Heaps of updates from Hilary

I very much enjoyed reading the book which I thought was well written and entertaining. I don’t have the slightest interest in birdwatching but I did enjoy and appreciate the references to different birds to be seen around the country as a prevailing theme. I also enjoyed the what to pack section – I have travelled a lot and on the one hand did not want to be carrying the paperweight of the section, but on the other was entertained by the detail. Four of most things has been my rule for some years, to allow for hiccoughs in washing opportunities etc. For planning purposes I quite like to know how long it takes to get between towns and also to work out when I have to get up to see somewhere in the same day as travelling. I have filled in a few gaps, where I have taken the same route. I will have to try the route across the Afram plains and the Volta to Kpando – I wondered whether I could do it the other way from Cotonou/Abomey in 3 days. Ferry times change, so I will try when I have more time and there are not public holidays to negotiate.

I detail below some corrections/amendments to the fourth edition.

Map – glossy page at front of book.

Busua is west of Takoradi on the coast.

P107, 133 – Para 2 – James Fort ceased to be a prison at the end of 2007. It has a caretaker and is open. Entry: Gc 5. Lots of old toothbrush ends hanging from window grates, cell rules, graffiti. Fascinating.

P108. There is now also an ATM in the arrivals hall. I wasn’t aware of being mobbed at the airport – my arrival was 11pm, but there is now the Airport Taxi Service, which has a fixed set of tariffs triple city taxi rates – Gc10 to hotel in vicinity of airport, Gc15 into the centre of town. However, it is well organised and averts problems as recounted in this section of the book. (The follow morning it was Gc5 by local taxi from Granada Hotel (hotel fine, has pool, $70 includes breakfast) to the National Museum.)

p115 The Togo HC still issues visas in 3 hours. As of December 2009 it was not issuing the Visa Conseil de l’Entente and says that it has for the moment suspended issuance of them. It asked for payment in CFA – CFA25,000 for a multi entry visa – the gatekeeper offered a fairly unpalatable rate of exchange while the exchange offices on Cantonment Road had very small amounts of CFA – enough just for my visa the day I went.

P119 I really like the fact that you have shown hotel rates in dollars rather than under cost bands. Showing a figure, correct at publication, gives an idea of inflation and who has been capitalising on inclusion in the guidebook. Avenida hotel cost me Gc20 for a large room with fan, own bathroom and breakfast included. p120 Ampax hotel – operates from two sites one being cheaper than the other. The cheaper site had rooms with fans, TV and self contained bathroom for Gc25, breakfast not included. However, the water supply was very flakey, the restaurant closed early evening – about 7-7.30. I would argue that Avenida is a better deal and these hotels should swap positions in the book.

P124 The Orangerie is closed on Sundays.

Osu Food court closed for refurbishment December 2009.

p132, 136 Accra Zoo. I couldn’t find it and, when I asked, was told the animals have been moved to Kumasi zoo. In its place stands the new Presidential administration/palace. The new president – Atta Mills – is apparently still using Osu Castle.

p133 Ussher Fort. The caretaker on a Sunday wanted Gc5 for entry and Gc2 for photos. I am not sure whether this is a very unofficial rate as also that for James Fort. Both forts I found extremely interesting. There is now a small museum within Ussher fort (closed Sunday).

P134 Accra Station. There is a shuttle train service in the morning and evening – but I did not work out to where. The rest of the time the station is home to a number of people scattered about and a church service was being held as I walked round on a Sunday morning.

P137 Ghana University – Museum of Archaeology – open Monday to Friday 8-4. Closed Saturday.

P146 Senya Beraku. I think you might have been a little harsh on poverty in Senya – however, I prepared for the worst and, as a result, my impression was that things were not so bad. A water pipe was in the process of being laid in December. I thought Biriwa looked much more destitute. The fort proved a good place to stay in – the food was fine, it was peaceful and the staff very obliging. Clean. Gc20; food about Gc6-7, also has breakfast menu.

P153. Fort William, Anomabu. Gc5 now open and the caretaker was keen to explain what he knew of the history of the fort.

P154. Biriwa beach resort. I have to take issue with the description of ‘outstanding’ for the restaurant. I ordered lobster with spaghetti which came peeled and hence looked very much like prawns. At Gc20 it was pricey, okay but really nothing to write home about. Admittedly it has pleasant views but there are better deals heading west. I don’t think it worth a special stop. One of the staff from the hotel is presently setting up a travel bureau http://www.ghanasafaritours.com.

P158. Tro tros to Takoradi now leave from the north side of Johnstone Road, about a third the way along from Aboom and take about 2 hours.

P159. Mighty Victory Hotel. The lobster was a good deal, came shelled.

P162. Couldn’t find Baab’s juices, but did find the Baobab cafe which supports a German NGO operating in Ghana. Freshly squeezed juices, home made wholemeal vegetable pasties, cakes etc. Located just north of the Black Star bookshop, same side, just before Soc Gen bank.

