Accra

1S021 / pop 2 million

With its back mostly turned to the Gulf of Guinea, taking little advantage of its waterfront location, Accra crawls up and over a modern landscape, gobbling up real estate and producing a chaotic low-rise skyline. Originally a scattering of villages controlled by Ga chiefs, today it's a sprawling city that extends eastwards almost 25km to the neighbouring city of Tema. Its congested and pockmarked pavements; baking streets that in the midday heat can make a block feel like a kilometre; shanty towns and genteel leafy suburbia; chop bars and gourmet restaurants; hiplife and highlife; all combine to make Accra at once exhausting and exhilarating.

INFORMATION

Bookshops

Books for Less (Map p336; 17th Lane, Osu) EPP Books (Map p336; Burma Camp Rd, Labadi)

Cultural Centres

Alliance Française (Map p336; 773134; alliance®) ghana.com; Liberation Link, Airport Residential Area) Lectures and cultural events; every Tuesday is movie night. British Council (Map p338; 244744; Liberia Rd; www.britishcouncil.org/ghana) Air-con library open to the public. English newspapers and magazines, and lectures and cultural events.

Internet Access

Busy Internet (Map p338; Ring Rd, Asylum Down; per hr US$1.10; ® 24hr) Hi-tech, popular internet café and entertainment centre; great place to watch a movie. Internet Café (Map p338) Across from the White Bell restaurant, on the left.

Mega Internet (Map p338; Ring Rd, Asylum Down; per hr US$1.10; ® 4.30am-1,30am) Flat-screen computers, all office-related services.

Osu Internet Café (Map p336; Mission St, Osu; per hr US$0.75; ® 24hr)

Sharpnet (Map p336; Ring Rd East, Osu; per hr US$1.10; ®24hr)

Medical Services

Pharmacies are scattered around everywhere, but as an alternative you can try the supermarkets in Osu.

37 Military Hospital (Map p336; 776111; Liberation Ave)

North Ridge Clinic (Map p336; 227328,024-355366; Ring Rd Central)

Trust Hospital ( 776787; Cantonments Rd, Osu) Money

The head offices of Barclays and Standard Chartered are both on High St (Map p338) and there are several branches around town, all of which have ATMs. Forexes are scattered around the city.

Afro Wings Ltd (Map p338; Farrar Ave) In the Trust

Towers complex. Amex representative.

Forbes Forex Bureau (Map p336; Cantonment Rd, Osu)

Jibrin Forex Bureau (Map p338; Kojo Thompson Rd,

Adabraka)

Star Forex Bureau (Map p338; High St) In the entrance to the Centre for National Culture.

Post

Accra North post office (Map p336; Nsawam Rd) Just north of Nkrumah Circle.

Main post office (Map p338; Ussher Town) On the Lutterodt intersection.

Tourist Information

Accra Visitor's Centre (Map p338; s 252186; [email protected]) Near Mega Internet on Ring Rd Central. Has maps, and is reasonably helpful. Tourist information counter ((§) 776171, ext 1314; Airport) A small counter in the international arrivals hall at the airport.

Tourist office (Map p338; @ 231817; ®8am-4pm Mon-Fri) This is 50m down Education Close, off Barnes Rd. Not a good source of practical information.

Travel Agencies

Doscar Travel & Tours (Map p338; s 239229; fax 248328; Sedco House, 5 Tabon St) Next to Le Petit Paris Cafe.

Expertravel & Tours (Map p336; @ 775498; fax 773937; Ring Rd East)

M&J Travel & Tours (Map p336; @ 773153; fax 774338; 11th Lane, Osu)

WB Travel & Tours (Map p338; @ 245900; [email protected]; 29 Farrar Ave) Opposite Hotel President.

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

The gently decaying National Museum (Map p338; @ 221633; Barnes Rd; adult/student US55/2.20; S 9am-6pm Tue-Sun), set in shady grounds, has interesting displays on various aspects of Ghanaian culture and history. The displays on royal stools, state umbrellas, swords and akyeamepoma (linguist's staffs) are enlightening.

