Day 1 : 21st April,2007

The Flight

Lusaka: I left Lusaka by Ethiopian Airline at 15:10 hours (ZMT) and arrived in Addis Ababa at 20:20 hours (ETT).We flew over the Tanzanian, Ugandan and Kenyan airspaces as we ascended ‘bumps’ were felt when the plane got passed the thick clouds. The plane gained height of 47000 Ft. The clouds lay far below as we flew past. The weather outside changed as we flew over the Kilimanjaro .It got dump and temperatures over the mountain were recorded to be around -54◦C.It was very dark and bumps were so significant that one would think the plane had hit a ‘pothole’ yet it was the clouds.
One geographical note I would make was the distinct appearance of the Great East African Rift Valley and the rugged nature of the terrain from the south border of Tanzania all the way through to Ethiopia in the north. That area has clear evidence of tectonic activity.
Addis Ababa
As we entered the Addis Ababa airspace and descending gradually, the city was brightly lit every where and it appeared to be full of life. In a few moments we were on the runway waiting to disembark to change planes at 23:40 hours(ETT).Getting down off the plane into the boarding lounge, I saw planes belonging to different airlines which include Lufthansa. Brussels, Italia, British Airways, South African Airways and others. The airport looked busier and far much bigger than Lusaka International Airport. It is a beautiful modern airport with new state of the art technology. We were in Addis Ababa for close to 4hours 10 minutes when we later boarded a Boeing 757-200.At exactly 00:30 hours we took off for Rome in Italy.
We arrived in Rome at the Aeroporti of Roma at 6:50 am LT. The airport is vast and many more planes for even more airlines were seen on the runway. The city looked magnificently beautiful from the sky with evidence of proper town planning as seen in the gradual transition in land use pattern from hinterlands of the city towards the centre. We waited on the plane for passengers whose last destination was Rome to disembark. We took off for London flying at an altitude of 30000 ft .The journey took 2hours 5minutes.
While in the air the large expanse of water of the Mediterranean Sea could be seen below us. We flew over the Swiss and French airspaces and over the Alps Mountains, which had ice caps around the mountain peaks. The mountain range covers a broad area across part of the southern part of France and the central part of Switzerland. After flying for sometime, we crossed the British Channel into England. As the plane circled around the greater city of London and gradually descending, I could see the vast arable farmlands of oilseed rape in the countryside, built up areas, and the winding Thames River. The plane finally landed at Heathrow Airport at exactly 08:35 hours GMT.
One very striking and contrasting feature was the complex nature of the airport compared to Lusaka International Airport including Addis Ababa. Heathrow Airport handles very huge aircraft traffic. Many airlines operate at Heathrow including Ethiopian, Caribbean, France, Italia, etc. As I entered the arrival lounge, I saw many people walking to the baggage claim area. I stood there and waited to claim my bag. In no time, I saw my bag and got it from the conveyor. I passed onto the immigration point where I did all the necessary formalities. The Immigration officer who attended to me was very professional. I was cleared and straight away headed for the exit door. Before long, I saw my very good friend Tom who had come to welcome me. It was such a nice time to meet him again. Immediately we headed for Wales and the journey took us almost 4 hours though we were held up by a traffic jam were we spent almost 45 minutes waiting for traffic to clear.
We travelled on the M4 corridor westwards from London bypassing Reading, Swindon, Bristol and Cardiff before arriving in Bridgend in Wales. The road infrastructure showed the high level of development in the UK compared to what we have in Zambia.
Map of London
The lay out of London is impressive especially those roads are well inter-connected and one can enter London from different directions. The one important road is the M25, which is circular, and other roads like M4 join it from various parts of UK.I was gasped with admiration at the quality of roads in the UK as well as the cars. I did not see a single smoking car on any road from London to Bridgend in Wales. The discipline in driving by motorists was remarkable. The road signs were everywhere in strategic places. The wearing of seat belts is a daily norm by motorists.
(to add more to this part)


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