Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We’ve moved to www.lapesoetan.com



Hello everyone,
I am now Queen of my own domain :-)  I’ve set up home on www.lapesoetan.com and moved my blog there.  To continue to read my posts, please go to www.lapesoetan.com  Many thanks to www.nigerianbulletin.com for helping to sort out my new site. 

See you over at http://www.lapesoetan.com/

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

5 great things to do in The Gambia

The Gambia is a small country in West Africa with the River Gambia running through it.  The English-speaking country is almost completely surrounded by Senegal and bound on the west by the Atlantic Ocean.  Although The Gambia has been a popular holiday spot for Europeans for several years especially as a winter vacation spot, it is now growing in popularity with Nigerians.  The Gambia is generally calm and quiet but there are still a few interesting things to do.

1.    Touch a crocodile
 Relax, the crocodiles I’m talking about here are tame.  There’s a crocodile pool in Bakau, Gambia where you can touch crocodiles (which let you touch them without eating you!).  It is said that if women who can’t have children come to the pool before dawn and take a bath with water from the pool, they will then be able to have children.  Not sure about that but petting a crocodile is definitely an exciting reason to visit the crocodile pool. 
I touched a crocodile and I liked it

2.    Go on a bicycle safari 
Go sight-seeing in an unusual way: by bicycle!  Ask your hotel if they have bicycles to hire and if they can provide a guide.  A bicycle tour through Cape Point, Bakau, Kotu and Senegambia is tiring but fun – especially if you stop often to dip your feet in the ocean at beaches and eat at the different restaurants you come across.

On a bicycle safari in The Gambia

3.    See Kunta Kinte’s roots: 
Kunta Kinte of Roots fame is said to have come from Albreda & Juffureh.  Take a boat ride along the River Gambia to get to this village where you can apparently meet some of Kunta Kinte’s remaining relatives as well as visit a museum detailing Kunta Kinte’s story and the history of slave trade as it relates to The Gambia.  Ask at your hotel reception to find out if they can organise the boat trip.

4.    Hang out in Senegambia
Senegambia is a long road in The Gambia.  It is a bubbly area with hotels, bars, restaurants and nightclubs.  Alibaba, one of the popular restaurants on the road, does great pizzas and has an outside area where you can sit and watch people go by.  There is also a crafts market and a nature/ conservation park in that area.

Advice from Alibaba restaurant

5.    Be a beach bum 
There are many beaches in The Gambia and most of the bigger hotels have their own private beaches.  With so many options, lounging on a beach is somewhat inevitable in The Gambia when you’re on holiday.  So head out to a beach, choose your favourite spot and enjoy the view while sipping on your cool cocktail.


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Friday, March 18, 2011

'Round the world ticket


Round the World Ticket is a new feature on www.vacationvisa.blogspot.com  It is a collection of links to articles and posts I found interesting on the internet and will appear once a month.  Enjoy it.

Megan has some great tips on how to travel with friends.  Check out my own tips on the same topic.

Heading to Paris for the first time?  Read Nubby’s Beginner’s Guide to Paris first

The Rio carnival is on at the moment.  Can’t be there?  Check out some great pictures from the event

If you’re like me, you’re desperate to take better pictures on your trips and you’ll find this article useful.

Ever wondered what a holiday in Iceland would be like?  Gala gives us a hint.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Travelling when you know no-one



I have a knack for doing things I’m scared of.  It’s almost as if I play a game of ‘chicken’ with myself.  You could say this was what I was doing when a few months into my first year at university, I decided to go on an excursion with other students in my department, none of whom I knew.  It wasn’t that I knew no-one exactly; I knew the names of some of my classmates but that was about it.  The excursion was to Ikogosi warm springs in Ekiti state and Erin Ijesha waterfalls in Osun state.  I was worried about spending a weekend with people I barely knew and I could almost hear my mother’s voice telling me all the dangers that could befall on the trip but I decided to go it anyway.

