After two exciting days in the Canary Islands, it was time to spend a few days at sea, three to be exact. Day one was beautiful; hot sunshine and barely a breeze, but it wasn’t long before the clouds rolled in and blocked the sun from our view. Although it wasn’t as sunny as we’d hoped, it was still very humid and evenings out on deck were very enjoyable. We spent several nights outside playing Cards Against Humanity, a game they say is for “horrible people”, but we thoroughly enjoyed it and eventually our little group grew and everyone wanted to get involved.
Our next port of call was Porto Praia, Santiago, Cape Verde. I’d wanted to visit the Cape Verde islands for quite some time and I couldn’t wait to get off the ship and explore. The weather wasn’t great and it was VERY windy, but I enjoyed our excursion, which was titled ‘The African Roots’. We visited the former capital, Cidade Velha, and had a taste of its history – it was once the centre of the slave trade and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also had a walk along Banana Street which was, for me, quite lovely. You got a feel for the place and what life on the island was like. We did some brief shopping here before heading back towards the port area for a cultural demonstration. By now, the sun had shown itself and the atmosphere was wonderful. There were dancers, groups of men and women playing traditional music, and even a lady offering coconuts from which we could drink the water and then eat the meat. It was a nice way to end the tour.
The following morning, we docked in Porto Grande, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde. My first sighting of Praia the day before hadn’t been quite what I expected from a Cape Verde island, however, Porto Grande was and I was thrilled. The sun was trying to break through the clouds and our view from the ship included a lovely beach, a small marina and a busy dock area where local fishermen were offloading their catch. My friend and I decided that we would simply do our own thing during our time in Porto Grande. The included tour looked good, but sometimes you just need to go and explore on your own. We found a seat on the shuttle bus and had a walk around the town, which was most enjoyable. We explored the vibrant vegetable market, had a walk by the Town Hall and then we found ourselves outside a shop which was aptly named ‘Mindel Gift Shop’. To my delight, the shop was FULL of African art and other treasures. I literally spent all the money I had on me in that gift shop and left with 2 stunning pieces of African art. I had to head back to the ship as I was now with empty pockets and laden down with bounty. Upon arriving at the ship, our Executive Chef and Head Chef were both on the dockside buying fresh fish from the local fisherman. They brought onboard Tuna, Marlin and Swordfish – another reason why I love Saga Cruises! We grabbed some lunch at The Verandah and then had a stroll along to the beach, it took no more than 15 minutes. The water was a beautiful mix of blues and the beach itself was covered in pretty little shells. I’d imagine on a hot and sunny day that it would be packed, but by now the clouds had rolled in and the wind had increased. We stayed at the beach for about 2 hours before making our way back to the ship, we arrived at the gangway just as the heavens opened – someone was clearly looking out for us!
We waved goodbye to the Cape Verde islands and spent the next 2 days at sea. On one of those days, we had a Jalfrezi demonstration on the open deck. The smell was incredible! I couldn’t wait to tuck in to it. A selection of dishes were cooked in front of us and then served by Executive Chef George. It was delicious. I had the seafood option and it was bursting with flavour. My plate was packed full of prawns – just how I like it! It was quite a windy sea day and we lost quite a few poppadoms!
The port of Santa Cruz in Tenerife appeared as the sun began to rise and our included tour here was titled ‘Esperanza Forest, Guimar Pyramids and Candelaria’. We enjoyed a wonderful sunrise before leaving the ship on our included tour, where our first stop was in Candelaria. Here, we could visit a local church and enjoy a walk-through town before making our way to the pyramids. It was early in the morning, so most stores were closed but it was still a pleasant walk and an easy way to start the morning. A short drive then brought us to the Guimar Pyramids. The pyramids were rather impressive, but not quite like the ones that you will find in Egypt – they are ‘step-pyramids’ like those in Peru and Mexico. There are six in total and each one is constructed from angular blocks quarried from lava flows. It is said that the complex is astronomically lined to the summer and winter solstices. It was very interesting and I enjoyed the video demonstration about Thor Heyerdahl – the world-famous adventurer who led the Kon-Tiki and Ra expeditions. It was Heyerdhal who discovered the pyramids on one of his voyages. I certainly recommend a visit here if you are ever in Tenerife, I felt like I learned a great deal about the pyramids, but also about Heyerdhal. I had never heard of him before my visit here and it’s left me intrigued – I’m going to do some studying on him and his expeditions when time allows.
As we sailed from Tenerife, we were sure that a sea day would follow, but we hadn’t bargained for arriving in Madeira in the early evening and then staying there overnight. Although I have visited Madeira many times, I was quite pleased that we would be spending the evening there – it also meant we were sheltered from any winds and rough seas, so we could enjoy the deck party until late. The following morning, my friend and I decided to head into town. We had a walk through the town and then to the market which was a hive of activity. It’s not the best fruit and veg market in the world, but it was a new experience for us both and we certainly enjoyed our stumble into the fish area where we watched a gentleman clean a Espada fish – a popular local fish (although not very pretty) which our Executive Chef also bought when ashore and added to the menu that evening.
Where would the rest of the Mystery Cruise take us??…