Archive for ‘Africa’

July 1, 2021

A memorable moment in South Africa!

Glad to be able to see this older post and updating with pleasure. I had done quite a bit of business with South Africa but never visited from the Americas. Once in Europe, had the opportunity to go five times! Great experiences and this one unique. Let me tell you a bit about a memorable moment in South Africa!

Many times we hear of far away places that we would like to visit one day; South Africa was one of them for me. I did not go into the famous safaris but did mostly city dwelling trips and even took public transportation; that is fine with me as cities are it with a beach even better.  I had the opportunity to visit the country since 2012  to 2017 five times, and each time proved to be an experience ,even catching up with friends from my previous life in travel forum VT. The memories will be kept forever.

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I like for my sake and your interests to recall a bit of the places I have been not including those on far away from these cities for which I have no pictures. Of course, I have other posts on specifics in my blog this one is sort of an introduction.

East London is a city on the southeast coast of South Africa in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality of the Eastern Cape Province. Still as far as tourism it is known as Buffalo City. The city lies on the Indian Ocean coast, largely between the Buffalo River and the Nahoon River , and hosts the country’s only river port.

John Bailie, one of the 1820 settlers , surveyed the Buffalo river mouth and founded the town in 1836, a memorial is on Signal Hill commemorating the event. The city formed around the only river port in South Africa and was originally known as Port Rex. This settlement on the West Bank was the nucleus of the town of East London, which was elevated to city status in 1914. The existing port, in the mouth of the Buffalo River, adjoining the Indian Ocean, began operating in 1870. The unusual double-decker bridge over the Buffalo River was completed in 1935 and to this day, is the only bridge of its type in South Africa.

Things to do here with time which I did not see are:  The East London Zoo; East London Museum, Inkwenkzezi Private Game Reserve, and the Mpongo Private Game Reserve.

The Buffalo City (East London) tourist office for this area webpage: http://www.bctourism.co.za/

Moving on to Sandton, this is basically a chic suburb of JohannesburgSandton is an affluent area situated in the Johannesburg town, Gauteng province. The name comes from the combination of two of its suburbs , Sandown and Bryanston.

I am told that Zandfontein, Driefontein  is the name in Afrikaans and Dutch for Three Springs/Fountains and Rietfontein is Afrikaans and Dutch for Reed Spring or Fountain of Reeds; both encumbered what was to become Sandton. After the demise of Apartheid, Sandton initially formed part of the interim Eastern Metropolitan Substructure, and in 1996 came to be included, along with the former towns of Randburg and Roodepoort as part of the newly demarcated City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality thus losing its separate municipal government and town status. Despite this, Sandton is still unofficially earmarked as a distinct region of the city and operates as a macro-suburb.

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Sandton is home to the Sandton Convention Center , one of the largest convention centers  in Africa. The Sandton Central commercial node, centred on the suburbs of Sandown and Sandhurst has some of the best and most expensive commercial properties and offices in South Africa.

Sandtoncity, ranks among the largest shopping centers in Africa with all to do for a day, I love it here lol! lunch at Wimpy’s!! webpage: https://sandtoncity.com/

Sandton houses the flagship station of the Gautrain (taken and easy nice convenient) rapid rail link. The station is located on the corner of West Street and Rivonia Road. The system has direct connections to OR Tambo International Airport and an inter-city commuter service from Pretoria through Rosebank to Park Station Johannesburg.  This was a pleasant experience on public transports in South Africa!!! The Gautrain transit network webpage: https://www.gautrain.co.za/

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Another area I visited a lot while there was Fourways; this is part of  Sandton. I always travel in country by car or plane to go to East London but the main access routes to Fourways are off the N1 at R511 William Nicol Drive or along R564 Witkoppen Road. There is another huge shopping center mall here that I went for lunches Fourways Mall; webpage: https://fourwaysmall.com/

Another shopping area I was taken was Pinesloppes Shopping Centre which was near where I went , here had lunch at a place no longer existing see my other post. webpage: http://pineslopesboulevard.co.za/

And yet another shopping center I went for lunch was Fourways Crossing Mall where I had the best lunch at Fournos Bakery ,see post. Mall webpage: https://www.fourwayscrossing.co.za/

And a bit more on Sandton official webpage: https://sandtoncentral.co.za/our-history

The South Africa tourist boardhttps://www.southafrica.net/za/en/

There you go folks, a nice experience in exotic South Africa. A wonderful experience and new friends, looking forward for a repeat!!

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 21, 2021

A bit of Uganda for you!!

Another African experience, and there were several over the last 10 years in my travels around the world. This was another surprise This was taken when some Brazilians friends asked me to joined them there to secure business, and I was ready and willing to see this country of many contacts over the years ,and lucky to be able to catch up with one while there! Memories forever, the thrill of travel , and the joy of the world. Let me bring you a bit of Uganda for you!!

My blog as I have said is a way to keep up with the past and tell of the future. So on my last journey ,and my 80th country visited, I came to Uganda. A wonderful place of many friendly people all eager to improve themselves.

My journey as usual took me from Nantes Atlantique airport after getting there with my car. From Nantes I flew again to Paris CDG T2F and then change to Terminal 1 for a fly with Qatar Airways to first Doha (my first trip here too! ) and then Entebbe, Uganda. The return was easier on KLM from Entebbe to Amsterdam Schiphol airport and then again on KLM to Nantes Atlantique airport where my car was waiting for the return home. All done well except needed to change from AF to Qatar Airways which made me arrive five hours later to Entebbe.

