Togo border in Lomé
The road from Ghana to the Togo border-runs first through the savannah, and then on a narrow strip of land between the ocean and the Volta Lake, before you enter the Aflao town. From there you have to walk across the border.
When traveling overland with bus or car you have to get off at Aflao station in Ghana and walk the 300 meters to the border of Togo.
Don't follow the africans when you are approaching the border because they don't need all the paper work as you have to do. First you need to get the Ghana exit stamp in the left building before you cross the border. Just fill out the exit-declaration form and give it to the Ghana immigration officer.
Then you walk to the Togo immigration on the right side at the border. Visa on arrival at Lomè border will be issued for a 7 days stay. The price is 10000 CFA (15 USD). The immigration officer will give you an A4 declaration form. Fill it out and deliver it together with your passport and 10000 CFA. Beware that some immigration officers will ask for a dash bribe (1000-5000 CFA). Play stupid and tell them you don't understand, but be polite. They can make some hassle. The hole process take less than 10 minutes, and you will get stamps in two pages of your passport (see picture).
When you walk out of the immigration you are right in the city of Lomè. Ask one of the motorcycle-taxis standing there to take you to the hotel. It should be 300 CFA to Hotel le Galion.
Boulevard du 13 Janvier
The D-shaped Boulevard du 13 Janvier (often called Boulevard Circulaire) is the main artery of Lomè, with most places of interest. Restaurants, discoteques, hotels and official buildings like f.ex the Ecowas Building.
Women carrying items on their heads
The African women are carrying buckets or other items on their heads. They often carry heavy items, and for long distances. Learning to carry items on the head and keep the balance is not an easy task for a white man. It takes years of training.
Lomè has a harbour and quay on the eastern side of the city. The harbour is one of the largest in the region, and is important for the country. Togo exports coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm kernels from here. An oil refinery is located close to the harbour.
Lome, the capital of Togo has a laid back and friendly feel about it. Perhaps the hot and humid climate has something to do with it. The entire length of the city has a sandy beach front which only gets busy on Sundays as the city's generally poor population have to make a living during the rest of the week. The city is gritty and many of the residential streets are unpaved. Within the Centre-Ville which lies inside the ring road called Boulevarde Circulation, is a typical African city of busy markets that spill out to the streets, hundreds of scooters and low rise buildings. In Lome you will see plenty of stalls selling Togolese pattern batik cloths which is popularly worn here by women and even men which makes the city vibrant and colourful. Lome buzzes during the day and it also is renowned in West Africa to have a great nightlife. Along Avenue de 13 Janvier and Rue de Gare, night clubs called "boite de nuit" and discoteques line the streets vying for attention. Some are quite expensive even by Western standards.
Lome is small town city yet quite cosmopolitan with many French, Lebanese and Chinese expats that own and manage various restaurants and bars in the city. If you do your homework diligently, you'll be able to shop and dine well in this city.
The coastal Ewe people founded the fishing village in the the 18th century. By the late nineteenth century, the village, known then as Bey Beach, became a major trading centre with the arrival of local agents for the British trading firm A. and F. Swanzy. The Germans colonised the area and they transferred the Togolese capital from Aneho to Bey Beach in 1897. The Germans built a cathedral which still stands in Lome and it has become the iconic symbol of the city. The twin spires of the Lome cathedral overlooks the busy Lome market that surrounds it.
In 1919, the French took over Togo and they maintained Lome to be the capital of this French colony. The city then grew quickly under French control and the French language became the city's official language. Many of the colonial buildings that are now evident in Lome were built by the French during the early 20th century. Lome was one of the cities within the French West African empire. But by the early 1960's, stirrings for independence from European powers reached crescendo, and so, the birth of the Togolese Republic came into fruition. Lome was then confirmed as the capital of Togolese people. The port of Lome has become the most important trading gateway for the new republic.
Lome was catapulted into the limelight in 1975, when it hosted an important trade agreement, known as the Lomé Convention, which was signed in the city, establishing an economic cooperation between Europe and 46 African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries. Lome has remained the principal commercial and political heartland of Togo.
Today, Lome is an important West African trading port, even though it is not a wealthy city by Western standards. Most of the streets in Lome are still dirt roads even in the affluent sections of the city. I must say that it still does have a rural feel about it despite the presence of embassies, government buildings, night clubs and hotel chains. Perhaps, Lome has ensured that the long stretch of beach that fronts the city is an intrinsic part of its makeup, therefore giving it a more laid back atmosphere than Cotonou or Accra. The beaches have become the city's playground and workplace. Fishermen still ply the seas from here to eke out a living, but not far from here, the beaches are full of recreational activities especially in the late afternoon when the it is not too hot, such as football, beach volleyball and a mere stroll along the promenade. At night, it is best to avoid the beach due to criminal elements, so the citizens head off to the "boit de nuits" for fun. This is what makes Lome tick. Work hard, and play hard.