Wednesday, 26 June 2013

From London to Lilongwe

I've just returned from two weeks in Malawi and Zambia. While travelling I kept a dairy in a notebook I was carrying. I'm going to transcribe my diary, with a few photos from each day, onto the blog.

We  took an overnight flight from London to Nairobi. It was an old plane and my seat was awful with virtually no cushioning. I woke up during the night with a sore bum so packed my blanket under my seat cushion and went back to sleep.

We had a three hour lay over in Nairobi airport before our flight to Lilongwe in Malawi. The airport reminded me more of a small shopping bazaar, although not much was open so early in the morning. I was feeling pretty groggy after not getting much sleep on the flight, but after a breakfast bagel and smoothie in an airport café I picked up.

I slept for most of the flight down to Lilongwe. When we landed we were the only commercial plane at the airport, incredible how quiet it was for a capitol city. We got talking to a few teachers from England in the queue for immigration. They'd come out for two weeks to help train Malawian teachers.

There isn't any public transport into the city so we had to get an over priced taxi (12,000 MWK / £24) into the city. We cruised quite quickly into town, but hit a traffic jam as we approached the centre of the old town.

After checking into our spartan, but clean, guest house (6,000 MWK / £12 per night) we headed to the bus station to check out buses for our trip to Zambia the next day. We found out the international bus doesn't run on a Sunday so we'll be on the minibuses.

After the bus station we took a walk through the Lilongwe market and had BBQ chicken and nsima (a maize based carb) from one of the stalls. The nsima was bland stodge that needed all the added flavour I could soak up from my plate. I don't think it will become a favourite!

After the market we walked to a more modern shopping centre and visited three different supermarkets to check out some of the local produce. They didn't have a lot of fresh produce and reminded of Lidl / Aldi, not a huge range of unfamiliar brands displayed in boxes.

There weren't many other tourists in town.

We walked back to our hotel via a wooden toll bridge that cost us 20 MWK each.

For dinner we headed to Don Brioni's restaurant back near the shopping centre. It is run by an eccentric Englishman born in Oxford who like to mingle with his guests. The menu was western.

We were in bed by 9pm after a hot shower. I wasn't sure if such a cheap guest house would have hot water, but it did!

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