It was time to travel somewhere different than the usually places people go to. Having Morocco being the only country in Africa we have ever visited, I decided to look a bit south for our next move. At first, I had Cameroon on my mind but their visa process was very inconvenient. You had to go in person, Monday through Friday, to their D.C. consulate. So of course, I chose a different country that had an online visa process: Côte d’Ivoire.
This was the first time I applied for a visa which required a vaccine. After some quick research, I found a place near my job where we could get the yellow fever vaccine. It was quick and easy! For countries that require a certain type of vaccine, be sure to bring the original and a printed copy as well as keep a soft copy on your phone (just in case).
I had to show you guys this ticket. To make it cheaper, we bought round trip tickets to London from NYC and separately bought round trip tickets to Abidjan from London. Check out the price breakdown of our London to Abidjan ticket, ridiculous!
Although technically Yamoussoukro is the capital of Côte d’Ivoire, the administrative capital is Abidjan. Think of Abidjan as being Côte d’Ivoire’s New York City. All major flights to Côte d’Ivoire land in Abidjan.
We did a lot of exploring in Abidjan. We stayed in a hotel located across the boulevard from Solibra (brewery). We cabbed everywhere because it was so cheap. We checked out Plateau/Commerce (financial district), Zone 4 (kind of like an expat spot), and many areas in between. We even stopped by the Turkish embassy and hung out with them for about an hour.
I quickly discovered that compared to other countries, Côte d’Ivoire does not have a well built out tourism industry, or even one at all (felt like that). I couldn’t find a tourism center anywhere nor did the hotel know of any one day tours to Yamoussoukro (or any tours to anywhere). There is so much potential for tourism given all of their natural beauty and the fact that the biggest church in the world is in Côte d’Ivoire. It felt like the majority of foreigners who visited Côte d’Ivoire were there solely for business.
After one of Yagmur’s friends saw her IG story and found out we were in Abidjan, she immediately reached out saying: “My boyfriend works in Abidjan! You all should meet up, he would be more than happy to take you guys around!”
“What are the odds of that?” I said. You better believe we met up with him, Hasan, almost every night!
He took us out to different spots in Abidjan and the Grand-Bassam (UNESCO World Heritage site and resort town) for dinner and drinks while we were in Abidjan 🙂
It was wonderful to have met Hasan. We look forward to having him and his girlfriend over when they visit New York City!
If you speak French, then it’s easy to get around Côte d’Ivoire. If not, it’s helpful to know your numbers, the phrase “how much”, and your destination in French. That’s all I needed in order to get around by cab and buy us long distance bus tickets.
In Abidjan, there are several bus terminals and usually their names are one of the urban communes of Abidjan that they are located in. For example, we left from Koumassi but we returned to Adjame. The bus company we took was UTB. So all you need to do is tell the cab driver “Gare UTB Koumassi” in order to get to the bus station. Or if you are in Yamoussoukro (called Yakro on tickets) and are trying to get back to Abidjan, don’t be concerned if your ticket says Koumassi or Adjame instead of Abidjan.
One of the hotel staff dropped us off at the Koumassi UTB bus station where we bought our ticket and headed up to Yamoussoukro for the day. The journey was around 4 hours (3 hours by car without making stops). Here’s the UTB bus station at Koumassi.
Along the way, they made several stops to places like the below for bathroom breaks (patch of grass) and to buy snacks (corn, bananas, etc.).
Right when we arrived to the bus station in Yamoussoukro, we caught a <10 min cab ride ($1.71) to the biggest church in the world [based on exterior area]: the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace. When you arrive, they sign you in at the front gate, then you move to a room where you wait for your tour guide in French or English (If I’m not mistaken, you are only allowed to enter the church with a tour guide when you are there as a tourist a.k.a. not for service). The entrance fee was less than $3.50 pp!
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is definitely huge!
We were very lucky that we were the only ones on the English tour. Why? Well, since the elevators to the top were broken but our tour guide was sure we could make it up the steps, he took us to the top!
Back inside at the top.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace was definitely a cool experience. Make sure to give the tour guide a good tip. They’ll make sure a cab comes and picks you up because there are no cabs at the church. After the tour, we took a cab back to the UTB bus station for the same price of getting there.
We purchased our tickets back to Abidjan ($6.84 pp) and waited for our bus to come.
When we arrived back to Abidjan, we took a cab back to our hotel and passed out. The next day, we made sure to grab a souvenir before flying to London.
We had an overnight flight to London with a layover in Lisbon. Poor Yagmur slept at every chance she could.
A Night Out In London
Turns out, two of my cousins and my twin sis were in London at the same time. After carrying their shopping bags around Oxford street, we headed over to Wok to Walk, followed by an enormous amount of chocolate at SAID London.
Stuffed to the rim, we rolled ourselves back to the hostels. Not before some life updates/gossip on the tube.
After heading back to our hostels, we all got ready to head out. I’m not sure which bar/club we ended up at but we literally danced and drank the entire night. Of course, no night in London would be complete without Emine being there!
Before hoping onto the bus, we decided to take a group pic.
My sister and cousin Evelyn got back to the hostel, grabbed their bags, and went straight to the airport. After a few hours of sleep, my other cousin Ylmanita left to catch her fight as well. Yagmur and I had an afternoon flight so we ending up sleeping until our check out time. That night was a solid finish to our trip 🙂
Total Costs: $2,688 (SRB: $1,420 | YA: $1,268)
The only difference between our costs are what I spent buying drinks/food for my friends. As always, the major cost for our trips is the airfare. Tickets were well above $1k when I was looking. I was able to make it cheaper by buying 2 different, round trip tickets. The first was from NYC to London ($270) and the second was from London to Abidjan ($463) totaling $733.
Another note is that Côte d’Ivoire is not as cheap as I thought it would be. There are cheaper places to buy food and other items but things aren’t that much cheaper. It should be noted that their currency, the CFA, is pegged to the Euro.
Her Budget: 68.78% LTD
The cheapest, decent place I could find in Abidjan to stay at was what we paid: $97 a night ($49 pp)! Our hotel did provide free transportation to/from the airport and the price included a delicious breakfast.
As always, the majority of Yagmur’s expenses came from airfare ($733). The lack of cheaper accommodations in Abidjan didn’t help either ($244). This trip alone contributed to 8.46% of her total budget making it the third most expensive trip thus far. London with the most minuscule difference is ranked 2nd at 8.47% and Islamabad ranked 1st at 9.11%. This trip pushed her budget to 68.78% LTD.
Our Progress: 85.71%
We made it back to Africa and was able to add a side of Europe 🙂
God bless from the biggest church in the world!
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