Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Lekki Conservation Center



My baby cousin (I refer to every one younger than me as baby- so baby brother, baby cousin etc etc), said cousin is actually a medical doctor and over 25 so really not a baby .

Not my baby cousin
Anyway, my baby cousin, came into Lagos for the week as a vacation from work as she lives in Abuja.


In as much as I love Lagos, it is stressful.

But people can come here on vacation and still have a swell time.
I curated an itinerary for my baby cousin and she had such a wonderful time. ( if you want a run down, hit me up)
Baby Cousin


Lagos as a vacation spot? 
I dig it. Totally
Might as well put out a series of vacation touristy things to do in Lagos. 


Of all the things we did for the week she was here, I’d say LCC was the most fun and informative. 

The Lekki Conservation Center was opened in 1990 by the Nigerian conservation foundation (NCF). It is a seventy something hectare of natural reserve spanning from the lekki express ( where the entrance is) towards the Atlantic.

Rumor has it that the master landscape architect that worked on it asked, begged pleaded with the NCF to extend it to the atlantic as there needed to be a natural outlet for an eco system to flourish. The same rumor has it that NCF said LOL, and cordoned off the conservative center, took the land facing the Atlantic and built a delicious water front estate.As a result there are not a lot of animals to see. I mean there is a turtle, a few peacocks and enough monkeys. And probably insects too.


Irrespective of the rumors if you are a tree hugger or not, the conservation center is an oasis from the Lagos madness. It also houses the longest canopy walk in Africa. Which was built by Oyibos so it’s pretty safe.


We arrived at 4pm on a Wednesday and bought tickets.
LCC is open from 9am-5pm.
Entry into the center costs N1,000.
Access to the canopy walk N1,000 and
access to the family area N1,000.
Total N3,000.

You pay at the entrance and you are given three different bands that give access to the three attractions
I only have two, because I didn't think I'd want to go to the family area
 There is a tour guide every 30 minutes to walk you and your party along with the other visitors that arrive in the same time slot.
Now there are three main attractions of the conservation center. The actual walk way, built on stilts sitting over the swamp through the conservation that is overrun with monkeys. The main attraction here is the tree house. 
Walk way


Strike a pose

The second one is the canopy walk
Please read the warnings properly




Baby cousin

Sun set. At the highest point of the canopy walk



the third is the family area which has games and fish ponds and gazeebo’s for a picnic.

Directions

Chess game



 If you were observant enough to note that I had two bands but visited the three attractions, you are right. I decided last minute after the canopy walk to show my cousin the family area. There was no one checking our tickets so we just walked right in, played a game of chess and watched the sun set.

Entrance to the family area

A few things to note about LCC is that you walk everywhere. So you want to keep your personal possessions on you to a minimum. I.e. Leave your magic bag that has everything in it AT HOME. Or in your car, your hands will thank you.

Also you’d need the hands to hold the railings while you do the canopy walk.

As for food it might be difficult to lug two coolers of drinks through the conservatory to get to the family area where there are seats available.
But where there is a will, there is a way. – you can ask the LCC staff to get it to the family area and tip them.


I think If you plan to have a bohemian picnic LCC seems like just the spot.Or if you are like me and you just need to come somewhere quiet to watch the sun set and play candy crush on your phone then LCC is for you.

Ps: I also think it is perfect for a first date as a picnic with someone who you "actually like" and want to get to know, because all you have to do is talk and stare into each other's eyes.
Dear Lagos boys. Don't say I don't do anything for you.




Thursday, 4 January 2018

Beach days are the best days.


First of all...

Happy new yearrrrrr!!!




I'm so excited about 2018 and I have the grandest plans for travel this year- as always.

We catching flights and finessing relationships with airline staff because those staff airline discounts be da bomb!

So as an aside I haven't put up Rwanda posts because Didi me in third person's laptop crashed.

And because Didi enjoys living dangerously on the edge she never backed up her laptop.  

Anyway she lost all her photos from all vacations this year.
Among and not limited to- other personal effects.

Say a prayer for me. I'm still stunned

Anyway.

Rang in the new year in Lagos doing absolutely nothing but drinking palm wine and eating pasta that I made for two of my friends that came to visit.

