3 Nights in Paris

We arrived in Paris in the evening. After struggling to connect with our uber driver, we finally him. He spoke no English. I have no idea why we didn’t try to get a train or something, but we were probably really tired. That uber ended up being uber expensive! 

 As we drove through Paris, I was like hmm, I wasn’t feeling the vibe at all. When the driver stopped on the street of our hotel, I looked around the block like what the hell?

We booked our Paris trip after 9 hours on our laptops booking trips to other cities, so we weren’t in the mood to do any extensive research about where to stay. We picked a place that was walking distance from the Louvre and the Eurostar train station.  So anyway, we arrived on the street of our hotel, which ended up being a really commercial block, but closed, seeing as it was Sunday evening. Our hotel had this really narrow alley way type entrance, we walked up and down and then had to call the hotel to figure out how to find the entrance.

 We checked in (tourism tax is a thing you should always have, they almost always charge it at the hotel). The room was small but as nice as it looked online, which was a relief. It wasn’t that late but we were tired so we ordered uber eats and went to bed. The next morning, we made the biggest mistake of the trip- eating hotel breakfast. Now the breakfast was only 7 euros per head but it was the most pointless scam of a breakfast ever. The coffee machine coffee was so bad that I had instant coffee instead. Do you know how bad coffee has to be for instant to be a good alternative???

 We booked Louvre tickets online and walked there. It ended up being a pretty nice walk. It was nice to get to the louvre and walk past the large crowd queing for tickets. (Tip- always book online). The Louvre was amazing. After seeing the exhibits we wanted (its too large to see absolutely everything), we bought some stuff from the museum gift shop and bought some lunch. The mona lisa is soooo tiny and so guarded and so crowded that you’re probably better off looking at it online.

 After that we went into the Louvre gardens where we spent a couple of more hours. We spent the whole day at the Louvre and it was magical. We left and it started raining so we took an overpriced keke to the Eiffel tower. which was blocked off, for some reason. We decided to postpone our cheesy tourist photos to the next day and went to have some coffee instead. The metro back to the hotel was super efficient, cheap and easy to figure out. Walking to the hotel from the station (via sephora which was also super close to our hotel) what did we find almost directly opposite our hotel? A Lidl! That “breakfast” we had at the hotel would have been like 1 euro each. To make up for our breakfast purchase, we bought drinks and fruit to have at the hotel. 

With our Lidl and sephora haul, we did what made sense- had mini facials in the hotel room!

 Writing this post has made me realise that we didn’t do a single Parisian night out. We didn’t even have champagne! We have to do better next time.

 The next day, we grabbed water from Lidl on our way out and took the metro to the Eiffel tower. It was a super cloudy day, so our pictures were dead. After stumbling on a scooter a couple of times, we went to Arc de Triomphe, which is a block. Nothing to see there (no offence to the rich history of the block).

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The good thing is we were on Champs- Élysées Which is the fanciest shopping strip. After doing a bit of coffee and desserts, a bit of shopping and a bit of lunch, we finally headed back to our hotel.

 In the middle of the night, I woke up with surprise cramps! I had no painkillers. Including this because if you don’t want to carry painkillers cross border (which is dramatic and dumb, like I was), you should buy some painkillers when you arrive, so when you need it in the middle of the night, you have it! 

After 4 hours of excruciating pain, we walked to find the closest open pharmacy. Just looking at painkillers on the shelves was enough to make me feel better. That and buying like 3 croissants! Also, I have to say, I didn’t find the croissants in Paris to be that much better than other places, which was disappointing!

 At the station, you go through French immigration to leave and then British immigration straight after, so when youre on the train, youre already technically in England. I wish airport immigration could be like that as well. It is so much more efficient. With a nice settling into our Eurostar seats, we were off to London!

Vacation Diaries: Accra, Ghana

I've been to Accra a few times before, but never for Accra, do you get? Like one time I went for a wedding and barely stepped out of Labadi beach hotel- another time, I went to stay in this resort in the hills and went into town to shop and have dinner once- This trip promised to be longer and different- a trip to finally SEE Accra.

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A note on yellow cards

  • You need a yellow fever card to travel to Ghana, South Africa and some other African countries.  I already had one (it lasts for 10 years) from my recent trips to Ghana and South Africa, but a few other people going on the trip did not, and so I was dragged along to the Lagos Port Health Authority.
  • The process is quick- you need two photocopies of your passport data page and you need to go at least 10 days before your flight (it takes that long for the vaccine to kick in).  The injection is super quick and not painful (if your nurse is skilled).
  • In 2013, all countries on the regime introduced new cards- I got my card in 2015 or so and they've already updated the cards again- so you're probably not going to get away with getting a card at the airport from a guy thats going to charge you way more than it costs.  
  • If you don't have the card, you can get the shot in Ghana, but if you go to SA without the card, you'll probably get returned.
  • If you're travelling from another state, look for Port health in the airport. It's called Port Health because it's near the Ports- Duh!

Port Health, Ikeja

A note on flights

  • Return tickets cost approximately =N=100,000. Can be more or less depending on timing, airline, etc- but that's a good average.
  • Flights take an hour or less from lagos and about 1.5 hours from Abuja.  
  • Road travel costs about =N20,000. each way from Lagos and takes about 8 hours. 

Anyway, travel day- yay! Is it just me, or is it weird to follow international travel procedures when you're flying less than an hour away to somewhere you can drive to? There were some angry Medview passengers in the airport yelling about their flight being delayed for over 24 hours with no word on when they were going to leave- awkward because their counter was right next to ours and we had to brave the angry mob to check in.

