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Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk Hotel’

The Norfolk Gardens

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.” Ernest Hemingway

African Safari: Rum and Chocolate at Midnight

A hadada ibis. -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

As late as it was, and as tired as we were, Kim and I weren’t ready for bed when we finally got checked into the Norfolk Hotel. We stood awhile on the balcony drinking in the night air and looking out over a lush garden beneath us.

Then we raided the room’s mini bar, making ourselves a couple of Captain Morgan Jamaican rum and cokes, and toasting ourselves on the adventure we were about to begin. There’s something to be said for not being rich enough to be well-traveled. The excitement of finally getting away to strange and exotic places that once existed only in your dreams is delicious – as was the small box of “Out of Africa” chocolates that we ate with our midnight drinks.

 

We were met in the evening and seen off the next morning by the Norfolks Green clad doorman.

It all felt a bit decadent. But I loved the feeling. .

The next morning I roamed through the hotel, where it seemed the décor and furnishings were of another era. The Norfolk Hotel opened on Christmas day 1904. It is said no other hotel in Kenya captures as much of Nairobi’s past. President Teddy Roosevelt, Lord Baden-Powell, the Earl of Warwick and the Baron and Baroness von Blixen are all part of the Hotel’s history.

And so is Ernest Hemingway. As a writer, I got a thrill peeking into the bar where he is said to have sat for hours at a time. I was only brought back to the present day when I observed a maid talking on a cell phone.

Out in the garden, I saw my first African bird. It was a hadada ibis, and a dozen or so of them were hanging out in the garden’s trees. I identified it using the East Africa bird guide Kim had given me for my birthday earlier in the year.

My second and third lifers (bird species seen for the very first time) were a baglaflect weaver and a pied crow.

I was as eager to see birds as I was to see Africa’s more famed four-legged wildlife. So much so that I occasionally annoying to my traveling companion, who likes watching birds but was more excited about Africa’s four-legged wildlife than its winged species on this trip.

A modernistic wildlife scupture on the University of Nairobi campus. -- Photo by Pat Bean

There’s the possibility I might also annoy my blog readers. It’s a risk I’ll take, however. I came to Africa to see birds every bit as much as to see lions and elephants.

Pied crow -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Meanwhile, Kim joined me in the garden, and we went into breakfast, which included some yummy African sausages that we would eat many times again during our African stay.

Afterward, we took a short walk on the grounds of the University of Nairobi across the street from the hotel. Our stroll was accompanied by a black kite flying overhead, whose sighting I added to my daily bird log.

And then it was off to the small Wilson Regional Airport for our flight to Tanzania to begin our safari for real.

Next episode: A view of Mount Kilimanjaro

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