On the 2nd I decided to do one of my favorite things in Lagos. Go to the beach.

Settled for Light House beach.

A little back story on Tarkwa and Light House beach. Tarkwa is the beach on atlas cove in Lagos.
It's supposed to be a little den of iniquity *IF* the articles from the internet are to be believed.

However every time I've been, It has been pretty tame.

If Light house beach and Tarkwa were siblings.
Tarkwa is the older child of a middle class Nigerian family who lived in surulere and birthed Tarkwa at LUTH. Tarkwa went to school in Lagos and is popular around town.

Light house beach will be the second child of the same parents who had come into wealth moved to Ikoyi and could afford to have the child in America. Light House Beach is super refined. Clean. Quiet.

Everything Tarkwa is not.

Their similarities start and end at the banana boats that take you to them and the water that they share.
Google maps live image. The highlighted coast line is Light house beach.

It's so new it doesn't even have a google tag yet. Ah well.

How did I get there?

Banana boat*.
The beach is on an island so there is no way to get there without utilizing our very lovely water ways.
Either you own a boat or you know someone who owns a boat or you go and get in a banana boat taxi.
*A banana boat is a canoe with an engine ( which is powered by fuel and engine oil)


Where did I get the banana boat from?

The Jetty (using that word loosely here), at the American embassy car park opposite bonny camp in VI.

How much?

Parking NGN500, you get a ticket and the car is really safe.

Boat trip: N2000.
Trip to Tarkwa is N1500

Queuing to get on the boat at the "Jetty"


At Tarkwa bay you have to berth close to shore and wade to the beach because the person manning the boat isn't interested in having his boat pushed to shore and soliciting hands to assist him to push him said boat back into the water.

Light house beach has a "Jetty". So you don't have to worry about wobbling out of the boat ungraciously. And or dropping your phone in the water while you waddle to the shore.

Light house beach Jetty.

Now Light house beach is quiet. It is serene. It is what I want when I come to the beach which is really escape from the madness* that is Lagos.

* if you have never been to Lagos, this madness is in context.

That's my tent and chairs and tables
Because I am a girls scout and I'm always prepared, I had called before hand and asked that two chairs a table and tent be set up for my arrival. As always my beach guys came thorough.

Cost: N3000 and two cans of Heineken

Again this set up might have been cheaper at Tarkwa but you can't put a pricetag on  the quiet and peace of mind I enjoyed that day.


Settled in and went for a swim in the water. Listened to some music. Did some reading. Walked the shore. Contemplated helping some fisher women draw in their catch. Changed my mind.

Also this beach is significantly cleaner than Tarkwa bay.
 However if you are trying to have a party and meet people and mingle and play beach soccer  or basically interact with other human beings you do not know?  Please go to Tarkwa bay. It's so much more suited for those activities.


My party was pretty much the only one at the beach and I loved it.


Walking into 2018 like....
It bears mentioning that you need to bring ALL your food and cutlery and plates drinks and cups and ice to the beach because there is literally nothing on the beach.

You see how large that "all" in the previous paragraph is?

No seriously nothing can dampen a beach movement more than food with no plates and you having to morph into one of the 5 foolish virgins moving from tent to tent begging for disposable plates and forks.

However if you like food hot/freshly cooked  there are grills so you can pre marinate your chicken/fish/burger patty to come and cook and assemble at the beach.

If you are anything like me- 12 baskets small chops** stays hot in their new insulation bags.
Dominoes Pizza travels well if the idea of cold pizza doesn't upset you so much

** An assorted range of snacks deep fried usually including but not limited to Springrolls, samosa, Puff puff, mosa, gizzard. grilled chicken, snail and fish.

Obviously goes without saying that you will need a insulated cooler bag for your drinks because whats the point of coming all the way to Light house beach to drink hot beer?

FYI: unlike Tarkwa where you need to wear your swimsuit from land since there are no changing room facilites, Light house has a changing room with a door that can be locked from inside.

So you can come have a full 20 outfit range photo shoot at the beach and not about changing room facilities. if that is up your alley.

What are your travel plans for 2018?
If you aren't like me - perhaps now is the time to write them down. make it plain and run with the vision.

I wish you all the very best in the new year.






Tuesday, 24 October 2017

No kissing in Kenya.