Doha airport is very nice as usual in this part of the world, the airport is the highlight … huge super modern place with all the trimmings and easy to connect flights. The formal name of the airport is Hamad International,and the webpage: https://dohahamadairport.com/

From Doha I continue to Entebbe and here you are worlds apart; small, a bit rundown, and dirty and you need to get out of your car so they check on it , walk by and the driver will pick you up on the other side after you going thru a security check point. Once at the airport no sense in getting earlier as they put you on the side waiting room until your flight is call for departure; then you go outside again and come back thru the security check point to get back into the terminal… At least the people are very friendly. The webpage: https://caa.go.ug/entebbe-international-airport/

An unofficial Entebbe airport webpage on the airport with more useful information me think. https://entebbe-airport.com/tofromairport/

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Once there, had a friendly transportation ride as it was a business trip to Kampala the capital even if has no airport.  Here I stayed first at the bit expensive but just to impressed me Le Petit Village actually of Belgian style and the price to match Europe. It is actually a village with accommodations ,pool, an inside bank, souvenir store, bar and light restaurant as well as a fancy one call le Chateau with again prices to match for visiting businesspeople like me. The overall place is very nice of course, worth it of its name. The webpage: https://lepetitvillage.net/

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While passing by Entebbe saw a bit of the local street scene, and several malls such as Imperial Mall and Victoria Mall, very interesting and some crowded traffic jams as well as rain. The imperial Mall is a recent development for Uganda standards. The Victoria Mall is the largest in the country and looks very nice. I did not go into them. There is a nice multiple store with a shopping mall call Oasis in Kampala. It has several stores and even saw a KFC restaurant! I did stop here for coffee on the run between Kampala and going for Jinya.

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I continue on the African road warrior tour from Kampala and doing some street scenes rides and tasting the local Nile Special beer, just yummy! I went on to Jinja another important city in Uganda,and right by the mouth of the mighty Nile river! In Jinja , I stayed at the nice and friendlyTwo Friends guest house, worth it good value location and services. Here we had dinner at the next doorAll Friends Restaurant. The webpage : http://2friends.info/

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It is on a street bordered with tourist accommodation as Jinja is a popular place for tours of the Nile river which starts here around Lake Victoria. I got a personal ride but there are many rentals here such as this Speedway Safaris webpage with a bit more info on the Nile river mouth and cruises :https://www.speedwaysafaris.com/source-of-river-nile/

And of course , a bit more on Lake Victoria, simply amazing! More on a local recommended outfit,  Lake Victoria net webpage: https://www.lake-victoria.net/victoria/

While in Jinja, I did my baptism on the Nile river , a big lake ,and I was here!!! Well having a jet ski waverunner and driver helps a lot but the views were spectacular and of course on the way back to harbor I fell in the water trying to go from the jet ski to a fishing boat; no big deal it was shallow and had floating jacket on, quickly out, just my clothes were soaked. An experience to remember for life. Wonderful place thought. And of course, saw no Nile crocodiles!!

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As my time there covered a week and traveling back and forth from Kampala to Jinya ,I got me a different hotel for the last day and a half in Kampala, this was the MacKinnon Suites, very centrally located, rather nice building, impressive courtyad only the bedding was a bit well yellow.  The rest was fine with good friendly service and excellent facilities. webpage: https://www.mackinnonsuites.com/

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Coming thru Schiphol Amsterdam allow me for a quicker return and to did some shopping for Gouda cheese, and pepermint candies. The airport is an usual one for me with just one big boulevard Holland to walk by and shop and eat and drink.  I spent most of my time there at the Internet Centre and eating at the Oven pizzeria upper level.

Coming back landing at Roissy CDG Terminal 1 been there but is my worse terminal, been the oldest nothing like T2. You walk into the CDGVAL train connection to get you to Terminal 2 and the connections to Paris.

Finally, reach Nantes Atlantique is my favorite airport as it is so easy to use and very convenienent with a covered attach parking garage. The hotels are just across the street for a stayover about 300 meters.  Overall, a very pleasant trip and a new dot in my world map. Uganda know from many years before doing business there but never visit until now, as the saying goes better late than never. And I will be back….

I took many pictures but mostly personal ones; I have contacted the friends there to be on the lookout for this post. I like to take this opportunity to thanks them for their nice friendly welcome and great understanding. The beer, the coffee were great, and the people very friendly and safe place to be. Enjoy  the post on a bit about Uganda and Kampala/Jinya!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

June 21, 2021

A wondeful experience in Lagos,Nigeria!!

I am thrill to update this older post on a wonderful experience in Lagos ,Nigeria. I have long done business with the country and encounter many friends from there , some still in touch. However, to my wonderful surprise I was asked to do an expat mission from France in Lagos Nigeria and it was a thrill to see these friends again in their country! This is the story I love to tell you ,and hope you enjoy it as I. For info , there are other posts.

A few years back, I had the opportunity to try a job experience that have been wonderful and several friends later and a blog post, would like to update.  While working for a French Oil support outfit, I was asked to trained the personnel on the Oracle accounting system set you there,and reports back to home office in France. I needed to move to Lagos, Nigeria for about 3 months!

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The security was tight, I had a driver/car 24 hrs 7/7 and lived in a secure compound Somerset Court. More here in come to Nigeria webpage: https://www.cometonigeria.com/where-to-stay/somerset-court/

We had great shopping at Mega Plaza, Shoprite in the Palms Spring shopping center, and could go out a lot to restaurants and bars, especially the Federal Palace , Sofitel (now a mercure), and Eko hotel complexes.  The favorite links are here:

old Sofitel hotel (now a mercure!): https://all.accor.com/hotel/2770/index.fr.shtml
Federal Palace Hotel and Casino: https://www.suninternational.com/federal-palace/

Eko Hotel: https://www.ekohotels.com/eko-hotel.php

Shoprite supermarket: https://www.shoprite.com.ng/

Palms Shopping Mall, home of Shoprite Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ThePalmsMall/

Some of the favorite restaurants visited were!

Lagoon Indian cuisine restaurant: https://ofadaa.com/lagos/restaurants/lagoon

Golden Gate Restaurant (Chinese) going down since I was there but for the memories: https://hotels.ng/places/restaurant/193-golden-gate-restaurant

Orchid House Thai local cuisine: https://hotels.ng/places/restaurant/1175-orchid-house

Sherlaton Indian restaurant: https://hotels.ng/places/restaurant/3123-sherlaton-indian-restaurant

Local Cuisine and very friendly one of my favorites there was Manuela (it had a  Cuban chef!) and a nice place to stay too if needed: http://www.manuelaresidence.net/

The experience was fulfilling and several friends still in touch, and the feeling that I trained them right and are still on post. On these spots in our world, it is not recommended to go with a family but for short periods I recommend the experience to anyone. The company has a revolving visa system where those on the dock worked 12 weeks and get 4 weeks off on rotation.

