Big & Burli-ngton!

Big & Burli-ngton!

 

After a day and a half in Acadia that included a hike at Jordan Pool Pond this morning, we then departed to grab a quick cheesecake at Momo’s Cheesecake in the town of Ellsworth.

 

 

The remarkable thing is not only that this amazing piece of work is $5.50 a slice, but that you can pay on the honor code — there isn’t a single employee here to take your order; you simply pay by dropping off your cash in a box and take whatever you paid for!

 

 

Furthermore at a nearby farm, we found this “honor system” to be the continually running theme in this part of Maine.

 

 

We then headed onwards for a quick fast food lunch in empty Augusta, Maine.

 

 

Then along the long 6 hour drive to Vermont, I finally drove for the first time in 11 years! At the time of writing, we’re still alive!

Once we arrived at Burlington at 8pm, we made a beeline to #1 stop on everyone’s list here: a stroll through Church Street Marketplace.

 

 

A perfect balance of historic buildings, public performances, and modern trappings can keep a visitor here busy all day!

 

 

Although the original Ben & Jerry’s location is only a block away on College Street and Saint Paul’s (now currently an empty lot with a plaque commemorating the original location), this is the closest you’ll get to the OG:

 

 

There’s also a Ben & Jerry’s factory about an hour east from Burlington (complete with a Flavor Graveyard!) but sadly it was closed for the weekend for this trip.

And if you’re willing to venture a bit farther from Church Street Marketplace, check out the waterfront to Lake Champlain a few minutes away.

 

 

As we checked into our lodgings at the Hilton DoubleTree in Burlington, we noticed another casualty of COVID-19: their famous chocolate chip cookies were no longer offerred. They also made us sign another certificate of compliance related to the concerns of the virus spreading everywhere else around the country.

The next morning we got some coffee and stopped by for a second at the World’s Tallest Filing Cabinet.

 

 

Then we drove south and picked some strawberries for $3 a pint at Fat Belly Farm:

 

 

I also got bit by a bee for the first time (no allergic reaction, don’t worry) here:

 

 

Then with another hour’s drive south, we enjoyed a thorough free cheese and maple syrup tasting at Sugarbush Farms, also part of the Vermont Cheese Trail.

 

 

Here you can visit their sugar house where they evaporate the maple water into syrup, all from the 9000 trees that they tap on their farmlands.

 

 

They’ll helpfully warn you to steer clear of imitations!

 

 

There’s also a pleasant “maple hill” walk that takes around 10 minutes so you can see all the maple trees from where they tap. Find the hidden chapel in the woods where people can book for weddings.

 

 

Finally on our final stretch home, we stopped once at Flayvors of Cook Farm in Amherst, MA (on the last minute recommendation of one of my friends and monsooners Victoria Lu from the Antigua & Barbuda trip!):

 

 

Remarkably the mask culture completely shifted when we entered Massachusetts; it went from “masks appreciated” in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, to “masks required” that we also saw in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.

 

 

The great thing about Flayvors of Cook Farm is that you can eat ice cream staring at the very source where they came from:

 

 

Driving onwards home, by 8:30pm we returned full circle back to Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. We noticed that the indoor dining we had seen 6 days ago when we began this trip now have been rolled back and they were back to doing pickups only. Thanks to my friend and monsooner, Alfred Yeung (of numerous trip/monsoons), he helpfully was able to order ahead a classic tomato pie + mozzarella for us!

After a quick catch up with him (he had done the exact same trip that we did for the weekend up to Providence, RI), we returned to NYC, dropping off out car at 11pm in what seemed to look like a scene from an apocalyptic movie: Countless cars with their hazard lights on stretching around both corners of the street.

I figure this was from all the pent-up demand of July 4th weekenders dropping off their vehicles at the only 24/7 open Avis in this part of the city!

 

 

But we did it — 1 week of responsible travel in the era of COVID-19!