High light of my 21 hours in Nairobi

I landed Nairobi at 7pm Kenyan time and I could not (and still can't) believe the ease with which the immigration attended to my party.

I had applied for the visa online before I arrived and printed out the visa that was emailed to me.
Copy of my Visa.

Someone at the entrance checked our yellow cards and then stamped our passports.
I had people in my party who didn't do their visa's online and they just paid $20 at the stand with cash or with their cards and guess what?
The immigration staff had change.

I dare say the immigration staff in Nairobi are the most efficient I have come across in all my travels.

Got through security and while waiting for members of my party to get their shit together I looked up and boom. The prettiest art installation I have been- even prettier than the bean at terminal 5 in Heathrow airport.
The Prettiest art installation

 Finally got out of the airport and got a cab to take us to our airbnb, where we had planned to meet someone from our party who had come in earlier than the rest of us.

Surprisingly- our Airbnb looked better than the photos

Bedroom I slept in

Sitting room


 That did not quite work out, but it was fine, we settled in and decided to go to Beer Bistro & Lounge. This is a concept space with an in house distillery, i.e they make their own Craft beer.

Take off your jacket- Man's Not Hotttttt.


Pro tip: The beer was the nastiest thing I have ever tasted and for context- I attended QC boarding house for 6 years.

Anyway I had dinner here, the resturant has an out door terrace and the nicest Jameson bar.

The tapa's were soooo tasty.


Bar Top? Anyone

Obligatory Photo infront of the bar.


After dinner we went to the second Beer Bistro location and danced till our feet hurt
*but really till the Dj shut down the party at 2am*


Me. Natalie ( Kenyan with the most beautiful skin) and Arin

Half of the party, Ib, Les (not showing) Micheal Me(looking away), Nat and Arin.

For the culture we stopped at this outdoor grill *think Suya stand* but had beef patties and sausages and beef skewers. *cue running stomach*

And they were sooooo sweet.


Then we got a cab and stopped at a "Nakumart" which was 24 hours and bought some food.

The biggest downside of Airbnb-ing really is the fact that you have to cook your own food.
And we all know fewer things are more confunding than having to work other people's appliances especially microwaves. 

Anyway the night ends without event*. Significant event- No group fighting or the sort one would expect from living with 9 other people they never met till that day.

Next morning I woke up really late probably because I had been travelling whole day before and went out partying- But really because I love the opportunity to lie in and I take it everytime.

I had only 3 items on my agenda-
Buy coffee from somewhere called Petes - as an errand;
buy a Maasai blanket and go and
kiss the giraffe's at the "Giraffe center".

Got a car hire for the whole day and headed to Pete's.
Daniel- my cab driver and photographer


Got there and turns out there was no coffee because of the election unrest.

Pete's is like a Cafe Neo nestled in Yaba-con. or Maybe CC-hub. Pretty cool but shit wifi.

Before I came to Kenya I had been advised about how unsafe it might be because of election unrest but I had no idea the level at which it affected the economy. Daniel pointed out that the country had literally been on standstill and had just started picking up. Africa is really a country.

Headed out to find the Maasai blanket and I found it in a store at the mall

Mall lay out with Daniel in the cut.
Maasai scarf thats really a blanket

This store had all the trappings of a tourist heaven.


Because I am my mother's child I walked into this underwear store that had the word sale and bought something and paid with my Gt- Naira card.
Talk about own goal.
LOL
I'm still shocked till now at the exchange rate that they used but okay.




That was me when I got the alert notification


Finished from the mall and hit the road for the giraffes!
I was soooo excited to kiss the animals till I got there and actually saw them and realised I actually still do not like animals and the best I could do was feed the giraffes.

Center welcome

Can you see how far I'm standing? exactly.
 I had seen photos of white people kissing them on IG and my God. Iyama.

Giraffe fun fact: it's tongue is 43 centimeters long.

Another Giraffe fun fact: It head butts you if pellets finish while feeding it

Pellets used to feed the giraffes


 The Giraffe center was really well maintained and after my failed kiss attempt ( I actually have a video on my instagram that is so shameful), the center asked us to come for a class and it was so informative.
femur of the giraffe

Lower jaw bone of giraffe

Yet another Giraffe fun fact: It's tongue is antiseptic.

