This was it - our last day in Africa. Our return itinerary consisted of three flights; one from Zanzibar to Nairobi, another from Nairobi to London, and then from London to Montreal. I was looking forward to returning to Canada. Although I had had a very interesting time, I had been away long enough. I guess that's the best way for a trip to end up; it's no fun leaving a place when you want to stay longer.
Kilimanjaro and Mawenzi (aerial)
The one-hour flight from Zanzibar back to Nairobi was scenic; especially so, since the plane flew very close to the summit of Kilimanjaro on the way back, and we were able to take excellent pictures of the summit poking out through the clouds. I could see the side-ridge of Uhuru Peak and could picture our exact ascent and descent route. I couldn't believe I'd just been up there a few weeks before!
Nairobi was cool and fresh after the tropical heat of Zanzibar. I reflected back to when I first arrived here almost three weeks ago. It all seemed so foreign, a little bit scary. Now it somehow seemed a lot more normal, more easygoing. I suppose fear of the unknown always makes things worse than they seem, and it no longer seemed that unknown to me.
Kili from the air, annotated.
We had a stopover of several hours, some of which was spent at another very slow restaurant (at the airport). Our flight left at 11:30 pm, which was delayed by over an hour (the plane was late arriving from London because of some little intercom glitch).
The red-eye flight back to London was a bit cramped. I was in the middle seat just ahead of a bulkhead, which meant virtually no reclining of the seat was possible. This was pretty annoying, but... sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.
In London, we had an eight hour stopover. Rather than sit around and do nothing, we decided to exit the airport and take the Tube downtown for a bit of sightseeing. I'd never actually been to downtown London, so it was a bit of a fun thing to do.
The morning was crystal clear and very nippy for London - just a few degrees above zero. It was also nippy for me as well, since I'd grown accustomed to 25 and 35 degree days for the last while.
We got off at the Picadilly Circus subway stop, and I was immediately struck by the idea of the age of empires, with grand European countries, sailing hither and tither to create far-away colonies. I had just flown from one of those former colonies to the very heart of the largest empire of old - the British Empire. As we walked around, we saw monument after monument, and it was almost as if one could feel how the wealth of the Empire had flowed from its colonies back to the mother country.
Lest you have the wrong impression, I must say that it was still mighty nice. I saw Trafalgar Square, Nelson's column, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace, among many other smaller beautiful locations. A brisk walking pace, that was!
Typical London centre street.
Westminster Abbey, backside.
I ate a tasty bangers-and-mash lunch with Caroline at a restaurant in downtown London, before heading back on the subway to the airport. It was time for one last plane ride and a return home to comfy but cold Canada.
Jennifer and Shannon had graciously offered to meet us at the airport in Montreal and drive us back to Ottawa, and were waiting patiently in the arrivals area. It was an icy cold evening outside, with a temperature well below -20C. Such a contrast to 36 hours before!
Jenn and Shannon
Shannon and Jenn and had gotten us a wonderful array of goodies to celebrate our successful climb of Kilimanjaro - Champagne, fruit, cheese, brownies. So thoughtful! Crammed into Shannon's mini-van, we headed back to Ottawa, where, one by one, we dropped everyone off back home.
An amazing trip had come full circle.
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