Well, it’s my first leg to the Seychelles and I’m already exhausted. Can’t wait for the next 22 hours. From Lisbon to London is 3 hours; then a 4 hour layover; then 7 hours to Doha; then 6 hours to Zanzibar. It wouldn’t be so bad if I had had a decent sleep last night but, as usual my tiny brain wouldn’t stop organizing and reviewing and recalling…so zero sleep. I’m not complaining (well, maybe) as the night before I slept from 3 am to 2:30 pm. Totally knocked out.
I’ve given up worrying about my sleeping patterns. My belief is that I’m on a 48 hour sleep cycle or thereabouts. Waaah. I am excited about this trip. Meeting my buddy Andrew in Zanzibar prior to boarding our ship for a wonderful 2 weeks survey of the Seychelles, Aldabra Atoll, etc. Lots of sun, snorkeling, turtle and bird gazing. Should be very relaxing…like a real vacation.
I keep thinking I’m going to get better at packing. When I arrived last week from San Francisco into Lisbon I shouldn’t have unpacked my Seychelles clothes and stuff. I had a very difficult time repacking and thought I was done when I checked a bottom drawer and saw that I had stored all my shorts and t-shirts there. So, cramming all that into my fully packed suitcase was a bit of a chore. I probably really only need a couple pair of shorts and some long pants and t-shirts…and, of course, snorkel gear. Whatever…
I’m taking EasyJet to London. I’ve taken them before and like them a lot for these short European trips. They are not so strict on the luggage (you do have to pay for hold luggage and have a couple of options in terms of weight and cost) and their restrictions are very well-explained. On the carry-on however, you are restricted to one teeeny plastic bag for your liquids and gels. At this writing you have to pull the bag out of your suitcase and place it on the tray separately. You no longer have to pull your electronics out.
This is my first real trip for 2020. I did return from the East Coast a month ago but I left in 2019…so doesn’t really count. My last year of non-travel didn’t quite work out that way. It was my intention to curb my travel as I had been out of the country for about 9 months in 2018. However, duty calls. I made it until May and then all hell broke loose with a trip to Cincinnati, Lisbon, Seville, Poland, Prague, Lisbon again, Mexico and then Virginia and South Carolina.
Travel suggestion for Lisbon (and EU): download the app FreeNow (it used to be MyTaxi) and add your credit card for auto pay. It’s not actually free and I’m not sure why the name change but they do pick up at the airport in Lisbon at Terminal 1 just in front of the taxi line and across from the metro. It’s similar to Uber but the drivers all have WiFi for payment…so you don’t need to access your cell service. Also, they are able to get into neighborhoods (such as Bairro Alto) that are blocked off from Uber. As with Uber, one can order a taxi for up to 4 days in advance. They are also in Seville and other cities/countries as well. A good substitute for Uber.
Qatar Air to Doha and on to Zanzibar. I was kind of excited taking Qatar but pretty disappointed overall. It’s quite similar to American and United. The food was better but we are pretty packed in here. They have a 3-3-3 structure in coach and there’s a kid behind him that keeps kicking the seat and adjusting the TV screen which is in the seat back. I talked to him several times and whipped my arm around there to grab his legs…he was at it again in 2 minutes. His mother and another kid are behind me as well but she’s oblivious. He is only about seven I guess. And next to me is a fellow who has had 4 whiskies and is taking up not only the armrest but my space as well…as he leans into me, resting. The Entertainment is fine and the food, as I mentioned, was good. We’re almost to Doha and then I have a 2 1/2 hour layover waiting for my next 6 hour flight. Same configuration. At least on the way back I’m going business class. Hopefully that will be a bit different.
Finally made it to Zanzibar. What a cluster- fck at arrivals. First of all there were departures getting mixed in with arrivals and several agents trying to direct traffic. I hadn’t gotten my visa ahead of time but getting it here was the easy part. Since I’m from the rich U.S. I had to pay $100 cash. And of course the credit card machine wasn’t working…as has been mentioned by other travelers. I think you can assume it never works and to bring $50 clean bills to pay. I have no doubt this gets shared by the customs officers. I had also been led to believe that they would take a picture and fingerprints…but no. Once I had paid my visa fee, I had to get into the customs line which was where the big problem was. However, it really took only about 30 minutes, and seemed to be pretty blasé. You could have put anything on the customs form…no one even looks. Luggage came OK but was on a different carousel than indicated.
Zegrahm driver picked me up and another lady (Robin). I delayed her about 30 minutes because I didn’t come all the way out to where the drivers had to meet people. I waited inside thinking they would come to get me…my bad.
Lots of thunder showers today. This is their dry season. Hmmm.
My room wasn’t ready (Park Hyatt) and Andrew doesn’t arrive for four more hours. Having had no sleep for 30 hours, I’m pretty tired and not very good company. It’s an adventure! I was hoping to get a shower in and maybe a nap. Guess I’ll have to reserve it for tonight. I’m sure I’ll be snoring up a storm. The hotel seems lovely [pic] and is right on the water with a small beach and pool.
Sitting here on Zanzibar beach and hanging out at the pool. Andrew came in yesterday and sure enough I was a snorer last night. We went to dinner at the Emerald Tea Room up about 5 floors with a lovely view of the city. Meal was fine and a little weird. It’s a set menu with about 6 courses. Today we walked down to the center of Stone Town and ate at the Secret Garden for lunch.
Broiled shrimp wrapped in a very thin crispy noodle. Yum.
Did some minimal shopping, had a drink at the Freddie Mercury cafe…news to me he was born here. Went to the Palace Museum for a little history lesson.
Most of our fellow travelers showed up this evening. The de riguer Welcome dinner…which I don’t remember at all. I guess it was at the hotel…the Park Hyatt. There’s a pick up for a Zanzibar walking/riding tour at 8AM. Yikes. We don’t board the ship (Le Bougainvillea) until 4ish. Everything’s a bit of a blur.