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Celebrating 10 years liberation
 
 

Ghinda - Massawa - Dahlak Islands - June 6th 2001

 

I get up very early because today we make the trip to the Dahlak Islands. It is an all-in trip organized by Eri-tours. We are expected to gather at the Eri-tours office at 6:30 bus because of some problems with the bus we leave to Ghinda at 8:00 after a lot of cappuccinos in Bar Torino. The Road from Asmara to Ghinda is good but with a lot of narrow curves with no protective barriers. The many curves reduce the speed of the bus to 10 - 20 miles per hour. But the views are magnificent. At Nefasit we pass the Bizen Monastery, where monks live in strict isolation on the top of a mountain.

The reconstruction of the railway is as far as Embatkala but only the line Ghinda - Massawa is operational. We get in the train at Ghinda at 10 o'clock where we have a lunch. It is a 1954 German diesel locomotive with two antique passenger cars for the tourists and dining car in between. The fourth and last (less luxurious) car is reserved for the locals using the train. I make sure to have a good seat next to the brakes man, so I can make some video of both the train itself (in the curves) and the landscape we are passing through.

At the first stop I ask the driver if I can make part of the trip in his cabin. "Why don't you sit in front of the train?" he asks. I sit next to one of the railway men who has to scare the donkeys of the track, just behind the bull bars on one of the headlights of the train. But they do not bring any drinks to this part of the train and the temperature is more than 30 degrees Celsius, so I chose a bit more comfortable seat at the next stop. The ride with the train is spectacular, passing impressive landscapes, tunnels, railway viaducts, small villages and railway stations. Hostesses serve Eritrean coffee, lunch and soft drinks.

Entering Massawa, the railway is blocked by a truck. Since the train only passes a few times a week, not everyone is expecting the train, so it is sounding its horn every 15 seconds to allow people to move their stuff from the track.

In Massawa two small buses are waiting to take us to restaurant Eritrea for dinner and at 14:00 we have a sight seeing through Massawa to see the port area and old town and the salt ponds. Than we drive to the naval base in Massawa where a vessel of the Eritrean Coast Guard is waiting to bring us to Dahlak Kebir in 90 minutes. Accommodation at the Lul Resort Hotel is below expectations. The rooms are shattered around the main building and most of them do not have showers or toilets. Just four beds and a table. Since most of us are on our own or with the two of us, we have to form groups of four persons to share rooms. Temperatures are more than 40 degrees C, so after checking in there is a queue in front of the Coca Cola refrigerator.

Most of the visitors choose to swim in the Red Sea. When it is getting dark at 18:00 we have dinner and there is music and dance. We discus the Quality of Eritrean Tourism and the possibilities to improve it. At 22:00 we start the air-conditioning and go to sleep, knowing we have to get up very early next day.

 

The train at Ghinda railway station with old Italian railcar on the background.

The train at Ghinda railway station with old Italian railcar on the background.

Eritrean coffee being served in the passenger car of the train.

Eritrean coffee being served in the passenger car of the train.

The train passing over one of the many railway viaducts on its way to Massawa.

The train passing one of the many railway viaducts on its way to Massawa.

View on the track, sitting behind the bull bars of the train.

View on the track, sitting behind the bull bars of the train.

Entering the old districts of Massawa passing Gibi or Governor's Palace.

Entering the old districts of Massawa, passing Gibi or Governor's Palace.

Restaurant Eritrea in Massawa.

Restaurant Eritrea in Massawa.

Diner in restaurant Eritrea - Massawa.

Diner in restaurant Eritrea - Massawa.

Crossing the Red Sea with one of the vessels of the Eritrean Coast Guard.

Crossing the Red Sea with one of the vessels of the Eritrean Coast Guard.

The Lul Resort Hotel - Dahlak Islands - Red Sea Eritrea.

The Lul Resort Hotel - Dahlak Islands.

Our transport from Massawa to the Dahlak Islands.

Our transport from Massawa to the Dahlak Islands.

 

 
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