Finished disgracing myself here then headed to the airport.

But first, I had to stop at somewhere called Java house for some coffee- kenya AA- which smelt so so good I'm not a coffee drinker but Yes to Kenya AA coffee.
Java house is located in the galleria - another mall, but i respected my self and did not buy anything.
What silverbird could have been if a senator had common sense.

Smelled like heaven.

Then I headed to the Airport to catch my flight.

I had heard lots of crazy things about the Nairobi traffic but I have to let you know that Lagos still wears the crown when it comes to traffic in Africa as far as I'm concerned.
There was no way the rush hour traffic I met there was enough to make anyone miss their flight.


Nairobi Fun Fact: The airport security is so serious, they make everyone asides the car driver to come down and walk thorough metal detectors before they let you into the airport. not at the terminal o, at the gate of the airport.

I guess security is still a big issue in Africa.


Me at Jomo Kenyatta, post security wahala.


Strange how no one harrasses you when you try to take a photo at every other airport asides the Nigerian one.

This visit put Kenya on my travel plans for 2018 ( or maybe 2019)and I will definately be back to spend more time and visit other cities asides Nairobi. I have heard lovely things about the beaches in Mobassa.

Have you been to Kenya?

Did you enjoy it?

Ps: I'm open to correction about the photo at the aiport thing












Thursday, 12 October 2017

Money Talk for Kenya & Kigali

So I'm back from my mini mini mini break. There was a long weekend in Nigeria to celebrate our independence, a few people and I decided to visit Niarobi and Kigali. ( these cities are in Kenya and Rwanda respectively if your geography is dodgy- You are welcome).


A few things to note this trip, it was pretty budget not by design but it just so happened that there isn't a lot of buy from Kenya asides coffee ( In my opinion) and I also had economies of scale on my side.
Also Nairobi doesn't have a lot to do if you remain in the city. But this might be as a result of being resident in Lagos. And the fact that I arrived on a Wednesday night and left on Thursday evening.

Money talk:

My ticket cost N135,000 approx round trip for  Lagos- Nairobi- Kigali- Nairobi- Lagos.
Visa: $20 transit for Kenya and $30 for Rwanda both obtainable on arrival with a Nigerian passport.
My accomodation cost $87 for all the nights I spent with my group.
However I like to take some time out after travelling with people to recharge so I spent an extra night in Kigali and that cost me $30 and I also spent the night at the Aspire airport lounge at the Nairobi airport for $35.
Taxi rides and tourist attractions cost me approximately $50.
I spent approximately $10/meal
The exchange rate is 100KSH ( Kenyan shillings) to 1 USD.

Itineary:
My layover in Kenya was 21 hours long so I got to spend a night and go shopping the next day as well as visit the Giraffe center with the aim of kissing feeding the animals.

Rwanda
I had planned to arrive on thursday night go out, friday take a Yoga class - someone in my travel party was teaching said class, visit the Kigali Genocide center ( let this be the first/last thing you do if you decide to go, it was very emotionally stressful for me, I couldn't finish viewing because I'm a crier and I couldn't risk breaking down too badly), have lunch, visit the Belgian soldier center and friday night go out again. Saturday morning lie in and then take a 3 hour bus ride ( that really turned out being 5 but who is counting) to Gisenyi spend the night at an eco lodge and then come on sunday. Spend monday relaxing getting my life together at a spa and then heading to the airport to return to Lagos.


Top marks for whoever can guess how much of my itineary I stuck to and what I cancelled.

I think in total plus souvenirs I spent maybe $250 shopping inclusive in both countries plus incidentals.

Also like a learner I used my Gt bank Naira card to pay for a bra that was 2,000 KSH and when I got the alert in Naira I almost fainted.

So pro tip never use your Naira card to pay for anything except you want to almost have an aneurysm when your debit alert pops in.

Re group travel it's not so bad but I do not think it's something I am really a fan of because I like doing things on my own time and I really like to take my time.








Monday, 25 September 2017

New Trip- PSA X SOS

Two posts in one day.

Lets not call it a come back. It's not.

I leave for my vacation during the week and I am so so so excited.

