As I mentioned before, after a short taxi ride we arrived at our hotel, the Miramar by Pestana. I hadn’t paid a lot of attention, and didn’t realize there were two Pestana properties on the island, only about a 10 minute walk apart. I’d booked a junior suite since it was only 15 euros more than a standard room. We checked in, went to our individual rooms, and then drama started.
My room didn’t have wifi. The hall did, but it didn’t reach my room. Down to the front desk “oh so sorry, that is the only junior suite we have. Would you like a standard room for the reduced price?” Sure. So, off the standard room I go…but…the air conditioning was broken. Thankfully, this time I hadn’t unpacked my bag. Off to try a third room….nope, internet doesn’t reach this one either.
The front desk guy was extremely patient and helpful, and after trying five rooms, we determined there were no rooms available with internet AND air conditioning. Seems Jordan had gotten lucky with his, the first or second room in the hall. I retired to the empty hotel bar to have a beer to ponder my options.
They called the manager (since there wasn’t one on site) who agreed I could move to the other Miramar property, the Pestana Sao Tome if I wanted….but would have to pay the extra 15 euros over the price. Sigh, fine.
They had a rattly old hotel van, which would drive me there. Got there, and asked before I committed to anything to see both a junior suite and a regular room. The regular room was more than fine, except…the air conditioning didn’t work. LOL. Second regular room was just fine, and after almost two hours of hotel hopping I finally had a room. Whew.
Finally in a room, I headed down to the poolside bar/restaurant to get something to eat before bed. The drink of the month was the caipirinha, so I couldn’t pass it up. Along with some peanuts and a decent sandwich, I was happy and finally off to bed!
Woke up the next morning, and checked out the breakfast. Quite a good spread with made-to-order eggs, waffles, etc, tons of fruits and pastries, and really tasty local coffee. Overall, the breakfast was pretty good, and given what I’d expected in Sao Tome I thought it was excellent. The view from my room wasn’t bad either. Right onto the pool and the Atlantic, looking due west:
Checked in with Jordan and let him know I’d moved hotels, and would come by shortly to his hotel so we could wander the city for a bit. It only looked like a 10 minute walk between the hotels, and would give me a chance to see things. Like the National Assembly, right out the front gates of my hotel:
Looking back I could see my hotel, and some local goats just grazing by the side of the road:
Same view, just a little further up the road, you can see the hotel in the distance:
After about a 10 minute walk I picked up Jordan, and we continued maybe another 10 minutes until we got to the National Museum, with some fun statues out front:
We debated going inside for the tour, especially since we didn’t have any local currency on us. We decided to see if they would take Euros, which they did, but only one problem. We were definitely the only tourists they’d seen today…and they only spoke Portuguese. It was a guided tour, so this would be interesting. Fortunately, she spoke very slowly for us, and we both spoke enough Spanish that we caught maybe 80% of what she was explaining between us. Can’t complain! A view from the museum, which used to be an old castle:
View out onto the ocean from the top:
Lighthouse on top of the museum/castle:
Another view from up on top, some local kids playing in the harbour:
At the end of the tour, she asked us to sign the guest book, and it was obvious why it was so quiet: we were the first tourists in four days, and before those two people, it had been five days since the previous ones! There were plenty of people at my hotel (well, a couple dozen at least) so maybe they just hid at the resort? I don’t know. Jordan said his hotel seemed absolutely empty, so many Sao Tome just doesn’t get that many tourists.
We continued our walk along the water, and came to the wrecks of a few old ships:
We were in the centre of the city by this point, and there was some sort of monument with the national flag:
…and the offices of STP Airways!
The Cathedral of Sao Tome, which unfortunately wasn’t open:
Walkway between the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace:
The Presidential Palace (the pink building in the back.) I asked the guard if I could take a picture – absolutely not – so I got a safe distance away and took it anyways 😉
Park bench in Independence Square:
…along with a nativity scene.
…and of course, another random goat!
By this point we were both exhausted and dehydrated from the strong sun, so we tried to find a cafe for some water and food. We walked for like 30 minutes trying to find a couple that were listed in the guide Jordan had, but absolutely no luck. Eventually, we tried a place that was where one of the others was supposed to be. They had cold water, which was good enough for me, and Jordan found some empanada like things for a snack. As we paid, we asked if they knew where that other restaurant was…and turned out this was it. Under a new name.
Walked back to our respective hotels for a bit of a nap and time by the pool. I noticed that the Premier University of Sao Tome was right next to my hotel!
I spent the next two hours enjoying a bit of sun, and relaxing after the stress of Angola. It was really nice to unwind.
That night, we met up back at my hotel for dinner by the pool. Our hotels, being in the same chain, had offered both of us vouchers worth like $3 of chips at the local casino, which coincidentally was right next to my hotel. I had to check it out after dinner!
We traded in our coupons for tokens, and started feeding them into random slot machines. Jordan was soon out, but I kept winning, and winning. I was attracting quite the crowd of onlookers. Then, I hit one big, and it was coin after coin, after coin! Being at around $50 of chips right now (1700% profit or so) I decided it was time to cash out and go home! Winner Winner!
The next morning, we both wanted to sleep in and relax a bit before heading on to Cape Verde. We both would have loved to rent a car and drive around the island, but our energy was way too low at this point in the trip. Lesson learned was that it’s really hard to pack this many super challenging countries into such a tight trip. It will wear you down very quickly, and with no real time to recharge, you’re going to hit a wall, which I think we both did in the heat of Sao Tome.
Sat around by the pool the next morning, got a bit of a sunburn, and eventually, it was time to grab a taxi and head back to the airport for the next part of the adventure!