Now let me tell you a bit about the history of Lagos ,and Nigeria just a bit that I like.

Lagos or Èkó in the local language of Yoruba, the biggest city of Nigeria and Africa. Lagos is located in a group of several islands in a large lagoon protected from the Atlantic ocean and on the Gulf of Benin. The Portuguese were here in the 15C and named the city in reference to the Port of Lagos from which expeditions to Africa were done back in southern Portugal. It was conquered by the kingdom of Benin in the 15-16C and governed by kings and become a major center of the slave trade during the 18C. An anecdote ,here, the slaves brought to Cuba by Spain were from this area and the Yoruba language was carried with them there, now there are some traces of this and the few words I could remember served me well while in Lagos to the surprise of the locals. In 1861, the British founded a colony and name it Capital of the Protectorate of South Nigeria established in 1914. Lagos stayed as Capital at the moment of Independence of Nigeria in 1960. By 1967, it became a Federal State equal standing with the other 11 States of Nigeria. Later, for political reasons the capital was taken to a new city of Abuya but Lagos remains the economic heartbeat of the nation.

The best areas are east of city center at Ikoyi (where I lived), and Victoria Island. The district of Lagos Island is the business area with an artificial island named Eko Atlantic City.

The Lagos island is on a huge lagoon that goes into the Ogunau river by the Gulf of Benin. Several of these islands have been linked or attached to the continent as peninsula like Iddo Island or Victoria Island. The lagoon opens up to the Atlantic Ocean by a coastal line that extends to 100 km to the east and west of the mouth located near the city. The government decided to transfer the Capital to a new city call Abuja in 1976; this to slow down the growth of Lagos and for the most part to have a divided country without privileging the three main ethnic groups in the country.

There are several ferry lines between Lagos island and the continent managed by the Lagos State Ferry Services Corporation. webpage: http://ferryservices.lagosstate.gov.ng/

Lagos is served by the international airport Murtala Muhammed, (where I came in and out) one of the biggest in Africa and located in the suburbs of Ikeja. Webpage here:  https://www.lagos-airport.com/

The city of Lagos has one of the largest and most extensive road networks in West Africa with the notables Lagos–Ibadan Expressway and the Lagos–Abeokuta Expressway ,also serving as inter-state roads to Oyo and Ogun States. On the west you have the Lagos–Badagry Expressway serves outlying towns such as Festival Town. There is ,also, the Trans–West African Coastal Highway leaving the city as the Badagry Expressway to Benin and beyond as far as Dakar and Nouakchott, also, the Trans-Sahara Highway to Algers, Algeria leaving the city as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The Lagos State has a bus rapid transit (BRT) system and Lagos Rail Mass Transit .  Bus Rapid Transit system, known publicly as ‘BRT,’ regulated by the Lagos State Government. They are also of two types, Blue and Red. The Red Buses ply major roads in Ajah, Ikeja, Iyana-Ipaja, Alagbado, which are majorly residential areas. The Blue Buses (which are air conditioned and better kept) travel from Ikorodu (a Lagos surburb) through Mile 12, the site of the largest food market in Lagos, through Fadeyi, Stadium (the location of the National Stadium in Surulere) to CMS (the location of the oldest church in Nigeria) and Tafawa Balewa Square (the arcade where Nigeria’s independence celebrations were held in 1960), which is the bus terminus.

The Lagos terminus trains webpage: https://hotels.ng/places/terminal/2122-lagos-terminus-iddo

Three major bridges join the island to the mainland. They are the Carter Bridge which starts from Iddo, the Eko Bridge, and the Third Mainland Bridge, which passes through densely populated mainland suburbs to the Lagos Lagoon.

There are popular markets such as Idumota and Balogun Markets. The Bar and Lekki beaches and on the Atlantic side Elegushi and Alpha Beaches, and the museum of Black Heritage . More info here: https://www.cometonigeria.com/where-to-go/badagry-black-heritage-museum/

Other sites that can be visited are the Central Mosque, Glover Memorial Hall, Christ’s Church Cathedral and the Oba’s Palace (Iga Idunganran). Lagos Island’s Tinubu Square is a site of historical importance; it was here that the Amalgamation Ceremony that unified the North and South protectorate to form Nigeria took place in 1914. Ikoyi is connected to Victoria Island by the Falomo bridge, which carries a main road over Five Cowrie creek. Ikoyi, (where I stayed) also has a number of hotels, night clubs, a recreational park and one of Africa’s largest golf courses. Victoria Island with its annexe is situated to the south of Lagos Island, and it has expensive real estate properties and for that reason, many new luxury condos and apartments. Lagos,also has a number of private beach resorts including Inagbe Grand Beach Resort.

The hightlight of any night out is to have the local Suya (spicy shish kebab or spiced roasted beef) which is consumed in local clubs and bars with a bottle of cold pint beer, Star!! A unique experience to be remembered and always in good company!

Enjoy the momento and the pictures in this post and  see other posts on Lagos for more. An exotic experience that turns out a very nice memorable passing by Lagos,Nigeria.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

June 17, 2021

More of Paris, do we ever stop !!!

An older post which gives me great pleasure in updating it. I was by Paris when an old friend of Real Madrid internet group we belong for several years finally made his way to Paris and just needed to see them in person. This was done and stayed a memorable moment in my life as well.  This is the brief story of that encounter.

Do we ever stop of seeing Paris? well, never, its a mouvable feast, eternal city of lights. Every opportunity is a welcome mat to civilisation, fun, history, architecture and specially the arts and culture we so much drank from it on each trip.

