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Our Holiday to Maio - Introduction
Our first day in sunny Cape Verde, 27°C at 09:00 on the island of Santiago in Praia. We had caught a flight from Gatwick on Sunday morning to Lisbon. This turned out to be one of the least expensive ways of getting to Cape Verde costing £926 for both of us.
We flew with EasyJet Gatwick to Lisbon £186 for 2 persons including two 20kg hold luggage, then TAP from Lisbon costing £604 and TACV for the hop to Maio costing £136 for both of us. We booked all our flights online even TACV, which was quite a leap of faith on our part. We landed in Lisbon at 13:05 and checked or luggage in for the Praia flight, which wasn't taking off until 20:45.
This gave us a few hours to look around this lovely city. We purchased a bus ticket at the Aerobus stop just outside the airport exit for €5.50 return each. There were no stops until we got to Rossio, which is one of the main squares near the harbour.
After seeing the sights, we went back to the airport and awaited our Praia flight. The plane was full, as usual. However, it does always amaze me just how much people bring onto the plane. None of the EasyJet one bag rule. There were bags being stuffed into the overheads so much I thought the locks would break.
Praia airport is always a poorly managed fiasco, but the entry visa process was so bad that it seemed like a comedy sketch. We were probably the tenth in line queuing for our visas. It took us an hour to finally get them. By then, the rest of the passengers not needing visas had gone through passport control and the customs officers had left their booths. Naively, we thought they would then come over to help with the visas. The passengers who had queued up at passport control without visas had been sent to the back of our line, which stretched outside onto the tarmac. By the time we went through to baggage reclaim, there were still over 40 people queuing for visas which we estimated would take another 4 hours at that rate. This is the last thing you need at one o'clock in the morning, tired from a long flight, in a hot airport, waiting for the one printer in the entire airport, used by one official, to print out everyone's visa receipts. Although we've experienced this before in Praia, it was by far the worst occasion and heaven knows what the people at the back of the queue must have thought. They may still be there!
When leaving the airport, you have to 'run the gauntlet' of the guys wanting to take your cases off you and carry them one or two feet to the boot of the taxi, after which they promptly hold their hands out to be paid. We had been caught only once on a previous visit, but never, ever again. We caught a taxi to the Santa Maria Hotel on the Plateau, only to find it was on a different street. In the morning we realised they had 'turned the hotel around' and it was the entrance that was on different street from last year. It's much better though because you step out onto the main pedestrianised road. Two nights with continental breakfast cost us £97 (booked online in advance). We were also charged 880 escudos hotel tax when we arrived, about £7. The Santa Maria has been well renovated and is a much higher quality hotel than in 2012. It has luxuries like a flat screen TV with 33 digital channels one of which is porn, which I will certainly not be watching. I wouldn't be able to stand the look of shame Christine gives me!!!!!