I T I N E R A R Y
Obtaining my travel visa felt as if I’d advanced to the final level in Candy Crush. The second I left the Nigerian consulate every ounce of excitement lying dormant inside me instantly became inflamed. In that moment aside from an empty, non existent suitcase I could not have been more ready for my departure. Despite not having a single thing packed for my trip I was eager to embark on my journey back to Africa.
Having traveled to Africa in the past on what I considered to be the most inspirational trip ever. I never imaged it would have taken me almost five years to finally return. Visiting Turkey this past May, I learned to never set any expectations for any place that I go. I boarded my flight with an open mind ready for all the adventure that lied ahead. I honestly never would’ve imagined all the fun I was about to have along with the amazing people I would encounter.
Landing in Lagos after a fourteen hour flight was a relief. I heard tales regarding the traffic but never in a million years would I have ever thought anywhere could be worse than Manhattan during rush hour. Once again I was wrong, super wrong. Traffic literally began less than a mile after exiting the airport and didn’t stop until I reached my hotel. With not an ounce of exaggeration what should’ve been a half hour ride turned into 4 hours easily! Enjoying an early dinner with a side of sleep for dessert was the best idea considering the early flight to Abuja the next morning.
Experiencing very little of Lagos on my initial first day, I instantly gravitated to Nigeria’s Capitol Abuja. Abuja has more of a city life and reminded me of what I’m was use to at home. Speaking of home my absolute favorite holiday is celebrating our Independence on the Fourth of July. I was beyond ecstatic to not only be in Nigeria but to be in Abuja during Nigeria’s 55th Independence Day. With so much going on in celebration for their independence the first night was super exciting. Beginning the evening with a lovely dinner at Abuja’s latest “it” restaurant called the Ivory Place was the perfect start. Walking into the restaurant I knew it would be everything simply from the decor. Completely judging a book by its cover I was impressed by the cuisine and wine selection. Get the entire experience and my review of Ivory Place on Trip Advisor.
Following dinner we stopped by a local bar called Traffic for drinks. The name justified just that, the place was jammed packed. Not staying long we whisked over to another spot called Vanilla Lounge then finally ended the night at a club called the Bank. I must say for my first Nigerian party I enjoyed every second of it. Even got the chance to meet one of Nigeria’s biggest artist 2Face. Attending the 55th Independence Day parade the next day was the icing on the cake. Getting the chance to experience the pride of a country along with seeing its new president Muhammadu Buhari give an amazing speech was beyond what I expected to witness.
After a few days in Abuja I was ready to return to Lagos. Although not the capitol of Nigeria, Lagos is said to be the heart of the country and I intended on finding out why. Staying on Victoria Island was like visiting New York and staying in Manhattan. The hustle and bustle of Lagos was New York times ten so even I had to adjust just to keep up. One of my favorite activities when visiting any country is indulging in it’s cuisine. Already a lover of joloff and fufu I was open to trying it all. I considered myself someone who enjoyed spicy food but after eating dishes such as beef suya I quickly learned that what I considered very spicy was simply mild to most Nigerians. Loving everything about Nigeria I must say there was one concern I came across. Prior to arriving my doctor prescribed me medication in case of any bad reactions to food or water. The second prescription was incase I came in contact with Malaria. The word Malaria alone freaked me out so you could only imagine what happen when I noticed my first mosquito bite. I say that to say this, if and when you do travel to any foreign country educate yourself on the little things. If not for the doctor warning me about the effects of untreated Malaria I would’ve never prepared myself by purchasing proper bug repellant or sun screen. I don’t want to bore or even scare you about these kind of things, just think of it as a reminder that Google is your friend.
Aside from eating the best part of going anywhere is visiting someplace that was referred or recommended. One place in particular that I was continuously told to visit was a restaurant called RSVP. It was only right that I had the opportunity to enjoy my final feast here before leaving Lagos. One of the only American cuisine restaurants in the city I actually ran into a woman from Long Island. The irony of being away and somehow finding someone from the same place as I am gets me everything. It’s always a cute reminder of how small the world is.
One of the last impressions left upon me happen on my drive to the airport. Crossing over the Third Mainland Bridge you get a great view of the Lagos Lagoon. The bridge lasting over seven miles I couldn’t help but notice the floating village on the water. Later learning the story behind the Makoko Village I was in complete awe. Makoko Village also referred to as the “Floating Slum” consisted of fisherman’s homes made of wood floating on the water. What I found to be astonishing was the fact that this village was literally stepping stones away from the modern buildings of Lagos. What I love most about Nigeria is despite how advanced and wealthy the country is there’s no loss of culture. I’m sure a lot has evolved over the years but the strong sense of being in both the past and present at the same time is so apparent in the everyday lives of Nigerians. It’s honestly hard to explain but something about seeing a woman balancing a basket of fruit on her head while holding an iPhone is incredible to me. Culture is the reason I choose to travel, it’s what I appreciate most about the world.
Once I returned home from Nigeria I found it difficult to actually complete this post. Having such an amazing time I honestly wasn’t able to get my ideal photos and that was a little upsetting. Originally planning to travel in Africa a little longer my trip ended earlier than expected due to great news. Can’t wait to share with you all and I really hope this story is enjoyed!