Last weekend was the long awaited (and much needed!) first trip outside of Nairobi, its smog and “chilly weather” to the hot coast of Kenya.  What a difference 270 miles can make!

We started off with a 14 hour overnight train ride from Nairobi to Mombasa.  (Our flight home was one hour – tops.  This was one slow moving train!)  The scenery was beautiful, but the train was a far cry from an Acela – more like faded glory, a remnant of colonialism and days gone by.

The train is definitely not a good option for light sleepers (or benadryl required) and be prepared to be rocked to sleep… all night long.  But the sunrise over the plains, the children running to wave and smile and the hilarity of being surrounded by other backpackers made the experience worth it.

From Mombasa we caught a matatu for the two-hour drive up the coast to Malindi.  I was way too caught up in the fresh ocean air to care that I was awkwardly squashed between a Norwegian backpacker and the window, but did feel a little bit like I had just  run a marathon by the time we got to town.  (Think Texas heat plus Florida humidity.)

Malindi is known as the “Italian town” on the Kenyan coast.  If you want to be a beach bum, this is your spot.  There quite literally isn’t much to do besides soak up the sun, enjoy the water and carb out on pasta and pizza (that is probably better than you will find anywhere else in Kenya).  But the architecture and bits of history make the town worth exploring.

The Vasco de Gama pillar marks de Gama’s last stop on the African continent before setting sail for India and also the site of the first Catholic church in Africa.

I was a little bit disappointed in the beaches –  the water is not very clear or blue (I think Fiji ruined me) – but really, no matter what, when there is sun and sand and gelato every day life is bound to be “hukuna mata”!