Traveling to Kigali

Kigali Travel Blog

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Courtyard in Mille Collines Hotel. That's where we eat breakfast.

Kigali, August 3, 2009


So, the journey began.

I took a cab at a crack of dawn to get to the airport in Warsaw. I saw a beautiful sunrise as the cab driver went through the Sunday morning empty streets. The flight to Amsterdam was uneventful. The next flight - from Amsterdam to Nairobi was on time. I was highly impressed with KLM. We flew on a beautiful jumbo jet - Boeing 747 - a really big one. The flight was comfortable, food delicious and entertainment program really, really good. KLM is beginning to be my favorite airline. I sat next to a nice young guy who was flying on business from Romania to Nairobi. He was American - surprise - from Louisville, KY. I told him I had a pleasure of visiting his city many times. We didn’t talk much which was good.

My crazy roomy - Genifer. We are having a ball together!!!!

The surprising part of this leg of my journey was that on the plane to Africa I hardly saw any Africans. There were mostly white Americans and some Europeans. That’s not what I expected. Well, maybe I’ll see some Africans in Africa??

I was very excited when the plane landed and I finally could walk out onto the African soil to breathe the African air. Well, it took another many hours to actually touch the African asphalt. I walked out to the terminal in Nairobi with a huge smile on my face. I think men thought I was hitting on them… But I was just very happy to finally reach Africa. I waited for my group there for about and hour and a half. I found out that our flight at 10PM was canceled and now we will go on another flight at 1:20AM. I sat at a bar and sipped Kenyan beer.

More of the outdoors restaurant
It was ok. On the light side. Later, we found out that not only we will be leaving three hours later, but we will also make a stop at Bujumbura in Burundi where some passengers will disembark and others will join. I tried to sleep the entire flight to Kigali. I was sitting in the last row (seats don’t recline) in the middle seat. It was painful. I woke up while the plane was parked on the runway in Bujumbura. Bujumbura has a really bumpy runway, so when we were taking off for the 20 minute flight to Kigali, the plane was shaking and bouncing. I was a bit scared but told myself - just an uneven pavement - like some streets in Las Colinas! We finally made it to Kigali around 5AM. For me - it was a 24-hour trip.
For my friends from the group - 40 hours since they left Dallas! What an adventure. We were all tired but excited. Finally, we made it to Kigali!

Kigali has a small airport. It reminds me of the Warsaw airport from the 80-ies. We walked out of the plane. The air was so fresh. It was about 65F - so very pleasant temperature. I could see those famous hills of Kigali - because of all the lights on the hills. At the airport, we had four guides/drivers awaiting to take us to the hotel. All are very nice and will stay with us for the rest of the trip. We are traveling in style - in a 7-passenger Rovers. The vehicles are cool, but the exhaust is hard to take when we go in a column.

We made it to the hotel in fifteen minutes and after checking-in some of us went downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast.

Hotel Lobby
It was 6AM. We could see the sun coming up from behind the hills

I forgot to mention that I made a friend at the airport in Kigali. I met a really nice Rwandese man - Claude. He was traveling from work training in DC. He lives in Kigali. We chatted for about half an hour and exchanged the contact information. I thought about calling him to invite him for a drink at our hotel and use him as a source to find out more about living in Kigali. He was really pleasant to talk to - very calm, little shy but friendly. We will see. It will turn out that I will make a few “friendships” that way - and collect a few email addresses/phone numbers… J

I share a room with Genifer. She is a crazy girl from Austin area. We really found each other! I love being around her.

One of the many shots of the hills of Rwanda - this one is from Kigali.
So, it worked out really good that we could share a room and all the memories of this trip.

Hotel Des Mille Collines is very special. It is the same hotel where Paul Rusesebagina saved many hundreds of people during the genocide. The movie “Hotel Rwanda” told that story of a brave hotel manager who stood up to the blood-thristy Interahamwe and defended the people that came to him for help. The hotel is being renovated right now. The pool is, unfortunately, closed. But the grounds look very nice. I will post some pics. I keep looking there remembering the scenes from the movie (which was not filmed here J ). I also think about the book: Sunday at the Pool in Kigali which described this hotel in great detail. There is a lot of recent history related to this place. And now, I get to stay here, sit outside, drink beer at the bar and stay in the room here… It is a very special experience.

The rooms are ok, but not luxurious by the western standards - by any means. But they are clean and functional and that’s really what is needed.  There is enough space for two messy girls to spread out - so no complains.

The internet here is a bit unreliable and slow.  I will try to post some pics I took but I can't make promises.

I should post the stories from the first full day in Kigal tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

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Courtyard in Mille Collines Hotel.…
Courtyard in Mille Collines Hotel…
My crazy roomy - Genifer.  We are …
My crazy roomy - Genifer. We are…
More of the outdoors restaurant
More of the outdoors restaurant
Hotel Lobby
Hotel Lobby
One of the many shots of the hills…
One of the many shots of the hill…
photo by: bushman_pepe