I was again by Paris yesterday, like so many posts before, (see Paris in my blog), the city never ceased to amazed me. More so because of a good friend from Algeria was coming over with his family and at least I had the opportunity to say hello , that is Paris the sublime meeting point of the world, or as Bogart used to say in Casablanca, We will always have Paris!!!

We had our drinks at La Terrasse resto on the place de l’école militaire, all there in the square is good and sublime.He came with chemist wife and small child from Alger, Algeria. As a fan of Real Madrid I guess he spoked Spanish too. It was a wonderful exchange of football, countries, jobs, the world. Memories forever.  The La Terrasse restaurant is a favorite of mine and not far from my world HQ office in Paris so it was a natural to meet there. A picture for friendship and good cheers!

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This is La Terrasse webpage:  http://www.laterrassedu7.com/?lang=en

While in Paris, I had sublime 10 floor views of the city towards the Eiffel tower,and the Invalides Church. I walk around the Eiffel, and went around the école Militaire. Walking past Place Joffre you see of course still the Eiffel tower but also,a unique monument to Peace. This walking Paris is always good, and I did around these areas, walking in Paris is to live longer! I walked from my office to the restaurant above.

Of course, I came by TGV train from Auray to Montparnasse direct, as much as don’t like trains many times  I have no choice, I took the metro line 6 because it goes above ground on the way ok. However, on the way back, I took the wonderful bus 92 from place de l’école militaire to gare de Montparnasse , much better ride and wonderful Paris scènes ,above ground. I am still amazed at the number of visitors that insist on taking these trains, its like a tourist attraction lol!!! Then on the TGV from Montparnasse back home and  because of railroad tracks works after Rennes are under repairs, I have the distinct pleasure of taking the SNCF buses or cars. from the Gare de Rennes to Auray  in 2 hours! nice ride as it was very late but boy going out of a train station to go to a bus station this late at night almost midnight was not my cup of tea even in the smallist station like Rennes. I arrive well at my car  in Gare d’Auray for the last 15 minutes trip home.

There you go folks , jotted down in my blog for the memories of always and good cheers with good friends. Until we meet again, salut!! Hope you enjoy the brief event and do walk and walk in Paris. The La Terrasse is a great place to mingle and meet folks indeed. Again, hope you enjoy the event.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

November 11, 2020

WordPress, you and me!!!

So taking a small time to thank you all for your loyal following these last 10 years. It has been a wonderful trip which I have enjoyed very much, hoping you too.

I started on WordPress after advice from an American  friend living in Madrid for about 25 years who told me it was easy to work for the non technical guy in me and it has been so. It was November 26th 2010 so holy cow already 10 years !!!!!

And ,I have decided to look at my numbers with the help of wandering a bit into WordPress. Even with humble numbers compare to some of you, it has been a wonderful ride and fully satisfy. Again thank you so much. Merci beaucoup, muchas gracias, muito obrigado.

After already not counting this one 3 113 posts in my blog, come to realize my best viewing day is Sunday and the best time is 9h or 9am!! The best day viewed was December 10, 2012! with 972 views!!!

My best view pages or posts have been: The Somport Tunnel and Peak !!!, Lagos, Nigeria an Adventure, and A look back at history, the Palais des Tuileries.

The most commented post has been Versailles and it’s historical Churches with 172!!!! wow and we do have a palace there lol!

I have 1061 other blogs following mine an honor! ,thank you all. Never in my wildest dreams would I thought to have these many reading my blog wow! There are about 18 steady commentators and the top 10 are well known you know who you are , and my wish is to have more comments, constructive comments that is.

The countries that have most folks viewing my blog are in order: USA,   France, UK, Germany, UK, India, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Spain, Finland, and Australia! Thanks!!! In actuality, it covers the world with many many countries even in those where internet is little or controled.

The year of great activity with most views was 2012 with 120 701, and the one with the most visitors was 2013 with 27 140. However, it seems that 2020 even if not over year will break all records. So far I have 40 371 views, 21 294 visitors, 16 816 likes!!! and 668 comments!!!. So it seems I will beat all time records in Likes and Comments for sure. Thank you!!!

There are a total of 7 pages on front page, 15 categories of posts and 15 tags with 11 links in the blogroll bottom of page. There are over 40000 photos already here wow!!!

I am sure WordPress will have better numbers to tell beginning of 2021 for 2020. In the meantime, thanks for reading mine and sharing yours, and happy healthy travels to all. Enjoy your week, and end of year. I will have a short one,due to the virus; and finally Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

October 9, 2020

Lagos,Nigeria, an adventure!!!

Oh yes, some adventure this was. I have heard of Nigeria before and the region around Lagos which carries the name of the earlier Portuguese explorers as lakes, Lagos there is one in Portugal too you know. Then it has a much richer history. I was here a while back and just wanted to update the text and new photos I found. I would like to tell you a bit more from the few already in my blog. This is Lagos, Nigeria,an adventure!

Well lots of writings on the wall when we speak of Nigeria. I can only said that in my business travels , I have always enjoy the visits and some long for a month! . I was able to visit their country, mostly Lagos but into Port Harcourt as well. It is not your typical tourist attraction yet, but if in town be good and have fun.

You are wise to hire a trusted local driver to get you around, and dont do it yourself. Photos are hard to come by as cameras are not seen in public, credit cards better keep them at home or just for an ultimate emergency, this is a cash country and the currency the Naira is only good in-country .If you must use cash take the ATM machines of Zenith bank, one of the largest in Nigeria and even Africa. The webpage is here: https://www.zenithbank.com/customer-service/find-a-branch-atm/

There are plenty to see during the daytime, such as the Bar beach harbor area (not to swim just for the ambiance), there is a beach further north along the Lekki peninsula,Lekki Beach , most expats come here.  There is a soccer/football stadium, while I was there last for the under 17 World Cup was being played. Saw the Nigeria vs Spain match the locals won. You need to get ticket from a trusted person such as from the company you are in there,and go with the locals friends.

lagos soccer stadium Surelere 2009

I stayed in a very nice compound, Osborne Foreshore Estates, call Somerset Court ,very well protected as it is the home of many armed forces personnel. The place is at Ikoji, one of the nicest districts of Lagos, very nice with all amenities including a pool, billiard room,bar, restaurant, sports TV all over, exercise room, and very friendly staff.