The excursion was supposed to be a fun trip organised by the students as opposed to the department.  Being typical optimistic (and broke) students, the trip organisers had hired a rickety bus to take us on our road trip.  We had been told the journey to Ikogosi would take 4 hours.  It took 7.  This was hardly surprising considering the fact that the bus broke down along the way.  It also turned out that no-one on that bus actually knew the way to Ikogosi.  We had to stop several times to ask for directions.  We arrived at Ikogosi at midnight.  By this time, any barriers I had had been taken down by my fellow travelers who kept drawing me into conversation.  I had abandoned The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes several hours before so the chat was welcome. 

Ikogosi warm springs is an attraction because the spring is well, warm.  In actual fact, at Ikogosi, two springs flow next to each other; one warm and the other cold and it was amazing to touch both of them.  The springs seemed a bit like nature’s own hot and cold-running taps.  A pool fed by the springs had been created at the site and some students jumped right in.  When we had all marveled at the springs, eaten all the food and drank everything we had, it was time to go to sleep at which point we were told accommodation had not been planned.  Other students simply turned on a radio and had an impromptu pool party.  My new-found friends and I went to sleep in the bus with the mosquitoes.

The following morning, we stopped at some rundown shops to buy breakfast:  bread, biscuits and water then we set off for Erin Ijesha waterfalls.  The falls at Erin Ijesha aren’t particularly high but they are beautiful so we all squealed with excitement when we saw them.  We were warned that the rocks were slippery so those of us who wished to climb up the rocks were advised to take our shoes off.  We climbed up the falls (not to the top though) and danced in its spray unwittingly taking part in a wet T-shirt contest.  Once we had had our fill of the falls, we headed back to our bus.

The ride back to school was much noisier than when we were leaving; at least it was to me.  When we arrived safely back in school, I decided that 1) I wouldn’t tell my mother about the trip for a long time 2) I would never let fear hold me back from travelling and 3) If I ever go on a road trip again, I’ll organise my own accommodation. 



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Friday, March 11, 2011

10 Places I Would Love to Visit

1             Sydney, Australia
I think the reason I’ve always wanted to go to Australia is because it’s so far away.  That and the fact that Australia and Sydney in particular is always being associated with sunshine but not in the stifling, I-can-barely-breathe way we get it here in the Tropics.  Of course, I want to do the usual things like see the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, chill on Bondi beach, maybe take a surfing lesson or two but most of all, I want to be able to say I’ve been to the other side of the world and loved it.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge 
2             New York
I think anyone even remotely interested in fashion dreams of going to New York or more specifically, of going shopping in New York.  That’s the main reason I want to go to New York.  Or at least, that used to be the main reason I wanted to go to New York.  These days, I want to go there to absorb the atmosphere (pollution and all ;-) )  I want to ogle people wearing whatever it is they like and I want to marvel at how no matter what one wears, New Yorkers never seem fazed

Times Square, New York

3             Las Vegas
I’ve always wanted to go to Las Vegas because of its over-the-top-ness.  Las Vegas can never be described as subtle and its unashamedly glaring, glittering persona is something that draws me probably because I’m a fan of all things shiny myself.  I love being a tourist when I go to new places so I know I would head straight for the Strip once I get into Vegas.  My Las Vegas goals are very few:  watch the ‘dancing’ fountains at the Bellagio, catch a cabaret show and win enough cash at the casinos to pay for my ticket back home!

'Dancing' Fountains at the Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas 
4     Barcelona
Barcelona came on my radar because a friend of mine moved there and loved it.  All of a sudden I had to find out everything I could about the place and when I did, I knew it was a place I would love to visit.  The most attractive thing to me about Barcelona is the weather:  the summers don’t seem too hot nor the winters too cold.  Then it seems like the entire city is dedicated to art with several buildings having been designed by Antoni Gaudi.  One of them, the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, on which construction began in 1882 is still being built today!  Barcelona is also said to have great beaches and with Zara and Mango being Spanish brands, Barcelona is also a great place to do some serious shopping.

The Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Las Vegas

5             Zurich, Switzerland
I’ve always wanted to (learn to) ski and for some reason, I’ve decided that Zurich will be the best place for me to do that.  I imagine swooshing down slopes with my heart racing as I glide gracefully to the end of the run.  Naturally, I’ve edited all falls and bruises from the short video I play in my mind.  I recently found out that part of the James Bond movie, Goldfinger, was shot in Switzerland and that sealed Zurich’s fate as one of the top places I’d love to visit.  Goldfinger wasn’t actually shot in Zurich but imagining I’m dodging baddies with swift manoeuvres on my skis in the same country the movie was made is good enough for me.

The sort of place I hope to go skiing in Zurich

6             Singapore
I love beaches and while I don’t like shopping for clothes (crazy, I know), I like window shopping and love buying books.  Singapore seems like this quiet little island with access to loads of (window) shopping on Orchard Road and Singapore’s Chinatown.  Sentosa Island, a little island off the main island (phew!) of Singapore is apparently also a haven for beach-lovers like me.  I can’t wait to see it.

Orchard Road, Singapore at Christmas

7             Milan, Italy
I’m not going to lie, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love fuelled my desire to see Italy.  I could have put Rome on this list.  After all, it’s the capital of Italy and more popular than Milan but for some strange reason, my heart has settled on Milan, partly because I’d love to visit the city that hosts one of the most popular Fashion Weeks in the world and partly because I feel it is the less obvious choice for a tourist to visit.  In addition, Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Last Supper’ can be seen there so that would be my first stop in Milan closely followed by an Italian meal and a spot of window shopping.

The Duomo di Milano, Milan

8             Tokyo, Japan
Like Australia, one of the attractions Tokyo holds for me is its distance.  Not only is Tokyo thousands of kilometers away, it also appears to have a completely different vibe from anywhere else in the world.  I’d love to see the neon lights, eat the street food and marvel at the courageous way Harajuku girls style themselves.  Tokyo is associated with setting fashion trends so I would definitely keep my eyes peeled for those.

The neon lights in Tokyo

9             Lagos, Portugal
I love Lagos where I live and have always been fascinated with how the city got its name.  Although it was and is still called ‘Eko’ by the Yoruba people who originally settled here, when Portuguese explorers arrived in 1472, they named it ‘Lagos’ after a city in their home country.  For this reason, I have always wanted to visit Lagos, Portugal.  Today, Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal is a popular holiday destination for Europeans.  It is known for its beaches, resorts and nightlife.  I can’t wait to compare the two Lagos-es.

One of the many beaches in Lagos, Portugal

10          Egypt
Ever since I read Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile when I was about 10 years old, I’ve wanted to cruise down the Nile on a luxurious boat (without a murderer on board, of course).  I could never imagine going to Egypt and not going to see the Pyramids though so that is an absolute must. 
A beautiful view of the Nile, Egypt

Bonus Place
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I want to go to Rio to see the famous Rio carnival.  Period.  Apparently, Brazillians take their carnivals very seriously and it shows.  Some of the pictures I’ve seen of the carnival show beautiful women in extravagantly-designed (and very risqué) outfits gaily sauntering ahead of glittering floats of dancing people.  I know I will appreciate the beauty and vibe of the carnival even better when I see it up close.  It has also always been a dream of mine to climb up the statue of Christ the Redeemer and take beautiful (once I get a hang of my camera) pictures of the city below.  I know I’ve talked about beaches quite a few times already but I would desperately love to sink my toes into Rio’s.  I feel happy just thinking about it.

The statue of Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: Hotel des Deux Avenues, Paris, France

In August last year, my friend, Yetunde and I, spent 4 days at the Hotel des Deux Avenues in Paris.  Hotel des Deux Avenues is a small, family-run hotel in the 17th arrondisement of Paris. We had made reservations and paid online several weeks before our arrival and learnt on our arrival that doing so was cheaper than just walking in and paying for a room. 

