Lagos, Nigeria. My newfound go-to travel destination. I was there recently, but only for a few days. How I wish I stayed longer. We got to Lagos around midday on a Thursday after a five-hour flight from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The weather was humid and we were informed that we had visited when it was less hot than usual.
My first impression on Lagos was one of a chaotic town, but I still found some order in the chaos. We were also caught up in traffic, but that never bothered me; it’s a synonymous phenomenon in Nairobi. I also noticed the presence of hundreds of hawkers lining the streets while selling almost everything.
On our way, we passed the Delta River, which has multiple iron-roofed shacks along its banks, where a lot of people call home. In that particular locality, boats are the main means of transport. Here, the gap between the rich and poor is visibly wide.
After snaking through traffic, we finally checked into Protea Hotel by Marriot in Victoria Island. My first impression on the hotel was that it was not a real five-star facility. However, the ‘never judge a book by its cover’ rule would kick in sooner than later. Indeed, I felt the hotel needed a signpost that emphasises exactly that because if there was hospitality test that judges the hotel based on its upfront looks, Protea Hotel would fail.
It’s not that the establishment was dirty or unkempt; only that it’s not attractive to the eye. But inside the hotel, it feels like you’re in a totally different place from the look that welcomed you. The interior décor is modern, with an upscale ambience that gives the hotel a deserving five-star rating.
We (myself and two adventurous travel partners) already had a plan for our first night in Lagos; jet lag is for the weak! After all, it was only a five-hour flight. I shamefully treasure raving, so you can fearlessly brand me a party animal. We hit a club known as Pat Bar, a few minutes-drive from the hotel.
Pat Bar reminded me of Black Diamond in Westlands, Nairobi, especially due to the high presence of foreigners. But when it comes to music Nigerians do know how to support their musicians. At the club, they played back-to-back Nigerian music, something you will rarely find in Kenya. The deejay was only kind enough to play for us one Kenyan song by Sauti Sol. From the look of things Nigerians also love their beer.
I did not have enough time to roam around, but there are two things I enjoyed to the maximum; their nightlife and traditional meals. The likes of pounded yam, egusi soup and jollof rice, among others. I did enjoy every mealtime. Disclaimer alert: When a Nigerian offers you food, just know it is spicy. Apart from pastries, they make pepper an ingredient in almost everything they cook.
Victoria Island does not have white sandy beaches or numerous parks, but you should find something fun to do in every town. The right words are; make do with what you have.