The Presidential Residence
This residence on Lalana Titsy is engulfed in a park-like setting around the lake and surrounded by flowers and trees, not forgetting the soldiers guarding the residence. Be careful not to take any pictures as this is strictly forbidden and if caught, who knows what might happen. Since I am able to write this article from the comfort of my home, it is safe to say that I didn’t take any chances on this trip. In order to visit the residence, a permit will have to be obtained and this can easily be done through either the local tourism office or a local travel agent.
The Royal Hill Of Ambohimanga
This hill is also known as the ‘Blue Hill’, and it represents the Malagasy culture and history dating back to the 16th century. It lies at the top of one of the twelve sacred hills of Imerina or Kingdom of Madagascar and dates back to the 15th century during the rule of Madagascar’s first king Andriantsimitoviaminandriana (I know what you’re thinking right now. Try rattling off this name ;)). I loved standing here just looking out at the city and watching the daily rush of life passing by.
Also at the top of the hill lies Rova Palace built for the Queen Rasoherina during her reign from 1863-1868. There were, in fact, actually five palaces built on the grounds of Rova. The palace remains closed on Monday’s but open to visitors on all other days. Best to check for the timings as this may have changed in recent times. Again, prior arrangements must be made with the curator at least 24-hours in advance if you would like to take photographs.
The Zoma (Friday) Market
Located in front of the train station is the largest street market in the world! The buzz and vibe of the market is enough to give you an adrenaline rush and fill you with enough excitement and energy to navigate your way through the maze of stalls engulfed by a sea of white umbrellas and, for the tiresome feat of bargaining. Here you can buy anything from a range of fake handbags, clothes and pirated music, to stunning locally handcrafted items. Take note of pickpockets and don’t assume that anything branded is original. It certainly is not.
Now when it comes to visiting different cities, I am partial to steering clear from any zoological and botanical gardens. Let’s face it, who actually goes to visit a zoo when travelling abroad unless you have a vested interest in the field or the city has nothing better to offer by way of attractions? In this case, I must emphasise that a visit to the Parc Botanique Et Zoologique De Tsimbazaza, is definitely worth spending the time.
Parc Botanique Et Zoologique De Tsimbazaza
You see, Madagascar, in my opinion, is the Amazon of Africa. It has a plethora of fauna and flora and not to mention the most unique species of life form and the Parc is one of the best places to see most of these in one place. Unfortunately, as the days pass, approximately 20 of these life forms are rendered extinct on a daily basis since they are never recorded; they are lost in time forever.
Restaurants and bars in Tana.
This is a relaxed atmosphere where you can find the most excellent local crafted beers. The Mexican menu is just as delicious. Be sure to try the tacos and of course, their two-for-one margaritas is simply the best or so I’m told.
Situated on Independence Avenue is the place where the tourists come together. The establishment is renowned not only for its great menu, cocktails and beer, but also its music, inviting local and emerging talents alike.
Now I do consider myself relatively adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, but in Tana, I was quite skeptical when I heard that one of the delicacies was spiders. Yup, those eight-legged creepy, terribly frightful creatures that have me screaming and running for miles on end. As far as I know, one way to have them is deep fried. I won’t risk the chance of searching Google for fear of having a mild (or even fatal) heart attack when they pop up on my screen.
If it’s a fine dining experience you’re after, the best place would be Marais Restaurant on the 5th floor of the Atrium building. Although expensive, the international and fusion cuisine is superb and both artistically and aesthetically appealing. Be prepared to fork out for this chic dining experience.
This restaurant at the Sakamanga Hotel in the city centre, on the other hand, is a fast food delight where you can find burgers, pizza and vegetarian options at very affordable prices. The Saka Restaurant on the same premises specialises in French and Malagasy cuisine (and no creepy crawlies on this menu).