THE ENERGY OF WEST AFRICA’S MOST VIBRANT CITY INVITES A RETURN VISIT
lagos in Nigeria has an energy that can be rivalled only by that of hormonal teenage boys: frenetic, persistent and seemingly infinite. Sometimes it can be almost overwhelming – during the long journey to the airport, navigating the choked highways and the constant din of hooting, I had to reach for tranquillisers. But for the most part the mania is just right, and a large contributor to what makes Lagos the global economic and cultural force that it is. Yes, the traffic is insane and every few blocks there seems to be a charismatic church,but what you’ll remember most about this land of yams, jams, literature and Fela Kuti’s bewitching Shrine is its people: expressive, beautiful and incredibly kind. Going back, repeatedly, is written in the stars.
MUNCH HERE, DRINK THERE
Lunch at Terra Kulture on Victoria Island (pictured, right) is a must. With an art gallery and a library, it’s part of the Nigerian Cultural Centre and the perfect place for hipster foreigners. Have one of their freshly squeezed juices with the country’s staple, jollof rice (a spicy dish made with red peppers and tomatoes), and fish (pictured, below left) like I did. ( Terrakulture.com) Sky Restaurant & Lounge is located on the penthouse floor of Eko Hotel and Suites on Victoria Island. Take in the views of the Atlantic Ocean while enjoying Nigerian fine dining. ( Ekohotels.com) Oti’s Place doesn’t show up on Google but it exists. Avid marathon runner Oti Bazunu has converted part of his house into a members-only wine and jazz bar – perfect for after-dinner chillas. Ask a local to hunt him down for you.You won’t regret it. Titilola Elegba’s Fums Prints is where you should go if you
SHOP HERE, BROWSE THERE
want the best in locally made Ankara fabrics. Ms Titi, the owner, is usually on hand to help you select fabrics. Expect to pay about NGN4 000 (about R264) for 11 metres of fabric. And you can negotiate! She’s at Shop 28 in the Iponri Housing Estate. * Note: negotiation is everything in Nigeria. Even when paying for a taxi ride you must be wise about how much you’re forking out.
SLEEP HERE, STAY THERE
Southern Sun Ikoyi, a fiveminute walk over the bridge from the city to Victoria Island, works for both leisure and business travel. I liked the relaxed feel of the hotel and the friendly staff. For a weekend – checking in on Saturday and leaving on Monday – you’re looking at just over R4 000 for a standard room. And they provide little touches like SA wines, atchaar and chutney. ( Tsogosunhotels.com) InterContinental Lagos is situated in the heart of Victoria Island, overlooking the port. It’s quite modern and minimalistic in design. Expect to pay about R3 000 for a room per night. It’s definitely meant for those with slightly deeper pockets. ( Intercontinental.com)