Slightly stressed because I am doing two things I have never done before.

1- I'm traveling with only hand luggage ( I'm still packing sha) and if you read this blog by now you will have gleaned that my extra-ness filters into my packing. AKA I am that person at the airport flirting with the staff at the check in counter to waive my excess luggage.
I mean I fly from Lagos to Abuja for 48 hours and I check in luggage.

Always.



But change is here I hope.

2- I am traveling with a group of people that I do not know.
I mean, I know the person that invited me, someone from Yoga class but yeah I don't know anyone else. I'm equal parts a people person and a me person aka an ambivert, but when I asked the organizer about sleeping arrangements ( it's a group of 10), he said " Oh I'd rather that be organic"...






That was legit my reaction.

Like, huh???

Anyway this post is about packing light suggestions and dealing with a large group of travel people especially when you'd rather sleep alone.

So tips, suggestions are welcome and actively solicited.
Let me know what you think I should or shouldn't do.

Now the PSA is that I found this pretty cool checklist website that is about to become my best friend.

Here

Go on, you know you want to click on the link. :)


Yoga at Vizcaya - Miami

 My hat and my mat on which a fat cat (me) sat.


I love Miami.

Miami is one of my favorite cities in America and it's probably my best in the world.

It's sensual and chill and has beaches for miles and miles and miles and it is literally what Lagos could have been but Eko Atlantic and poor planning.

But I'm still holding out hope for the water front on the Elegushi axis. *fingers crossed*

Back to Miami.

After Cuba, I spent a week there further steeping myself in enjoyment. So the usual Liv & Story visits, and I discovered this really sweet spot called Bodega and ate taco's at 3am.

But the highlight of Miami for me was a Yoga class I took at Vizcaya.

I stumbled upon this while looking for events in Miami and I happened to be there over a bank holiday so I didn't want to do the beach or a boat trip that would mean me having to wear white and mingling with the whole world in the water and all that.

Anyway I found this and fell in love.

Vizcaya is the dream house.
 It was built as a summer home in the early 1916 by a certain James Deering and has the most delicious gardens fashioned after the Versailles gardens.

If Versailles and Lake Garda had a child and a really rich man with beautiful taste looked after the child it would be the Vizcaya mansions. It is so lovingly maintained .
The mansion was restored so perfectly and has been converted to a museum and event space.

Up the stairs to my class

Directions



Anyway enough about the space.
I'm pretty new to Yoga as a sport/ practice but I realized that I needed relaxation and calm and meditation in my life and I have flirted around with the possibility a lot. So the class seemed like the perfect union.

Class was hosted by Trio Yoga and the teacher was pretty flexible & perfect.

Showed up late and joined in and as usual class kicked my ass but I loved it.



Shiny new mat for the class



Totally wiped after the class


After the class I took the opportunity to walk around and just take in everything.

The garden is so stunning in person and the mansion now museum has bits of art installations everywhere. 

Garden

Aclove in the garden

Statue in the mansion

Hostest with the mostest my friend who joined me looking like Lady of the Mansion

Me and these light mirror frames that are pretty cool

More garden views

Walk way and garden views.

If you are in Miami you should totally spend some time at Vizcaya, it is like an oasis in the madness that is Miami- and I love the madness, but we all need to rest sometimes.

Resting
The class cost $18, if you are a Vizcaya member/ Trio Yoga member and $50 if you are a walk in.

Since I was visiting from Lagos, I called the organizers and asked if I could attend the class and pay $18 as I didn't live in Miami and couldn't be a member of either.

They agreed.

Also this was a super deal because entry to the museum is $18.

Killed all the birds with this $18 payment.

Also they offered me the option to use this same $18 as credit towards obtaining a life time membership of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.- Which I declined because, wetin concern agbero with overload.

When I say all the birds, I mean it.

Important to note, I was the only black person at this class and in the mansion till my friend came to join me. No racist vibes or anything just something to note if you get around to visiting Vizcaya.


My friend took this photo and I understand why everyone kept asking if I was a model. LOL
 


 Ps: I can't wait for Nigerians to discover this space and start hosting evening weddings here.
The optics will bang so hard.

Have you been to Miami?
If yes what stood out for you?
If not yet- what are you looking forward to about it?