A Travellerspoint blog

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Uganda Preparation

My new study abroad plans will take me to the country of Uganda in East Africa, departing on Wednesday, March 15. Crazily, I feel calm and comfortable about traveling to that faraway continent this second time and have only just begun to assemble my stuff!!

The route is a little shorter than my Zimbabwe trip. Here's the path, Chicago to Entebbe International Airport, with an airport layover in Istanbul, Turkey. I have already checked -- there are six coffee shops located at this airport! Naturally, one of them is the requisite Starbucks, but I hope to sample some genuine Turkish coffee after our initial 10 hour flight, and before boarding the final 7 hour flight from Istanbul to Entebbe, our destination city.

Posted by lindaconnor 12:06 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (1)

Inside Uganda Itinerary

A LOOP FROM EASTERN TO WESTERN REGION AND BACK

Our first stop in Uganda is Entebbe, a city located right on the shores of one of the African Great Lakes, Lake Victoria. We land at 3 in the morning and after resting, we spend the rest of the day exploring biodiversity at the Entebbe Botanic Garden. On Saturday, we head to the capital city, Kampala, for two days of urban studies focusing on humanities and geography. We will be touring the city and also visiting Makerere University, established in 1922.

On Monday, we drive 300 kilometers from Kampala to Mbarara District in the Western Region, where we will spend two nights. Our studies will focus on the economic geography of this region, visiting a factory which processes either tea or bananas (I am not sure how the final arrangements ended up). We will spend the second day at a girls high school working with the students on a service project, which I am really looking forward to.

The final leg of the journey begins on Wednesday, when we drive approximately 150 kilometers to the western region of Uganda to Queen Elizabeth National Park for three nights. Here we will study biodiversity, culture, conservation and I highly anticipate getting a look at some geologic features in this area of the Eastern African Rift Valley at the foothills of the Ruwenzori Mountains. QENP is home to 95 mammal species including 10 primate species, 20 predators, and I am guessing that my bird geek tendencies will be fully realized!

Posted by lindaconnor 07:57 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (0)

Chicago to Istanbul

It's a long way to go for a good cup of joe!

Getting set to depart for ORD to meet our study abroad group at Terminal 5! I had the day off today, which allowed me to sleep a little late, go work out, do my pre-trip errands, eat the right kinds of foods all day, and get my mind in a good place for the ten hour flight. I don't know my seat assignment yet so I fear getting something other than an aisle seat -- in which case I hope to beg some young and flexible 20-something student to trade with me. I know, I know -- playing the AGE card is not fair, is it? Watch me .... :)

I will let you know how the Turkish coffee is when I land at Ataturk International Airport!

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Posted by lindaconnor 15:35 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (3)

Change in Plans!

Istanbul Stopover becomes Istanbul Adventure!

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In Terminal 5 of O'Hare International Airport, our party of eleven was checking in to the first of two Turkish Air flights to Uganda, when the faces of our two professors turned from excited to concerned. It turned out that the second leg of our journey, from Istanbul to Entebbe, Uganda, was cancelled for 24 hours. We had only planned a three hour stopover at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, so TA had to put us up for the night at the Clarion Hotel, Mahmutbey Mah, Peyami Safa Cad, No:44, Bağcıla, Istanbul, Turkey. Our 3 hour stop became a 27 hour adventure in the streets of Istanbul!

Ataturk International Airport is located on the European side of Turkey, making this my first trip to Europe. We landed at about 4:45 pm, changed some US$ into Turkish Lira, and headed out to our hotel and a steak dinner before turning in for the night. The rooms at the Clarion were fantastic, and the breakfast buffet the next morning was worth documenting! What a feast of pastry, cheeses, fruit, jams and honeys -- along with delicious Turkish coffee!

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What to do with 27 hours in Istanbul? Our professors hired a bus to take us to the Hagia Sophia, now a museum but originally built in 532 as an Eastern Orthodox Church. It was converted into a mosque in 1532 after Ottomans toppled the empire of Constantinople. We hired a guide named Metin who walked us through the museum, filled with amazing granite tile, bronze doors, archways and ceilings covered with stunning art. Not to mention the amazing architecture of the building shell itself, with dramatic domes and minarets.

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When we finished at the Hagia Sophia, Metin brought us to the store of a Turkish Rug manufacturer, where a master weaver demonstrated the double knot tying technique by hand, and where this blogger could not resist this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a genuine Turkish carpet. I have a feeling that Metin may have received a commission from my purchase!

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We dashed back to the hotel to make our Istanbul to Entebbe flight at 7:45 that evening, having survived this unexpected bonus trip to Europe!

Posted by lindaconnor 10:40 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Entebbe, We Hardly Knew Ye

Bucket List -- A return trip to Entebbe to see what we missed!

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After our whirlwind "bonus day" in Istanbul, we rushed to get our luggage from the hotel and get to Ataturk Airport for our 7:35pm flight to Entebbe. Despite being 24 hours late, we were warmly greeted at Entebbe International Airport by the welcoming staff of Primate Expeditions Ltd, at 3:50am. Our guide for the entire trip was to be Joseph Lubega, who greeted us with a big smile and introduced us to our bus driver, Haji.

Our first Uganda hotel, 2 Friends Beach Resort, was minutes away from the airport and situated right on picturesque Lake Victoria. The accommodations were lovely, but we departed almost as soon as we arrived, in order to try to catch up to our planned itinerary. After a quick couple of hours sleep and a buffet breakfast, we said goodbye to Entebbe and jumped on the bus that would transport us for the rest of our urban tour of the city. On to Kampala!

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Posted by lindaconnor 01:57 Archived in Uganda Comments (0)

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