An ode to the city of Nairobi
Nairobi is a city of Contradictions. It is modern and yet old and colonial. A city where a cup of tea can cost close to KSh 1000 in one part of the city and about KSh 30 in another. Nairobi is like an energetic and undecided teenager, on the one hand, there is never a dull moment in this unique city but on the other, it is a city that is undecided about its future. However, it can be argued that Nairobi’s many contradictions are part of its charm.
There’s no city in the world where you can take a trip to a National park at dawn and have the pleasure of watching a lion walk a stone throw away from your car. Hopefully, one of the many reasons why Turnup Travel started the Nairobi tour dubbed ‘The Nairobae IG tour’.
According to Turnup “the IG tours aka the Instagram tours are trips that showcase the hidden treasures, faces and places, culture, food and beverages of a particular city.” In this case Nairobi. During this trip, Turnup organised two treasure hunts one of which KBC’s Beth Nyaga won. If you’re interested Turnup travel will be happy to help. Here’s what we learned from our trip.
Effigies of the age of heroes
The history of Nairobi is interwoven in its monuments, the ones erected to celebrate war heroes and the ones erected to honour those who have contributed to the city’s advancement. If you pay attention, you will notice that there are faces and places in Nairobi that seem so stuck in time that they are obscured by the modernity of their surroundings. One such structure is the miliary stone at the junction of Kenyatta Avenue and Koinange street which was erected in 1939 as a memorial to Douglas Galton Fenzi who founded Kenya’s first automobile association and was the first to drive from Nairobi to Mombasa. Most Kenyans pass by it every day and yet are surprised to find out it means something.
However, some were erected to remind us about the cost of freedom. Memorials to the heroes who understood the value of our freedom like the statues of Tom Mboya (Moi Avenue), Dedan Kimathi (Kimathi Street) and the World War memorial statues (Kenyatta Avenue) that remain everlasting effigies of the age of heroes.
There are numerous unknown gems in this city like the Point Zero cafe which is situated right next to the Nairobi Art Gallery. This cafe is so understated in its charm and elegance that it is a wonder it is not as widely known as some of its counterparts. But then again, its unknowability is what makes it a gem.
Right next to it is the Nairobi Art Gallery which is hidden away at the end or beginning, depending on which side you’re coming from, of Kenyatta Avenue. The gallery itself is in a historic building constructed in 1913 where births, marriages and deaths were once registered hence its moniker ‘hatches, matches and dispatches’. Within the walls of this gallery lies the home of the Murumbi African Heritage collection put together by the former Vice President of Kenya, Joseph Murumbi. The collection boasts of relics that embody the spirit of old Africa and art that reflects the new Africa.
Nairobi’s food culture is as diversified as its tribes and the expatriates who live in this cosmopolitan city. It doesn’t matter whether your budget is KSh. 50 or KSh. 10,000, you will find either a Kibanda or a five-star hotel to cater to your dietary needs; from Chinese, Mexican, and Ethiopian to mention a few. If you’re looking, however, for a great, low-key 3-course dining experience in a hotel that’s hidden away, try the Concorde Hotel in Parklands.
Sunsets in Nairobi are just another part of the city’s contradictory charm. Watching a sunset, preferably on a rooftop with a drink in your hand, in Nairobi is like watching a dragon wake up. Sunsets, in this city, mark the beginning of Nairobi’s vibrant nightlife. It’s a well-known fact that Nairobi comes alive at night, not surprising for a country ranked number three among the biggest drinking nations in Africa.
Nairobi is a city full of history, art, culture, and hidden treasures, but at its core, Nairobi is an old city with a young soul. A city for the young, energetic and free.
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