January 9, 2013
Lagos is a city like no other we’ve experienced. With a population larger than London and New York, it is truly a “˜mega-city’, and the commercial centre of Nigeria. Our memories of these Lagos experiences will last a lifetime, and we’re sure they’ll have you agreeing to the colloquial Yoruba phrase “Ejo oni baje“ – “Let Lagos Never Spoil” before you know it.
For us, a trip to The New Africa Shrine is equivalent to a pilgrimage. The Home of Afrobeat, The Shrine is as much a part of the collective imagination of the nation, as it is part of Lagos’. Since the legendary Fela Kuti’s passing, the mantle of preserving The Shrine’s legacy has fallen to his son Femi who, with his band, plays at The Shrine. The crowds may be crazy but once inside, you can lose your inhibitions to the music and the intoxicating atmosphere that comes with people gathered to party like they never have before. 1 Nerdc Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos.
There are many markets in Lagos, but none quite as famous this one. We heartily recommend being bold and going deep into the market where things are hectic and unforgettable. Situated in the heart of the traditional commercial district of the city across several streets, traders sell all sorts from fabric to household appliances and everything in between. We love to sample the atmosphere that features fast talking vendors, colour clash merchandising and crazily juxtaposed stalls, all on the narrow streets that are quintessential old-town Lagos Island. Balogun Street, Lagos Island, Lagos.
Freedom Park is a “˜symbolic testament’ to the power of the human spirit over tyranny and adversity – and it’s a treasure trove of facts and experiences. This complex incorporates the former colonial era Old Broad Street Prison so you can visit the cells, look at artifacts from the time and learn about the histories of some of Nigeria’s most noted freedom fighters. There’s also a Wole Soyinka Art Gallery and an open-air amphitheatre that is a magnet for many arts events and performances – we’re especially fond of the gorgeous surroundings with ponds and fountains. Old Prison Ground Broad Street, Lagos Island, Lagos. www.freedomparklagos.com. Open: daily, 8am-11pm.
If money is no object and you want to see Lagos from a vantage point rarely experienced, head for the helipad. Caverton Helicopters fly from Victoria Island and offer private charters to individuals or organisations. After breathtaking views that take in the Atlantic Ocean and the lagoons, the city’s geography has never seemed the same again to us and you’ll be boasting about the experience for years to come. +234 1 270 5656, www.caverton-helicopters.com.
Suya (a spicily seasoned meat fried with onions) is the preferred snack of most Lagosians and, for us, this dish is the true taste of the city – it is something that you have to experience when you’re there and something you’ll never forget if you do. To sample it in all its glory, we follow the locals to this suya eatery where all the variations from beef to chicken gizzards, tripe and kidney are available – this is a genuine Lagos experience. Just so you know, Suya is best consumed outdoors with friends, several beers and a sprinkling of lively conversation. Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos.
Virgin Atlantic operates direct flights from London Heathrow to Nigeria