The shopping was done at Palms shopping center, with a big supermarket, call Shop Rite (locals describe the shopping center as shop rite) and Cinema, plus restos, the webpage is here http://www.persianasgroup.com/our-portfolio/persianas-investment/palms-lekki/#menu-investment

Some of the best restos here were the Caffe Vergnano, and News Cafe  ,and now the shopping  have now a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ThePalmsMall/

The other shopping I frequented was the Mega Plaza also has a grocery store, with a courtyard full of restos selling local food ,pizzerias, and Indian foods,Lebanese foods, etc. This was the place for an after work drink and get together almost daily there. The webpage for it is here: https://www.megaplaza.ng/

Another nice shopping center is Silverbird galleria shopping at  267A Etim Inyang Crescent , Victoria Island , Lagos. It has still a very nice cinema. It was a bit more upscale and nice to go there too. The new webpage is here: https://silverbirdcinemas.com/cinema/galleria/

The properties of the Sofitel Hotel was my lunch venue, and of course the hotel is from the French chain ACCOR so its very nice. Now is part of MGallery brand, we went here lots of times for lunch.  The webpage is here: https://all.accor.com/hotel/2770/index.en.shtml

Other nice hotels I visited for eating were the EKO Hotel and Suites  , as well as theSheraton by the airport . However, my best is the Federal Palace Hotel, great bar sports bar area, and wonderful restaurant buffet downstairs, and later they opened a Casino.

The Eko hotelhttps://www.ekohotels.com/

The Sheraton hotelhttps://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/lossi-sheraton-lagos-hotel

The Federal Palace Hotelhttps://www.suninternational.com/federal-palace/

lagos Eko hotel ent 2009

A nice place to be if have a local influential friend like me is to go to the old British country club, now the country club and golf complex at Ikoyi , you need to be with a member but the company can arrange maybe. Their webpage is here: https://web.ikoyiclub1938.org/

Another interesting place is the Lekki Conservation area, a wildlife reserve for free and just as natural as you can get to wild animals. I was here once briefly. Their webpage: https://www.ncfnigeria.org/projects/lekki-conservation-centre

Other interesting place that I dit not visit but probably worth going are the National Theater, and the National Museum at Awolowo Rd, Lagos Island, this last has artifacts and sculptures of local origins.

For eating out, my favorites were the Churrasco Brazilian resto located at 1C Ozumba Mbadiwe Ave, Victoria Island, Lagos (could not verify if still open but did went couple times) , Golden Gate China resto located at 25B Glover Road , Ikoyi , (could not verify if still open but was a must while staying there)  , Manuela Italian resto and residence where I had lots of good times and the chef was of Cuban origin! More here: https://www.manuelaresidence.net/

The Bangkok, thai food located at  244A Muri Okunola St, Victoria Island, Lagos (again could not verify if still open but did visit) ; Marco Polo, for seafood located at Marco Polo seafood, 9 Karimu Kotun Street, Victoria Island, Lagos; (this one change to new development at Lekki, here is the webpage; http://www.marcopolo.ng/

And another favorite spot, the Chocolate Royal, French bakery and resto popular with many expats as I,  located at 267A Etim Inyang Crescent , Victoria Island, Lagos. Webpage here: http://chocolatroyal.com/

The airport is the International Airport Murtala Muhammed, two terminals ,one for international flights and the other domestic, very easy to navigage.  You need to take precautions for sickness so vaccination is a must, check with your embassy for requirement of your Nationality to get to Nigeria for the French the Air France center in Paris ,webpage: https://www.vaccinations-airfrance.fr/

The French Consulate in Lagos which it is recommended you register as I did, it is at 1, Oyinkan Abayomi Drive, Ikoyi Lagos : webpage here: https://ng.ambafrance.org/-Le-Consulat-General-de-France-a-Lagos-

For families with small children there is a French school which many other expats and locals take advantage , the school is at Lycée Français Louis Pasteur, 16 Younis Bashorun street, Victoria Island  , the place was visited in company of French families there and is very nice place: https://www.lflp-lagos.com/fr/

If you need to go to Port Harcourt, more precautions needed here, the best property is the Novotel hotel part of the French ACCOR chain, webpage here: https://all.accor.com/hotel/5465/index.en.shtml#origin=novotel

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip here whether business or pleasure are

The Nigeria tourist board for info here: https://tournigeria.gov.ng/

The Federation of travel firms in Nigeria here: https://ftan.org.ng/index.php/ftan-member-associations

A tourism site from UK on Nigeria with plenty of info here: http://www.nigeriahc.org.uk/culture-tourism

There you go another wonderful location that I am lucky enough to have visited for a whole month especially around Lagos, Nigeria. Hope you enjoy the exotic visit and thanks for reading me.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

October 9, 2020

Memories of South Africa!

Again on nostalgia lane, as the current situation is unveiling and the cut in business travel, the chances of visiting some countries of fond memories are fading. This is the reason made me do this post on my memories of South Africa.

Of course, I have been in the country since 2015 visiting every year until 2019. Next, who knows, but the friendship and fondness of the place will continue. Let me tell you a bit more on South Africa.

Another nice trip and was able to touch base with old friends again. These are the quick visits as always but very nice memories. And I am in heavens by the Fourways, Sandton, Gautrain, and East London spots.

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This particular trip got out early by car from home with a bit extra time as it was raining on the N165 road, and to my surprise there was an accident and work construction on the road that was creating one lane only. Big slow down almost standstill. I thought would miss my plane at Nantes Atlantique airport. Hopefully, it cleared up but needed to do 150 KPH ::) ( about 93 MPH) , and got there just as the plane was been board! After this event flew well on AF to Paris CDG T2F, and easily went over to T2E for the flight to South Africa on AF .

