KLM to Accra
Accra Travel Blog› entry 1 of 26 › view all entries
May 10th, 2010 – by: hauteboy
Travel in West Africa can be challenging; just getting there can be difficult due to limited flight schedules and routings, then there are other issues such as costly visas and immunizations to worry about.
The visas were a bit trickier; there (used to) exists a common visa for certain countries in West Africa, the Visa Touristique Entente (VTE); many travelers had been able until recently to obtain this in the Togo embassy in Accra. However there is supposedly a new Schengen-like common visa going into effect throughout West Africa in 2011 (UEMOA or CDEAO visa); as of last October officially getting a visa for one country would allow entry into any of the others.
Immunizations were easier; some countries in West Africa do require a yellow fever immunization but mine was up to date. I also got pills for malaria; I had used Larium before without any side effects and decided to use the same again.. they're only taken once a week instead of daily like other antimalarials.
May 8-9, 2010
Flight: Houston (IAH) to Amsterdam, KLM economy, 747 combi
Flight: Amsterdam (AMS) to Accra (ACC), KLM economy, 777
Hotel: New Haven Hotel, Accra, Ghana, 20 GHS
I'd driven to Houston the previous day with my friend S., his parents lived near the airport and we spent the night there before our flight to Accra. My other friend D. was flying in from Dallas and would meet us in Amsterdam. Lots of last minute packing and shopping that morning for mosquito spray, energy bars, etc.
I'd wanted to carryon my backpack, but the checkin counter nazi made me weigh it and it was over by just enough to make me check it through to Accra. I was so flustered I forgot to get out a change of clothes, toiletries etc.
Our flight to Amsterdam was on a KLM combi-747.. I'd never flown one of those before so it was interesting to see them loading cargo onto the main passenger deck through the cargo door on the back half of the plane. S. and I boarded with the Elite passengers; we had good window seats just a couple rows back from the boarding door. KLM now has their Economy plus seating on some flights, I'd debated a paid upgrade it but turned out the standard econ seat had sufficient legroom.
Our flight left about an hour late; the volcano in Iceland had been acting up again and was affecting flights. Our flight path actually took us over the northern part of Iceland before looping down to AMS. Otherwise the flight was uneventful. We had a 6-hour layover in Amsterdam and had planned on going to either Haarlem or Leiden for a few hrs. We pulled into the gate next to an Iran Air plane, where our friend D. was already waiting for us. We noticed that our flight to Accra was showing a 2+ hr delay. It took awhile to drop his bag at a locker then caught the train to Leiden. It was a cold, dreary, cloudy Sunday morning and I'm in shorts and short-sleeves.. Brr! Being a Sunday morning, nothing was open either. We spent an hour or so wandering around before catching the train back to the airport.
Finally it gets to be boarding time, the gate agents here were also being very strict on size/weight for carryon.. there was a huge pile of carryon luggage here that people were forced to gate check. The flight left almost 2.5 hrs late; almost due south over the Sahara. When we landed, the windows steamed up immediately.. the humidity here was a force that hits you as you exit the plane. There was a short bus to the terminal, but then were met with a huge line for immigration. Took almost 50 minutes to get our passport stamped, meanwhile our bags are sitting like easy prey on the belt in the next room.
I'd been to Accra airport before, but just in transit to this was my first real trip to Ghana. It looked very modern and clean for the short ride to our hotel just off the main ring road. The hotel was fairly basic, only $29 a night for a double but with aircon, hot water and breakfast included!
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