 

 

- At time of posting in Burlington, VT, it was 20 °C - Humidity: 71% | Wind Speed: 3km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly sunny

 

From Wall Street To Maine Street

From Wall Street To Maine Street

 

 

After nearly 3 days in Rhode Island, we head onwards to my first time ever setting foot in Maine.

While the COVID rates here have remained low like the rest of the Northeast, they’re not quite containing it as well as NYC, CT or Rhode Island

 

 

But luckily for us when we arrived at our hotel in downtown Portland, the AC Marriott, we found out that TODAY would be their first day reopening after a 1-2 month lockdown. This meant our room definitely would be clear of COVID-19 as nobody had stayed there for more than enough time for a lonely virus to die off on any surfaces (usually 3 days).

 

 

When you check in, they make you check off and sign this on the honor code (they don’t check for your results otherwise):

 

 

After 10 minutes settling in, we walked out to explore Portland, beginning with a 15 minute walk to the Portland Observatory (closed due to COVID):

 

 

We then walked 10 minutes towards the water and the majestic scenery of the Eastern Promenade:

 

 

It’s a dog paradise still at East End Beach:

 

 

Weaving along the coast back to downtown Portland, we came across a series of abandoned railroad carriages:

 

 

Once back in downtown Portland, we strolled around the charming cobblestone-lined paths of Old Porta quaint historic tourist district that before the pandemic also had functioned as a hip nightlife hot spot for locals.

 

 

As of the time of positing the traditional seafood spots by the waterfront have just begun reopening for outdoor and partial indoor dining.

 

 

When restaurants like Scales was too full, we managed to get seats at the last minute at DiMillo’s On The Water.

 

 

When in Maine…

 

 

…you do it right…

 

 

…and I definitely do it right.

 

 

The next morning we wandered past Old Port into the more modern Downtown Portland where I sampled some of my favorite espresso so far at Speckled Axe.

 

 

In the area and under better circumstances (aka if there were no pandemics), you can visit the magnificent interiors of Portland Museum of Art

 

 

…and Victoria Mansion, one of the most historic homes of the 19th century.

 

 

We then headed back to Old Port for an outdoor seaside lunch at Gilbert’s Chowder House:

 

 

…and we followed up with Duckfat‘s famous fried donuts served with caramel dipping sauce.

 

 

Heading out of Portland at 2pm, we drove 10 minutes to Bug Light Park, named after its tiny 24 foot tower that has a direct view of Portland Harbor.

 

 

The much larger and historic (and Maine’s oldest) Portland Head Lighthouse, built in 1791 and located within the 90-acre Fort Williams Park, is another 10 minutes’ drive south.

 

 

After a 20 minute cliff walk at the park, we drove back to Portland and showed up about an hour late to our online reservation (whoops!) we had made for a tandem kayak at Portland Paddle.

Luckily for us in the era of COVID they honored our reservations as demand here still remains low.

 

 

We spent about an hour kayaking in the bay, going as far out west as an abandoned railroad bridge by I-295 and as east to Pomroy Rock.

 

 

Another thunderstorm then arrived in the evening, so we sat that out back in our hotel before compelling ourselves to walk in the rain for our 8pm reservations at Scales.

Remember the Baked Alaska we had 3 years ago at Eleven Madison Park and 10 months ago in Greenland? We had it again here!

 

 

But this has been the running theme of Portland thus far:

 

 

Finally on day 3 of our time in Portland, we decided to finally honor all the recommendations for us to try The Holy Donut the next morning, especially their Vegan Fresh Lemon, Vegan Chocolate Caramel, and Maple Bacon potato donuts.

 

 

And I’m glad we did, physically distanced lines outside and all. 

This is a great send off for the road as we now drive up the 3 hours north to Acadia National Park!