The flight is long and this time it seems and was longer as usually go to Fourways, J’Burg first, but this time change at OR Tambo airport and there went on a domestic SAA flight to East London. Once at East London I was picked up by car and taken to my hotel, the Riverbend B&B, which locals put me there, it was very nice like been at home and friendly service. This had gorgeous views and would love to be back again, more on them here: http://www.riverbendguesthouse.co.za/

sa East London Riveside BB front sep15

We did have dinner at a pricier property like a spa hotel resto,but only have the front in the photo and can’t remember the name lol!!! just been me I guess!!!

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The next day we went to Abbotsford Arms pub , where in addition to some real fine Carling Black Label beers we had this special menu 500g T-Bone smothered in our herb butter sauce, served with freshly cut chips and 2 veggies, more of them at their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/abbotsfordarmsel/

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A bit of driving in town to practice my right side wheel and it was off to the East London airport again this time to J’Burg. I was to land at 21h10 at OR Tambo airport and my shuttle to wait for me. However, I came domestic this time on terminal B and my shuttle was in internationals Terminal A!!!! So with little wifi:internet could not find his phone number, and were some trying moments until finally found his phone number to start a funny exchange. Noo I am at the information desk with a plaque holding your name, noo I do not see anybody in the ID, finally I said I am in terminal B oh oh I am in terminal A thinking you were coming international, noo the folks here knew I was coming domestic. Finally we hook up for the ride to my hotel.

The hotel was the nice City Lodge Fourways near the montecasino complex . This is a nice hotel first time in it and love it. Great restaurant area, with pool overlooking the city road at Witkoppen road. More here: https://clhg.com/hotels/120/city-lodge-hotel-fourways

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Next day locals took me for lunch at the nice le Soufflé  at the Pineslopes Shopping Centre, in Fourways a French style restaurant where I had my duck confit and more of that Black Label beers . The experience was great however, they needed to closed down and was told correct they have teamed up with the folks of  Junipa’s Bistro at Hobart Centre in Bryanston, and again later was updated by locals this place, also closed down.  So the economy has got to them, the chefs owners were at Le Soufflé for 10 years. Anyway, I put it here for the memories that is the them of the post anyway.

sa fourways le souffle bistro inside sep15

In the evening, I met a contact friend Paul from the now defunct VT travel forum  and as he had a car, I rode looking for this place I have heard call the Beer House, and after some trying as the friend was from Pretoria, we finally found the place ::) This is a pub with live music, 99 different beers and great menu in a resto laden road off the Witkoppen road as well but need to come by the Fourways Crossing mall side to get here.  We had a great time until very late; and a wonderful house burger and t bone steak with different beers but I stuck with the new found nice one Carling  Black Label. Just great company, happy lively place, good music and the place is loaded with likes establishements on the same side. However, this place has also closed down! so sad… The owner ran out of his lease and could not renew, heard was looking for a new location but no confirmation yet. For now, another down memory lane forever!!!

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It was time for me to say goodbye to the springboks once again, and another nice visit of many more memories to last. On my way back got the OR Tambo airport early so went for my airport lunch this time at a new place too .The Keg and Aviator pub , they were in the public area of the airport to your end right.  I had another of those big juicy burgers and more of the wonderful Carling Black Label beers. Well I told you this was memory lane, this one is closed too.

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The flight back was flawless, to Paris CDG T2E and then change easy to T2F for the last leg back to Nantes Atlantique where my car was waiting for the trip back home. It was a very nice trip with nice moments with nice people. There will always be hope for a next time! Hope you enjoy this bit of memories of South Africa.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 1, 2020

Lake Victoria and the Nile!

So now lets take a complete different course. Lucky me to have been to many places of our world, last count 81 countries, and hopefully still more to come. I have written briefly on my trip to Uganda on things like lodging, restos, seeing and such but the biggest thing there was left untouched. It is time for me to change that by telling you a bit on the Lake Victoria at the source of the Nile river in Uganda.

I came to Uganda. A wonderful place of many friendly people all eager to improve themselves. I landed at Entebbe airport , the unfamous name now much more peaceful in Uganda. The official page from Uganda Civil Aviation Authority is here:CAA on Entebbe airport

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I will tell my story and then a bit of history I like on both Lake Victoria and the Nile river from web sources. Just for the memories and friendship of Uganda. The Nile river which starts here around Lake Victoria. While in Jinja, I did my baptism on the Nile river , a bit late but I was here!!! Well having a jet ski waverunner and driver helps a lot but the views were spectacular and of course on the way back to harbor I fell in the water trying to go from the jet ski to a fishing boat; no big deal it was shallow and had floating jacket on, quickly out, just my clothes were soaked. An experience to remember for life. Wonderful place thought.  The Nile crocodile has almost disappeared from this region of Africa. In Lake Victoria, spawning takes place in late December and in January, in the dry season when the water goes down. The eggs are laid in the sand where they incubate for three months. As my story above goes I was glad in a way ::)

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Needless to tell you the jet ski ride was impressive going just to the border of Ripon Falls unbelievable!! A souvenir never to be forgotten, do not know when back, but this visit will stay longer than me! Let me tell you about the history from web sources to complete this post about Lake Victoria and the Nile river. Briefly….

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Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and (depending on sources) the fourth or second in the world in area with 68,100 km2. it is bordered by Kenya to the northeast, Uganda to the north and northwest and Tanzania to the south, southwest and southeast. Occupying a depression framed by the two branches of the Great Rift Valley, it is the source of the White Nile, the longest tributary of the Nile. Rather shallow (40 m on average, 83 m maximum) and located at 1,133 m above sea level, the lake occupies a depression formed by tectonic movements and framed by the two branches of the Great Rift Valley formed there four million years ago. Roughly rectangular with 320 km in length (from north to south) and 275 km in width (from east to west), the lake has very indented banks forming numerous peninsulas, bays, capes and more than 3,000 isles. Ferries connect the main ports of Lake Victoria, Kisumu, Mwanza, Bukoba, Entebbe, Port Bell and Jinja (Uganda).

