Since I’d arrived so late the night before, I made a point of sleeping in a bit, but got up to enjoy breakfast. I guess this would be a good time to talk about the hotel. Based on reviews online, and the fact it came in the middle of the trip, I decided to book at the Atlantic Palace Hotel. I figured by this point I’d want something a bit nicer and more “comfortable.” Let me just say – the premium was completely not worth it in this case. The rooms were comfortable enough, maybe high three star. The beds were comfortable, the AC was nice and cold, and everything was clean. Common areas were also clean, and the pool was nice…but nothing life-changing.
I’d gotten up early for breakfast because I was told the night before at check-in that it was included. Well, first I accidentally put the wrong room number on the receipt, and when I was walking through the lobby later the restaurant hostess yelled after me “THIEF! COME HERE!” Um, honest mistake? Hello? Then, I found out why…breakfast was not included, and no amount of protesting was going to make them care that they’d given me misinformation….I was going to have to pay the 10,000 CFA – over $20. Ouch, I would have just stopped for coffee in town had I known.
Overall, the hotel was “nice enough” but certainly no more than three star. Definitely not worth three price of the other 2-3 star options in town, especially when you factored in the service which left an incredibly sour taste in my mouth. Most of the management staff were Lebanese, and rather rude and nasty to other customers as well from what I saw in a few interactions. I can’t say I was the least bit impressed.
Oh yes, breakfast. Got sidetracked there…it was again, “good enough” although the pastries seemed a bit stale, and there were lots of lebanese inspired dishes, hummous, feta cheese, etc. Again, good enough, but certainly not worth going out of your way for. I wish I’d slept in another hour and gone to the delicious coffee shop across the street.
At least my room had a pretty cool view:
Jordan’s hotel looked to be about 1km away, so decided to walk down to meet him. Was an interesting walk and let me see a bit of the city, so was glad I did it. We sat in his hotel’s lobby planning the day a bit, and once we had a rough plan we set out.
First stop was to head down to the waterfront where the giant Total complex was, to check out a restaurant I’d heard was good for dinner – it was about a 1km walk from his hotel, so we set off. Found the restaurant, inside the Total complex, and it was packed with a busy lunch crowd. Not too busy, however, that we couldn’t get a few pics off into the water from the deck, since it would be much too dark later that evening:
By this point we were getting quite hungry, and the sun had gotten really intense so we totally wimped out and took a taxi back towards his hotel to grab a quick lunch at a restaurant called Le Kactus. The decor outside was quite fitting of the name:
Online reviews said they had good pizza, and I was starved, so decided to try one. Plus, who can resist trying something called the <b>Obama Pizza?!?!</b>
The Obama Pizza, which was actually quite good, and a giant Africa-sized bottle of Primus beer:
Our plan for an afternoon was to hire a taxi to go out to the Diosso Gorge. The first taxi we hailed wanted the job, but wasn’t that willing to negotiate. We eventually got a fair price and set off. It was a 30-40 minute drive each way, and had the added bonus of letting us see some other parts of the city along the way. It was well worth it when we got there, however, because the views were awesome:
As we were getting ready to leave, the small group of local teenagers who’d been following us around the gorge initiated their scam. They were the “protectors” and “keepers” of the gorge, so we had to pay them their park ranger fee. Um, seriously? Our driver said if we didn’t pay them, they’d surround the car so we couldn’t leave and start demanding more and more money. I gave them 1,000 CFA (just over $2) and that was enough to get them to leave. Small price for not wasting an afternoon negotiating.
Taxi took us back to Jordan’s hotel, which was just across from the Casino supermarket. I stocked up on some supplies, but decided to give the $7 can of Red Bull a miss. Ugh. Took a taxi back to my hotel because I was fading fast, and caught a short nap before we met up later that afternoon for more exploring.
Jordan came by my hotel, and we walked back towards the train station, passing the headquarters of the train company, with a little train outside:
The train station in the daytime:
We found a restaurant right on the beach, facing west, to enjoy the sunset from and relax a bit. The beach:
The beach warden, with a big stick, chasing people off the beach at sunset:
After the sun had set, we grabbed a taxi back to the Total complex to have dinner at Le Derrick. We were clearly early, since only about three tables were taken:
A local beer to start:
The menu. I don’t know if Total also owns the restaurant, or if they just operate it for their workers or not, but non-Total employees can also eat there for a 2,000 CFA cover charge. It was quite tasty, so no complaints at all:
I wasn’t going to post pictures of the meal because they didn’t turn out that well, but it was so tasty…and only $35 for all of this, that I’ll go ahead. Wonderful beef carpaccio to start:
Mixed brochettes, of chicken, lamb, and shrimps:
Profiteroles for dessert:
By the time we finished, the restaurant was quite full, and there were lots of characters there. One table was clearly a couple with their two kids, and then another 4 kids who appeared to be their friends – it looked like a United Colours of Bennetton ad. Then, there was the odd (probably gay) couple from Quebec, with one dressed in a shiny black satin suit, and the other in an Abercrombie t-shirt and jeans. Just a really strange mix of people.
Cabbed back to the hotel and crashed. Our goal was to get up at a reasonable hour the next day, to set out for Cabinda, Angola by road. Got up around 8, and wasn’t feeling a large breakfast (even though I thought it was included!) so went across the street to a cafe for a couple of pain au chocolates (my last, since we were about to leave francophone africa) and espressos. The restaurant was called La Citronnelle and all the waitresses were in cute 1950’s style diner uniforms. It was cute to see, and much better than the hotel. Even more unique, they brought me my change in a roll of 1 CFA coins…I didn’t even know such a thing existed!
Then, it was off to get a taxi and pick up Jordan for the ride to Angola!