Anyone who knows me well knows that I have always wanted to go to Ghana. A lot of people found it weird that Ghana was at the top of my list of places in the world to visit. I was not bothered; I still made sure it stayed at the top of that list.
Let’s fast-forward to a few days before the Sallah break. My friend calls and says, ‘’I know you’ve always wanted to go to Ghana, so let’s go for Sallah!’’ Truth be told, if she had asked me a few years ago, I probably would have said ‘no’. But it’s 2017 and my new and improved happy-go-lucky self thought, ‘why no’t?
The ticket was not cheap. I didn’t think going to Ghana will cost that much. I was quite surprised because when we think of Ghana, it almost feels like its a stone throw away. Anyway, the only way to get to Ghana was to get a ticket and the ticket cost me.
Yes, I almost changed my mind when I heard the price but I couldn’t resist. So there I was spending that amount of money to get a ticket and I couldn’t even find my yellow card. Just in case you are wondering if the yellow card is important, they actually check for your yellow card when you travel within West Africa. So, before my trip, I went to the Ministry of Health to get one. Let’s not talk about what went down at the Ministry. All I will say is, Nigeria still has a long way to go. Thankfully, there weren’t a lot of people there on the day I went, so I was there for about 30 minutes before I got my card. With my yellow card in had and my ticket bought, I was ready to take on Ghana.
We left Nigeria on a Friday morning. It was a rainy morning but luckily, we got to the airport on time. The flight was about 45min – 1 hour and we landed safely in Accra. After we arrived, we rested a bit, watched Nigeria’s World Cup qualifiers match against Cameroon and headed to Tang Palace for dinner.
It was a buffet. I know most people get excited about buffets but I always feel like I never get so much out of them. There’s only so much I can eat. Let’s just say the spirit is usually willing but the body on the other hand… I get full before I know it. The ambience at Tang Palace was great though. There was live music being played, so that was good. At the end of the night, I was so stuffed.
We were up early the next day. As in, 6am early. By 6:30am, we were on our way out of Accra to Cape Coast. We got stuck in Accra traffic but we made it out eventually. The only way we were able to do this was to get off the road and follow an alternate route, which took us through a string of houses. The most exciting part of this ‘detour’ was the fact that we passed by a building that had a sign saying ‘prison camp’. It was really fascinating to me because the building looked nothing like a prison camp. It was not secured at all and there was no fence too.
While I was observing the building I saw some men in what I assume was prison uniform with an officer watching them. Well maybe this was a prison after all but I just told myself it was a minimum security prison. It was definitely one of our unexpected finds during our trip.
Finally, we got to Cape Coast and our first stop was the Kakum National Park. We decided to make the most of it by doing the canopy walk and the hike. The canopy walk which cost 60 cedis was scary at first but it was so worth it. The hike on the other hand was a total rip off. There wasn’t a lot to see. To make things worse, the trail was extremely muddy and slippery due to the rains.
We were actually looking forward to seeing the tree house during the hike. However, when we climbed all the way up, we were stopped by the locked door. It was quite disappointing. So, my advice is don’t waste your 50 Cedis on the hike.
We also had to find our way back after the hike (our tour guide practically abandoned us). My friend’s sandals came off after the hike and I guess it’s happened to a lot of people at that same spot because the guy at the entrance of the trail happened to double as a cobbler. He charged 5 cedis to fix it. It’s really important that you wear comfortable shoes during the hike.
After the hike, we decided to have lunch at the restaurant and that was where I tasted the famous Ghana jollof. I am honestly not not saying this because I am Nigerian, but there’s nothing special about Ghanaian jollof rice. I don’t even get why the comparison is difficult. Nigerian jollof is the bomb dot com.
I also heard of cassava fish for the first time (I still don’t quite get what it is). The service at the restaurant was really quick and they packed up our food for us so we could take it away as we had a full day ahead of us.