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The first source of scriptural information known to us on Lake Victoria comes from Arab merchants crossing the East African plateau from the coast in search of gold, ivory and slaves. Al Idrissi was, around 1160, the first to have drawn up a map clearly representing the lake and representing it as the source of the Nile. Europeans discovered the lake in 1858 when British explorer John Hanning Speke with Richard Francis Burton reached the south shore of Lake Nyanza. He renamed it after Queen Victoria who reigned at that time in the United Kingdom and in her colonies.  The lake was the scene of naval clashes during WWI between the British and the Germans. Faced with the disproportion of forces, the Germans had to withdraw from this area. A great write up must read by all me think is by Jules Verne, Five weeks in a balloon (Chapter XVIII is entirely devoted to Lake Victoria). It was the first title in the Voyages extraordinaires collection in 1863.

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Nice map on Lake Victoria ,me think ,and talk about the ecosystem including fishes here: African Cichilid on Lake Victoria with map

The tourist office of Uganda on Lake Victoria: Visit Uganda tourist office on Lake Victoria

The Nile river with a length of about 6,700 km, it is with the Amazon River, the longest river in the world. It comes from the meeting of the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The White Nile rises at Lake Victoria (Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania); the Blue Nile comes from Lake Tana (Ethiopia). Its two branches uniting in Khartoum, the capital of present-day Sudan, the Nile flows into the Mediterranean, forming a delta in the north of Egypt. With its two branches, the Nile crosses Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. It also runs along Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (with lakes Victoria and Albert respectively), and its watershed also concerns Eritrea thanks to its tributary of the Tekezé.   The Nile watershed covers 3,254,555 km2, roughly 10% of the area of Africa.

The source of the Nile is considered to be Lake Victoria, but the lake is fed by rivers of considerable size. The longest river which flows into Lake Victoria, and which is therefore the most distant source, emerges from the Nyungwe forest in Rwanda, via the Rukarara, which flows into the Mwogo, then Nyabarongo and finally Kagera, before joining Lake Victoria in Tanzania near the city of Bukoba. The Nile leaves Lake Victoria at Ripon Falls, near Jinja, Uganda (where I drove a jet ski!). The Nile was at the heart of the civilization of ancient Egypt. The majority of the population and all the cities of Egypt occupied the banks of the Nile north of Aswan; and has been the backbone of Egyptian culture since the Stone Age. The Nile had a spiritual dimension; meaning so much in the lives of the Egyptians, that they created a god consecrated to the well-being brought about by the annual flooding of the Nile. The name of this god was Hâpy and both he and the Pharaoh were supposed to control the flood of the Nile.

Although James Bruce claimed to have been the first European to have seen the source, modern authors consider that the first is rather the Jesuit father Pedro Páez. Europeans had settled in Ethiopia since the end of the 15C, and it is possible that they explored the river as close as possible to its source, but they could not envisage its course beyond Ethiopia. It was ultimately the British explorer Henry Morton Stanley who confirmed the truth of the discovery of Speke, by sailing around Lake Victoria and realizing the existence of the Ripon Falls on the north shore of the lake. It is during this trip that it is said that Stanley would have greeted the British explorer with the famous words “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” By discovering the sick and discouraged Scotsman in his camp at Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

The White Nile expedition, led by the South African Hendri Coetzee, was the first to sail the entire length of the Nile. He left the source of the Nile in Uganda on January 17, 2004 and arrived at the Mediterranean Sea in Rosette, four months and two weeks later. National Geographic presented a film on the expedition at the end of 2005: The Longest River.

A fascinating river alright and glad could see its eyes or mouth of the Nile river from Lake Victoria Uganda side. A must to see for all.

A bit more on the Nile river and Uganda part in specific from geosciences here :Geo Sciences on the Nile River

Hope you enjoy the post and my most adventurous trip at the time, all worth it me think. Remember, natures of the best Lake Victoria and the Nile river!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

April 2, 2020

Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria!

A few years back I had the opportunity to do a consulting job for an important fuel company base in the south of France. The mission was carried out in Lagos ,Nigeria for several months. I lived in Ikoyi a district of Lagos. I have told before the historical part and the restaurants and hotels of the area but and again, missed telling you about my residence. Well now is time to tell you all about it ok. Hope you enjoy the off the beaten path trip at Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

The best areas are east of city center at Ikoyi (where I lived), and Victoria Island. The district of Lagos Island is the business area with an artificial island named Eko Atlantic City. I must tell you that even thus I was not there as a tourist and not many sites that can be tourist oriented at least at that time, I enjoyed very much the stay  ,travel all over even further away from Lagos and made many friends still in contact as much as this week, the reason to do this post. Friends forever, and they know my blog!

First, a bit about the district of Ikoyi.

Ikoyi is the most affluent neighborhood of Lagos, located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.It lies to the northeast of Obalende and adjoins Lagos Island to the west, and at the edge of the Lagos Lagoon. Popular with the extreme upper class residents of Nigerian society, Ikoyi is arguably one of the wealthiest communities within Nigeria.

The area that makes up Ikoyi was originally a continuous land mass with Lagos Island, until it was separated from by a narrow waterway that was dug by the British colonial government. This canal has now been built over or filled so that the island is fused with Lagos Island once again.  During the colonial era, the island was developed as a residential cantonment for the expatriate British community and still retains many of the large colonial residences built between 1900 and 1950. Upmarket residential properties continued to be built after the colonial period, and the Island and its Dodan Barracks became the residence of some of Nigeria’s military rulers

One of the main attractions in Ikoyi is Awolowo Road, which is a high street lined with upscale shops and boutiques. Due to its proximity to Victoria Island and Lagos Island, much of Lagos’s business tourism is centred on Ikoyi, which has a mix of excellent 4-star hotels. The area is now home to several large luxury apartments,estates, and upscale office developments. Lagos Preparatory School (13+), regarded as Africa’s most highly accredited British School, is located in Ikoyi . The Lagos Jet Ski Riders Club, an elite club for the wealthiest of Nigerians is located in Ikoyi. Also, the Ikoyi Golf Club.

