An Emotional Trip to Algeria (we visit Algiers and Bejaïa during the 2019 protests!)

Posted by Andrew Mitchell on

It was 6:00 pm on a warm May evening in Basel when the three of us stepped onto the plane. Our first flight would take us to Paris CDG and from there, the second flight would take us into the midst of massive street demonstrations in Algiers. We were somewhat apprehensive, to say the least! However, this trip to visit Lynn’s grandfather’s grave in Bejaia, Algeria had been in the planning for over a year and so step on to the plane we did!

 

It was 6:00 pm on a warm May evening in Basel when the three of us stepped onto the plane. Our first flight would take us to Paris CDG and from there, the second flight would take us into the midst of massive street demonstrations in Algiers. We were somewhat apprehensive, to say the least! However, this trip to visit Lynn’s grandfather’s grave in Bejaia, Algeria had been in the planning for over a year and so step on to the plane we did!

We were on a quest to unite Lynn’s father’s ashes with his father who was killed in WWII in northern Africa. There were so many things that could go wrong – we had Lynn’s Dad as hand-carry and he had to get through security, we had had issues with the flight bookings via a funky low-cost website that shall remain nameless, it was in the middle of Ramadan so perhaps getting fed would be a challenge and, on top of all that there were massive demonstrations going on in Algeria and we were flying into the middle of all that!

 

Having travelled to over 100 countries, one could say I am pretty experienced at this sort of thing. My wife, Lynn, is not far behind with about 90 countries under her belt. Her brother Jack, who was with us, is perhaps not so well travelled as his sister, but no stranger to international travel. Our love for travel is what inspired us to start up our online business – Einhorn Travel – where you can buy whatever you need to help make your travel a breeze: from power adapters to sunglasses, to backpacks, laptop bags, earphones and so on. When you travel internationally, you need to be prepared for almost anything to happen.

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We stayed briefly our first night at the Sofitel Hotel in Algiers itself, before hopping an early morning flight on Air Algeria down to Bejaia. I would say that Bejaia is perhaps not the hottest tourist destination on the map and we struggled to find a hotel that suitable. The hotel we found, the Royal Hotel Bejaia, whilst not the most wonderful property, was staffed by amazing people who fed us during the day (during Ramadan!) and looked after us for the 24 hours we stayed in Bejaia.

After settling in, we hopped in a cab and drove out to le reunion Commonwealth War Cemetery which took a bit of finding! What was truly amazing was that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had mown and prepared the small cemetery perfectly in preparation for our visit. It was absolutely brilliant! What an amazing job they do. I would highly recommend that if you plan to visit a CWGC gravesite in a not-so-common location, that you drop them an email so that they have time to get everything ready. It was perfect!

It was very moving to reunite Lynn’s father John with his father Norman. Lance Bombardier Norman Kirmond died on 17th January 1943 whilst on deployment in Northern Africa as part of the 4th Medium Regiment Royal Artillery Corps. His wife Ethel was left to raise the 3 children on her own with a small war pension.

After our brief buy poignant visit to Bejaia, we found that our flight back to Algiers had been cancelled. So we had to choose whether to wait until the next day and try again, or suck it up and take a cab back to the capital city. So we bundled ourselves into the world’s most decrepit Renault POS and commenced the 4 hours schlep back to Algiers. We did get to see a bit of the countryside along the way – but it wasn’t the most picturesque journey I’ve ever undertaken.

Algiers Travel Blog - Einhorn Travel Accessories

We then had 24 hours of leisure in the city of Algiers. That night we joined the Iftar meal once the sun had gone down and enjoyed some of the local delicacies that the Sheraton Algiers had to offer. The following day we decided to visit some amazing Roman ruins in UNESCO-  Tipasa, about 45 minutes north of Algiers.

Tipasa was colonized several times between the 6th century BC and the 6th century AD. It was originally a trading center for the Phoenicians of Carthage (see my other Blog about my visit to Tunis and the ancient ruins of Carthage). The city served as a port from which the population could buy and sell commercial goods with Greece, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula. But as with most of the major Phoenician settlements, in due course, they fell under the rule of the Romans, early Christians, and Byzantines, each of who used the territory as a trading post and a launching point for conquests into the kingdoms of Mauritania.

Algeria Travel Blog - Einhorn Travel Accessories

To cap off a great day in Algiers, we went for dinner at the El Djenina restaurant (

http://www.eldjenina.com/ ) in downtown Algiers. The food was amazing and just the place to discover the wonders of traditional Algerian and Berber food in an authentic setting.

 

The following morning we headed back to the airport and back to Basel via CDG. The single thing that sticks in my mind about Algeria is the people. In many North African countries, I have found a great many people try to take advantage of tourists. This was completely not the case in Algeria! Everyone we interacted with, everyone from whom we bought a service, everyone at the hotels and restaurants was genuinely seeking to help us as foreign visitors to their country. There are few countries in the world where this generosity of spirit is so open and warm!

 

So, whilst Algeria may not be on the top of everyone’s tourist destinations list, the one thing that makes it stand out is it’s warm, helpful, welcoming people. I would recommend a visit if just for that!

 

About Us

Lynn and Andrew Mitchell are 50-something travellers who enjoy travelling in comfort through some pretty interesting places. We started Einhorn Travel Accessories because of our passion for travelling the world, seeing amazing things and enjoying unique experiences together. We believe our extensive travel gives us a unique perspective, and we understand how important it is to have the right gear. We source travel accessories from around the world and offer them on one site. We would really appreciate you visiting our store and making a purchase or two.

Check out our amazing travel videos here.

We also have a homewares store, Einhorn Homewares, which offers a range of cool, affordable homewares for any budget.

 

Travel Date: 16 May 2019

 

1 comment


  • What beautiful story. Love your journeys immensely. You wonderful far away friends, maybe some day we can travel to visit you both.

    Cheryl Glass on

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