Kenya 6/18/06 - The Norfolk Hotel

After a delightful 12 hour sleep, we finally roused ourselves out of bed at 1 p.m. So much for that amazing breakfast we heard about. This was the extra day we allotted ourselves so jet-lag wouldn't be too much of a problem. It was a great decision as we now felt ready to go. We took our showers. It was very sunny outside, and we wandered around the grounds, looked at the pool, etc. All of the staff were super nice and couldn't do enough for us. Anyone who saw us asked if they could be of help. They gave us a tour of the fitness center, sauna, etc. Everything is free to guests except for massages. We took some photos of the grounds, which were very beautiful in the daylight. There was an old carriage (the symbol of the hotel), some old farm equipment, and what appeared to be a Model T. There were some birds enjoying the bird bath. Despite the fact that the hotel is in the city, it was a nice little oasis.

We went to the Lord Delamere Terrace for lunch. We got a nice table overlooking the street where we could people-watch. The University of Nairobi was right next door. Craig ordered a Premium Serengeti Lager (from Tanzania) and I had a Fanta. They brought us rolls and butter. I ordered the lamb korma curry marinated in yoghurt and exotic spices, served with Naan and biryani rice. Craig got the chicken Mahkani curry in tomato, cashew and butter curry with Naan and biryani rice. Mine was in a brown sauce and Craig's was in a red sauce. They brought little chrome warmers for the curry. It was served with chapati (flat bread strips) and a carousel of condiments. We never even used the condiments, as the curry itself was so tasty. There was just too much of it. Our waiter, Isa, tried to convince us to have dessert. We said that we had no room, but that we would be back for dessert later. We had a liesurely lunch and left the restaurant at 4:30.

We ran into Lobo in the lobby and he introduced us to Bill, our traveling companion from California. He is a widower who travels 6 months out of every year. It was immediately clear that Bill was quite a character and would likely add a lot of color to our small group. We chatted for a while in the lobby. Craig had a mission and asked if he could borrow a pair of scissors. He was told to ask the gift shop where they have a pair to loan. Someone else had already borrowed them but the storekeeper really went out of her way to obtain a pair anyway. Eventually she borrowed them from another gift shop at the hotel. It was a rather large pair of scissors, especially considering that he wanted it so he could trim his moustache. We went back to the room during a short violent downpour, and while Craig, rather comically, trimmed his moustache, I sat in the window seat overlooking the koi pond and wrote in the journal.

We returned the scissors to the gift shop and bought postcard stamps (95 shillings per card). The U.S. dollar is about 70-75 shillings, depending where you exchange it. We went to the Bar at the Hotel Norfolk and sat on the patio. Craig had two Tuskers and I had white wine followed by a sangria. I ordered meat samosas with mint chutney from the "bitings menu". They were three triangular phyllo pastries stuffed with lamb and onion - like little meat pies. We enjoyed them, and we enjoyed our time sitting, chatting and seeing all the newcomers arriving at the hotel. We were quite happy that we had this day to just relax, rest up, and get over our jet lag. The hotel was hopping tonight. The doorman in his styling green coat and black top hat walked by, and I asked if I could get a picture because he looked so good. He thanked me and posed for the camera. He said that his name was Duke. We jokingly thought "But don't worry, he wasn't a real duke."

When we finished our drinks, we went back to the Lord Delamere Terrace. Isa, who had been our waiter for lunch, was our waiter again. I ordered white wine and Craig ordered a Tusker. "You changed from Serengeti?" said Isa. These guys are good. We told him we were back for that dessert we didn't have earlier, and that we would have appetizers too. He said "I have a feeling you'll have a main course." We explained that the curry was so filling and that we had promised to come back for dessert. He said, "Yes, you kept your end of the promise and it was a late lunch..." I ordered locally-produced camembert softened in the oven with hazelnuts and herbs. It was served with three little round pieces of toast. Craig got Kuchumbari with poached king prawns, a traditional East African salad with tomatoes, green peppers, sweet onions, and coriander. When we ordered the appetizers, Isa gave me the eye and said "That's it?" I laughed and said "And dessert!" The food came and the presentation was very nice.

As we were eating, George, the restaurant manager, came by to ask how our food was. We told him that it was great and he said, "May I ask where you are visiting us from?" We chatted with him and he was incredibly nice. He said we were the first guests he had talked to who were heading to Rwanda. We had a very pleasant chat. By now Isa had left for the night and we had another waiter. We ordered more drinks and dessert. I ordered an apple ginger crumble with house-made vanilla ice cream. Craig ordered an individual macadamia nut tart with locally-produced camel ice cream scented with acacia honey. The waiter came back and showed integrity by telling Craig that they were out of camel ice cream. (Craig thinks he would not have known the difference). He was a bit disappointed as it was the camel ice cream that intrigued him so much, but ordered it anyway with the house vanilla ice cream. The presentation was gorgeous and the food was delicious. By now a lot of the staff had left (it was 10:30) and manager George had taken over some waiter duty. The late-arriving people at the table next to us were giving him trouble. They ordered lamb shanks and were brought sharp knives. One of the women said loudly, "My mother said if you need a knife like this, the meat is too tough!" George, ever polite, told them to enjoy their meal. She retorted, "I'll try." They also initially ordered single glasses of wine and then downed them very quickly, only to complain that replacements weren't coming fast enough. Craig and I thought maybe they should have ordered a bottle of wine instead. Clearly they were going to drink at least a bottle between the three of them anyway. It was rather amusing to watch how they seemed annoyed at anything and everything. Meanwhile Craig and I were having a lovely time and really enjoying how kind and attentive all of the staff were. We made sure to pull George aside and thank him and tell him how excellent everything was. We got back to the room at 11:09. I wrote in the journal and we were both asleep by midnight.
Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi

Norfolk Hotel courtyard, Nairobi

Norfolk Hotel courtyard, Nairobi

Duke the doorman, Norfolk Hotel, Nairobi

Steph writing in the journal

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