5 Things To Do in Lagos, Nigeria (or Victoria Island)
I’m back from Nigeria, folks! I spoke at Social Media Week Lagos and as always, I had a blast. Those 6 days went by so damb quick that my memories got whiplash. Time flies when you’re doing hoodrat things with your friends in another country.
Anywho, I’m here to share 5 things I recommend that people do when they’re in Lagos. Or you can just call this 5 things I did and enjoyed tremendously.
Ok to be more accurate, these are 5 things we did in Victoria Island (aka VI). We didn’t venture into mainland except when we were coming and going to the airport.
We landed in Lagos at 7pm on Sunday. By 10:30, we were eating suya. It’s like THAT. Suya is grilled beef, seasoned with peppers, spices and mixed vegetables. It’s best when served in a newspaper and I don’t know why. Maybe the ink gives extra flavor? I kid. But for real. You usually buy it on the side of the road from an old man who’s about 4 feet 10 inches and he hands it over in a newspaper. Immejately, your car smells of suya and awesomeness.
You can’t visit Lagos and not buy suya. Unless you’re a vegetarian and for that, I say you haz my sympathies (again, I KEED). Although, maybe you can get vegetable suya somewhere, which is a skewer of veggies grilled with the same spices. For those who don’t eat meat but eat seafood, you can find you some prawns/shrimp suya, or even catfish suya so you can get your life. You’re welcome.
For some extra oomph, eat your suya with bread, for a sammich that trumps anything you can get at potbelly’s anyday.
Stay at the Amara Suites
Last year when I went to Lagos with friends, we stayed at a chain hotel in Victoria Island. This time, I asked a family member who goes to Nigeria once a month for lodging recommendations and he said he stays at Amara Suites anytime he goes. I checked the Social Media Week Lagos website and it turns out that they were also hotel partners for the event.
Amara Suites caters mostly to business expats who come to stay for a week or more, and they’re basically full apartments to be home away from home. They come with a Steward who can cook for you, airport pickup and drop-off and other goodies. I am officially spoiled and no longer able to stay at a regular hotel in Lagos.
We booked a 3-bedroom and our steward was Damien. He asked us what we’d want to eat for the week, created a grocery list and went to buy us what we needed. He cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner based on our cravings for the day. The first time he made us omelettes, I was like “yes. This will work very well.” When he heard me say how much I like indomie noodles (ramen noodles, except better), he made me stir-fry noodles and that became one of my fave dishes. He also did our laundry, made our beds and kept our apartment looking spotless as we ran in and out. I loved it.
Having someone cook for us instead of always going out to eat really decreased our cost, compared to last year. Food is expensive in Nigeria and eating out can easily cost you $60 PER MEAL. We spent most of the cash we brought in 2013 on food. This time, we saved money and we were able to ask for what we wanted with each meal. There’s nothing like coming back after a long day and knowing that spaghetti bolognese awaits our devouring.
Plus our apartment was HUGE. I wanted to cartwheel down the hallway just because it provided enough space for me to do so. It did cost more than a hotel room would have but it was more than worth it because when all the amenities are considered (and the huge food saving cost), it ended up cheaper for us.
I’m definitely laying my burdens down there next time too.
Party. A LOT.
Because partying 4 times in 6 days is something I only do in Lagos. And that is why you will find me on my couch giddily watching NetFlix for the next 5 weekends straight. We literally partied every night but 2 that we were there. I’m pretty sure I went clubbing more times last week than I did ALL of last year.
Nigerians love a good party and Lagosians especially know the art of Turn Up. It’s an art because it’s beautiful (and exhausting) to watch folks dance for hours without fading out and chilling. And, we take club-hopping to new levels. Why did we go to like 3 spots in one night with a crew of 20 people? We did the most with the most.
The clubs there go on strong til 5:30/6am. One night, we basically closed the club out and we were standing outside of it as roosters started roostering. That’s when you KNOW you’ve done a lot. The sun is all “Hey girl heyyy” and you’re standing outside of Quilox wondering how good it’ll feel when you finally rest your feet.
Also, because of all the smoking in the club, you will be smelling like a chimney, especially when you have locs that absorb EVERYTHING! That part is not so cute.
The parties are fun though, because the music is off the chain. The clubs we went to played a mixture of AfroBeats/AfroPop, Pop and R&B. Oh and Beyonce. Related: if I never hear “Drunk in Love” again, it’ll be far too soon.
Good times acting like I’m not boring for a week, though! Oh and my favorite clubs out of the ones we went to were Quilox and Sip.
Visit Lagos Polo Club
Many people don’t know that folks play Polo in Nigeria, and the Lagos Polo Club has existed since 1904. Me and the homies got a chance to go watch a couple of matches on the last day we were in Nigeria and it was glorious (Oh we fancy, huh?). Ok so I wasn’t really watching the game, although the horses were cute and they had on adorable leg warmers. Again, this is why you can’t take me to sporting events. I’m only there for the clothes.
Folks came dressed in their Ralph Lauren polos, Bermuda shorts and fly hats. The prep in me squealed in glee because I was amongst people who also dressed like white men from Maine. I was certainly here for it. Next time I go, I must come in my RL custom polo with “LUVVIE” on the back because I’m that dork (and I own 3).
Get an Outfit Made
I’ve been to Nigeria once a year for the past 4 years and I try to come back with a fresh #alphet or two from there. The tailors and seamstresses can SEW like WHOA! They also have mad magazines with gorgeous styles that Pinterest WISHED it showcased. The fabric options are extensive so it’s easy to go nuts just buying up all the Ankara. Just remember that you’re not Solange and you might not wanna rock one design up top and one at the bottom. The position of President of the Can’t Decide on a Pattern Club is filled.
I do have a dope seamstress here in Chicago (Dressmaker by Olivia) and she made me an #owwfit before I left to rock at my presentation. I’m especially in love with the back of it.
One thing I’ve been looking for has been the feminine version of a traditional men’s caftan. My love of female menswear is real in these streets but every time I ask for one of those, people don’t GET what I’m saying. I literally want one of these, except fitted to my body with a European cut.
Wells, it finally happened. I found a tailor to make me TWO caftans and he did it in one day. One of my friends recommended him and he came through in the clutch so hard that I will now be placing orders from the U.S. What he made me was THAT dope! I’ll Instagram a pic of my tunics when I rock them.
How you find a good tailor in Nigeria is truly through word of mouth. Ask someone who lives there and dresses really well for recommendations and that makes the world of difference. The tailor that I used is now programmed into my phone. He’ll be getting more orders from me for caftans and pants since he has my measurements.
SO MUCH FUN WAS HAD! Seriously. We stayed out too late, ate too much, didn’t sleep enough and spent time with awesome people. Couldn’t have asked for a better trip.
Are you going to Lagos soon? Have you ever been? If so, what do you like to do whenever you’re there?