lot of activity on the little pier, so made our way there. A few people were going off scuba diving, but most were watching the fishermen and their catch. Lots of huge fish had been landed and were being dealt with. It was nice to see.
The wonderful white sandy beach at Santa Maria, Sal
We walked back and ate our lunch on the balcony.
Activity on the pier, Santa Maria
Some images of Cape Verde
Children running along the road, in school uniform
Dogs lying in the shade
Ladies carrying large plastic bowls on their heads
People, and donkeys, with loads of hay
Colourful fishing boats on the beach
Speed humps, often not marked
Aluguers – truck shared taxis
Almost no traffic, outside the few towns
A few surprises
French is widely spoken, not English, although that is the second language on planes
All inter-island flights, although short, brought round water, nuts, sweet and wet wipe
Many people smoked – locals and tourists (probably French)
Police/security presence, but never saw any trouble
Boa Vista Island
Very dry – mostly sand (desert) – very little greenery or vegetation
Beautiful long white sandy beaches
Very few tourists (apart from all-inclusive)
Most roads cobbled - a few good new roads
Other roads 4x4
Very little traffic, even in town
Hotel Dunas, Boa Vista
Lovely view over the bay – little fishing boats
Room fine – only one chair (as all had, second when asked)
Air conditioning necessary
Not much choice for breakfast – no tea until asked
Small balcony, but wall too high to see over when sitting
Lights very dim
Right in town – lots eating places nearby
Sink leaked – mended next day
Busier than Boa Vista
Praia a stifling big city
Tarrafal more like Sal Rei, Boa Vista
Dramatic gorge - like scenery
Some white sand, some black
Few vehicles – mostly trucks and aluguers
Hotel Miradoura de Gambia, Praia, Santiago
Lift broken – had to climb stairs
Superb breakfast on terrace – lovely 'eggy bread'
Only one eating place nearby- OTT with few diners- uphill walk back
View to sea – much building around
Handrail on stairs not fixed
Automatic lights on stairs – often went out before ready
Hotel Vulcao, Cidade Velha, Santiago island
'Resort hotel' – anaesthetised
Staff always greeted you
Fixtures more reliable than other hotels
No handrails on stairs
Seawater swimming pool – emptied each day
On rocky coast inlet for swimming
Spare loo rolls!
Lots of guests, but no other diners in restaurant in evening
Hotel Cachoeira, Tarrafal, Santiago
Rather off-hand receptionist
Good location by white sandy beach
Eating places nearby
Breakfast good, but in dimly lit inner room
Changed room to one with balcony – atmospheric view
Room not cleaned first day – other days good
Loo flush didn't work properly
Banister not fixed
Automatic lights on stairs went out too soon
Door key – universal – no security
Fridge plug in bathroom
Good bakers downstairs
Sao Vicente Island
Mountainous and barren
Most of population live in Mindelo
Eateries either 'fast food' or posh
Residential Jenny, Mindelo, Sao Vicente
Stairs to climb (and more to breakfast)
Fridge not working (another brought, after reminder)
Balcony- but VERY hot during day
Very noisy echoes up central stairway
Insalubrious hidden entry door
Bidet – good for washing sandy feet
Santo Antao Island
Dramatic gorge scenery
Not the bustle of other islands
Most visitors come to hike
Green in north
Very high mountains
Yria Residential, Santo Antao
French speaking lady owner - went away Thurs - Sat
Nice building – middle of 'building site'
Oleanders outside, in barren area
Air-conditioning not working in room we'd booked
Out of town – not convenient
Marked in wrong place on map information
Hot water not working (until last day)
Nice young girl worker
Neither spoke English
Barking dogs nearby
Aparthotel Avenida, Mindelo, Sao Vicente
Nice seaview but no balcony
On third floor – stairs!
Spacious room – 3 single beds
Right in town and by sea
Park, square and activity below
Albis Harena, Santa Maria, Sal
Spacious apartment with 2 bedrooms
Extra facilities – cooking, if needed
Balcony on two sides
Not by sea, but open view
Air-conditioning, but not in bedroom
Very light curtains - had to resort to eye masks!
Noisy at night – traffic, people, dogs
Always clean towels
Interesting pictures on wall
Stairs, not lifts
Not everything as in western hotels
Not everything worked! Nor was it mended when reported
Rarely a shelf by sink for toiletries or anywhere in shower to put soap
Never enough electric plugs
Rarely a two-way adapter for them
Toilet roll holder nearly always in difficult place to access
Often no spare loo roll
Always only one chair – request for second always OK
Staff nearly always helped with bags
Glad that we brought
'Vest' T shirts
Drinking glasses (bought in Cape Verde)
Plastic cups (brought from plane)
Arid, sandy island
Beautiful white sandy beaches
Most touristy island – 'all-inclusives' and apartments
Nicer than we' imagined
We got the website up to date and later walked out, enjoying the lively atmosphere, watching the sun descend over the sea for our last time.
On our way back, we passed a young chap with one normal leg, and one useless withered one. He fixed his surf board onto his bike, and went cycling past. What an inspiration. We have noticed quite a lot of people in wheel chairs, particularly in Ponta do Sol on Santo Antao, being quite accepted by others.
Back at our apartment, it was time for our last aperitifs on the balcony, unable to think of the cold weather that we were going back to. A tiny crescent moon shone down – horizontal here, unlike in England.
We ate tonight at Cultural Cafe, which we'd looked at earlier. There are apparently 70 eating places in Santa Maria! Adrian had 'fish of the day' and I had fish and prawn skewer. It looked impressive. The fish was probably tuna, and there were just three prawns – not good value for the price, and I find tuna too chewy. There was a lot of music being played at various places, and outside dogs barked and children shrieked.