Our next stop was Bird and Crocodile watching at the Hans Cottage Botel. We didn’t feel brave enough to touch the crocodiles. Infact, I was only able to muster the courage to take a picture next to one. Since I am not much of a bird watcher, I focused more on the crocs than the birds.
After crocodile watching we headed to Elmina Castle and I am glad I went. I really didn’t expect to get so emotional there. Some of the things we saw at the castle broke my heart and reminded me why scriptures remind us that the heart of man can be desperately wicked. You wouldn’t believe the number of people that were held in small damp rooms with barely any circulation, sunlight and food many years ago during the slave trade. The experience stirred something in me and I made a mental note to ensure I visit the slave museum in Badagry, Nigeria. After a tour of the castle and all the photo ops, we headed back to Accra. We had a long day and it is safe to say we were exhausted when we got back.
On our third day in Ghana, we headed out to do some shopping and more sightseeing. Our first stop was Woodin. The store we actually set out to visit first was closed. It turned out they didn’t open on Sundays. So we ended up at the Woodin store at the mall. There were lots of options in the store but knowing fully well that we were on a budget, we went into tunnel vision mode. That’s what most people refer to as ‘window -shopping’ where you look but don’t pick. We mentioned to someone at the store that we needed to change some money and the cashier was kind enough to change it for us and at the official rate.
Even though we were window shopping, we stumbled on some great finds that brought back great memories. One of the things we saw in the store was the famous school sandal called Bata. I was so excited to see Bata at the mall. Does anyone remember Bata from the good old days? It definitely took me back to my childhoob days.
On our way out of the mall, we saw a crepe and waffle stand and decided to try it out. I had some waffles with maple syrup and I was glad the guy was very generous with the syrup. My friend Tee had a crepe with nutella; both of our choices were delicious.
Our next stop was Osu market. Unfortunately, just a few stalls were open because we went on a Sunday. We didn’t buy much apart from a few key holders to give to a few friends back at home and a cute outfit for my niece.
My friend Tee had also seen online that there was a hotel that had an ‘I love Accra’ sign in front of it and we headed there to take some pictures of course. By the way, do not, and I repeat do not try sitting on any of the letters. They do not like that at all. I just thought I should drop that free tip.
We then headed to Kwame Nkrumah Park. We were not allowed to take pictures in the museum but if you are ever in Accra, you should totally visit this museum. We had the best tour guide at the park, his name was Kofi (meaning he was born on a Friday) and I had to take a picture with him when we got out of the museum. He had so much passion for Ghana and was very knowledgeable about Ghana’s history. After the tour, it was picture time. We took way too many pictures in that park if you ask me but who said too many pictures was ever a bad thing?
Later that evening, we headed to LaPalm Beach Resort/Hotel for dinner. Unfortunately, we got there too late and couldn’t get to sit close enough to the beachfront. Nevertheless, dinner was great and we still got a decent view of the beachfront from where we were seated. We had some rice and king prawns (I can’t remember the exact name of the dish).
The dinner service could have been better though. You won’t believe that our waiter just disappeared on us. Anyway, I finally got to try Banku (which is moulded corn and cassava dough) and Shito (also known as Ghanaian pepper sauce). I didn’t really like the Banku but I didn’t mind the Shito.
After dinner, we went in search of Ghanaian chocolate at Shoprite. Apparently, Shoprite does not stock Ghanaian chocolate. At least not the one we went to. So we didn’t get to buy any. After looking around a second time just to make sure we didn’t miss it, we gave up and decided to get some at the airport.
On the topic of airports, I must say that the Accra airport ain’t bad at all. I was quite impressed and slightly ashamed that Nigeria’s capital city airport couldn’t come close. Our Abuja airport needs to be better and that why I am eagerly looking forward to the opening of the new and improved Abuja airport; whenever that will be.
Visiting Accra was a great decision. Even though it was a short visit, I am glad I got one city ticked off my bucket list.