Tuesday, 30 August 2011


There are signs that you have been in a hotel too long. The barman brings you a beer without being asked. You have tried everything on the menu (a quicker process for vegetarians, granted). You have counted the tiles on the bottom of the pool, just for something to do. 148, if you were wondering.

The trouble with hotels like the Madindi is the ‘home from home’ aspect works too well. There is little inclination to leave their comforts when food, beer and a swimming pool are all under two minutes away. Plus the reliable wireless access means I can get my hourly fix of football news and Hannah can catch up with the German soap Verbotene Liebe. So with cabin fever kicking in, we headed into the city on our first weekend.

With two years to explore all the sights, we are not in a rush. And Accra is not exactly Rome; we would quickly run out if we rushed it. Osu castle is historically interesting, as it was the residence of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. But you aren’t allowed in. James Town is another historical part of town, but it’s not safe to wander about without a local guide, apparently. The Planetarium is Ghana’s newest big attraction, except it’s not open to the general public.

We did make it to La Pleasure Beach at Labadi, east of the city centre. It’s a funny place; a line of beach bars and cafĂ©’s, plus donkey rides for kids. Like a tropical version of Blackpool.

The National Museum is listed as a highlight and a city not spoilt for choice, and contained the usual collection of broken pots and ugly carvings found across the world. My favourite exhibit was the necklace made of human teeth – none in the gift shop, sadly, or Christmas would have been sorted – and the picture of a man eating snakes. Champions restaurant nearby was even better, with huge plates of jollof rice (spicy rice cooked in tomatoes) and fried plantain.

My fledgling attempts to birdwatch in Ghana (of which Hannah disapproves, seeing it as a middle-aged hobby) have also begun. We saw a beautiful kingfisher outside the museum, and I saw two vulture-type things on my way to Melting Moments coffee shop in Labone. (More accurate descriptions of future sightings may be possible once my bird guide arrives from Germany.)

Anyway, time for another dip in the pool. See if I can spot that tile with the crack in it again.

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