WHEN IN: ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR

Monday, December 29, 2014

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When in Antananarivo (or Tana as everyone calls it), here’s what you do:  first, you spend the afternoon at the Marché de la Digue and second you go to La Varangue for dinner.  It’s that simple.

Any cab will know how to get you to the Marché de la Digue — this market is sprawling and situated just a couple kilometers from the airport.  The only skill involved is in selecting which pint-sized vintage cab you’d like to be transported in (keep in mind that vintage charm is inversely correlated with the shocks and overall vehicular stability) and then acting tough while pre-negotiating the fare.  A word to the wise:  negotiate the cab driver’s waiting time into the fare so that you don’t find yourself searching for a cab back to the hotel once you finish shopping and are loaded down with 14 baskets, 7 embroidered table clothes, 3 paintings and an over-sized hand-woven light fixture.  Also, ask your hotel to make a recommendation about how much your fare should be.

Now that the souvenir shopping is done, it’s time to eat.  Hopefully you’ve made a reservation and now you are on your way to La Varangue.  Prepare yourself:  this is going to be a slightly dislocating experience.  You’ve just spent the day in a buzzing African capital city and now you are about to be transported to a serene, decidedly French, whimsically curated dining experience.  The restaurant is on a hill and you are going to feel miles (or kilometers, I suppose) away from your hectic market experience.  Try the melting chocolate orb dessert.  You won’t be dissapointed (this coming from a girl that rarely likes chocolate anything).

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