The view from our hotel in down town Asmara
After a long overnight flight from Johannesburg to Cairo and a day layover in Cairo, we finally arrived in Asmara, Eritrea at 3am this morning. It took quite a while to get through customs, as many things are still done manually in Eritrea, but eventually we were happy to be making our way to our hotel in a rundown Utility vehicle, heavily loaded with all our equipment and luggage. We arrived at our hotel, Savanna Hotel, in down town Eritrea at 4:30am and went straight to bed.
After a good sleep and some much needed lunch, we started to feel half human again and took the bikes out for an easy spin in and around the city of Asmara.
Palm lined main street of Asmara, Eritrea
A quick background on Asmara; Asmara is the capital city of Eritrea. It is situated on a plateau at 2350m above sea level, in central Eritrea. Asmara was previously an Italian colony. The city therefore bears many traces of the Italian colonial era in its infrastructure, its architecture and some culinary traditions. Asmara is by far the largest city in Eritrea and unlike many other cities in the country it is relatively undamaged by the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Asmara is known to be one of the safest African capital cities for travelers and also boasts being one of the cleanest.
This was evident on our training ride this afternoon. Although the city is relatively run down, it is clean and the people are incredibly friendly. There is a lot of poverty, but the people appear happy. Cycling is a very popular sport in Eritrea and we received many friendly hoots and cheers from vehicles and bystanders along the way. The cars respected our presence on the road and I never once felt insecure or unsafe.
Tomorrow more on the time trial course for African Continental Championships. The individual time trial takes place on Friday 11 November and the road race on Sunday 13 November.