FROM BEACHES TO MARKETS - 7 MUST SEE AND DO THINGS IN LAGOS , NIGERIA

I am giddy giddy giddy with excitement to finally be able to share Lagos, Nigeria with you. This is home and home is where my heart is. I was born in Kaduna in the Northern part of Nigeria but moved to Lagos after some years and that is where I grew up and where I call home (forever). It is always disheartening when the first things I am asked when people find out I am Nigerian is about the “Nigerian Prince” scammers - Nigeria is a Country of also 200 million people who have (unfortunately) been tainted by the actions of a few. Nigerians are full of life and joy; they are resilient; smart ; creative; welcoming and incredibly hardworking and while the Country has a long way to go still; we have come a long way. If you get a chance to visit ; you will not regret it. In future, I want to plan a trip to Lagos like I do my other trips - research to the gawds and photograph as much as I do on other trips. I don’t take a lot of pictures in Lagos - maybe because it’s home or did not think of it as a destination (previously); I find I don’t reach for my camera as much - which makes putting a post like this together a bit of a challenge. There is still so much I want to see and do in Lagos, but here are seven things I have explored; researched or done while in Lagos and I think great adds to your Lagos itinerary.

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Visit a market. A Nigerian market is not for the faint of heart; dress comfortable; get ready to bargain your tail off and take in a piece of Nigeria. I particularly like visiting Oyingbo market - it is a food market and a bit of warning - there butcher shops here and at any given time, you may walk past a butchered goat head or other animal parts. I go here to shop for local food; spices; fruits; shea butter. I also like Balogun market but it is not for the faint of heart; it is very crowded.

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Stop by an art gallery. I am incredibly proud of the creatives in Nigeria and the art scene is growing and evolving and I love it. Start at Terre Kulture ; visit Alexis galleries ; Art Cafe (for food and art) ; Nike gallery. The local art in Nigeria is phenomal. I can spend a week in Lagos just hopping from one gallery to another.

Eat Local - Nothing like Nigerian food - whether it is suya ; roasted plantain and peanuts; zobo (Hibiscus tea); pepper soup or jollof rice - you will love the local delicacies. A few local restaurants I recommend are Ofada Boy in Surulere - get you some palm wine and ofada deluxe and enjoy the ambience; the harvest in Lekki - a local gastropub (try the lamp pepper soup); Cafe Jade and the tearoom Lagos in Lekki I with excellent brunch menu and decor.

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Elegushi Craft Market. You know how I said we were a very creative people ? There is no where that is more evident than at the craft market - jewelry ; art ; fabrics and leather goods. All hand made by Nigerian artisans.

Ice Cream at Hans and Rene at the Radisson Blu in Victoria Island. Depending on the time of day you arrive, be prepared to stand in queue but it is worth it. One scoop of ice cream with run you N800 ($2.50) and you can get traditional flavors and also very uniquely Nigerian flavors like zobo and agbalumo (aka African star apple).

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Attend a Nigerian wedding. Brazil has got Carnival and Spain has got running with the bulls. We have got weddings. Attending a NIgerian wedding is at par if not much higher than those events. If you have ever seen the CNN special on Nigerian weddings - you will completely understand this point; if not, here is a link to catching up. Don’t worry about potentially not knowing the couple; at least forty percent of the guests don’t either; dress to the tee in a traditional attire (if you can); get your money in hand to spray (aka money dance) the couple and don’t leave your dancing shoes at home. It is not one thing with Nigerian weddings; it is everything - the attire; the elaborate decor; the food; the change of attires. Go for all of it.

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Have a Beach Day. Lagos has some beautiful beaches ; however all of them are paid beaches but it is very reasonably priced. I have been told Tarkwa Bay beach and Oniru Private beach are excellent beaches to visit but I have not had the pleasure. The pictures though - wow. I have visited la campagne tropicana beach resort and it is beautiful. It is a bit of a drive from the Island but well worth it. Go early; pack a picnic; go with some music - spend your time lounging and enjoying fresh coconut water or partaking in one of the many activities including kayaking and horse back riding.

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There is still a lot I want to explore in Lagos including a visit to the Lekki conservation centre; attend a performance at one of the theatre; attend a concert