After a short 3 night stay on Ile Sainte Marie we hopped a short flight back to Antananarivo. The flight took just over 45 minutes. When we added up the time it took to ultimately drive to Mahambo where we caught the ferry to Ile Sainte Marie plus only the ferry crossing time it was well over 20 hours of travel time. Maybe next time we just fly there and back!
We spent 2 nights at a very nice little hotel, K’meleon, about a 5 minute drive from the airport. The staff were excellent with one of the owners speaking very good English and the prices were very reasonable. The hotel and our room were immaculate and the toilet flushed! Our room cost per night was just under $25 CAD, a large 650 ml Three Horses Beer was $1.80 CAD and the restaurant served excellent quality meals for excellent prices. Our total bill was $123 CAD for 2 nights and included 2 very nice dinners, 2 breakfasts and shall we say “several beers” and some good South African White wine. To put this in perspective, our room tonight (which we had booked and put a down payment on many moons ago), Susie’s Place, cost just under $90 CAD per night, a 650 ml THB is twice as much at $3.60 CAD and the breakfast, although included is barely enough to feed a starving pidgeon. A very big difference and on a value-for-money basis K’meleon wins hands down. And yes, the toilet flushed at Susie’s as well.
On the evening of our arrival we met a very nice French Canadian Botany Professor from Montreal and spent the evening on the outside terrace discussing the Trans Canada Pipeline, federal transfer payments to Quebec and then settled down to some good old conversation about life, the universe and everything. Luc was a very nice man and it was a pleasure to meet him. Joyce and I both enjoyed his company.
That evening we arranged a 1/2 day tour of the city and at 9:00 am the next morning we headed off into the chaos of Antananarivo.
Antananarivo, or the original Tananrive means ” The city of thousand” is congested and the air very polluted. It sits at 4,186 feet above sea level and most modes of transportation use diesel so the air is thick with particulate and hazy with the blue smoke from single and double cylinder engines. I find it intersting when you ask someone the population of their city. As was the case with Soweto, the census versus the local belief was way out of whack and so is the case in Tana. We asked our driver the population of the city and he said 7 million. The latest census in 2012 estimated the population at 3 million. I guess it’s possible that another 4 million moved here in the past 7 years but it seems unlikely but Tana is not just Tana so the whole metropolitan area must be included. Either way, it sure seems like there are 7 million people squashed into an area that boundries 9 km north to south and and 6 km east to west.
Regardless of the traffic, smog and congestion it is always interesting to get out and see the real life day to day existance of any cities populace. There are several sites to see in Tana but with about 4 hours to spend and hoping to miss the rush hour traffic (it all seemed like rush hour!), we decided to just visit one site, Le Palais de la Reine.
Ler Palais de la Reine. or Queens Palace is located on the highest hill in Tana but due to a devasting fire in 1995 it is mostly empty but we had a guide who was able to explain to us some of the historical insights of this palace built for Queen Ranavalona in the 17th century. Photos were not allowed in the partly refurbished palace so, not much to post and to get into the history, the French colonization etc. etc. would require far more bandwidth than we have right now so I will leave it to you, our dear readers to do a little Googling on the subject matter.