There is no front door or welcoming sign to the Makola Market (Map p338). It's a gradual transition from the usual pavements clogged with vendors hawking second-hand clothes and shoes to the market itself, which only becomes obvious once you can't take a step without tripping over a pile of Chinese-made locks or tube socks and you're sucked into the vortex of the swirling crowds.

Independence (Black Star) Square (Map p338) is a vast, baking expanse of concrete dominated by a ginormous McDonalds-like arch, beneath which the Eternal Flame of African Liberation, lit by Nkrumah, still flickers.

Because they are fairly concentrated and walkable, James Town and UssherTown (both on Map p336), two of the oldest neighbourhoods in Accra, provide a chance to witness how ordinary Ghanaians go about their everyday lives. These aren't shantytowns like you'd find in Johannesburg or Nairobi, but the people are undoubtedly poor and you may feel uncomfortably voyeuristic just walking around on your own. Ask a local to take you around; negotiate a fee in advance.

For a great view of the city and the busy and colourful fishing harbour (haze and pollution permitting), climb to the top of the old lighthouse (Map p336; admission US$0.30) near James Fort.

If you're walking back to the centre along Cleland Rd, which becomes High St, you could take a detour along Hansen Rd to see the Timber Market (Map p336; ask someone to show you where it is). The fetish section is fascinating, with its animal skulls, live and dead reptiles, strange powders, and juju figurines.

While most of Accra's oceanfront real estate is rocky and undeveloped, there are several sandy beaches. La Pleasure Beach (Map p336; admission US$2.20), also known as Labadi Beach, is about 8km east of central Accra and easily reached by public transport. Unfortunately since the swimming area is so narrow it's a little claustrophobic on weekends.

SLEEPING

Most of the budget accommodation is generally clustered off Kwame Nkrumah and Kojo Thompson Rds in Adabraka. While Osu is the most convenient place to base yourself, rooms there are US$40 and up and aren't especially good value. The closest you can get to beach or resort-style accommodation are the two top-end hotels at La Pleasure Beach. The Novotel is the nicest place to stay in the city centre.

Adabraka

Date Hotel (Map p338; §§ 228200; Adama Rd, Adabraka; r from US$9) The concrete courtyard is a drinking spot during the day, and the fan rooms are bare-bare bones. Bring your own bath towel.

Hotel President (Map p338; @ 223343; Farrar Ave, Adabraka; rwith fan/air-con from US$15/20; (P)) Despite a grandiose name and a convenient location, this purple multistorey hotel is a little ratty, though the air-con rooms are quite large.

Calvary Methodist Church Guesthouse (Map p338; m 234507; Barnes Rd, West Ridge; r US$24; (P) (E) The rooms on the top floor of a building in this compound are divine for the price. Each of the six rooms are spotless and modern and have small balconies.

Beverly Hills Hotel (Map p338; @ 224042; Samora Machel Rd; r US$33; (g (Si) You won't mistake this

INFORMATION

Accra Visitor's Centre 1 B1

Afro Wings Ltd (see 29)

Barclays Bank 2 B1

Barclays Bank 3 B5

Barclays Bank (Head Office) 4 B6

British Council 5 C4

Burkinabé Embassy 6 D2

Busy Internet 7 C1

Doscar Travel &. Tours (see 30)

German Embassy 8 D3

Internet Café 9 B2

Jlbrin Forex Bureau 10 B3

Main Post Office 11 A6

Mallan Embassy 12 C5

Mega Internet 13 C1

Standard Chartered Bank 14 B4

Standard Chartered Bank 15 C1

Standard Chartered Bank 16 C4

Standard Chartered Bank

(Head Office) 17 B6

Star Forex Bureau (see 37)

Tourist Office 18 C3

WB Travel & Tours 19 B2

SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

Makola Market

National Museum

DRINKING d

..20 B5 Champs Sports Bar (see 28)

..21 C3 Osekan 34 B6

Beverly Hills Hotel

Calvary Methodist Church

Guesthouse

Date Hotel

Hotel President

Korkdam Hotel

North Ridge

Hotel

Paloma Hotel

EATING Q)

Choos Eatery

Edvy Restaurant...

Le Petit Paris

Orangery

Paloma

Restaurant

Spicy Chicken

White Bell

ENTERTAINMENT^

Bass Line 35 D1

Vienna City Entertainment

Complex 36 B2

Centre for National

Culture 37 C6

Loom 38 A2

TRANSPORT

Alitalia 39 D1

British Airways 40 B4

Lufthansa Airlines 41 D1

Neoplan Motor

Park 42 A1

Tema Station 43 C5

Tudu Station 44 B5

VanefSTC Bus Station (to Ho,

Hohoe&Aflao) 45 B5

centrally located hotel for the Four Seasons, though its rooms are large and the furnishings are comfortable.

Rest Inn (Map p336; (0 785543;www.therestinn.com; 14th Lane; r US$45; 0 g)) As far as Osu goes, this is as good value as you'll find. Right around the corner from the Koala supermarket, and behind the art gallery, are several small, clean and modern rooms.

Niagara Plus Hotel (Map p336; (D 772428; 14th Lane; s/d USS50/66; 0) g)) This friendly hotel is down a quiet lane about 200m from Cantonments Rd. Rooms are large and comfortable in this especially attractive whitewashed villa with a cobblestone courtyard.

Penta Hotel (Map p336; i§ 774529; Cantonment Rd; s/d US$60/70; (0 g)) This hotel in the heart of Osu craziness is professionally run though at the expense of warmth or character. The small, modern rooms aren't especially good value. Tycoon restaurant and Hemingway's Bar attached.

Frankie's Hotel (Mapp336; (¡§773567; www.frankies ghana.com; Cantonments Rd; s/d US$65/85; (PI (g) B)) Above the excellent eatery of the same name, Frankie's has little atmosphere though everything is immaculate, including the basic, modern rooms.

Asylum Down & North Rjdge

Korkdam Hotel (Map p338; (¡§ 226797; korkdami® africaonline; 2nd Mango Tree Ave, Asylum Down; s/d with fan USS13/20, rwith air-con US$27; (0) Only a thin wall separates your cell from your neighbour's and the water pressure is lousy. Still it's a better choice than next-door Lemon Lodge.

North Ridge Hotel (I® 225809; [email protected] .com.gh; 49 Examination Loop; s/d USS50/60; 0 (g) The friendly North Ridge is a large building on a quiet residential street; the tile-floored rooms have some character even though the furniture is old.

Paloma Hotel (Map p338; (¡§ 228700; palomai® africaonline.com.gh; Ring Rd Central; s/d USS50/70; 0 (D) Part of a popular complex that includes a restaurant (see p340), courtyard café and bar (Champs Sports Bar; p340), the hotel has attractive, tastefully decorated rooms.

EATING

Accra has the best choice of restaurants in the country, and the food will seem like haute cuisine if you're returning to the city after time spent elsewhere in Ghana. Osu is China Town, Little Italy and your mall food court rolled into one long clogged road.

If you're self-catering, the supermarkets in Osu are best, especially Koala Supermarket (Map p336; Cantonments Rd), just off Danquah Circle at the top of Cantonments Rd.

Adabraka

Orangery (Map p338; Farrar Ave; mains US$2.70-8) The Orangery is a pretty-looking place specialising in sweet and savoury pancakes, muffins, waffles and crepes. Nonbreakfast specialities include moussaka (US$5) and seafood bouillabaisse (US$8).

Choos Eatery (Map p338; 2nd fl, Trust Bldg, Farrar Ave; mains US$3.30) Choos features an open-air dining area that gets a cool breeze, and a large selection of Ghanaian dishes and burgers (US$2.20).

Edvy Restaurant (Map p338; Barnes Rd; mains US$3.30; S 9am-4pm) For a postmuseum bite, sit at one of the trellis-covered tables in the grounds of the National Museum. The menu is a small selection of Ghanaian basics.

White Bell (Map p338; Farrar Ave; mains US$3.80) The White Bell's 2nd-floor dining area catches some cooling breezes and is deservedly popular. Serves burgers, sandwiches and chicken and rice dishes. Music and dancing in the evening.

Osu Food Court (Map p336; Cantonments Rd; IE) A mini mall with Nando's (a South African chain doing spicy Portuguese-style chicken), a coffee shop and bakery, a pizza joint and a couple of fried-chicken places.

Frankie's (Map p336; Cantonments Rd; mains US$3.30-6.50; IE) An Accra institution, the upstairs restaurant serves burgers, pizzas and fried chicken, as well as a selection of salads, baguettes and sandwiches.

Buku (Map p336; 10th Lane; mains US$3.80-10) Ghanaian, Nigerian, Togolese and Senegalese specials are lovingly prepared at Buku, where the stylish 2nd-floor open-air dining area is reason alone for coming.

Haveli (Map p336; 18th La; mains US$5.50-9; IE) There's no bells and whistles and in fact little decoration at this friendly Indian restaurant in the heart of Osu. It has a big menu serving Indian standards.

Dynasty Restaurant (Map p336; §§ 775496; Cantonments Rd; mains US$6-12; IE) A fancy place as far as Accra restaurants go, the Dynasty specialises in Peking cuisine. Dim sum every Sunday afternoon.

Mama Mia's (Map p336; (§) 264151; 7th Lane; pizza US$7-10) Expats swear by the thin-crusted, wood-oven-cooked pizza here. The pleasant outdoor garden dining area makes everything taste better. Spaghetti and kid-friendly chicken fingers also served.

Monsoon (Map p336; Ig 782307; Oxford St; mains US$11; E) Incongruously located above a fast-food court, Monsoon is Accra's most upscale restaurant. The menu includes interesting items like warthog filet (US$13) and crocodile tail (US$14). You may get snooty looks if you're dressed for tro-tros (minibuses or pick-ups). A more casual cigar lounge and sushi bar is attached.

Asylum Down & North Ridge

Le Petit Paris (Map p338; Kanda High Rd; croissants US$1.30; E) An excellent spot for a morning coffee and croissant, Le Petit Paris is a simple bakery selling excellent baked goods. Grab an espresso for a nice sit-down breakfast.

Spicy Chicken (Map p338; Samora Machel Rd, Asylum Down; mains US$3) Fast food and fried chicken.

Paloma Restaurant (Map p338; Ring Rd Central; mains US$5.50; E) Part of the hotel and bar complex, the Paloma serves a variety of food, including pizzas, Lebanese and Ghanaian food, and has a garden bar and restaurant area.

drinking

Most drinking spots in Accra are nothing more than a few plastic tables and a Star beer sign; Osu has the highest concentration.

Nourish Lab Smoothy's (Map p336; 3rd Lane; smoothies US$2.20; S 8am-10pm) These refreshing drinks, a combination of fruit and soft yogurt, are practically addictive because of the oppressive heat. Also serves sandwich wraps and salads.

Osekan (Map p338; High St) Spend a sunset nursing a cold Star at one of Osekan's cliffside tables and you'll probably agree there's no better place in Accra for a drink. Walk through the large, empty lot, down the steep steps to the bar.

Champs Sports Bar (Map p338; Ring Rd Central; E) Part of the Paloma Hotel complex, this expat-friendly pub beams in sports from abroad. Thursday is quiz night, Friday is karaoke night, Saturday is live-music night and Sunday movie night. Also serves Mexican food.

Bywel Bar (Map p336; Cantonments Rd, Osu) Live music Thursday and Saturday nights transforms this cool hang-out at the southern end of Cantonments Rd into a fun party.

Ryan's Irish Pub (Map p336; Osu; E) More Irish pub than an Irish pub, this large green-and-yellow colonial building in the south of Osu serves draught Guinness and hearty food. Live music on weekends.

Venus Cocktail Bar (Map p336; 11th Lane, Osu) This spot with a nice little bamboo bar, attached to the Byblos Hotel, is popular with Peace Corps types and other long-term volunteers.

Duncan's Bar (Map p336; 3rd Lane, Osu) Nothing more than a few plastic tables out on the street, Duncan's is nevertheless a popular drinking spot with locals.

ENTERTAINMENT

Accra is Ghana's biggest city and the birthplace of highlife, hiplife and other hybrid music genres, so it's not surprising there's a lively club scene. The action rarely starts before 10pm or 11pm.

Jazz Tone (Map p336; Third Close, Airport Residential Area) A popular place with good live jazz music.

Indigo (Map p336; Ring Rd East, Osu) Near Danquah Circle, this stylish place is housed in an old embassy building and attracts Accra's trendsetters. Friday and Saturday are the best nights.

Macumba (Map p336; Ring Rd East, Osu) One of Accra's nightlife institutions, Macumba is just off Danquah Circle and is popular with European discophiles.

Bass Line (Map p338; Ring Rd Central, North Ridge) Another good hip jazz club, the Bass Line, just west of Kanda High Rd, gets smoky and stays open late.

Vienna City Entertainment Complex (Map p338; Kwame Nkrumah Ave, Adabraka) A massive bar, game room and club in the heart of Adabraka near Nkrumah Circle.

SHOPPING

Centre for National Culture (Arts Centre; Map p338; l§ 664099; 28th February Rd; S 9am-5pm) A warren of stalls selling arts and crafts and known simply as the Arts Centre, this is the place to shop in Accra and the most visited site in the country. The level of aggressive hassling may make you want to keep your cedis in your pocket but if you have the patience and wherewithal, you can come away with good-quality handicrafts from all over Ghana.

Woodin Boutique (Map p336; Cantonments Rd, Osu) A chic and modern fabric shop.

Loom (Map p338; 224746; 117 Kwame Nkrumah Ave) This place, 200m south of Nkrumah Circle, sells moderately to expensively priced paintings as well as woodcarvings, fabrics and statues.

The Trade Fair Centre (Map p336; off Burma Camp Rd, La) has several stores selling high-quality goods at fixed prices, or try Aid to Artisans Ghana (ATAG; Map p336; §§ 771325; atagiaataggh.com; Trade Fair Centre, off Burma Camp Rd, La; S 8am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat), an NGO that offers practical assistance to Ghanaian artisans for crafts and furniture.

Around the Tema road in Teshie are several coffin workshops, where trippy-looking coffins are fashioned in the shape of lobsters, Mercedes, guns, aeroplanes - whatever is meaningful for the client.

GETTING THERE & AWAY Air

Kotoka international airport, 5km from the city centre, is served by a number of major airlines and several small private regional carriers. For more information, see p353.

Bus & Tro-tro

There are two VanefSTC bus stations in Accra. The main VanefSTC bus station (Mapp336; l§ 227373) is just east of Lamptey Circle and serves destinations to the west and north. Buses leave hourly from early morning to early evening for both Kumasi (ordinary/luxury US$5/7, four hours) and Takoradi (US$4.20/5.50, four hours), and four times a day to Cape Coast (US$2.70/4.20, three hours) and Tamale (US$10/16, 12 hours). There are fewer trips on all routes on Sundays.

The second, smaller VanefSTC bus station (Map p338) is next to Tudu Station, at the northern end of Makola Market. From there buses head east, serving Ho (US$4.40, four hours, 3pm), Hohoe (ordinary/luxury US$3.30/5.50, 3'/2 hours) and Aflao (US$5, 4Vi hours, four times a day), on the Togo border. Buses leaving from this station are generally much more unreliable and may leave hours after their scheduled departure time or simply not at all.

Private buses and tro-tros leave from four main motor parks. Those for Cape Coast, Takoradi and other destinations to the west leave from Kaneshie motor park (Map p336). Neop-lan motor park (Map p338), 250m west of Nkrumah Circle, has buses to north points such as Kumasi and Tamale. From Tema station (Map p338), east of Makola market, tro-tros leave for Tema and Aburi. From the chaotic Tudu station (Map p338), at the northeast corner of Makola Market, tro-tros leave for destinations to the east.

Train

For details, see p355.

GETTING AROUND

Depending on your negotiating abilities and patience, the fare from the airport into the city centre can range from US$2.20 to US$7.50. Anything under US$4.40 is fair.

Line taxis and tro-tros travel on fixed runs from major landmarks or between major circles, such as Danquah, 37 and Nkrumah (usually just called 'Circle'). Fares are fixed and are typically about US$0.10.

Taking taxis in Accra is convenient but since there are no meters the unavoidable haggling can get tiring. Any ride within the city shouldn't cost more than US$1.10. Rates rise at night.

0 0

Post a comment