 

- At time of posting in Portland, ME, it was 16 °C - Humidity: 66% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: thunderstorms

 

Let’s Hit The “Rhode” Island

Let’s Hit The “Rhode” Island

 

 

I’ve been posting regularly for weeks about what’s going on in and outside of NYC regarding COVID-related ups and downs, but after 3 months sheltering in place I feel it’s time for me peek above these fences and see for myself.

My dreams (already crazy & turbulent because of a lockdown…that’s a widespread thing apparently!) have also become even more vivid as of late, taking me back yearning to cross unknown deserts again.

 

 

So with nearly everyone I know in NYC already traveling, no ER shifts scheduled for the week, and a COVID-resistant cross country road-trip planned for this August, I’m compelled to take my life of monsooning into pandemic trial mode and research how domestic trips may remain safe and as responsible as possible, without negatively affecting other communities (as our previous monsoons have always been).

 

 

Because if our next wave happens to be now or our annual flu season mid-October, I want to make sure I’ve fully recharged by then and made the most out of our reprieve in NYC (…but you better stay <1% positive for COVID when I return!)…that is, before the inevitable happens.

So I head northeast this week outside the 50-mile radius of a bubble I’ve been holed up in for far too long, and I look forward to what dreams may come. I look forward to never letting my dreams be dreams.

 

 

Queens, NY

This Monday at 10am, we first made a quick stop in Elmhurst, Queens to check in on my grandmother: This is what a COVID survivor looks like.

 

 

At 11:30am we then drove for about an hour and half north from Queens into Connecticut, which currently is less than 2% positive for COVID and one of the only 2-3 states in the country at the time of posting with continually decreasing rates of infection. Didn’t feel too unsafe leaving NYC.

 

Milford, CT

Whenever I visit Connecticut, I always make a quick pit stop at my favorite Szechuan joint, Lao Sze Chuan in Milford.

 

 

If you’re ever there, make sure you order my personal favorite, the Chef’s Special Fried Chili Chicken:

 

 

And if you’re a vegetarian, mix in some rice with their Ma Po Tofu:

 

 

New Haven, CT

After half an hour in Milford, we then drove another 20 minutes northeast towards New Haven, where we stopped by at Frank Pepe PIzzeria, which was profiled on the first episode of David Chang’s Netflix show “Ugly Delicious.”

 

 

I realize that pizza has become a running theme when we also ate the “#1 best pizza in the world” at Savoy (also profiled in the same episode on “Ugly Delicious”) 2 summers ago in Tokyo.

And just as Brooklyn boasts its own unique style of pizza, so does New Haven: Compared to NYC, a “plain” New Haven pizza, or a “tomato pie,” is described to have a doughier, slightly thicker crust with oregano, tomato sauce, and grated pecorino romano cheese.

But Frank Pepe didn’t just invent New Haven pizza, it also became legendary for its white clam pizza:

 

 

Totally full at this point, we walked off our double lunch at the serene campus grounds of Yale University.

 

 

As the campus is now completely devoid of life because of COVID cancelling all summer classes, we felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. There was not a single other soul here.

 

 

One of my favorite stories here when I was visiting colleges was that its architects reportedly poured acid down the walls of its buildings to make it look older and thus compete with the buildings at Harvard.

 

 

See if you can find the Women’s Table sculpture, conceived by architect Maya Lin (who also designed the Vietnam War Memorial in DC). Each number corresponds to the number of women enrolled at Yale University every year.

 

 

Providence, RI

After a 30 minute stroll, we then took our final 2 hour drive of the day into Rhode Island, currently also with <2% positive rate for COVID-19 and one of two other states in the country with continually declining rates.

Once in Providence, we quickly checked into our first digs at affordable and yet boutique The Dean Hotel.

 

 

What do I think about hotel rooms in the era of COVID? Pick the right one and they’re by and large safer as they’re expected to be sanitized more often and thoroughly than private homes, especially in the era of COVID. After all, nobody wants that negative Yelp review and hardly anyone has been traveling anyway the past 3 months!

