My driver showed up right on time in the morning, and soon we were off to the airport. About one or two miles into the drive, the car started going slower and slower…and slower…until it completely stopped. I asked what the problem was, and the driver said he didn’t know…but it seemed pretty clear to me that this had happened to him before. He just pulled over to the side of the rode, and flagged down a passing taxi.
He loaded my bags into the new taxi, and said we would go together to the airport. I am guessing since I was paying him a good rate, he wanted to settle at a lower rate with the replacement driver, so he came along. Clearly, the new driver was pro-America:
No problems at all, and soon we were at the airport post office to mail my post cards. After I got them mailed, the original driver walked me over to the terminal so I could check in. I settled the bill, got a passport check by a security guy, x-ray of my bags, and was in the check-in area. While I was waiting to check in, there was a very loud (and apparently drunk) man yelling at the security officers. It seemed, he was claiming, that someone had planted drugs on him and security found them. Of course, they were asking him to pay a fine on the spot or turn him over to the police…
Finally got to the front of the check-in line, and they said the flight had some problems, and was not open for check-in. Please step aside for 15 minutes. ut oh…are we going to cancel? I went back up to the counter 15 minutes later, and checked in no problem. Who knows what the original drama was about.
Passport control was a breeze, and I was soon sitting in the one-room holding area. It was one room, but there was one problem…Lomé is a hub for ASKY, and this time of day is when all of their flights go out! It was absolutely packed, so I retreated to the small stand-up bar on the side and had a beer out of the way. Soon, it was time to board!
ASKY flight 26
Lomé, Togo (LFW) to Cotonou, Benin (COO) continuing onto Niamey, Niger (NIM)
Depart 13:20, Arrive 15:05, Flight Time 0:45
Depart 15:40, Arrive 17:25, Flight Time 1:45
Dehavilland Dash8-300, Registration ET-AQC, Manufactured 2012, Seat 16A
On the way to board, spotted this old Russian plane doing some cargo duty:
The flight was about 75% full, but the seat next to me thankfully stayed empty on both segments. The view on takeoff:
On the second segment, they even served a complimentary hot meal…meat or fish:
All in all, ASKY was a comfortable experience, the plane was new and clean and I would definitely not hesitate to fly them again.
Upon landing, immigration was quick and easy, and soon it was out of the airport. I had arranged the hotel van to meet me (which was complimentary) and he was there waiting. About a 15 minute drive through town and we were at the hotel Terminus. I’ll say more about Niamey later, but I was surprised the majority of roads in the capital were dirt, and I was shocked just how dusty everything was.
Checked into my room, and turned on the AC, and it sounded like a 747 taking off…and didn’t get any quieter. The room was also very small and lots of mold in the bathroom…I was seriously unimpressed. Went back to reception, and asked if they had any upgraded rooms or suites. They did have a suite, and it was only slightly more per night so I had a look. It was a huge improvement, and took it. Plus, walking to the room I ran into some of the dozens of peacocks that roam the property:
The Hotel Terminus Suite bedroom:
The living room of the suite…not too shabby!
I relaxed at the poolside bar and had a beer while catching up on e-mail. I talked to some other people staying at the hotel, and they recommended the Le Pillier restaurant for dinner. I found a taxi hanging out outside the hotel, and negotiated a round-trip rate with him, and headed off to diner.
I have to say, I was shocked by Le Pillier. Great italian food, and didn’t feel at all like it belonged in Niger given the dusty streets and overall rough feel of the town. It was fantastic food, a reasonable price, and a good way to adjust to an uncomfortable place to travel. I was looking forward to exploring the next day, and got to bed early in order to maximize it.