I booked my flights from Sal to Boavista travelling on 4th Octber and returning two days later on the 6th. A 15min or so flight from Sal, special offer with Halcyon Air return flight for 60euros (Thur –Sat). There were a few other offers but this was the most suitable for me on these dates.
I must arrive at airport 90mins before flight departure, departure on Thur at 8a.m., up at airport at 6.30a.m. for check in. Issued with my flight ticket seat 4E. Got on the flight and realised the seating was A-D (No.E)...if it had been anywhere else in the world I may have thought I had got on the wrong plane!
On arriving or departing at the airport building the sight of the Riu Karamboa in the distance is quite stunning, it’s only about a klm away, or a five minute drive. The colour of the stone of the hotel mixed in extremely well with the sand dunes.
Leaving the airport in a taxi, which cost 500cve to take you into Sal Rei, a bit more if you were traveling to Praia Cabral just on the other side of Sal Rei. Sal Rei is only 8-10 mins from the airport.
Sal Rei didn't look as if it had changed much since my last visit on first glance. A number of small development projects remain unfinished and a few that have been completed.
I had organised a stay at a Pension that had about 6 rooms. My room was on the first floor and the number on the door was 205.........there is logic to it I am told.......anything on the 1st floor is 2nd level and start with the number 2, my room must have been number 05 = 205. The room was quite large, simple with a small en-suite, suitable for my needs for two nights at 2.200cve a night with breakfast. Breakfast was banana, yoghurt, bread and jam or a slice of cake, with juice and very strong coffee.
The sounds from outside at night included the normal barking of dogs and on one occasion a lovely looking horse decided to neigh outside the building then take refuge next to the bins just around the corner. The sounds during the day were the general street noise of vehicles and wagons passing between Praia Cabral and Sal Rei but also as I arrived I was informed that they were working on the two stories above, so there was a lot of banging from 8a.m. – 3p.m. The proprietor of the hotel only speaks Creole, she doesn’t need to speak any other language and so I was pleased to be able to practice the words I knew of Creole/Portuguese, as on Sal I don’t practice it enough.
The first day I spent getting my bearings, which isn’t hard. I walked into the square and to the pontao and around to the Port, which is being expanded. The square is still the same, only a few more businesses since the last time I visited there. There is lots of potential for the square but whether businesses will succeed there I do not know. There are quad bikes, car rentals, tours and trips and much more. There are a few Chinese loja’s and a few restaurants, one restaurant I visited was the Blue Marlin, a very small and narrow bar and restaurant on the square with only four or five tables. They still didn’t have menu’s so it was unclear what the prices were, but a small toasted cheese and ham sandwich with tango or bottle water was 200cve, whilst I paid 1050cve for a starter of goats cheese and a main meal of pork, rice, fried potatoes with salad (no drink).
The meat was lovely, but it wasn’t pork, but I couldn’t be bothered telling them that (as I thought they obviously knew). It was actually goat, having eaten goat many times in the UK as it’s a popular meal with some Asian cultures, a goat curry is very nice indeed (sorry veggies).
I looked around for some places I had been told to visit to get information on their services or facilities, I was also there to develop the Wedding Services so there was little time to linger. However, that first day I also headed out to Estoril Beach where I found a bar/restaurant situated on the beach which had some sun beds outside. I bought a drink, went for a dip in the ocean, took loads of photos and dried off in the sun on a sun bed for an hour......that was my only relaxation to myself. Having introduced myself to the proprietor and swapping business contact details, I headed back to the square. The night time was spent meeting some people after they had finished work followed by a quick beer on the way back to room. Pics uploaded and some reduced ready for loading onto website.
Next day I found a very good internet cafe, open from 9a.m – 9p.m. charging 240cve an hour, more if downloading and using skype etc. They even let you use your own laptops, just what I needed. They have printing facilities too. If anyone is looking for it, it’s in the street opposite Padaria Boavista and the name outside is ICBV, the proprietors are there from about 3.30p.m. and they speak English, the morning staff only speak Portuguese and Creole.
Friday 5th I decided I needed to hire a car as it would have been quite costly using taxis and looking for places I needed to find on foot would be tiresome, hot, time consuming and make my feet hurt more than they already did walking up cobbled streets in flip flops.
If you need to get money out of the bank make sure you have your passport and bank details or card with you. Banks close for 3p.m. on Friday until 8a.m. Monday morning so then you definitely need a bank card for the machine.
I hired a 4 wheel drive for 5.000cve for 24hr use. The Car Hire business I used opened at 9a.m., closes between 12.30 – 4p.m. then closes for the night at 7p.m. so you have to pick up and drop off during opening times. They also close for the day from 12.30p.m. on Saturday and re-open Monday morning at 9a.m.
With the help of a friend on the island I managed to find a few more places, soon to be included in a new booklet being produced (by another person) for Boavista for bars, restaurants, hotels (non AI’s) with a Tourist Information centre too. A similar booklet had already been produced for the island of Sal, with an updated version due to be finalised this month.
I did manage to obtain some photos of the inside of the Riu Karamboa and was impressed with the layout. It was the busiest place on the island with people arriving/departing on international flights. The reception staff were on standby and well prepared to deal with 300 outgoing and 300 incoming guests.
I had a beer at the Wakan Bar a small cafe/bar positioned in the middle of the road near the port, I had a beef burger with cheese, onion and mayonnaise with a beer for 500cve. The beef burger was very nice, so was the cold beer as I sat and watched the sun setting.
I must remember to tell people that if they want to visit other islands they must remember: mosquito lotion, mosquito plug in and mosquito tablets, ear plugs, plug adaptors, and some English tea bags (if they like tea).
Some of the restaurants are not open during the day and one very nice bar ‘A Lua Maluca’ is only open during the evenings over the weekend. Most of the Cape Verdean/Italian business's close lunch times on Saturday and re-open on Monday so not much to do or see there on the afternoon in Sal Rei.
I didn’t have time to do the tour this time. The island is a lot bigger than Sal, but has less to do. However saying that it has some beautiful beaches.
A very busy 3 days and now heading back to Sal.