By Fehinti Ojelabi
Bonjour monsieur et mademoiselle !
Ever considered a road trip from Lagos to Cotonou?
6 hours on the road, we arrived at our destination. It’s always best to leave early, we set off at 7 am and got to our accommodation at about 1pm. The trip was absolutely riveting; of course with great music, fascinating friends and sweet snacks. Depending on who you travel with it could be a boring trip with lots of bathroom breaks or a chilled vibe with lots of thrills. Don’t forget to come with your cards, games or even a book. A USB cord is absolutely essential for a road trip as well as a speaker.
To cross the border you need a yellow fever card and your travel documents. The cross country bus could take up to 11 people including luggage, thanks to the cross country bus company immigration and transport around Cotonou was covered. The border is like a another country on its own, money changers, traders and hawkers are never too far away. Travelling by road isn’t for the faint hearted, be sure to stay calm and have your sanitiser handy too. As soon as you cross the border say bye to your signal, snap chatting and instagram. You could either buy a sim at the border or wait to get to your accommodation for wifi.
As a Nigerian, I would say crossing the border was unbelievably smooth in comparison to the difficulty faced on Lagos roads. Say goodbye to bribes and traffic, as you depart Nigeria. Nevertheless, there were countless security checkpoints to and fro. The French speaking officials from Benin Republic came on the bus for medical checks and proceeded to converse with us in French which off course we struggled with trying our best to remember a few sentences from secondary school classes. It almost felt like he still wanted to chit chat with us as his colleague came to pull him away. He was kind enough to suggest a few places we could visit in Cotonou like Dream Beach.
We stayed at Residence Adouke which was nice, cosy and budget friendly, it had a rooftop with a view, a balcony in all five rooms, fresh fruits in the living room and modern furniture. The free Wifi came in handy too. Just outside Adouke residence was a lady selling superbly dyed fabrics and radiant coloured bubus.
My favorite part of the trip was our visit to Dream Beach which was a multi purpose restaurant with a pool, snooker table, lounge and event centre. The beach which was behind the restaurant also featured a plane which locals were charging a hefty fee for a photograph on the plane.
For breakfast, we walked to Ci gusta an Italian restaurant right behind residence Adouke. Ci gusta restaurant had an outdoor play area, free wifi, an indoor restaurant and outdoor eating space. It was pleasant ordering in French in a West African country. I ordered a chicken burger with a milkshake, which was a little different as it had strawberries and syrup in the middle.
Visiting Benin Republic was a great experience all round. If you haven’t visited, add this to your list of countries to visit.