For me and my personal risk tolerance, they’re also way safer than any of the ERs I’ve been working in the past 3 months when I had a lack of PPE…

 

 

After a half an hour freshening up, we rendezvous’ed with my friends Lei and Maria (both of whom came on my monsoon to The Balkans 3 summers ago) who just so happened to be in Rhode Island the same days we were!

We first walked 10 minutes west to Federal Hill with an al fresco dinner at Il Massimo.

 

 

After dinner, we walked along Canal Walk by the water.

 

 

Crossing over to the east side of Providence, we gazed up at the hills that led to Brown University‘s campus.

 

 

We decided to stick to the water instead, walking south while taking in the magic of Providence’s skyline at night.

 

 

We walked all the way south to the water before reaching Plant City (where we returned the next night for dinner with my partner’s own high school friend Victoria!), a cutting edge plant-based (vegan) food hall/emporium.

 

 

I got the Pizzaiola, made with roasted cauliflower, tomato, and pepperoncini:

 

 

…and the Cacio E Pepe, made with almond parmesan with black pepper cashew cream.

 

 

From Plant City you can loop around along the new 28 million dollar Providence City Bridge Road:

 

 

“Is it always this empty? Or is it COVID?”

“It’s always this empty.”

 

 

Our night tour ended at the Providence Performing Arts Center, a famed 1920s theater that still hosts (at least until COVID) Broadway shows, plays, concerts, musicals & other performances.

 

 

Curious thing, there are bunny rabbits EVERYWHERE here:

 

 

The next morning we got coffee at Bolt Coffee next to our hotel and enjoyed more of charming Downtown Providence by day:

 

 

Newport, Rhode Island

 

After having our fill of Providence, we drove south 45 minutes to Newport, Rhode Island:

 

 

Meeting up with Maria, we went on the famous Cliff Walk and admired the majesty of the American Gilded Age with its jaw-dropping “summer cottages” facing the sea.

 

 

My favorites begin with Ochre Court, part of the Salve Regina University campus (where one of our monsooners from Egypt and co-worker at Mount Sinai Brooklyn, Grace Kelly, attended!)

 

 

The Young Building is next to Ochre Court, also part of the Salve Regina University campus.

 

 

The grandest of them all would be The Breakers, which once belonged to The Vanderbilts. I remember visiting 8 years ago on the way back after attending Lei and Maria’s wedding in Providence.

 

 

After nearly an hour walking along the cliffs, we quickly peeked at the gentrified shops in Newtown and grabbed a legendary lemon slush at Del’s:

 

 

Couldn’t help this one:

 

 

Bristol, RI

With a deluge approaching, we got back into our cars and drove past Easton Beach towards Bristol, aka, the “most patriotic town in America” for being home to the the oldest parade in America (their July 4th’s).

 

 

And did it rain by the time we reached Bristol 30 minutes later.

 

 

We took shelter with a late lunch at Thames Waterside Bar & Grill before returning to Providence and grabbing our aforementioned dinner at Plant City with Victoria.

 

Providence, RI

 

On our third day, we checked out and met with Victoria for breakfast at the legendary Seven Star Bakery (especially known for its almond croissants) and walked around the area before pondering the equally legendary ice cream at 3 Sisters.

As it began to pour again, we quickly said our goodbyes and drove back downtown to finish up our last bit of sightseeing in the city. Luckily the skies began to clear over the Rhode Island State House:

 

 

Then as the sun returned, we ordered some of my favorite falafel at East Side Pockets for lunch before strolling along the empty Brown University campus on the east side of Providence.

 

 

If you venture a little westwards, you can get views over downtown Providence from Prospect Terrace:

 

 

With Rhode Island in the books, we now head up to my first time in Maine!

 

 

- At time of posting in Providence, Rhode Island, it was 20 °C - Humidity: 90% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: thunderstorms

 

So We “Luanda”-ed Off: Shipwreck Beach (Praia do Sarico) & Angola Carnival!