P163. Castle Restaurant. Still popular place to eat amongst locals and tourists. Food good. Acceptable wait.

P184. Tro tro station to Busua should be on east side of road. Journey time to Agona about 45 mins, 85 pesewas.

Takoradi to Kumasi by tro tro 51/2 hours (including traffic jams)

p189 Busua is west not east of Takoradi.

P193. Dadson’s Single room, fan, shared bath Gc12.

P195. Sabina’s Guest house. Room with toilet/shower (without water supply) Gc20 or 15. Single shared bath. Gc10. The shared toilet is a pit toilet, the shower is a bucket. Elsewhere in the book restaurants and hotels are shown on maps but not commented upon. This seems a good way of acknowledging places which may have variable reputations. Sabina seemed completely unphased that the self contained rooms had no water supply, and it was an effort to persuade her to put some water in the bucket for the shower – the first morning she did not surface til late by which time I had already paid Dadson’s Gc1 for a shower. For the update to the next edition perhaps you can find out what is up and show her on the map only?

I appreciated the comments about Dan the Pancake man, Frank the juice man etc and was more engaging in my response to them as a result. I think it is important that people in communities such as Busua find an opportunity to support themselves through tourism if they want to. Unfortunately, Frank or was it Dan?, spent most of the time I was in Busua wandering around somewhat forlornly approaching people to invite them to have a juice. I went to his cafe by the school, which was empty, he came up a couple of minutes after and opened up. I ordered a juice and he went off – 15 minutes later he returned with a warm, lumpy mixed fruit cocktail in a plastic half litre water bottle. It was Gc4, a bit pricey, but okay. There is an internet cafe (closed when I went there at 10am) next to his cafe and no reason why he should not have success running a juice and pancake cafe here.

Zweite Heimat. Nana was very pleased with his write up in the book. I ordered dinner – kondomire and fish. Dinner came as smoked fish with jollof rice. Other people received the same, but also not what they had ordered. Nana on being pressed claimed the kondomire was out of season and on further questioning said his favourite dish to prepare is chicken and jollof rice. He didn’t have many customers. The food was okay but he did not seem to comprehend that it is better to say up front what he can and cannot deliver.

Perhaps you will receive comments from others about the above chaps and can crystallise them into some appropriate comments to make to them. It is good to have choice in a place like Busua and I would welcome these guys pulling themselves together.

The Black star surf shop has a cafe (named in the Ghana blogs on the Bradt website) which does excellent food – good menu blending western with Ghanaian – and accordingly is popular. I ordered food just after a table of six and waited over an hour for my dinner – so there is limited capacity in the kitchen. I would say the food in this cafe is more impressive than the aforementioned Biriwa beach resort. Presently, it probably would not cope with a raving review in a guidebook so if you mention it, I would probably tone it down.

I was told that an English guy is coming out to Busua to give surfing instruction so it may be that Busua is moving in the direction of becoming a surf hub. Certainly, I enjoyed the lack of people and warm water. Hopefully, it won’t get too crowded.

P213 I liked the description of Tema – and hope to find time one day to explore Tema’s industrial development – why not, boring places can occasionally prove quite interesting. Not a bad idea at all.

P216 Hotel Lucia Gc19 sc room with fan. Restaurant no longer operating. Heading out of the front door and in a direction of 2.10pm there is a pub which served decent Tilapia with banku or tasty yam doorstep chips, otherwise Seventh Heaven nearby does jollof rice, apparently. Couldn’t find the Pago hotel.

P303. Presbyterian GH. Gc10, room clean. Well happy to get a room at 3pm. Maybe the critical comments in the book have done the trick, still, they probably benefitted me.

P304. Vic Baboo’s cafe. I thought the curry was quite shameful by Indian/British standards. Vic is Indian and must know that a curry needs more than just garam masala. Note to self – when a restaurant has an extensive menu of different cuisines the food probably will be a bit hit and miss. The food was not bad, I should have a looked about the area a bit more.

p. 337 The prospect of the Bui dam is mentioned in the book. Here’s a link on progress.


Kind regards

Hilary M

One thought on “Heaps of updates from Hilary

  1. Tim says:

    I took a room at Dadson Lodge on march 2010. The place is OK, not more than that. The main problem was the mattress, which was old and very uncomfortable. When I told Betty the owner that I would like to get another mattress or another room, she answered me “you complain too much”! I guess this is the Ghanaian version for “the costumer is always right” :).
    The food there was not very good, full o oil. The shared bathrooms were OK, but as the staff lock them at the bottom floor, people urinate in the showers next door, so the showers many times stink. After I mention it to the management, obviously nothing changed.
    To conclude: the place is ok for the price of 12 cd a night. Check out the bed before you decide to take the room.

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