After a night drive from Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, we arrived in the heat and chaos of Djibouti. The dirty streets and a humid, unforgiving climate were a complete contrast to what we were used to, and it took some time to adjust. But pretty soon, we discovered the attractions of Djibouti ville. There are no major sights, but the attractions are rather in the atmosphere, the collection of different architectural styles, the influences from Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, all making for an exotic mix. To the south of the city you can find the African quarter, a messy, noisy, dirty and poor area of town, but at the same time, a colourful and lively place. While less geared towards visitors, it is here that you will find lots of qat stalls where Djiboutians fill up on their daily dose of the sedative leaves.
There is the main square, Arthur Rimbaud or Place Mahamoud Harbi, holding the bus station as well as the central market, and an attractive chaos. Vendors calling for customers, while bus boys are yelling for passengers, minibuses driving up and down, all with their own name painted prominently on the outside, birds flying low over the crowd looking for food, people walking criss-cross over the square: walking the square is never the same, and always an assault on all your senses at the same time. On one side of the square stands the modest and delightful Grand Mosque.
Walking further north brings you to the more organized, European quarter of town, with Place Ménélik and the embassy area; this is the way to the port which, although growing rapidly and one of the main reasons for existence of the city, is not very attractive. Central Djibouti holds most of the practical places that visitors need: shops, restaurants, bars, currency exchange, and such. It has some pleasant streets, diverse architecture, and in general is the quiet part of town. Here you will find most foreigners, including the French legionnaires parading the city in their remarkable uniform.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Djibouti town (Djibouti). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Djibouti town.
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