We have been to Mindelo twice now, both as a one day port of call whilst on a cruise. We have had a pleasant time on both occasions, though if you are seeking glamour and modern shopping centres this is not the port for you. If however you like to explore every port and seek out what it has to offer, you can certainly enjoy your time here. The scope of the excursions offered from the ship (or rather the lack of) give a good indication of what you might expect here.
It is a short walk along the port road, though a minibus shuttle has been offered each time we have visited.As you walk along the coast road you will see fishermen and as you reach the town, they will be gutting and selling fish on the beach. It is a very laid back place and understand that unemployment is extremely high and so many people 'hanging around'.
Still on the waters edge you will find a small fishing museum 'Museu do Mar' (based on the style of the Belem Tower in Lisbon) which is certainly worth a look and then next along is the fish market, which can be interesting to see what different countries have on offer. There isn't really anything if you continue on further, but if you now head inland you will find the market square, which has a differing number of stalls depending on the day. You will see many beautiful blue and white art tiles, also as seen in Portugal.
If you now take the street parallel to the coast road, you will find a rather nice gallery/craft shop and also the church. Onward and then to the right you will find an indoor market (can't quite remember but it may be the old town hall) and also see the beautiful colonial architecture of the pink palace, Palacio do Povo (Peoples palace). The University is located behind this, accessed to the right as you look at the Palace.
Back down to the harbour and you will find the cultural centre - a small affair but easy to walk into, friendly staff, local music playing (CD not live) and some interesting artwork on display (though it does change so may just depend how you catch it). They also sell stamps so you can send your postcards much cheaper than on ship.
Back on the waters edge where the shuttle bus departs is a tourist centre, which offers a very pleasant stop for a beverage! Our first visit was at the weekend and a local performing group entertained us for a hour or so, but our subsequent visit was a weekday and this did not occur. We enjoyed a very pleasant lunch. The wind breaks were much appreciated on the breezy and cool January day, which was quite a contrast from the blazing hot sun we experienced thee previous time in April.
Some fellow passengers felt ill at ease here and if looking at the photographs this may apply to you, perhaps consider booking one of the ships excursions so that at least you see a little of the island.
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