The sun goes down at Santa Maria
We walked back via the beach, savouring the lovely warm evening. It was still 25°C when we sat out on the balcony with the liqueur brought with us from Yria Residential.
The last supper!
Enjoying the warm walk back along the beach
We travelled a total of 1081km in four vehicles
Wednesday 22nd November
The night was noisy with people, vehicles, dogs and cats.
We were served breakfast again in the cafe next door by the pleasant but slow moving waiter. Afterwards we walked along the beach before coming back to get packed up.
At 10.00 the owner arrived, so we left the bags with him while we walked down to the pier to watch the fishing activity. At the end of the pier two chaps were leaping into the water. Another was throwing his flip flop in for his dog to retrieve. We'd taken our flasks, so had a drink sitting on a stone bench before walking back to the hotel.
The owner and taxi driver were already loading our bags into the taxi. We'd arranged for a driver to take us to the airport, calling in first at the salinas at Pedra de Lume, on the east of the island.
He dashed us there, with one hand on the steering wheel, and the other on his phone. It cost €5 each to go in and walk down a slope and then many steps to view the various salinas, attractively set inside a volcanic crater. You could float in them, which would have been fun, but not for us today.
What - more fish?
By now driver was in a hurry to get us to the airport so that he could meet the next plane.
There was a very long zig-zag queue to book in – luckily Adrian found that there was a shorter queue for people with children, and for 'Special Assistance'.
Having deposited our main bags, we went back and ate our rolls for lunch before going through security. We had €10 left in Cape Verde escudos, but it would have cost €3.50 to change them, so we didn't bother, although you can't use them elsewhere.
We came through to a large area with very little seating. There were 2 duty free shops, and a cafe with a very long queue. Adrian bought a bottle of water and we continued to the departure lounge, which was cooler, and had seats.
We had to walk a long way across the tarmac – our last time in the warmth – to our Thomas Cook flight back to Gatwick. The flight was full with all the holidaymakers for the 5½hr flight. It was goodbye to Sal and the Cape Verde Islands, which we'd really enjoyed.
The flight went well. We had a glimpse of Gran Canaria when we flew over, but after that it became cloudy, and soon it got dark.
We spent some of the time working on the website, and also listening to our recording of our trip to Alaska and Northern Canada in 2002.
Our descent to Gatwick was the most unpleasant landing for a long time, because of the high winds. As Adrian had asked for 'special assistance' for me, a wheelchair arrived. I didn't need that, but was glad of the buggy ride, which gets you through passport control with no effort and queueing.
We pushed past all the touts here, and managed to get a taxi. He took us first to the car hire, so that Adrian could confirm our car for tomorrow, as they hadn't replied. Then he drove us to Yria Residencial, on the far outskirts of town.
It was situated on barren ground, like a building site, but was a smart building with bright oleanders growing outside. Once we'd found the entrance, a French speaking lady greeted us and welcomed us to her home.
She led us to a large pleasant room, more like a suite. There was no balcony, but a large window with a distant view past the desolation to the sea. We'd begun settling in, when Adrian tried the most important thing – the air conditioning. This was the reason that we'd changed to this hotel from the attractive one we'd originally booked. It didn't seem to be working. He went in search of the lady 'no, it's broken' (in French). It seemed it worked sometimes. This was no good. The sad result was that we ended up in the poky little room next door, where the air conditioning did work!
It was now 5.00, and we were drooping. We found things to get a cup of tea, then tried to fit a 'quart into a pint pot'.
We needed more drinking water, which the lady brought us, but on asking where we could eat, the answer was 'get a taxi'. Things were not good!
Our meal tonight was interesting! We drove down to Antilhas opposite the ferry terminal.
The waitress spoke no English, and the menu was only in Portuguese.
I just ordered fish soup, and Adrian ordered fish – she asked if filleted. My soup came – just a large bowl of puréed soup, no bread or anything else. Adrian asked for his meal – and was brought a bowl of soup too! That was it! We didn't know if his fish would arrive. He was quite pleased to have just the soup, so a frugal evening!
Soon we were in a taxi, and tearing along through the flat landscape to Santa Maria, in the south of the island, where we have an apartment for our last two days in Cape Verde. We were aware of apartment blocks everywhere. We were dropped at ours – Albis Harena, where a man took our bags upstairs to a closed door. The owner, possibly Italian or Portuguese, appeared and showed us around the spacious 2 bedroom apartment. He gave us detailed information, and said that we can stay in the same room tomorrow, although when we booked, we thought that we'd have to change to a much smaller room.
There was no sea view, but a narrow balcony all around. Being an apartment, it was well kitted out – with even a washing machine, an opportunity which I couldn't miss!
We settled in for the last time!
Although quite windy (but warm) we sat on the balcony with our cup of tea – in china cups!
We were surprised at our carousel to see very few bags and people – they can't all have got through before us.
We had trouble then in locating the car park for our 'meet and greet' man, only later realising that we were at a different terminal! Adrian had even more trouble in trying to leave the car park – having located our English currency, you could only pay by card, and it didn't seem to work. He ended by phoning the help number!
It was then a good run home, despite all the lane closures. We arrived back just before midnight English time (11pm to us).
Just time to bring in the luggage, and leave the unpacking until tomorrow!
We'd had a great time.
All was well. Adrian drove us down to the ferry terminal, then went to return the car. I'd worried that we'd left our water bottles behind, but they had fallen out of the bag in the car.
We fought our way down to the terminal, as crowds poured out from the arriving boat. The new boat terminal had no air conditioning, so it was a warm wait!
Then it was all aboard, and goodbye to Porto Novo and Santo Antao island. The stark mountains stood out like an outline against the blue sky.