No-one needs to be this happy in Nigerian duty free

Isn't it funny that the KFC is like the unofficial economy lounge- or nah? We arrived on the tarmac to a tiny plane- I have travel anxiety on the best of the days and I had never been on a plane that small- I overheard another passenger telling his friend to "pretend its a private jet" so that's what I did. 50 Minutes later we landed in Accra.

We bought sim cards and data plans and tried to use the ATM. I'd say sort your sim and data out at the airport- it's quick and the plans in the airport were far better than the usual network rates.

A note on Naira cards 

  • remember that they do not work outside of Nigeria for ATM withdrawals- Yes, EVEN in Ghana. It was super awkward to travel all the way to another country and have no cash. I was there on the phone to my bank, trying to see if there was "anything I could do" .
  • I used my card to pay for stuff a few times on the trip, so POS payments are fine for some banks. Always check these things with your bank before you travel, and for goodness sake- TAKE CASH. 

Our meeting point was a Holiday Inn near the airport. We had burgers and mojitos and got into our magic trip bus that was taking us to Ada Foah (about an hour and a half out of Central Accra) via shoprite because two hours on a bus is too long without supplies!

We arrived in Aqua Safari in Ada Foah at about 6pm. Driving up to the entrance was full of promise. We checked in and got changed for dinner because food is ALWAYS the priority! 

Last time I was in Accra, I tried the banku and tilapia and honestly could not cope with the raw tomato and pepper blend it was served with, so this time I stuck with fufu and okra. A few people ordered the banku and tilapia and the sauce was just as raw but not as offensively raw, just regular raw. 

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After dinner, everyone was TAYAD, as we didn't all fly in from 50 minutes away.  A few of us persevered and went for a freezing swim in the tiny pool. I'm shivering thinking about that swim.

In the morning, I woke up at 5.20, had a quick shower and rallied everyone to catch the sunrise. My rally call led to exactly one person coming out at 6.15. We missed the sunrise.  We went by the water, took some pictures and chilled, but at 7, everyone was ready for free breakfast (like I said before, priorities!)

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After breakfast, we headed out to the Ghana sailing club (also in Ada Foah). I'd never been sailing before and it was really lovely. The instructor was friendly and sailing was surprisingly intuitive (also really hard on the arms). It was really nice to be on clean water- very different to my kayaking experience on the filthy Lagos water. 

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We headed back into central Accra and to our apartment in Cantonments. After pizza and recovery (and I'm still burnt by the fact that Ghana has pizza hut), we headed out. First stop- The Republic Bar in Osu. We took regular taxis and got dropped off right on the street the bar was on. It was a very different kind of bar, almost like a street party- especially when I saw women in neon carnivally outfits selling glow sticks.

We started with a disgusting but very awakening ginger and local gin shot and then ordered a round of kokoroko- a cocktail made with hibiscus and local gin (zobo and ogogoro basically), yam chips, chicken and calamari. Everything tasted great and the drinks tasted strong but did not feel strong. We ended with another REALLY REALLY gross shot and then got in another cab to find kizomba- It wasn't meant to be with kizomba so we headed home.

The next day, we were supposed to go on a walking tour but it was way too hot so we chilled and then headed out to a "day party" at about 6pm.I spent a ton of time in the pool and eating and then we headed out for a supposed day party.  Got to Suncity Hotel Apartment, paid the cover fee (it's never free to enter anything in Ghana)- and then walked in to an empty ass spot. Talk about a non day- party day- party. We admired the view and ordered drinks (bottles only *sigh*)

We stayed at the day (turned to night) party for a good five hours, had more drinks, some food and headed out to crash a wedding. 

The wedding was soooo gorgeous and the music was the best I heard in the entire trip. The Republic bar was serving drinks (that kokoroko drink was chasing me). 

Finally, we got to new years eve! After a day of eating Nigerian jollof and Ghanian waakye (pronounced wache sha), we headed out at about 6pm to do the Jamestown tour we had been putting off for two days. On the day we went to the Republic in Osu, our friend assured us that it was "like Lagos Island"- friends- THIS was like Lagos Island. We did the tour, stopping to try their local spirits (never drink in a place that has a curtain instead of a door) and buying different kinds of Ghanian food. At the end of the tour, we ended up with kelewele (a spicy ripe plaintain), kenke (made from steamed corn), fried flat fish (seriously, this fish looked like crisps), shito (spicy pepper and fish mix), kpako shito (made from a spicy green pepper and made to be eaten fairly fresh), and some tins of sardines.

It's interesting that Ghanians have a lot of main meals that are snack like, and made to be eaten not warm.

After that meal, we said goodbye to our lovely tour guide and headed to Tea Baa a cute little bar in Osu, where we had spiked ice tea, chicken kebabs and played a noisy game of Taboo. My team won because apparently I'm an expert guesser.

We left Tea Baa and headed to a house party which turned out to be an intimate family party- yikes. The family was super nice and the food was sooo good, so we sat on couches in the driveway, watched fireworks and got pleasantly drowsy.

At 2.30am, we went to a club called Twist, where again, we paid to get in. It was PACKED. Apparently, it was full of Ahaspora (The Ghanian name for IJGBs) because locals were at home with their families, having lovely parties that were being crashed by foreigners :)

at 4am, I could physically not stand anymore and headed home. 

The next day was spent in a montage of of eating, lying down, watching Dark and eating. At 7, we started playing lemon until we started dropping like flies and heading to bed. 

By the time, we were headed to the airport in the morning, I was DRAINED, but in a good way. 

I was literally on the escalator down and it stopped very abruptly, nearly throwing me off- that's when I knew I was home!