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Chillax

The last of Nairobi’s most popular meet up points

A few weeks ago when Sonford Fish and Chips along Moi Avenue was razed down by fire one Friday night as the city slept under curfew, many city dwellers lost more than just their favourite fast-food joint.

It goes without saying that the eatery that specialised in chips and grilled chicken was a very popular meeting point for a good number of Nairobians.

Sonford’s loyal patrons will certainly miss their fried chips and chicken, but those who merely used the food joint as a meet up point need not worry, the city centre still has a few more places that have for years served the same purpose.

Here are six of the most popular ones:

Kenya National Archives

This building, which houses historical and cultural artefacts, is situated between Tom Mboya Street and Moi Avenue in downtown Nairobi. What makes it such a convenient meeting point for many is the open space in front of the historical building. The most recent feature to this location is the adjacent Tom Mboya monument which often provides the perfect backdrop for those who want to capture their moments in pictures.

Members of the public walk past the Kenya National Archives which is a popular meeting point for many Nairobians. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU

The spot is also very popular with street preachers, acrobats, herbal medicine vendors, hawkers and lately photo exhibitionists. The exterior of the adjacent Standard Building is dominated by a huge LED Screen that lights up at night almost like the New York Times Square. Strangely, though, many Nairobians who often pass by or while their time at the ‘Archives’ will confess that they’ve never been inside this landmark building.

Afya Center

With its unmistakable green facade, even first time visitors to the city would find it hard to miss this towering building that is located on the junction of Tom Mboya Street and Haile Selassie Avenue. By default, the spot is often the first port of entry for many visitors from other towns, what with the numerous booking offices for upcountry buses and shuttle vans that are in close proximity to this building.

Travelers waiting for transport at Afya Center in Nairobi to head upcountry for Christmas holidays in this picture taken on December 20, 2020. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

The booking offices for Transline Classic are actually located right next door, with the booking offices for other bus companies such as Easy Coach, Guardian Angel and Ena Coach just a stone throw away across Haile Selassie Avenue. The Nairobi Railway Station terminal and the Upcountry Bus Station – ‘Machakos Airport’ – are also a walking distance away.

Hilton Park

Hilton Hotel is without doubt one of oldest and most iconic hotels in Nairobi. Outside this landmark of a hotel is an open public space which many years ago housed a youth center. Today, the small building at the center of park lies abandoned, but the surrounding open space – which some call ‘jobless corner’ – still keeps drawing in members of the public. The park has a long circular seat from one end to the other. Every single day, from morning till evening, you will find people either just passing time there, waiting for someone or an appointment.

Members of the public seated on a bench outside Hilton Hotel on September 22, 2021. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

OTC bus terminal

The once famous Overseas Transport Company (OTC) ceased its operation decades ago, but the its name has remained etched in the minds of many city dwellers, even those who never set their eyes on the defunct company’s fleet of buses. This for the very simple reason that long after the company collapsed, the area around where the bus company had its terminus has retained the name OTC.

Motor and human traffic at OTC bus terminus along Landhies road in this picture taken on September 22, 2021. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

Another landmark within the vicinity was the old Jack and Jill Supermarket which similarly closed shop a few years ago. This area is a popular pick up and drop off point for city commuters and upcountry travellers for its close proximity to the Upcountry Bus Station.

Odeon Cinema and Tea Room

These two spots have stood the test of time. As the name suggests, the Odeon Cinema building was once a cinema hall, but over the years it has transformed itself into a church, a college and even a restaurant. Travellers entering the city from Latema Road often find it convenient to plot their next move from Odeon Cinema.

Odeon Cinema, Nairobi’s oldest cinema hall which stands at the junction of Latema Road and Tom Mboya Street. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

The ever-crowded Tea Room, situated along Kenneth Matiba Road – formerly Accra Road – is more of a terminus for Nissan matatus and shuttle vans that ply the busy Mount Kenya route.

Public Service Vehicles at Tea Room bus terminus along Kenneth Matiba Road in Nairobi on September 22, 2021. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

Other spots within Nairobi city center that are popular meet up points include the likes of Nyamakima, Kencom Bus Stop, Kenya Railways Nairobi terminus, Ambassadeur Hotel and Fire Station near Khoja Stage and of course the evergreen Uhuru Park among a list of other places that if demolished would leave many city dwellers no direction at all.