No place like Africa
I have just returned from my latest trip to Africa, a country I just cannot get enough of.
The sights, sounds, the good, the bad, the ugly, I just do not care what people may say about Africa it is MY favourite destination.
This time I headed to Accra in Ghana for my very first time. Accra is a very large city with an equally large traffic problem, so my first trip across town turned out to be somewhat of a marathon journey.
Accra has a lot of wealth, alongside it's fair share of poverty but anyone who has travelled to Africa this is an all too common sight on this massive continent.
I used Osu, on the East side of the city as my base, just off the main Labadi Highway, convinient in a lot of ways if you were heading East as I was about to do.
I thought as I was very close to the neighbouring countries of Togo and Benin it would be an adventure to visit these French speaking countries.
After obtaining my Togo Visa in Accra, they are not available in the U.K., Benin ones are, I found out that I needed to depart from the Tudu bus station of STC in the centre of Accra.
Departure time is quite early at 6.30am for the border crossing at Aflao. I guess I was quite lucky as it only took two and a half hours on the new Chinese air conditioned bus, a journey which sometimes can take considerably longer when the traffic is bad.
After arriving at Aflao I went through Immigration and soon found myself in the French speaking world of Togo in Lome.
Flooded with taxi drivers and money exchanges all wanting your business I soon found myself a taxi to my hotel, the Cote Sud in Central Lome.
It's a good idea to take some CFA with you then you do not have to run the gauntlet of the Moneymen as you have enough to think about while crossing the border.
Once unpacked I had plenty of time to roam around on foot discovering the delights of Lome. The promenade is a delight in Lome, beautiful beach with Palm trees linning the full length of the Prom.
Lome is a very vibrant City, moving around the back streets seeking out the sounds and smells of the various markets can be very addictive, well to me anyway.
I hasten to add I did NOT do this of an evening, I took a much safer approach regarding my safety.
I spent three days discovering Lome, three enjoyable days then it was time to move on, this time to Benin.
The drive to the Benin border crossing was only one and a half hours in the taxi shared with two other people. As often is the case I will buy two seats for the back of the car, this way it gives you a little more room on a longer journey. Oddly enough the other two occupants alighted before our destination of Aneho and I was the only passenger, so I had more than enough room.
Again through Immigration without any real problems and then find another taxi for the trip to Cotonou in Benin.
This trip was a little longer, nearly three hours, due to Police and check points. Not only do the authorities want to see who is in the car, they also want to know WHAT is in the car, so depending of the Policeman, Soldier time delays can vary.
It is a good idea to take plenty of water and maybe a few snacks with you as some of the drivers do not like to stop, least of all for other vehicles, but that is another story.
Sitting next to a nice passenger can make all the difference, as it did in my case, a long journey turned into a relatively short one with them offering me plenty of advice about Cotonou.
I was looking for a little luxury in Benin and I found it in the Hotel Du Port, a very clean and respectable hotel opposite the Cuban Embassy. Rooms were very clean and facilities were excellent, even the Internet was included in the price. Cost was around CFA45.000 a night, expensive for some maybe but it was a pleasure to be there, in fact I did not want to leave as it felt so comftable.
After spending three days in the Hum-Drum atmosphere of Cotonou it was back on my travels and a return trip to Accra.