Alternative Hangout in Lagos: Go Paintballing

If I had a dollar for every complain of how Lagos hangout/date scene almost always involves restaurants and food, I would have a house in Banana Island right now. I decided to start the Alternative Hangout in Lagos series to highlight all the other fun things you can do in Lagos. However, I cannot promise that they won’t involve food at some point or the other.

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Weekend Getaway in Lagos: Epe Resort and Spa

Epe Resort and Spa is a hidden gem located on the outskirts of Lagos. My first visit to Epe was in 2018 to explore Epe Mangroves, we visited on a Sunday when the roads were free so the journey time was short. This time around, our road trip to Epe Resort & Spa from Surulere lasted over 8 hours because we had to pick members of our group at different locations along the way.

There are two pinned locations for Epe Resort and Spa on Google Maps, the pin situated on the Ikorodu-Epe road is the correct one. On arrival at the entrance of the resort, we were each offered a pump of hand sanitizer and our temperatures were checked. While driving up the pathway that led to the reception, I could immediately tell we were going to have a relaxing weekend, the environment just whispers serenity. At the front desk, the super helpful concierge, Emmanuel, confirmed our reservation and showed us to our rooms.

There are three categories of rooms at Epe Resort & Spa – Superior Garden Room, Deluxe Garden Room and Luxury Garden Suite. We stayed in the Luxury Garden Suite which costs 60,000 Naira per night. The Luxury Garden Suite is twice the size of the other rooms, has a dedicated vanity area and a tub. All rooms come with complimentary breakfast for two.

Weekend Getaway in Lagos at Epe Resort and Spa

Although there is a restaurant at Epe resort and spa, not everything listed on the menu was available and we would’ve done well to avoid certain dishes after trying the limited breakfast options. While ordering, it’s advisable to take the safe route with either rice or fries meals.

While making our reservation, I was notified that the pool and spa areas would be closed due to COVID-19. However, they were open throughout our stay. I wasn’t keen on getting into a pool with strangers so I didn’t feel like I was missing out. We spent our time playing games, painting, watching movies and screaming at midnight partaking in late night karaoke.

My favorite part of our stay was the time we spent on the rooftop. The rooftop overlooks part of the beautiful greenery and lake in Epe. Watching the sunset from up there was a very beautiful sight. If you make it to Epe resort and spa sometime next year or post COVID, be sure to request for the full Epe tour to the fish market on your day of departure and the mangroves if you’ve never visited.

You can reach Epe Resort and Spa by phone on +2348131838014 or by mail reservations@eperesort.com. Be sure to ask for available discounts before making payment.

Weekend Getaway in Lagos: Lakowe Lakes Golf and Country Estate

The first time I came across Lakowe Lakes Golf and Country Estate was early 2019 via Travel with a pen, it immediately went on my to-visit list.  After canceling my Cape Verde trip because of the pandemic and flight restrictions, I was itching to go anywhere near me to relax. A friend suggested IITA which in turn reminded me of my desire to visit Lakowe Lakes.

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Another Weekend Getaway At The Ouidah Lake House

Ouidah is a small, rural town located in the French-speaking country of Benin Republic. Benin Republic shares land borders with Nigeria in the west. In 2018, I stumbled upon what I refer to as The Ouidah Lakehouse while looking at different accommodation options in Benin. I was immediately fascinated by the beautiful cabin with its views and I knew I had to visit. Within three months, I organized a girls` trip and we had the best time of our lives in 2018 during our weekend there.

After that initial trip to the Ouidah Lakehouse in 2018, I kept in touch with one of the owners, Jose. Every now and then he sent me pictures of the updates that were being made to the lake house and I promised to visit as soon as possible. The renovation of the interior to create a master suite upstairs complete with a tub overlooking the lake sealed my decision to revisit.

After concluding plans for a revisit, I put out an open call in my Ouidah 2020: Wellness Weekend post. Within a few weeks, I had my perfect travel group of six ready and we were on our way to Ouidah. The road trip from Lagos took around eight hours including a stop at a local supermarket to purchase basic food items.

On arrival at the lake house, everyone whipped out their phones to share pictures and videos of the gorgeous space. We settled into our different rooms to unpack after toasting to a fun stay. We had dinner on the patio overlooking the lake, played some games then retired early to help us rest from the road trip.

The next morning, while the boys kayaked on the calm water, I took a few minutes to myself to relax on the hammock and take in the beautiful surroundings. I admired the extra building that was added to the compound to accommodate six more guests but couldn’t do a house tour because it was occupied at that moment.

