Thursday, February 28, 2019

To Paris!

It's taken me awhile to get back on line to post since I wrote my last post (which you can view here if interested). The snow that fell on my first day back has melted but the forecast calls for a bit more snow.  I haven't been out very much but the sun has been shining daily.

Today I want to share some introductory remarks about my travels.  My main destination for travel was the country of Kenya and the City of Nairobi specifically. I had been planning to return to Kenya for some time but this time I also wanted to see something different either on the continent of Africa or somewhere in Europe.

My very busy nephew and I have been discussing travelling to Paris together for years. After checking the flight itinerary options from Paris to Nairobi I then asked my nephew if a few days in Paris would work for him as it coincided with the new university term.  I didn't expect a definitive 'yes' but he agreed!

Neither of us had many expectations or plans and little time to really prepare for the trip.  We both just really wanted to soak up a bit of atmosphere by sitting at the Parisian bistros and people watching. Of course a visit to the Eiffel Tower was a must for both of us and my nephew said we must visit the Louvre.

Due to his very busy schedule I investigated the travel options to find a fare within his budget and to make sure he had the appropriate insurance.  We didn't travel together. He flew with Iceland Air and I travelled with KLM, my favourite airline.  My flight left very early from Vancouver and I didn't get any sleep since I had to be at the airport  by 3 a.m.

After checking in this is the first line up in Vancouver on the way to first security clearance.

 The departure gate was at the very end of the international departure terminal, a foreshadowing of things to come.

At the departure gate in Vancouver

My flight was routed through the USA where I made a connecting flight in Minneapolis to Paris. As time got closer to departure I worried what might happen in Minneapolis because of the government shut down. Thankfully all went well and I had no problems.  In fact, I was so very impressed with the staff at the Minneapolis airport, the level of service and the professionalism yet friendliness exhibited by all.  Everyone was just superb and they take customer service seriously there. All airports should follow the lead of this fine airport.

Once at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, I had several hours to wait for my nephew. I didn't find any nice place to have refreshment or to relax in the terminal where I alighted.  I waited in the general area for about 30 minutes trying to see if the line at the small cafe would diminish but I eventually left and made my way closer to the terminal where I expected my nephew to arrive. Once I changed locations, I found better waiting areas and services.  Enroute to the "new' terminal I struck up a conversation with a woman from the Cameroon who now lives in Seattle, Washington.  We had a very nice conversation before we parted ways. She was over nighting in Paris and wanted to stay close by the airport before she flew home to the Cameroon for a visit.  Once I found my way to a cafe, I asked a woman if I could share her table due to limited space. She obliged and we struck up a conversation. I learned she was on her way home to her husband in Saudi Arabia after visiting her family in Paris. We studied the transit map together to find my hotel and she advised me to take a taxi to the hotel rather than go by bus and metro (there being no direct route via metro).

Map of the Paris Metro system

I spent some time investigating the transit options to the hotel before leaving Vancouver and didn't wish to spend so much money on a taxi. Neither did I want to ride the bus and metro given the inconvenience of going up and down stairs with heavy luggage and the possibility of being mugged (mentioned in several articles I'd read). When my nephew arrived we decided to take an Uber to our destination. I let him order the Uber and I willingly paid as that was part of our arrangement so he could accompany me to Paris.  The Uber driver was prompt and the ride into the city was very interesting. My nephew and I were both happy and excited to see a bit of the city through the car windows. Our driver wasn't much of a conversationalist but he was pleasant and got us to our destination. Though he got lost very near the end point it didn't take him long to find his way once again.

We booked into the Hotel Boronali a very small, family run hotel in the 18th arrondissment at 
65 Rue de Clignancourt.

Not my photo. This is a promotional one.
I chose this hotel because it appeared to be closer to one of the attractions I wanted to see in Montmarte and I'd read that it was one bus ride away to The Louvre.  I also selected the hotel because there was a laundromat across the street.  I planned to do laundry before jetting off to Africa since there are no do it yourself laundromats in Kenya.

We enjoyed staying at the Hotel Boronali.  The hotel was very small but nice and  staff was very professional and helpful.  But in case you wish to stay there one day please note that the hotel has no on site restaurant or bar though they do provide breakfast in the morning and coffee/tea during the day.  There is a lift but given it is a heritage building there is only room for one suitcase and one person at a time (perhaps 2 suitcases if they are stackable). There are many restaurants and bars in the neighbourhood so it isn't a big issue not to have a full scale restaurant in the hotel. There are also several convenience stores, boulangeries and small supermarkets close to the hotel and I felt very safe walking in the area.  Even late into the night though a friend of my nephew's suggested the area is not that safe. For more information about the hotel see here.

