As the world began shutting down in March, I found myself in Accra, Ghana. While I considered aborting the remainder of my trip and heading directly home, I opted to remain for a couple extra days and enjoyed an incredible time in Togo and Benin, two nations on Africa’s west coast. I came home to a very different world than I had left. What an amazing African adventure I experienced.
I first published this introduction in September, but news and subsequent trips continued to delay this report. As we enter the month of December, I intend to complete it this month. The first five installments are already published and the report will resume this week.
My African Adventure
March 2020 seems so long ago now. The purpose of the trip was an inspection for my other business in South Africa and an opportunity to review South African Airways in business class. Little did I know that South African Airways would go under (or not?) about a month later and the A330-300 I flew from Johannesburg to Accra would be returned to the lessor.
I spent two nights in Cape Town at the Westin. Lovely property. In Cape Town, there was one not-so-lovely person who tried to take advantage of my good nature.
My biggest regret was missing the great Sean Mendis (not Shawn Mendes) while I was in Accra. With United Airlines resuming service to Accra next year, I look forward to returning and hanging out with him. Ghana was the highlight of my trip as well, particularly my daytrip to Cape Coast Castle, per the recommendation of Trevor of Tagging Miles.
Then the news hit. This COVID-19 thing was serious. I spent one more day in Accra, then headed overland to Lomé, Togo (such an adventure). From Lóme, I headed to Cotonou, Benin, another great city…and an extremely humbling experience there. Oh, and I got to explore an abandoned Lockheed L-1011 rusting away on the beach.
Expect the following segments and reviews in this report:
- Air France – KLM Lounge Washington Dulles
- British Airways Lounge Washington Dulles
- Turkish Airlines Lounge Washington Dulles
- Chef Geoff’s – A Washington Dulles Priority Pass Restaurant
- United Club Washington National
- United Airlines 787-9 Business Class Newark to Cape Town
- Flying With United’s Most Loyal Customer
- My Thankful Uber Driver In Cape Town
- Westin Cape Town
- Great Coffee In Cape Town
- South African Airways Lounge – Cape Town (CPT)
- South African Airways A320 Business Class Cape Town – Johannesburg
- Mashonzha Lounge – Johannesburg (JNB)
- South African Airways Premium Lounge – Johannesburg (JNB)
- South African Airways A330-300 Business Class Johannesburg – Accra
- Accra Marriott Hotel
- A Journey To Cape Coast Castle
- Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City Accra
- Overland Journey To Lomé, Togo
- Detained At The Ghana-Togo Border…
- How To Obtain A Visa On Arrival In Togo
- Hôtel 2 Février Lomé
- How I Turned The Tables On A Prostitute In Lomé
- Photo Essay: Exploring Lomé, Togo
- Air Burkina Embraer 195 Economy Class Lomé To Cotonou
- Onboard A Lockheed L-1011 TriStar In Cotonou, Benin
- Photo Essay: Exploring Cotonou, Benin
- Humbled At The Voodoo Market In Cotonou
- Photo Essay: Exploring Cotonou, Benin
- AHS Business Class Lounge – Cotonou (COO)
- Turkish Airlines 737-800 Business Class Cotonou – Abidjan – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Istanbul – London
- United Airlines 777-200 Business Class London – Washington
- United Airlines 737-700 Business Class Washington – Los Angeles
I think this is going to be one of my favorite trip reports. It’s also going to be a very long one. This also marks my final pre-pandemic trip. I’ve put it off for months hoping traffic and ad rates would return to pre-pandemic levels, but since that is unlikely to happen anytime soon, let’s roll. This trip gets to the heart of why I love to travel.
This is going to be epic!!!
Can’t wait to get reading!
you are in my favorite part of the world! i can not wait for the report.
30 years ago I spent 3 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo… haven’t been back to Lome since… can’t wait for your report
Why! (I mean I know why) But WHY have you been holding back on this??? So looking forward to this. But would have preferred it when I was bored and stressed in lockdown and needing to dream of faraway places!
Finally, something worth reading on Boardingarea.
I look forward to reading the reviews. That said, it took you until March to figure that this COVID-19 thing was serious? I was on a guys trip in Malaysia in late January and things were turning serious enough that we were concerned about getting home before the wave of infections reached us.
