Mon byen, gran mersi
We arrived in the Seychelles yesterday, sailing into Victoria on the island of Mahe around lunchtime, flying the Seychellois flag up there, of course.
We stood up top and watched as the experts inched the ship into place, wondering if the Staff Captain's epaulette was indicating an intention to turn left?
Once ashore, we took a walk into town but rather than do a blow by blow account of the two days we spent here, I'll simply outline what we really enjoyed about this lovely island.
Victoria is a charming and small, walkable city - the smallest capital in the world, we read - and the leafy ambiance is delightful, if a little quiet on a Sunday afternoon.
Here was a small memorial to Pierre Poivre - Peter Pepper - who introduced many spices to the islands.
Just around the corner is a fountain commemorating Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, referencing the Islands' interesting history with a small statue of the city's namesake.
I guess every city needs a centre and here in Victoria it's the central crossroads with the clock tower, a replica of one on Victoria Bridge, we are told. The unblemished fence surrounding it wouldn't stay unblemished for long in any city centre we are familiar with, but perhaps that says it all about Victoria?
A little further along is the cathedral of St Paul, somewhat smaller than the St Paul's Cathedral which springs to mind when that name is said.
Here we were on Palm Sunday then, in a place where palms are easily come by and where they'd been used to decorate the church beautifully. (Of course, my hero and I recalled Palm Sunday last year when we were somewhere very different indeed)
Admiring the colourful windows in the cathedral - of which this is just one - we enjoyed a few minutes in this cool, quiet place before going back out into the city to see what's what.
You'll gather, we found Victoria to be a gracious kind of place, somewhere with a sense of history and heritage and definitely somewhere with a sense of order.
It's clean and tidy, maybe due to there being so many litter bins around the place! No excuses for dropping rubbish, then.
Essential to watch one's step however, for in places, the services are a little exposed.
The Post Office is surprisingly large and has three large bronzes on the verandah. The first, a giant tortoise was a tribute to Esmerelda, a Seychelles legend.
I'm afraid I didn't catch the name of the chap sitting at the opposite end because I was too busy admiring the design of the window grille.
But surely everyone noted the centrepiece of this trio of Seychelles symbols: the fruit of the Coco de Mer Palm, the shape of which is a topic of conversation shall we say?
Our guide, Patricia showed us the real thing whilst at the Botanic Gardens. The plant is native to the Seychelles and produces the heaviest seed in the world.
It's a slow growing tree however and Patricia claimed it was better to gamble on other things instead of planting a Coco de Mer tree hoping for the riches to be gained from the seeds. The tree above had been planted by Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1956, just a few days before my first birthday and has pride of place in the gardens.
As we stood looking at the palm trees - of which there were many varieties - we spotted something we'd heard of in a port leture the other day.
Large bats fly during the day here and of course, when they are not flying...
they are roosting in the trees above our heads. Hmm.
Now, it's not often you have a picture of a bird on this blog, but this colourful chap caught my eye (of course) and I had time to capture him with my camera before he (thankfully) flew away. Looks like he left his mark on the door...
Other pretty things in the garden include this carambola (star fruit) tree,
the flowers of the cannonball tree, last seen in the Sri Lankan tea garden,
and a rather handsome breadfruit tree, laden with the fruit which features large on the Seychellois menu.
Speaking of handsome...
For now, I'm going to leave you in the Tortoise Garden.
You are in good company; most of the inhabitants are sleeping.
What do you mean, you expected a post about markets and beaches and instead you got rudely shaped seeds and tortoises? Meet me in the next post and I promise you more lovely aspects of the Seychelles!