Nov 172013

Slept in a slight bit, but not too much thanks to what was rapidly becoming a very, very warm hotel room. 24C in the morning. Enjoyed a couple pain au chocolate for my last day in Africa, and then headed down to grab a mid-morning taxi to the centre city to walk around and explore a bit.  It was a short, 10-15 minute ride, and then it was time to explore.  With no plans of how to get back, this promised to be an adventure.  When I’d shared plans for this trip with people I knew who’d traveled west Africa recently, Abidjan was the one place they cautioned to be a little careful.  The recovery from the recent war is still somewhat fragile, and there’s a bit of tension.

I had the taxi drop me off at the Place de la Republique, where I snapped a couple of shots:




The best thing I had going for me (and for the hotel incidentally) was the fact that it was more or less clouded over all morning.  It kept temps down, despite humidity of 99% – at least the temps were only around 26-27C – tolerable for walking around without the sun beating down.  Things were definitely extremely run down and had seen better days, but there weren’t too many signs of the recent war.  Walked about 15 minutes from the Place de la Republique, and came across the main mosque…unfortunately the way it was sandwiched in between other things made it hard to get a good photo:


Before the war, the African Development Bank had had its headquarters in Abidjan, and they had rapidly decamped to Tunis in the run-up to the war.  Irony that a short-time later the Arab Spring happened, and Tunis wasn’t the safest place to be for a short time either.  Colleagues had asked me to check how reconstruction of the HQ was going, to gauge the potential of AfDB moving back to Abidjan any time soon.  Work’s definitely underway, but I wouldn’t expect it any time soon:


Walked another 20-30 minutes, just taking in the street life and city.  The further north I went, the more things seemed to be renovated and getting better.  Lots of people out in the streets, and a good deal of life for a weekend in what appeared to be primarily a commercial area.  I admit I stopped at a great-smelling bakery for another pain au chocolate, before continuing on to the main football stadium, complete with VIP and presidential entrances:


Just five minutes away, was the National Assembly:



A bit further was the Cathedral of Saint Paul, listed in many places as one of the most impressive things to see in Abidjan:




The entrance was open with a sleepy looking security guard keeping watch outside.  The inside, however, was in sad need of much repair:


Notice the caving-in roof, puddles all over the floor:


That said, the stained glass was still quite impressive:


Note the mixture of biblical scenes with typical African animals:


Sat and took in the place for a bit, as well as getting a break from the light rain which had started outside.  After a short while, continued my walk and came upon the High Court:


One thing that surprised me a bit, compared with most places I’ve been in West Africa, is the number of very tall buildings in Abidjan:


At this point I’d been walking for a few hours, and the poor sleep the night before, combined with the humidity had me ready for an air conditioned break.  Also, one can only live on a couple of croissants for so long.  So, I stopped in that respite of French colonialism and beef, the Hippopotamus restaurant, for lunch, beef, and an ice cold beer:


Walked a bit more, but by this point my phone had died.  Found out later my iPhone battery had gone defective, and the charge wasn’t lasting very long.  Ended up walking around seeing a couple of markets and more of the city until about 3pm until heading back to the hotel to rest by the pool a bit before the flight home that night.  View of the city from my 20th floor balcony:



After relaxing at the pool a bit, came back to my sauna which had now reached 28C and humid, for one last Savanna Dry at sunset before showering and heading to the airport.  Not really sure the point in showering, since 5 minutes later I was dripping in sweat as I checked out of the hotel.  To their credit, the front desk worker noticed, and brought me a couple ice-cold refreshing towels in an attempt to stay cool at all:


Bell staff (who were all excellent) called me a regular taxi, we negotiated a very fair price (unlike the drama of getting from the airport) and soon we were off in relatively heavy traffic for the trek home.

  5 Responses to “Day in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire”

  1. Great post ! I am originally from Ivory Coast so it is always great to see others and visit my country especially after many civil unrest. I am SURE you had a blast at Chez Georges ! If you plan on coming to Ivory Coast again, you should check out the beaches and open air markets, especially the ones at night 🙂

  2. Oh, I’m definitely going to Hippopotamus this week. Maybe more than once. Thanks.

  3. Heh, Jason! Did you ever fly Aire Coite D’Ivoire? I need to get from Kinshasa to Abidjan, and they seem to be the only airline that flies that route. Would appreciate your advice.

  4. This is fantastic, thank you! I’ll be in Abidjan in December, along with about 12 other W and N African countries. I’m having trouble finding day tours in Abidjan. From your article, looks like you had no problems wandering solo. Felt pretty tranquil, any issues at all?

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