This is another trip done in August 2018.
How to get there:
Going to Angola is easy, there are a lot of airlines flying there. Obviously, the Portuguese airline has daily fights from Lisbon but you can also take the direct flight from Paris or Brussels.
Luanda is a very strange place in Africa. It is Africa, but the capital of a big oil producing country. As a result you can see a mixture of underdeveloped and overdeveloped parts of the city, a city that at some point was considered the most expensive capital of expats, being more expensive than Tokyo. You had to pay thousands of dollars per month for an apartment and a lunch in the city could cost you more than $100. Strange enough, due to the drop in oil price in 2018, Luanda seems to be more calm. The overcrowded city with standstill traffic is no more. Maybe the fact that some 0.5 mil expats left the country in the last 3 years after the price of oil started to fell had a big effect.
Prices at restaurants are back to “normal”, in the way that you no longer feel like you are an Arabian sheik when you go to lunch and pay with hundred dollar bills 🙂
There is a strange mixture of old colonial style buildings like the National Bank building, communist flats (yes Angola was a communist country at some point) and shiny capitalist skylines.
Seeing the communist flats gave me a strange familiar feeling, remembering the buildings of my communist Romania childhood.
Then, if you see the capitalist oil boom buildings, they look like European or Asian business centers.
A side effect of the oil price drop is the unfortunate big number of new buildings construction sites that lay in wait of better times. Such a shame that millions are lost on unfinished buildings. Another sign of the economic downturn, besides the abandoned construction sites, is the port. It looks much more calm and empty than the pictures I saw, when the oil boom was in full swing. If you spend your time in the city next to the business district, the scenery looks like a Mediterranean city, with nice palm trees, green grass, people jogging or walking casually. You can take a trip to “the island”, a part of the city where the good restaurants and expats were lurking in the good oil boom days. There you can spend the day at the beach sipping from a cocktail, worry free.
The real city:
When you go out of the business part of the city you encounter the traditional crowded African big cities. Full of blue taxis, people on the street, and traffic jams next to big markets.
Then, also the usual not so good roads or missing tarmac. Best way to get the feeling of this busy part of Luanda is to have a drive through the big Luanda street market.
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