So We “Luanda”-ed Off: Shipwreck Beach (Praia do Sarico) & Angola Carnival!

 

After our first day exploring and acclimating to Angola’s capital of Luanda, this morning we woke up early at 6:30am and headed off to Shipwreck Beach (Praia do Sarico), the final resting place of long lost forgotten ships from all over the world.

 

 

We spent about 45 minutes walking up and down the coast taking in the eeriness of having this whole place to ourselves.

 

 

Nearby we noticed a group of boys preparing their makeshift boat on its maiden voyage.

 

 

After an hour here and bribing a police officer to not report us (we’re technically not allowed to be here taking photos), we then drove back south to the Monument to the Kifangondo Battle, which commemorates the struggle for the independence of Angola.

 

 

On the last day of Portuguese colonial rule in Angola, which formally received independence only hours after the fighting, this was where the ELNA guerillas (supported by Zaire and South African military) made one final but unsuccessful attempt to seize Luanda from FAPLA’s 9th Brigade and and 200 Cuban military advisers/allies.

 

 

After ELNA was defeated and FAPNA/MPLA declared victory to establish the People’s Republic of Angola, Fidel Castro himself arrived here after the battle to mark the Angolan-Cuban alliance.

 

 

After 30 minutes at the memorial, we then drove back to Luanda to partake in its annual carnival parade.

 

 

Angola may have established its independence from Portugal long ago, but like Brazil, some elements like carnival are just going to stay.

 

 

We followed one group in particular who visited nearly every single restaurant and store along its route to give them their blessings. We lasted only 2 hours with them before the summer sun withered us down.

 

 

They’ll do just fine without us.

 

 

After carnival, we then hit the town for classic Angolan fish for dinner!

 

 

An Angolan omakase if I’d say so myself.

 

 

I made a mess. As per usual.

 

 

 

- At time of posting in Luanda, it was 31 °C - Humidity: 70% | Wind Speed: 24km/hr | Cloud Cover: mostly sunny, dreadfully humid

 

Get Da Fuq “Agadir”!

Get Da Fuq “Agadir”!

 

After 2 days trying to give Marrakech a second chance and nearly giving up, this morning we drove on south to Agadir, with a one hour random stop at CrocoPark, a crocodile-themed park just outside of Agadir.

 

 

Amusingly we took on an Escape The Room challenge inside the park for 180 MAD per person . . . which we failed miserably.

 

 

Leaving the park, we then went straight for lunch at the streetfood alley of Agadir where they serve delicious grilled seafood and fish.

 

 

Afterwards we drove up the hill and took in the breathtaking panorama views from the Kasbah fortress.

 

 

Although the fortress is currently closed for entry, murals outside depict how the beachside city of Agadir was destroyed in 1960 by an earthquake that registered a 5.7 on the Richter Scale, killing 15,000 people in less than 20 seconds.

This city was later rebuilt with wide avenues lined with low rise futuristic 1960’s design.

 

 

After only a few minutes at the fortress, we drove down back to the city and retired at our resort lodgings of Al Moggar, which is so oversized that it was the first time on this trip WiFi didn’t even bother to reach our rooms.

 

 

We’re now relaxing by the pool catching up on our tan, while waiting to head out for dinner at a traditional restaurant and say our goodbyes to both WiFi and Crystal by celebrating at Agadir’s seedy nightclubs.

 

Yes and Agadir does sunsets well here::

 

 

Update: I guess our night was a success?

 

 

Tomorrow we head even further south to the Western Sahara area of Laayoune!

 

- At time of posting in Agadir, it was 19 °C - Humidity: 32% | Wind Speed: 27km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy and chilly

 

Rwanada Forever!

Rwanada Forever!

 

After a week in Afghanistan and a sobering day in Kabul, it’s definitely time to get out of harm’s way and return home. There’s no need to exacerbate the situation by lingering during what will be another tense period in Kabul.

