Quick taxi ride to my hotel, the Ledger Maya Maya, and check-in was pretty quick. Room was nice, and pretty much don’t need to say too much about it. Clean, comfortable, and definitely good enough for two days. Did have dinner in the restaurant the first night, and it was pretty tasty, and they did a fantastic beef kebab. The only thing negative I’ll say about the hotel, is that when I woke up in the morning and felt an itch…and saw a cockroach scurry across my chest, I wasn’t impressed. Yes, this is Africa and these things happen even in the cleanest place, but I still wasn’t impressed.
After check-in, I walked over to the Hotel Hippocampe to meet up with Jordan, who I’d be doing the next few segments of the trip. Congo was the 150th country visited for both of us, and we agreed to meet up and knock out some of the more challenging ones together – two heads are definitely better than one when dealing with the random unknown situations that tend to happen in Africa!
We met up at the Hippocampe, and tried the local brew while plotting the next few days. It was already early afternoon, so we decided to walk around the city a bit, and then rest up because we were planning another shot at the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the next day as a daytrip.
Then, it was off for a walk around the city, which seemed deserted. Streets were all incredibly quiet, probably because it was New Year’s Day. First stop was a cafe called La Mandarine for a quick lunch since I hadn’t eaten…delicious shwarma and then right outside was this cool fountain:
Right across the street was the Hôtel de Ville (city hall) with a cool statue in front:
Right next door was the Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza memorial. He was an Italian explorer who “discovered” Congo around 1880 and opened up the area for French colonization. Supposedly, as far as colonizers go he was one of the relatively good guys, but I guess it’s all relative.
…and where better to plant your plants than in Obama (the first black USA president!) brand trash bags?!
Strolled a bit further, and stopped at a restaurant overlooking the Congo River, Mami Wata, but unfortunately they were closed so we wouldn’t be able to have dinner there. Bummer because it had a great view.
A view of the city walking down the road along the river:
I forget what this building is, but it dominates the skyline:
Leading up to the train station, there were a serious of statues of notable people from the history of Congo:
The train station from the front. This is where we’d be leaving from in a couple of days to take a train across Congo:
A map of at least the first part of the Congo-Ocean railway route:
The Basilica of Saint Anne of Congo. Unfortunate it was closed, and the lighting was poor, so I didn’t get any really good pics.
It was early evening now, so we split up and headed back to our hotels to grab dinner and crash early since we were getting up early the next day for a daytrip to the DRC. Then, the next day, we’d be headed on the train to Pointe Noire. We got back from our daytrip around 5:30 pm, and grabbed dinner again at the same cafe La Mandarine, which was completely packed with people. It seems January 2 is really the big holiday in Congo, and everyone was either out to eat, or picking up baked goods to take home. Witnessed one guy trying to grab and go in the bakery portion, and police ran him down and pretty harshly beat him. Police brutality seems to be pretty acceptable for petty crimes in Congo.
Beyond that, my general impressions of Brazzaville: it seemed a very dusty and quiet city, without too much going on. Perhaps that was because of the holiday, but it’s less than 1/5 the size of Kinshasa across the river, and seemed to have a much more laid back feeling about it. There was also very little to see, but it was perfect for an afternoon and an evening. Next up, report on my daytrip to Kinshasa, DRC!
…oh, and remember how I said there was a story about one of my visas? Well, the clean version is when I walked into the embassy to get this visa the woman working there was looking at, um, “adult entertainment” on her computer when I walked in. Yes, no comment!