seychelles_kitty_popeMy unbelievable, luxurious trip to Seychelles by way of Dubai


How excited I was to be headed to Seychelles for the 2011 International Carnival in Victoria. I could not wait to visit the African island in the Indian Ocean that is quickly becoming the new global hot spot. But to top off this vacation escape, I was going to this tropical paradise by way of Dubai.  My chance had finally arrived to visit the modern, most desirable tourist destination city of Dubai, known for being over-the-top in every way.   Dubai and Seychelles are two places that I’ve heard so much about and longed to experience.  Now I would be doing them both in the same trip. This was my two- for- one vacation of a life time!  Oh my God, this was as good as it gets.

The whole trip was exciting, proving to be beyond my wildest vacation fantasy. To begin with, I flew to Dubai on Emirates Airlines, the most luxurious airline there is. The aircraft was so chic and plush.  Riding in coach, I really felt like a queen in first class on my way there. I had to remind myself that I was in coach as I wondered what more could be in first class that I did not already have at my finger tips in coach. There was plenty of leg room, reclining seats that went way back, far enough to get a good night’s sleep.  Just as I thought there could not be anything more for a comfortable flight, I was upgraded to first class for my return trip. Emirates’ first class is a trip made in heaven!  On my departure trip to Seychelles, I spent a day in Dubai to get a sneak peek at the beautiful city that I would see more of on my return trip.

seychellles_paradeI arrived safely in Seychelles where you could smell the beauty of the island and waters getting off the plane.  I immediately noticed the comfort of the island’s climate, and I felt so relaxed breathing in the fresh air of this new tropical hot spot where the temperature seemed almost perfect. I observed the country side of luscious rolling hills, majestic mountains and greenest greenery as I rode down the winding roads to my hotel. I caught glimpses of the inviting white sand beaches that seemed to be flirting with me as I  arrived at my hotel that turned out not to be a hotel. It was a precious secluded villa, the Carana Hilltop located right across from the seductive white sand beaches.  Shaded by coconut palms and all kinds of fruit trees, with the stunning mountains and tropical forest as the backdrop, this was more like a home away from home, and the perfect base for me to explore the island and experience the Creole culture at my own pace.  I was all set to do Seychelles and its first multicultural carnival.

Seychelles is indeed multicultural with a melting pot of people from various ethnicities, customs, and traditions, who all came together to settle and build it, and the revisit to its multi-ethnic origins with the "Carnaval International de Victoria" proved to be a real treat. The grand opening took place the afternoon in the center of Victoria where visiting dignitaries, representing various participating countries were present to witness the official launch of the carnival.  Later that day we attended an official press conference where all the dignitaries and notables attended, including American legendary songstress Dionne Warwick, who was a presenter. Speaking also was Majid Al Mualla, a vice-president of Emirates Airlines whom I wanted to run up and hug and thank for my glorious flight.  I managed to keep my composure when I met him and only mentioned that I had wonderful flight. Even though I told him it was not necessary, he went ahead and upgraded my return flight to first class! My trip of a lifetime was getting better by the moment!

The three-day carnival started with large, open, alfresco restaurant-styled activities where the capital city of Victoria was turned into an entertainment venue with music and food from around the world. That evening a program on stage around the clock in the middle of Victoria took place with speakers, singers, dancers and performers from the various visiting countries participating. Speakers included Seychelles’ president, tourism officials and Warwick. The performers from all over really rocked the stage. One performer, Lima Calibo, was really sensational.  A soca darling from Trinidad, she danced and sang while waving her red, white and black flag back and forth.  Soliciting the crowd to join in, a group of little children did go up on stage and had a great time jumping and waving with her. Another group London’s Notting Hill Steel Pan Band really put on a show!

I got up early the next morning for a little downtime before the grand carnival parade.  I meditated on my balcony in the midst of palm trees, scenic views of the mountains, and the peaceful sound of the birds, enjoying the stillness of the moment in what must be God’s most tranquil and refreshing place on earth. I could reach out and pluck an avocado or any fruit I wanted from my balcony which I did as an appetizer before breakfast. I seemed to have stepped into another world when I arrived for the parade in Victoria where everything was lively and upbeat in contrast to the peaceful moments of meditation on my balcony. There was a special section for VIP’s and media with the comforts of shade and bottled water, where I sat near Seychelles’ President James Michel and other dignitaries. Seated there also was Ms. Warwick whom I got to chat with while waiting.   

There was excitement everywhere as the spirit of the carnival was upon the local islanders and visitors alike.  The parade began with exhilarating music and carnival dance. Then came unique floats representing China, Korea, Indonesia to Hawaii, UK, France, Italy, Brazil and the African countries of Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zanzibar and South Africa. The nearby Indian Ocean islands of La Reunion and Madagascar also participated with distinguished, beautiful colorful floats as did the European Union who showed off their member states by flying a flag from each country. It was later confirmed this float parade had the largest gathering of spectators ever in Seychelles. After the parade everyone just hung out and enjoyed the festivities, street parties and bands until the wee hours of the night. The final day was Family Fun Day where we got to walk around the city, enjoy more festive activities and immerse ourselves in the Creole culture of Seychelles.

dubai_kitty_popeWhen it was time to leave, the only thing that pulled me away from Seychelles was the idea of seeing more of Dubai. When I got to the airport in Dubai, which looked more like an upscale gigantic shopping mall, my wounds as a result of pulling away from Seychelles were immediately healed. I really loved walking around this modern day airport, window shopping and watching people, who acted more like they were shopping than having to catch a flight. I was given first class treatment by Emirates Airlines who picked me up and took me to their fabulous hotel. I did a tour of the city with Arabian Adventures, who also offers Safari Cruises, dining among the dunes and camel riding. The city of Dubai is unbelievably beautiful and modern with majestic architect, unique skyscrapers and everything else. When I returned home and was asked about Dubai, the only response that I could give was, ‘It was incredibly indescribable, you’ll just have to go.’  And yes, you’ll just have to go, too.

Going to Seychelles by way of Dubai is a must-take vacation. Rest assured that you’ll get  more than what you bargained for when you take it. And you can take it because this travel route has been made more readily available as Seychelles and Emirates Airlines have come up with a packaged deal that you simply cannot refuse. Seychelles Tourism Board CEO Alain St. Ange once said that he was sure that journalists would become ambassadors for the islands after a visit. And you know what, he was right. I am now a self-proclaimed ambassador for Seychelles, and Dubai, too. After one visit, you will become an ambassador, also. I guarantee it.

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