Oct 172013

So, up the next morning to try again.  Hopefully after nearly a 24 hour delay I would finally make it to Benin this time.  Unfortunately, I had only planned 36 hours in Benin, which was now reduced to basically one evening.  Kind of disappointing, but somethings things just don’t work out.  It’ll be an excuse to get back to Benin another time!

Down to the hotel lobby to check out after a good night’s sleep, and had a box of chocolates and an apology letter from Brussels Airlines waiting.  Better than a kick in the face I suppose!


Brussels had arranged a special bus for the passengers to the airport, but I wanted to get there a little earlier so just took the regular hotel shuttle.  No problems at all checking in, quickly through security, a little bit of caffeine at Starbucks, and soon I was in the lounge waiting for the flight.  Now, the flight being over two hours earlier today was nice because it would give me a bit of time in Benin, but bad because I almost felt bad sampling some of Belgium’s finest in the lounge.  The guilt lasted all of zero seconds, and it was time to sample!  A Leffe Bruin to start:


Followed by a delicious Hoegaarden:


There was a pain au chocolate or two as well, but I must have forgotten a picture.  Off to the gate shortly, and time to board.

Brussels Airlines special flight 1255
Brussels, Belgium (BRU) to Cotonou, Benin (COO) continuing onto Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire and Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Depart 11:30, Arrive 17:10, Flight Time 6:40
Airbus A330-300, Registration OO-SFW, Manufactured 1994, Seat 3A (solo aisle)

I was excited to be back on this plane, because I really like the configuration…as long as I get one of the solo seats.  It’s kind of odd, because the solo business class seats are SO much better than the pairs….unless you’re traveling with someone I suppose.  A couple of cabin shots to show how the seats are staggered:

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Of course, it’s important to see how the seats look with a glass of champagne as well:


Boarding was over quickly, and despite combining two flights from two days, there were still only three people in business class.  This makes me believe it wasn’t mechanical as claimed, and due to light loads.  There were well under 80 passengers in economy as well.  Nice light flight, and we were lined up on the runway and ready to go:


So, what’s to eat?  Some pictures of the menu and wine list:

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Some mixed nuts and an amuse bouche of salmon to start:


The nuts were pretty tasty, so I asked for some more and more bubbly:


Next up was the eel appetizer, which was delicious:


I went with the beef entree, which was one of the worst airline meals I’ve ever had.  It was more fat than beef, and I couldn’t eat more than two bites.  It was the first time I remember that I actually sent an airline meal back.


I asked for the pasta instead, and the flight attendant informed me I was “lucky” because there was just one pasta left.  With just three passengers in business class?  Seriously?  Was that before or AFTER the crew had their pick?!  Fortunately, the ravioli was edible, but just barely.  I don’t know what it is, but I find Brussels Airlines consistently has pretty poor main course choices.


The cheese course, however, more than made up for it with a nice glass of port.  Yum!


…and of course, I had to sample desert just to be sure.


Spent the next four hours enjoying some bad movies and catching up on my tv shows, and before I knew it it was time for some ice cream before landing.  One of my favourite things about flying in Africa is seeing the airplane graveyards at some airports.  Cotonou didn’t disappoint:

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One of the first off the plane, and there was a VIP bus waiting to take the few business class passengers to the terminal.  Immigration took less than two minutes, and soon I was out into the terminal where my friend’s driver was waiting to pick me up and take me to the hotel.

We were staying at the Novotel Cotonou, and I’ll give just a few thoughts on it.  The rooms were comfortable, with what I would consider a decent bed.  Far from excellent, but it was clean, cool, and comfortable and that’s all I really expect in West Africa.  There was a decent lounge and bar where we grabbed a couple of beers before heading out to dinner.

A sign in the hotel by the elevators, warning against sex with minors.  It’s sad that nice hotels have to remind people of this:


A view of the hotel from the gardens outside.  What you don’t see in this pic is the rather loud frogs that were everywhere:


We grabbed dinner at a restaurant called Livingstone, which was advertised as having great pizzas and being packed with expats.  It didn’t disappoint on the expat front, but the pizzas were just so so.  The ice cream was much better, however.  😉  I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there, but it was solid so if you’re craving a good solid western option it’s a good choice.

Back to the hotel and to bed early, because we had an early morning flight the next day to Accra.  I was disappointed I lost a whole day in Benin where I’d planned to drive to Abomey to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but this just gives me an excuse to go back soon!

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