On our way back, Evan and I decided to spend 3 days in Rwanda as one of the cheapest itineraries back to NYC.

Why Rwanda? Well, imagine a country to boldly become the first in the world to ban plastic bags, and where the last weekend of every month requires one person from every household to help clean the neighborhood and then use that time to discuss community events. Imagine a country that has reeled from a genocide that killed 70% of an ethnic population to become one of the fastest growing economies in modern history, all the while boasting low corruption compared with its neighbors and becoming one of only two countries with a female majority in the national parliament.

Security and safety are prevalent — every mall, hotel, and restaurant requires airport-level screening — even though there is no active threat like there was in Afghanistan. It may still be a work in progress and its leadership may still have its controversies regarding political suppression but so does Wakanda. But am I talking about Wakanda?

Rwanda comes pretty close!

Look at how clean these streets are. This was everywhere we went:

 

 

So from Kabul, Evan D., Amanda and I boarded a 1.5 hour Flydubai flight FZ 306 at 6:15pm, landing in Dubai at 8:45pm where we met back up with our UAE host Sean and Evan K., another friend we met on the Afghanistan trip (who had left a few hours earlier), at a swanky hookah bar in Dubai called QD’s.

There we decompressed about our trip to Afghanistan until Evan D and I said our goodbyes and caught our connecting 6 hour Rwandair flight WB 305 to Kigali at 1:55am, landing at 6:00am.

I even got in a good full night’s rest while on the flight!

 

 

At the airport Evan and I debated whether to rent a car, eventually relenting after haggling our agent down to a decent rate.

We then drove over into the city and dropped off our stuff at our lodgings at Mijo Hostel.

Now I don’t usually comment on lodgings, but this has got to be one of the best designed free-standing hostels I’ve ever been to:

 

 

I even left a little message there, just like old times back in Punta Cana, DR:

 

 

After a lazy coffee at the hostel and breakfast at nearby Java House, we headed northwest to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, a sobering tribute to victims of the Rwandan genocide where an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans and up to 70% of the Tutsi population were killed.

Free admission but the introductory 10 minute video is required before entering.

I wrote about this back when I visited Tuong Sleng and the Killing Fields in Cambodia: Conceptualize the notion where 70-80% of the ordinary everyday people you meet in an entire country is a survivor of genocide. This museum puts that very fact into perspective. Everyone here has lost someone close to them.

 

 

After an hour here we drove further south, paying our respects at Hôtel des Mille Collines aka the “Hotel Rwanda” famous for sheltering 1268 people during the genocide.

The story of the hotel and its manager at that time, Paul Rusesabagina, was later used as the basis of Terry George’s film Hotel Rwanda in 2004.

 

 

Afterwards we drove further south to the highly effective Belgian Peacekeepers Memorial, dedicated to the 10 Belgian soldiers who were captured and hacked to death by the presidential guard during the initial events of the genocide.

 

 

If you’re not yet overwhelmed, there’s are 3 more memorial to the genocide south of Kigali. The closest is 20 minutes away at the Nyanza Genocide Memorial Centre. Admission is free.

 

 

Ntarama Genocide Memorial is another 20 minutes south of Nyanza. They require that you go on a compulsory 20 minute tour at reception but like all the genocide memorials, there is no admission fee.

 

 

It’s the piled up clothing of the dead here that really hits hard for me:

 

 

Then finally at the end of the road another 20 minutes away, we visited the Nyamata Genocide Memorial.

 

 

As it was not even close to evening yet, we drove the hour up north back towards Kigali, heading to the Rwanda Art Museum by the airport. It’s famous for housing the debris of the plane crash that killed both the presidents of Burundi and Rwanda that sparked the beginning of the 1994 genocide.

It closes at 6pm so we had 20 minutes to spare when we arrived. Entry fee is 10,000 Rwandan Francs and photography is strictly prohibited. They really watch you like hawks.