While we were there we were so very busy trying to make the most of our short time. We did miles and miles of walking every day (my nephew more than I) and we ate on the run. Thank goodness for the boulangeries.  I did not sit at any bistros as planned except on the last evening when we decided to have a proper French meal before departure. But I did have a version of an American breakfast at a bistro next to the hotel. The cafĂ© crema was delicious.

Sorry for the blurred photo.

Thank you for stopping.
Stay tuned for more travel posts. In the next post I will share some of the things we did in Paris.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Changes in Kenya

In yesterday's post I mentioned I'd been travelling and have recently landed back in Vancouver.

I hope to do several travel posts to bring you up to date but for now I wanted to share some changes coming for all those who live in Kenya or those who wish to travel to Kenya for tourism or for work.

Citizens of Kenya and all foreigners living in the country will now be required to apply for a Huduma Namba before they can apply for many other identification papers needed to operate in the country such as national ID cards, passports and so on. Even the elderly will require a Huduma Namba to apply for pensions though the roll out of pensions to the elderly hasn't even begun and has in fact been delayed for going on two years due to lack of money in the Treasury.

Article dated February 1, 2019 in Kenyan paper
(Click to enlarge)

Also, foreigners wanting to visit Kenya are being given shorter visas usually of one month duration rather than three.

All these changes come courtesy of Dr. Fred Matiang'i, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Security who has been on a mission to rid the country of illegal workers and those who live in the country without benefit of proper identification. For my non-Kenyan readers you can google immigration changes in Kenya for news articles and You Tube videos regarding these changes.

There are many reasons for the changes including freeing up jobs that can legitimately be done by Kenyan locals. Another overriding and important national concern is the number of people who live in the country or enter the country to do damage through terrorist activities.

Of course while I can understand the changes taking place and the hard line stance, unfortunately in the meantime, innocent people will be adversely affected by these changes. People like ex-pat NGO workers and Christian missionaries who are applying for or renewing work permits. Foreigners must now apply for their appropriate visas whilst in their countries of origin.

Tourists who wish to stay longer in Kenya are now being limited to a one month visa though I think one can apply for an extension up to three months. In former days one would get a tourist visa for three months with extensions possible to at least six months. Tourist visas are now available through an on line application and have been for the past several years. I applied for a visitor's visa which took longer to process and approve than the last time I applied. Though it stated it was good for three months, it also said that the length of time I could stay in Kenya would be determined by officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi. My passport was stamped with a one month visa but it was only later that I realized it wasn't quite long enough. My stay in Kenya was about 35 days so several days longer than one month. One cannot be cavalier about overstaying a visa,  Fortunately it didn't cause me any problems when I checked in at the airport for the return journey home.

Just to illustrate how serious everything needs to be taken, as I was about to board the plane in Amsterdam for Nairobi, I was shocked to learn of a terrorist attack at the Dusit Hotel located in the very neighbourhood where I had booked lodgings. Momentarily I was in a panic and wondered what to do about accommodations. Friends quickly found me an alternative but I decided I needed to think and pray during the flight about what to do. By the time I landed in Nairobi I felt peace about retaining my original booking. As time went on I had no qualms about staying in Nairobi. I thank God for the peace and the protection while I was there.

Now that I'm back in Canada I'm dealing with Winter.  A late Winter storm has been hitting the west coast for just over a week.

I went from this

and this

Oshwal Center, Westlands, Nairobi

to this

A flock of birds flew past just as I was snapping this photo. Can you see?

While I cannot say I was happy to return to Winter weather it is always good to be home after a long journey especially when a number of important things need doing.

I am grateful that I was kept safe on my journey.  I'll be sharing more about this aspect in future posts.
In the meantime take care and have a wonderful weekend.

Sharing with

Skywatch Friday

Saturday's Critters


Friday Foto Friends
though this meme is on break for now.

Thursday, February 21, 2019


Hi friends,

I'm back in this space for a short while.

I've recently been on travels and so I hope to share some of that along with photos in the coming weeks.

I just wanted to pop in and say thank you to those who have continued to pop by here and leave me a kind word or two. It means a lot.

My laptop stayed home while I was away and though I did borrow one I didn't have time to actively visit blogs or to post here though from time to time I tried.

I know Valentine's Day has passed but I wanted to share the beautiful bouquet I received which was a lovely surprise.  I had a spa appointment that day at the Sarit Centre in Nairobi and was gifted with a few more red roses and a lovely chocolate. Later on when having dinner at the Java House, in Nairobi's Westlands area, I was also treated to a delicious surprise of pistachio and hazelnut ice cream compliments of the restaurant.  All in all it was a lovely day.

I have lots to share but for now I leave you with these beautiful flowers.

Neighbourhood Street Scenes

Hello friends and fellow bloggers, I hope you are well today. These are photos I took on a recent walk in the neighbourhood. You can see the...