We had taken the Eurostar to Paris from London.  The train drew in at Gare du Nord in Paris and from there, we took the Metro to Ternes, a station only 5 minutes walk from our hotel.  We saved several Euros by taking the Metro instead of a taxi from Gare du Nord.  At the hotel, the staff was helpful and gave transportation tips, recommended bars & restaurants and seemed ready to chat if you wanted to.  Although I practiced my (broken) French with them whenever I could, the hotel staff spoke good English so there was no need for gesticulating or any drama like that. 

The hotel was expensive (in my opinion).  Our room cost roughly 120 Euros per night excluding breakfast.  The room and bathroom were tiny though it had a little fridge and a TV with CNN, a few other English-speaking channels and some French channels.  The hotel was on a quiet street only a few steps from a boulangerie where we bought croissants every morning.  The best thing about Hotel des Deux Avenues though was that it was only about 15 minutes walk from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees and was close to several cafes and restaurants so finding a place to eat, window-shop or people-watch was easy.

All in all, although the hotel was small, the size gave it a homely feel and the staff were nice and attentive.  In addition, the hotel is located close to one of the most famous sights in Paris and was a short walking distance from shops and restaurants.  With a bigger budget, I would try somewhere else but the Hotel des Deux Avenues is a great place for anyone visiting Paris for the first time.


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Friday, March 4, 2011

Going Places with Boye Adefila


The Pyramids in Egypt are a sight Adefila plans to see someday.


Going Places is a new feature which will appear regularly on this blog.  It is an interview-style feature where different personalities tell us about the highlights of their holidays.  Enjoy it.

Tell us about your very first holiday.
My first holiday was a train ride between Lagos and Kwara states in Nigeria when I was about 7 years old.  I come from Kwara state and my parents, brothers and I were going there to spend a few days but oddly enough, I consider the train ride and not the stay in Kwara the actual holiday perhaps because it was new and exciting to me. 

What is your most memorable holiday?
A trip to Cannes in France. It was actually an official trip but it had the trappings of a holiday since I went for a week-long event. The food there was different and the sights were awesome. Since I love taking pictures I had a field day. I don’t speak French so when I kept hearing the same phrases repeated over and over everywhere I went, I had to guess what they meant.  ‘Ca va’ seemed to perform a host of functions; ‘S'il vous plaît sounded suspicious and confusing because I heard it used by both a stern but smart looking immigration official at the airport and attentive hotel staff.  Imagine my relief and private feeling of prolonged embarrassment when I realised ‘S'il vous plaît simply meant ‘Please’!

What do you like most about vacations?
Distance from the chaotic city of Lagos and assurance of steady power supply wherever I go.

What do you hate most about vacations?
Immigration officials trying to read my mind.

How would you spend your perfect day on holiday?
Depends on whether or not I have company and where I am. If I am alone and in Egypt (minus the current chaos), my perfect day would go something like this: Wake up at a 3-star hotel (they often offer better service!) with a view of the rising sun and a sandy beach. Do Yoga stretches in a garden attached to my suite then down an exotic natural fruit blend ahead of real breakfast.  Real breakfast would come after a very hot bath in an ancient-type bathtub like royalty used in days gone by. Real breakfast would be lots of fresh veggies and a hot cup of tea.  Next would be a walk around the hotel appreciating the view, taking odd shots and sending BB messages to my favourite friends while an air conditioned taxi waits patiently for me in the hotel parking lot.  Ten minutes later I would be chauffeur-driven to the following places; the Great Pyramids, museums and other ancient sites. Lunch would be Egyptian cuisine in a traditional setting and after a siesta between 7 and 9pm (because I assume I would be dog-tired after all those visits!),  I would then see an Egyptian movie then maybe watch some belly dancers at a club before allowing the night to take me away.

Where would you most like to go on holiday? Why?
Egypt: to see first-hand some of the wonders of ancient civilization

Boye Adefila is the former Creative Director of an ad-agency turned SME Business Consultant and CEO of Copycoach, a training school for copywriters and resource centre for creative marketers.

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