Bourdillon Road, Alexander Road and Gerrard Road, is a long stretch of road, that is considered to be the most prestigious not only in Lagos, but in Nigeria. Ikoyi includes the newer suburbs of Banana Island, Parkview Estate, Dolphin Estate and other luxurious blocks of flats that are springing up.

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The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge,wonderful to ride it over and more beautiful spots on that side;  is a 1.36 km cable-stayed bridge in Lagos State. It links the Phase 1 area of Lekki, with Ikoyi district of Lagos. The bridge was commissioned on the 29th of May 2013. The bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge to be built in Nigeria. The bridge has a 9-meters headroom above water level in order to allow for the flow of maritime traffic.   Tourists and other visitors also find this bridge as one of the places to visit and the bridge is the most photographed place in Lagos . The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg went on a morning run on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge on his visit to Lagos.

And now for my accommodations at Somerset Court, Ikoyi!

I stayed in a very nice compound, Osborne Foreshore Estates, call Somerset Court ,very well protected as it is the home of many armed forces personnel. The place is at  Ikoji, one of the nicest districts of Lagos, very nice with all amenities including a pool, billiard room,bar, restaurant, sports TV all over, exercise room, and very friendly staff.

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Somerset Court is a top class luxury hotel situated at No 2, Asejire Close, Osborne Phase 1, Ikoyi, Lagos. It’s a tourist favorite due to its proximity to a lot of business outlet and also Ikoyi Golf Club among other leisure centres.

Somerset Court has rooms with classy and home feel with designs incorporating modern furnishing. Room categories include Executive Room and Suite. Some rooms have a view overlooking the city. Each room features a spacious bathroom, king-sized beds, cable connected LCD TV sets, refrigerators and air conditioners. A number of facilities are available, these include free WiFi, a swimming pool, a body spa, a restaurant and a bar. Guests at this hotel will have more time to enjoy their stay at the hotel. The hotel offers additional services on request such as 24-hour front desk, shuttle service, Concierge service, Luggage storage, Express check-in/check-out, Cleaning services, Room service, Free Parking Space, Ironing service, Car Rental, Dry cleaning/Laundry service and business center. All was wonderful!

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Some assorted webpages to help you plan your trip here and know more about Ikoyi are

The Private Property guide on IkoyiPrivate Property on Ikoyi Lagos

A New York Times magazine article on Ikoyi that i found very informative. New York Time magazine on Ikoyi

And a very good local youtube video on Ikoyi  area of Lagos ,enjoy it

I like to again thanks all the staff at Somerset Court for a memorable stay and many nice souvenirs that won’t be forgotten. In the meantime, hope one day to return as really enjoyed my stay in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. Hope you enjoy the tour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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March 27, 2020

Amazing South Africa, Sandton and East London!

Loong ago back in 1998 I came here and then a long pause until 2012 , after several trips, the last was in 2015. Just touching base on my waterholes around the world and the friends gathered that are still on board! This is my hommage to these folks and my visits there. Of course, I have other posts on specific areas over the years too. South Africa is a vast land but my interaction have been in East London area a working class but also, has some nice neighbourhoods, then the Sandton area as Fourways are just superb it seems very nice architecture and lively.

The country has gone thru a metamorphosis and its looking very bright with growth potential even if as every where else there are economic problems. I was there always on business trips , so not much touristic side trips. Once in the country, the car was the main mode as I was driven around, so it look easy, and as I am a road warrior this was heavens.

I did spent several periods running from a few days to a couple of weeks at a time, and many new friends who treated me as if known for years. I was able to go into the country to meet customers right in their homes out in the country, very good roads, and gorgeous scenery. My early photos were taken with my blackberry phone, so not uptimum but ease of use when on business trips.

I arrive and was pick up by the transport folks of the hotel where I was staying, the Sitatunga Transfers folks were always very dependable, and the lodging was done at their property near Sandton at Sitatunga Guest Lodge. Webpage here: Sitatunga villas and transfer

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The airport at Johannesbourg  OR Tambo is very nice with all conveniences and had easy in and out there all the time.   Official OR Tambo airport

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The nice terrace bar there at OR Tambo was Mandys now it is gone!!!and on a resto Vasllis Mediterranean that seems now closed in Sandton.

When we did go out we had fun at Fornos Bakery in Fourways near Sandton, great burgers, sausages, and drinks while looking out in the terrace over a shopping mall and passerbyers. Official Fournos Fourways

Sandton

I ,also was able to try the Gautrain underground station in Sandton, and direct to OR Tambo international airport, very easy magnetic card depends on your usage you buy from machine using bank cards or cash, very easy indeed,and modern, clean, fast and on time. webpage  https://www.gautrain.co.za/

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The airport at East London is smaller but then easy to manoeuvre and I was told the most expensive place to visit by plane as not too many connections available. It has an interesting zulu type shape roof. The great bar there was Mile High Bar but do not seems to find it now so probably closed as well. Official East London airport

You will be in an oasis and well treated. When I needed to move to East London,  I stayed at Thrity Six on Bonza ,another nice   boutique lodge ,gorgeously done, and great friendly service. Bonza Collection Thirty Six

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We had dinner on request at Thirty Six on Bonza as per above.

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I was even close to a beach at East London, very nice beaches in the area, especially Buffalo Beach , that just saw, ,and sure a promise to come back. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be back again, until then thanks for the memories and the friendships.

The tourist office of South AFrica on cities here: Official South Africa tourism

The tourist office of Gauteng, the region of Sandton, and Foursways: Tourist office of Gauteng on Johannesburg

The tourist office for East London is the metro area Buffalo City here: Official Buffalo City tourism

And there you go , a brief tour of a wonderful section of South AFrica. There is a lot more with a lot more time, I have done some see my other posts. Hope it helps you enjoy them as well. And me to be back, I will be back… Enjoy Sandton, Fourways, East London and South Africa.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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