We had breakfast on the patio again before going for our individual sixty minutes of massage sessions. I could feel the Lagos tension knots fade at the touch of our masseuse. We all dozed off after our sessions. We had dinner when we woke, played some games, and settled in for a marathon movie night with the aid of our projector.

We spent the most part of the next day taking pictures, discussing various subjects, and playing more games. By midafternoon, we had our relaxing sip and paint session then headed to the beach opposite the house. The best part of the beach at evening is the cool water and sand, we spent time splashing, chasing the waves, walking the length of the beach, interacting with the locals in our stilted French, and relaxing in the abandoned canoes. We returned to the lake house when it got dark to spend the night packing for our return trip the next day and watching movies into the early morning.

The Ouidah Lakehouse has easily become one of my favorite places to visit because it is close to Lagos and the total cost doesn’t leave a hole in my pocket when I travel in a group. If you would like to visit sometime, I curated a travel guide to help you seamlessly plan your own trip. You can purchase it here. If you would rather have me plan the trip for you for a $50 fee, leave me a message here and I`ll be in touch.

On Turning Older + Wanting More

Alex, what are you going to do on your birthday?

If I had a dollar for every time I got this question and its variations in the days leading to my birthday, I wouldn’t have to work after this pandemic. For the first time in years, I do not feel any anxiety or have the need to dissect my life and point out all the things I could be doing better at this age. It helps that everything is slow-paced at the moment.

Growing up, I had a clear image of what I wanted life to look like in my mid-twenties, being married and having my first child were top two on my list. Now I’m just trying to make it past the daily hurdles of adulting and the challenges that come with living as a woman in Lagos, Nigeria. My 12-year-old self would never have thought curtains would be so damn expensive and ‘ashewo’ would cease to have its intended effect on many Nigerian women.

The most important thing growing older (and hopefully, wiser) has taught me is, never be afraid to fail. Last year, I decided 2020 would be my gap year, the year I take a little break from my career projections and channel my energy into trying out all the other things that make me happy. I started building a lifestyle company with two of my favorite women and I’m excited for the things we’ll do with it in the nearest future.

If there’s anything this COVID-19 pandemic has made clearer, it’s the importance of focusing on the things that bring me joy instead of dwelling on the minor irregularities that do not matter in the grand scheme of things. In no particular order, here are the five things I want more of going forward:

  1. To earn more. I know I possess skills that can help me earn more than I currently do but laziness and unnecessary sentiments keep holding me back. That is going to change.
  2. To love more. If you read my 2019 Review post, you already know I was open to new relationships for a very brief period last year. Unfortunately, I clammed up. Now I feel like I’m ready to try again. To love more. In friendships and relationships.
  3. To travel more. I like the look of surprise on people’s faces whenever I tell them I’m only interested in seeing African countries at this point in my life, it’s priceless. I’m finally going to prioritize my cross-country travel after I tick Cape Verde off my list.
  4. To give more. I love the feeling I get when I give. I think it does more for me than the recipients of my kindness so I’m going to focus on giving more of my time and resources.
  5. To be more active in my friendships. I often feel like I do the barest minimum in my friendships. My friends aren’t complaining but I know I need to do better. And I will.

Cheers to growing older and saving money on celebrations because everyone has to stay indoors.

 

Love,

Alex.

 

An Easter Weekend in Lome, Togo

Togo is one of the smallest countries in Africa bordered by Ghana to the west and Benin Republic to the east. I have been to both Ghana and Benin Republic multiple times but somehow, visiting Togo never crossed my mind. When I figured this out, I decided to schedule a weekend getaway to Lomé, it’s capital city to see a glimpse of what the country had to offer. I put out the word on Twitter and in no time, I got my travel buddies and we made plans to visit during the Easter break in 2019.

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Cape Verde 2020: No Stress

 

Sometime last year, I sent out a tweet saying Cape Verde would become the Dubai alternative for Nigerians looking for affordable travel. Since then, hundreds of Nigerians have trooped to Sal, one of the Archipelagos to experience the beauty that is Cape Verde. In three months, I’ll be one of them.

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Restaurant Review: Cafeteria Nigeria

The first time I came across Cafeteria restaurant on Instagram, the promise of hangover cures on their bio caught my attention. Immediately, I added them to my must-try list and convinced my friends to come along for a restaurant review.
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