Libreville and the Coupe d'Afrique semi-final

Libreville Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 11 › view all entries

Feb 8, 2012
Hotel: Le Patio, Libreville, 35000 CFA ($70).

The Le Patio hotel was a good mid-range choice.. close to the center of Libreville and there are several bars/restaurants nearby. The room was clean with aircon, TV and hot water shower. And towels and toilet paper. They have a good breakfast (6500 CFA, $13) of croissant, baguette, coffee, cornflakes and OJ. Libreville is an expensive destination for hotels well. The cheapest places to stay in Central Africa are usually church guesthouses. For high-end there is a Le Meridien but it was full due to the Cup of Africa football matches.

Today my goal was to get a visa for Cameroon, buy tickets for the semi-final Cup match this evening (Mali vs Cote d'Ivoire) and just wander around town.

Le Patio Hotel
After breakfast I caught a cab (1000 CFA) to the Cameroon embassy, getting there right at 9. It took just a few minutes to fill out the application, provide a photo and pay the 51000 CFA fee. They said to come back at 3PM to pickup. Their dropoff times are 9-1PM, pickup is 3-5PM) and the visa can be ready the same day.

Next caught the cab to the central post office where supposedly they were selling tickets to the matches. On the way we passed all the impressive government ministry buildings, National Assembly, Oil and Mines, Finance, etc. Turning onto the Bord du Mer (corniche) we headed south, passing the Presidential Palace before arriving at the post office. After asking around a few times, I found the booth where they used to sell tickets. Here my lack of French failed me in understanding where to go.
Le Patio Hotel
Luckily there were two guys there wearing Cote d'Ivoire shirts, one spoke English and said they were now selling them elsewhere. They very nicely gave me a ride up to another post office which wasn't too far from my hotel. Tickets for the semi-final were $40,60 or higher. I said I would root for the Ivory Coast team. I'm sadly very ignorant in sports, especially soccer.. but I did know the name Didier Drogba from the Ivory Coast.

Yet another taxi ride back down to the original post office.. which was near the Museum of Arts and Traditions. Entry was 2000 but they didn't have change (the ATM spits out 10000 CFA $20 notes which noone has change for) so had to go down the street and buy a soda then come back. The museum was small, just one room but had ceremonial masks and outfits, musical instruments, axes, model villages, etc.
Le Patio Hotel
Very cool, especially the masks but sadly no photography was allowed. They also had a video (in French) about womens life in Gabon. I watched awhile, pretty interesting the rituals (Bwiti?) they were going through.

I walked all the way back up the corniche towards my hotel, about 3-4kms. The corniche is lined by palm trees and blue benches. There are some folk art statues along the way including one impressive one of a slave woman breaking her chains (Libreville was founded by freed slaves). The statue was right across from the Presidential palace though so I had to be careful about taking photos. It had turned out to be a nice day.. s un was out but not too hot, though it definitely was humid. I felt fine as long as I was walking but as soon as I stopped the sweat started streaming down.


I found the M'Bolo market which contains several shops and a grocery store where I bought lunch, a ham+cheese baguette with chocolate croissant for $2.20. Yum. Back to the hotel for awhile to rest. I felt safe walking around Libreville although the book does say to be wary of theft. I never felt there were any problems, but I'm pretty cautious.

I rested awhile in the cool room before it was time to pickup my passport with a new Cameroon visa. Then grabbed a pizza at a local boulangerie (bakery) for dinner before heading up to the stadium just after 6PM. It was hard to find a taxi due to it being rush hour, but also several drivers didn't want to go all the way to the stadium (it is a long way). Finally find one who said he'd take me for 5000 CFA, and we set off.
Breakfast
Traffic was getting bad, rush hour and stadium traffic as there were several minibuses with fans hanging out the window waving Mali or Ivory Coast flags. It took probably 25 minutes to get up to the stadium, but he had to drop me off still a long way from the stadium (2km+) since the police had the road blocked off. I set off walking.. and walking.. until a minibus pulls up and offers me a ride the rest of the way, very nice of them.

The brand new stadium here in Libreville is located on the far north of Libreville. It was built by the Chinese, most likely in exchange for oil or mining concessions. Lots of people were milling about outside but I flashed my ticket and went on through. I found my seat about 7:15, the game start was at 8PM. I watched the teams come out and practice for 30 minutes.
The 40,000 seat stadium was maybe only 1/3 full, mainly on the side I was sitting. I had watched part of the Ghana/Zambia game earlier on TV in the hotel, it was being played in Bata in Equatorial Guinea. There were barely any spectators in that stadium.

The game was fun.. I was surrounded by both Mali and Cote d'Ivoire fans (the Mali ones were louder usually!) Cote d'Ivoire scored the only goal just before the end of the first half. So the game ends 1-0 Ivory Coast, who will go on to face Zambia in the finals on Sunday. I was worried about how I was going to get back.. not sure if there were any taxis available, etc. As soon as the game is over I stream out of the stadium along with everyone else.. passing row after row of crowded minibuses. Luckily right then I came across an empty taxi who took me back into town for only 3000. It's always difficult gauging how much a taxi ride should be.. in town most were 1000-2000 but the stadium was quite aways out.

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Le Patio Hotel
Le Patio Hotel
Le Patio Hotel
Le Patio Hotel
Le Patio Hotel
Le Patio Hotel
Breakfast
Breakfast
Museum of Arts and Traditions
Museum of Arts and Traditions
Museum of Arts and Traditions
Museum of Arts and Traditions
Museum of Arts and Traditions
Museum of Arts and Traditions
Folk Art statue
Folk Art statue
Slave statue
Slave statue
Slave statue
Slave statue
Central African franc
Central African franc
Central African franc
Central African franc
Central African franc
Central African franc
Libreville stadium
Libreville stadium
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Mali vs Ivory Coast
Libreville
photo by: Bluenose