Lucky for us we flew international business class. Sipping champagne and eating paté on the Air France – Paris to Nairobi portion had us feeling pretty smug.
Jambo (hello in Swahili) Nairobi.
The plane landed at 9:30 pm. The tour company graciously greeted us as we stepped off the plane even though we arrived four days early. Like a finely tuned violin they moved us through immigration where we met our driver for 30 minute uncongested ride to the city center. Had it been a couple hours earlier gridlock traffic would have caused us to arrive several hours later.
Bill picked the Hilton because it was a Hilton. Everything was closed when we arrived but they graciously delivered a bottle of wine to our room.
Sleep eluded me. I finally dozed off at 6:15 am only to be awaken at 9am. The alarm had been set 10 hours earlier. UGH. Had to get that free breakfast which reminds me of my new favorite quote by Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer – “Nothing is ever so expensive as what is offered for free.”
Built in the late 60’s – this Hilton was the first big chain luxury type hotel to grace Nairobi. Unfortunately, that train left the station and it hasn’t been upgraded since. Our curtains were thread bare, I can’t imagine the matching dust ruffle had been changed since inception and the couch cushions were crushed. Fortunately, the duvet was new as were the matching sheets.
Sadly, the skyline matched the curtains – dirty, dingy and dreary.Times are tough. Kenya had experienced a solid year of shut downs. Masks, hand washing/sanitizing and temperature taking were required to enter most buildings.
People were excited to be back to work and everyone couldn’t have been kinder.
We managed to walk around a bit. Warned not walk in the area across the street from our hotel as it was really unsafe. We stuck to the government buildings area near to the hotel.
It might have been the armed military in cammo outside our front door that tempered our enthusiasm.
We’ve noticed in our years of travel that if we stay in a fancier hotel – warnings of danger and the need for a taxi are common place. However, backpacker hotels may have bedbugs but they also have more adventurous information about navigating a city.
Day after day we struggled with acclimating to the time finding ourselves awake at night and snoozing a bit during the day. Thank goodness there was time to veg and readjust.
I’m embarrassed to say we didn’t venture out much and really only have a couple things to note.
With a bird’s eye view of the streets near the government buildings rush hour traffic rendered the city in a complete gridlock. Masses of buses with smoke filled exhausts interspersed with masses of cars moved slower than a snails pace. Construction of the new road, thanks to the Chinese (cough, cough), will help alleviate traffic. Stop lights and signs are decorative and cross walks meaningless.
Flying dinosaurs still exist! Meet the Marabou Stork. Prolific. These birds are huge and perch like finches on the daintiest of trees.