Up nice and early to get to the airport well in advance of our flight. In most places, I don’t take airlines’ recommended check-in times too seriously, but in Africa I definitely do. Corrupt immigration officials are often looking for any excuse to “fine” you, and I didn’t want to take any chances.
One last word about the Novotel hotel, since I realised I haven’t mentioned the breakfast yet. We had asked the night before and they told us it opened at 6am, but when we got down there around 6:45 it wasn’t yet open. Turns out it was 7am on weekends, but the helpful staff member just told us to be seated and help ourselves – they were still bringing food but we were welcome to get started. Very nice! Lots of fruits, breads, cold cuts, etc, and made to order eggs – quite a decent breakfast spread. More than enough to get fueled for the day.
Got to the airport roughly two hours before scheduled departure time, which turned out to be more than enough. There was a bit of a line for check in, but approximately 15 minutes later we had checked one bag each, and were walking around the corner to immigration. No questions at all from immigration, a quick stamp, and we were at security. There was a small business lounge before security, and according to the Priority Pass app they would accept it…we decided to try. No problem at all, and John was able to access with a Canadian AmEx card for some reason. Unlimited booze in the lounge and a few tiny munchies, but more importantly an air-conditioned comfy place to wait for the flight.
30 minutes or so later, it was downstairs, through a quick security check, and time to walk out to the plane:
It wasn’t reassuring that this plane was parked right next to ours, LOL!
…and this ancient L1011 was parked just a short way away!
Air Côte d’Ivoire flight 523
Cotonou, Benin (COO) to Accra, Ghana (ACC)
Depart 9:20, Arrive 9:10, Flight Time 00:50
Embraer ERJ-170, Registration F-HBXH, Manufactured 2010, Seat 19A
After boarding I asked the flight attendant (since it appeared barely half full) if I could move to an empty row in the back. Got the usual “after everyone has boarded and the door is closed” which I did. Turned out last four rows of the plane were completely empty. This would be a nice comfy ride!
Very quick flight, with a juice or water service offered. It was barely 40 minutes in the air, so I didn’t expect too much. Friendly crew, clean and newish looking plane, Air Côte d’Ivoire definitely exceeded my expectations. A couple of notes: the F- registration number on the plane means it was registered in France, and the pilots appeared to be French as well. Not sure if this plane was leased pilots and all from France or what, but regardless it was a very clean, modern, and efficient flight. A view of the Accra airport upon landing:
Immigration was quite quick, and maybe 5-10 minutes later we were waiting on our bags and getting cash from the ATM. Outside customs our driver was waiting to take us on the very short drive to the Holiday Inn where we were staying. A very nice and almost modern hotel, with some awesomely kitschy art in the lobby:
Checked in, dropped off bags, and headed back to our driver to go out to get lunch. Our driver was going to take us a short bit down the coast to Coco Beach, where we could have lunch at the Ramada right on the beach. It was maybe an hour drive in pretty heavy traffic despite being a weekend, but the Ramada rewarded us with more really awesomely kitschy artwork:
Obligatory Africa-sized-beer on the beach photo:
We also saw some amazing African wildlife while having lunch. The elusive wild African pig, lolz:
More kitschy artwork at the Ramada. SOMEONE is having fun in this picture:
After a mediocre lunch (seriously – the “club sandwich” was the smallest fried egg I’ve ever seen, a small slice of cheese, and a small slice of meat) we headed back towards our hotel to relax a bit before dinner. We decided to walk to the mall just down the street to hit the grocery store for some supplies. The mall was right across the street from the airport fence, and we got a great look at this retired Ghana Airways DC-10:
After relaxing a bit, it was time to head out and grab dinner. We ended up at a restaurant called Monsoon which was a short drive from the hotel, and had an incredibly eclectic menu…everything from sushi to crocodile stew which I had. It was incredibly tasty, and went well with a few bottles of Savannah Dry:
Then, it was back to the hotel and time to catch up on sleep since we had a long drive down the coast in the morning to the Cape Coast to see some old castles.