I was a late-bloomer when it came to the virus. You may recall some of my earlier blog musings on it.
Fair enough. I stand corrected.
No, nothing to be corrected. I just really didn’t start taking it seriously until Trump banned European travel right in the middle of my trip.
This is exciting! I do agree with Stuart though that it may have been better to read these reports back in April/May when we were all “shelter-in-place” (at least here in NYC.) Not an expert on internet traffic here but I would presume internet traffic to blog sites such as yours increased during the lockdown/shelter-in-place when people remained indoors?
That is a logical deduction, but traffic tanked for awhile. Not only were people not traveling but apparently not thinking about it either. Thankfully, the traffic is now back. I do sort of regret not writing the report then, but it seemed inappropriate at the time.
Looking forward to this report! Always enjoy your posts that focus on a general travel experience, not to say i don’t enjoy flight/hotel reviews either.
Wow that is one amazing itinerary! Hope this site gets to inspire readers on such journeys again soon.
Bring it on! Looking forward to reading! 🙂
Should be some interesting. reading I rode the wave out of Africa last Spring.
Superb can’t wait
My kid’s school has a “sister” school in Ghana. I also help on an agriculture non-profit that provides tractors to farmers in Ghana. We do a lot of work with them. Fantastic people and culture.
Very excited for the overland potion of this trip. Exciting stuff on the horizon on LALF. Can’t wait, buddy!
This is so divine I am leaving next month to go to Benin Republic to Cotonou. I am meeting my husband there whom I have not seen in almost a year. Thank you for sharing this.
Matthew this is the next best thing to actually travelling. As I live with immunocompromised family members for me that is unlikely to be before the vaccine.
So thank you for this.
waiting for Sean “humble” Mendis to show up in the comments and casually mention how many airlines he has founded…
Lol get ready to be educated, Andy. I know I am!
Benin has the most wonderful art and textiles. Fantastic. So does much of West Africa but Benin is a stand-out.
A white French woman once told me that she arrived in Benin and was told she needed an injection. The government official opened a drawer and there was a syringe. The woman said she would rather be deported and return to France than get that shot. Another passenger then asked the government official if there was a fee that could be paid instead. Yes, the equivalent of approximately $20. The fee was paid and the official closed the drawer. Admitted into Benin.
This looks positively thrilling! Can’t wait to hear. Any chance you can put Kyle on hold until this report is finished? Would hate to have such an epic adventure tarnished once a week.
Appreciate you reading. Kyle is a valuable addition to the blog on Sundays and I need a day off!
I still don’t get why you keep him. He’s a fool and with each piece of rubbish he spews he further degrades the blog.
If you need a day off I think many of us would prefer silence to his ramblings.
Thank you for a wonderful trip report though!
That’s not nice to say. Kyle is ok though nobody can compare with Matthew.
With respect it’s also “not nice” to spread disinformation about vaccines and rant incoherently about politics on a travel blog.
While I don’t agree with everything Kyle says I also understand I don’t have to read it. I also know and respect other people have different beliefs and opinions. I’d suggest you simply don’t read on Sundays if you’re so bothered by it.
Are there are fine people on both sides of the blog? Perhaps Matthew likes the clicks generated by Kyle’s “hot takes” more than the quality of the content itself.
It’s really not that.
I’m sorry but saying that the vaccine is unsafe over long periods of time is not a belief.
While I’m certainly NOT part of the woke police that monitors everything people say, there is a difference between facts and opinions. “The earth is flat” is not an opinion, and I don’t have to respect it.
The trouble with Kyle’s ramblings is that they are harmful. If someone who doesn’t know better reads the bit about vaccines, they might actually believe it. That’s really damaging and I have the right to say so/
Let me just say I will be first in line to get the vaccine. I trust Pfizer or Moderna and am willing to take the risk (and frankly I don’t see a big risk personally). But my wife, a physicist and psychologist (hardly an idiot and certainly not a conspiracy theorist or anti-vaxxer), will not take the vaccine. She says that all seems well now, but we act in faith that there will be no long-term adverse side effects and she is not willing to take that risk.
I have been to the UA, BA and KL lounges at IAD. Episode six pretty please.
Otherwise Santa may not visit your house.