Madagascar – Part 3 – Antananarivo

Madagascar continued from Madagascar – Part 2 – Lemur Island

I was so exited to see the infamous capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, or Tana as the locals call it.  We only got a glimpse of it on our drive to Andasibe, but our guide told us all about the bustling city center of the country.  I had a picture in my mind of what I thought it would be, and I was SOOO wrong.  I was terrified of this part of the trip because, lets face it, Madagascar is a third world country and I assumed that Tana was were we would see that.

For starters, this was one of the busiest places I have ever seen (like Times Square on crack) but the people here were not the bitter city folk I am used to.  The number one thing I was not expecting was the amazing hospitality of this country, and in the city, its evident.   For example, on our drive into the city Lelani our guide took us up to a look out point in the city to get a great view of Tana and he warned us that we would be approached by beggers in this area and we should be careful.  So I tucked my money pouch under my shirt, tightly held on to my camera and was prepared to fight people off.  While we were at the lookout, I was approached by one gentleman and it went like this… “Hello, where are you from?” ME – “The United States” “Welcome to Madagascar, please enjoy this country” He smiled, turned, and walked away.  That was it.  THAT WAS BEGGING!

Lookout view of Antananarivo or "Tana"

Lookout view of Antananarivo or “Tana”

Everyone in the city would wave at us and smile and say “Manahoana” (hello) and “Veloma” (good bye) with a welcoming smile.  Many people were excited to talk with us because we spoke English and a lot of Malagasy people are learning English and are excited to practice since French is more common there. I really cannot say enough about the friendliness of the Malagasy people.  They seem like the happiest people on earth and welcomed us with open arms.  I expected to feel unsafe and never want to go anywhere without our guide, but I was so wrong.  Once I was there and with the people, I don’t think there was a moment I felt uncomfortable or unsafe. Anyone who says they wont go to Madagascar because its unsafe has no idea what they are talking about.  Do not let that stop you from seeing this unbelievable country.

Once we were finished up at the lookout spot, our guide dropped us off at our hotel, the lovely Royal Palissandre or Palissandre Hôtel & Spa.  This hotel exceeded our expectations beyond belief.  Based on the lack luster website, we weren’t expecting much, but we were so wrong.  It was beautiful.  When we arrived, we were greeted with a delicious glass of what we think was a mint iced tea and what practically felt like the red carpet treatment.  We went up to our room to drop our bags and get ready for dinner, which we decided we would have at the hotel that evening since our tea was so yummy.  Our room was great and had a balcony, which not all rooms do, so if you stay here, you NEED to request a room with a balcony.  The view is incredible! Also worth noting is that this hotel has free wifi in the rooms.  I was shocked because I did not expect any internet anywhere in this country.  This gave us the ability to finally check in with family to let them know we were safe and sound and already had lemurs on our heads.

Hotel Royal Palissandre

Hotel Royal Palissandre (Antananarivo, Madagascar)

balcony and incredible view at Hotel Royal Palissandre

balcony and incredible view at Hotel Royal Palissandre (Antananarivo, Madagascar).

We were hungry, so we quickly prepped for dinner at the restaurant , which turned out to be lovely.  We sat outside on their patio and again got to enjoy the fantastic view of the city, which we also got to enjoy the next morning for breakfast.

The weather in the capital was fantastic, so once we finished dinner and headed back to our room, we decided to splurge, grab some ice cold THB out of our mini bar (and by splurge I mean a $3.00 mini bar beer) and sit on our balcony and enjoy the sounds and view of Tana.

Delicious Malagasy THB on the balcony.  Photo by Aimee DiAndrea

Delicious Malagasy THB on the balcony.

While we were out on our balcony, the phone rang.  It was the spa calling.  (I thought only in my dreams spas would beckon me at 9pm).  They were calling to let us know that they were still open for the evening if we were interested in any services.  Was I interested?  I never turn down a spa, and I never dreamed it would still be open and that we would actually be able to get appointments.  So once our beers were finished, we ran down to the spa for a massage.  The spa was beautiful, tranquil and used local Malagasy products.  They greeted us with tea and sat down with us to figure out the type of massage we would get and whisked us off to a joint massage room where we each had one of the best massages we have ever had for a very reasonable price. We were back to our room and ready for a good night sleep prior to our journey in the early morning back to the airport for the 2nd portion of our trip – Anjajavy.

A bit of Americana in Tana, Madagascar

Stay tuned for part 4 of our Madagascar journey…