Travel Journal

Antananarivo or Tana to you

(Saturday 5 March 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 195-6 2/16-17/11
The transport was about an hour late picking us up so we didn’t get into Tana until the afternoon. It’s a big town and we had to negotiate hard at the southern bus station for a reasonable rate into town to our hotel Chez Francis. It’s a nice enough place and the first order of business was for me to do laundry as it had raining for the last few day and my clothes would not dry. It was raining here as well but we had a covered balcony and a fan so the clothes would eventually dry. There also was a pub across the street which offered free although excruciatingly slow internet access. It was too slow for journal updates but at least we could check emails and find out what was going on back home and how dad was doing with his hip.
After checking in, we went to the tourist office which after we found it had moved and asked several locals where it now was, found it in the old train station. On the way, we met some of the infamous street kids. About six swarmed on me placing a hat upside down just above my pocket and asking for money while another unzipped my pants pocket. I was swatting at them like flies and yelling to get away until a guard came over and waved his billy club and they scattered like cockroaches. They were rather brazen with their attack and next time I would not hold back because they are children. The information center was quite helpful and I found out what was opened and how much it should cost to get there via taxi.
We caught a taxi to bring us up to Musee Andafivaratra which sits up on the hill overlooking the city center. We brushed off some guides and did the museum ourselves. Julie wasn’t too impressed by the place but I thought it showed some interesting items from the Merina monarchs. Further still up the hill was the Rova or Queen’s Palace which was gutted by fire in 1995 and still under renovation. The people outside the Rova just smile and shrug when you ask when it will be open. It reminds me of the Adams’ Family house or something you’d see in a Scooby Doo cartoon.
The Amazing Race had a leg in this city so naturally I was interested in seeing some of the sights visited on the show. Walking down the hill from the Rova, we came upon Cathedral Andohalo which was used as a pit stop in the show. Abandoning the road, we took the steep staircase down to Lac Anosy where the Monument aux Morts (Monument to the Dead) a WWI memorial stands on an artificial island in the lake. It’s funny because on the show they make a point of referring to it as the black angel even though it had been painted white at the time they filmed the show. It is now a gold angel. I suppose if we come back in five years it will be silver. We also ventured into the Main Market where the Fast Forward from the show took place and found the stall where contestants ate cow lips. This was not a task we wished to recreate. On the opposite side of the center is the Tohotohobato Ambondrona Analakely stairs where teams raced to find stamp with different indicias on them. Julie picked up a couple as souvenirs to take home .
I visited Musee de l’Art et de l’Archeologie which is up the Tohotohobato staircase but really isn’t worth the effort. It’s a small building with a couple of signs in English and disorderly displays but its admission by donation so I was only out a buck.
I had really hoped to go to Parc National des Tsingy de Bemaraha but the information desk had confirmed what Martin mentioned, the park was inaccessible and perhaps in April people would be able to visit there. I told Julie we should head East as we originally planned and skip the rain forest parks as she had no desire to visit another one. There was a lemur park nearby which had semi-tame lemurs which I thought she’d be interested in and she agreed thinking that I was interested in so we headed out to an place that neither one of us had any real interest in visiting. It goes to show you the importance of communication. We hailed a cab and headed to the East Bus Station early the next morning and found Vasti, a recommended bus company, and found seats on a eight o’clock bus.

 


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