A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about clubbing

Happy Blantyre Birthday

Rachel

We traveled to one of the biggest cities in Malawi, Blantyre (named for the town in which David Livingstone was born), still exhilarated by completing the Mulanje trek and and thoroughly awesome trip down. There was gospel on the minibus radio and I felt totally comfortable here.

We headed straight to the local backpackers hangout, postponed a jump in the little pool for now, had a quick shower, a few G&T, asked around about local places playing live music and then headed to one of the restaurants that promised the “best steak south of Nairobi”. And it was a great meal, a proper birthday-only treat. We even had a cheese board!

We both could have gone back and slept for a week but this was a birthday dammit so we headed over to “Motel Paradise” and arrived to see sweaty dancers in traditional bush dress stomping about stage banging spears down in time to some choral botswanian traditional-ish music. Perfect (if a little unexpected). Following that was an ex-MP Lucius Banda who we have heard on the radio a lot since. A local man translated some of his songs as we listened and although they sounded very upbeat they all had quite a serious message as you’d expect from a politician.

We were the only white people in the place and therefore a little conspicuous for dancing and had a host of people trying to teach us how to dance properly and make friends with us. In the end we started to flag and left about 3am, resisted the swimming pool back at the lodge again and snuck into our dorm room for a well earned lie in.

We decided to stick around in Blantye the next day since I had lost my watch which I wanted to replace, and Dave wanted to explore the town a little. Also there was a Lake of Stars after party (somewhat late but there you go) which looked worth checking out that evening. So we ran our errands, both luckily avoided being caught out in the 20 minute biblical downpour – the first rain of the rainy season! – and had a very relaxed night at the (unfortunately quite dead) after party, playing some pool and listening to one of the live acts Dave had actually met at the festival. He’s playing gigs to raise funds for a trip he’s making walking from cairo to Capetown. He’s not doing it for charity either, just to meet people on the road in a Forest Gump kind of way. Lovely lovely guy, and a shame there’s no website to track his progress but we hope to catch some more of his gigs round the country if we’re lucky enough to catch him again.

Could have stayed in Blantyre another day just to hang around the backpackers and enjoy the food and beer and the buzz of other travellers (and working internet!) but really there was no other reason to stay. Oh but we did see an enormous chamelion in the garden: while we were on the internet uploading pictures someone ran in to say there was one out there. It's the coolest animal - super slow and careful it seems almost mechanical. Next stop is another town though so we dont want to get city weary.

Had a great birthday precident set here though...wonder where we'll be for my birthday....?

Posted by rachndave 04:12 Archived in Malawi Tagged clubbing birthday Comments (2)

Turning up the volume

Last time I left you I think we were wondering the desolate streets of Beirut. Well things definitely picked up - until 8am :)

We spent the whole night and day with sweet Aileen, a young chinese girl who was taking a long weekend break away from working in the admin dept of a Jordanian factory. Her planned travel buddy was unfortunately turned away from the syrian border earlier in the day because they managed to find out that she had previously travelled to Israel. Poor lass. Aileen decided to go on alone, having never done anything like that before, and so we adopted each other in the taxi. We had a great day wandering around the bullet ridden streets, wandering round the smart redeveloped streets, going on the so-bad-its-good ferris wheel, swimming in the Med, chilling out in the green oasis of the American University, watching the street carnival in the student area and introducing Aileen to her first taste of Italian food (!) and her first Gin and Tonic.

There is a strange atmosphere sometimes. There are some beautiful old buildings with a definite old french feel - all balconies, shutters and frills round the edge - alongside the smart sleek modern buildings. But the old buildings are completely peppered with bullets, as are some of the monuments. It's hard to believe this city centre was a warzone. The new buildings definitely outnumber the old, although you wouldnt get that impression from our photos which is why i mention it :) There is no other sign that anything happened here, no one talks about it. But during the night of the festival people were letting off fireworks in the next street along and there were some very nervous looking people around. Sitting where we were we couldnt see the fireworks in the sky but could hear the explosions and echos through the streets and see the casings drop to earth and it certainly gave us a small window into what it must have been like in those streets during the 1980s.

We left Aileen to get a well earned nights sleep while we headed out with Sebastien, a super fun german guy we immediately hit it off with in our hostel, to a well known club in Beirut called B018. In Beirut people dont really start their night till after dinner which doesnt start till 9, so the bars get going around 12 and the clubs at 2. Our kind of town:)

It was a lovely little one room club, good crowd, staff tolerant to our late night cork-throwing silliness, we could dance on the tables and the roof opened several times during the night and sunrise.

We all happily fell into our beds at 8am that morning with sore feet and sore cheeks.

Only to drag ourselves out of bed at 2pm and off for some more sightseeing to the Jeita grotto: a 2km lonng cave chock full of the biggest stalegtites/mites you can imagine. All tastefully lit and even included a boat trip to reach the lower caves. A perfect cool, jaw-droppingly awesome place to spend an afternoon's hangover. We headed back to catch the second day of the street festival including local bands and food stalls - all very Dulwich - but we flagged and headed back to see if we could catch Sebastien again to potentially perk us up. Instead we met two lovely dutch girls - Amy and Daun - on the roof for some nightcap beers and together watched the dormant rooftop nightclub over the road get louder and louder and glitzier and flashier: not unlike our experience of the city itself.

Posted by rachndave 23:38 Archived in Lebanon Tagged sea history festivals cave clubbing Comments (1)

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