 

 

Then heading west, we stopped by for a wander at Kimironko Market north of the airport.

 

 

And finally after sundown, I was recommended to try the roasted goat ribs at Royal Car Wash:

 

 

After dinner, we returned to the hostel where we met Tom Karrell, a fellow American visiting Rwanda with friends for the week from his home base in Uganda. After an hour speaking with him and at his suggestion, Evan and I decided the next morning at 8am to drive the 2 hours up north to the Rwanda/Uganda border just to have lunch at scenic Lake Bunyonyi. That post is here: U-“Gone”-Da in 60 Seconds!

When Evan and I floored our back back to Kigali at 3:30pm, we both made it just in time to a well-deserved 1.5 hour massage at Zenora Wellness Center for 50,000 RWF. You can book ahead online on their website here.

 

 

Then we drove over 5 minutes to take a peek at the art exhibits at Inema Arts Centre.

 

 

While there, we were recommended to come here on Thursday nights as they throw a huge art gallery party featuring the artists along with drinks, BBQ, and a DJ for a crowd of 300-400 locals and expats.

 

 

Afterwards we then killed time with some tea and coffee on top of a library at the swanky Innovation Village (aka Shokola Storytellers Café):

 

 

After an hour here, we headed to the airport to return our car. On our way back, we finally hailed the thrilling moto-taxis for 1000 RWF for dinner at Sundowners.

Once again, I had the roasted goat. And it was divine.

 

 

And to make things even more interesting, we would happen to be in Rwanda on July 4th, their annual liberation day that formally recognized the end of the Genocide when the Rwanda Patriotic Front regained control of the country.

This means nothing would be open so I celebrated by chilling at the hostel and giving myself a well earned rest day before getting on my return itinerary back home to NYC via a free Ethiopian Airlines business class flight that I just redeemed with 70,000 Ultimate Rewards points.

From Kigali to Addis Ababa (No In-Flight Entertainment systems!):

 

 

The Cloud Nine Business Class Lounge at Addis Ababa was also so crowded!

 

 

But they do offer special ceremonial Ethiopian coffee here near the entrance, which I thought was a nice touch.

 

 

Thank goodness for business class as I was able to skip the lengthy security lines for the USA/Canada/Israel flights (Gates 23-26):

 

 

But be forewarned, some people will try to jack the business class line without having their tickets checked so be aggressive in holding your spot on the line.

Flight ET 500 from Addis Ababa (ADD) to Washington DC (IAD) includes a 45 refueling stop in Dublin in the middle (An 8 hour flight and 7 hour flight respectively for each leg), so wherever you sit should be like a home away from home.

I snagged seat 1A (luckily seat 1B next to me was also empty, so I had the whole first row to myself!):

 

 

The amenities kit has your standard toiletries set, skimpy eye mask, foam earplugs, socks, a pen, foldable comb, lip balm, and toothpicks:

 

 

Where the IFE left much to be desired, they fed me A LOT on both flights: Light snack, dinner, and breakfast for the first leg from ADD to DUB, then a hot canapé and a 3 course lunch on the second leg from DUB to IAD.

My favorite was the local Ethiopian set where you get to choose from a variety of delightful local Ethiopian dishes on a cart complete with their special soft Injera sour flatbread:

 

 

After 16 hours in the air and sleeping for 10 hours of it, I landed 10 minutes early in IAD at 8:10am.

With a 9 hour layover before my final leg back to NYC, I messaged everyone I knew who would be free to meet up. Guess who ended up answering the call? Anya Solovyeva whom I first met back at our hostel in Baku, Azerbaijan 10 months ago!

 

 

Now I’m waiting on my final leg home where there’s a total ground stop to LGA. I figure of all the delays to experience on this entire trip, it would be the domestic one back home. First world problems.

 

- At time of posting in Kigali, Rwanda, it was 21 °C - Humidity: 62% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy