It’s been so long since I was in Cote d’Ivoire that I need the photos to jog my memory. I went in late November / early December and spent most of my time in Korhogo, bookended on either side by a few days in Abidjan, as well as a day trip to Grand Bassam. Here are some brief Abidjan highlights…
First of all, you should know that Abidjan is hot and humid year-round. From November through May, the average high temperature is 87 or 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and with the mugginess it feels more like 100. From June through September, meanwhile, the average high ranges from 80 to 85, so you’re in for lots of sweating no matter when you go.
It’s like they built a dense city in the middle of a rainforest, which looks beautiful but feels just a wee bit sticky.
I stayed in the Deux Plateaux neighborhood near my organization’s office, at a beautiful bed and breakfast, Villa Anakao, that serves meals on the terrace.
I spent as much time there as possible, sucking up the layers upon layers of green.
The only thing that gave away the urban setting was a tiny slice of the view that consisted of a road clogged day and night with vehicles backed up for miles. Abidjan has horrendous traffic, it must be said.
There was one restaurant I went to, Kajazoma, that had a tropical spa ambiance similar to Villa Anakao. The entrance was full of these carved wooden bird sculptures that I will tell you about when I share pix from Korhogo.
The grounds were filled with sculptural art from all over Africa, and you could eat poolside or in a beautiful gazebo that stayed remarkably cool.
I really wanted to explore the downtown neighborhood of Plateau so I took a cab there on a day off and wandered around. I saw the city’s most famous building, The Pyramid. An intriguing but seemingly long-closed Art Nouveau diner-like structure was next door to it.
I saw a few midcentury beauts. (The colorful band on the second one is mosaic tiling.)
I happened upon an African wax extravaganza that I was sure would be the death of me except that, very luckily, I wasn’t carrying much cash.
I was very, very tempted to find an ATM and go nuts, but instead I just window-shopped.
I was hoping to make it to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the dramatically designed church that we had passed in the car once and which I could see in the not-too-far distance, but it was so hot and muggy that I gave up on that plan and appreciated it from afar instead.
I headed back to the hotel and spent most of the rest of my free time there. I had wanted to find some good live music but I never made it. The comfort and coolness of the hotel created a kind of inertia that I seldom experience abroad. I decided to give in to it.
But I did go on one more field trip, to the Sofitel that used to be the storied Hotel Ivoire. Situated on the bay, it is a midcentury confection that seems to have pulled inspiration from Las Vegas, Tahiti, and Ivory Coast in equal measure. It used to have an ice skating rink on the property. It still has a casino that sits like an island on the water, a 70’s James Bond-worthy cocktail lounge that was too dark to photograph well, and a “statement” lobby for the ages.
I loved it — though unfortunately they renovated a lot of it and it only retains its midcentury sparkle in parts.
Next is the city of Korhogo and the fascinating northern region, where I spent twelve days for work. Luckily, there was lots of time to explore.