Arrival in Ghana
Trip Start Jan 20, 2016
12Trip End Feb 01, 2016
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Where I stayed
After we boarded the captain came out, grabbed the mic and began giving us his speech. He started with asking if we were ready to have a good flight, and when only a couple of people responded he told us that was inconsiderate, and he wanted to give us another chance to respond. Like obedient school-children most responded the second time, and he told us that made him happy, and we wanted a happy pilot! He covered a few more things including telling us to pay attention to the flight attendants as they go through the pre-flight safety information. He said on the last flight the man sitting in the front of business class was reading and paying no attention, so when she was done he asked the poor fellow how many emergency exits there were on this plane. The man hesitated and answered "two", which was the wrong answer, so he assigned the man to read the card in the back of the seat pocket! Oh well, it wasn’t the same dull repeated-by-memory boarding information, so I guess that was good.
The flight to Amsterdam was smooth. I was able to get about an hour or a little more of sleep, which he helpful, but I was certainly tired. Unlike some previous trips, my departure gate to Accra is only a few gates down from where we arrived. In the past I’ve had to change terminals, and with short connection times I’ve had to run through the entire airport! This time they were close, and I had about two hours connection time. I’m not high enough on the frequent flyer food chain to be given access to the nice lounge, and I’m too cheap to pay the entrance fee, so I just found a relatively comfortable and uncrowded seat by the gate.
We left on time for the six hour flight from Amsterdam to Accra. This plane was perhaps half full, so we were able to spread out enough that many didn’t have someone in the seat next to them. My row had three, and there were just two of us. In order to allow me to get up when needed in flight I always ask for an aisle seat, and the other fellow wanted the window, which worked well.
I was able to catch 2 ½ to 3 hours sleep and we touched down in Accra right on time. There are no jetbridges here, so all planes are directed to a spot out on the tarmac and large steps are wheeled up to the plane to allow us to get off. Then we are taking by bus over to the arrivals hall. While working my way to the door, as I was almost there the line suddenly stopped moving. We waited like that for perhaps 10 minutes, so one of the flight attendants announced that no bus had returned, and we were waiting. One would think at an international airport these things might be a little better organized…
While waiting I received a text from Mr. Horchak that his plane was also on the ground about 10 minutes ahead of schedule. I told him we were stuck on the plane waiting for a bus, and he said they were stuck on their plane waiting for stairs! Both problems were apparently resolved at about the same time. I began through the arrivals process, which still includes having everyone stop before a laser thermometer (you have to remove your glasses for this) before proceeding on. This is a carryover from the ebola outbreak of a couple of years ago. That outbreak is not completely over, but there are very few active cases, and none that I ever heard of in Ghana. But this step is still being done here.
The customs and immigration hall has been completely remodeled and upgraded since my last visit in August! It is sleek, modern looking and seemingly more efficient, which was a pleasant surprise! They’ve removed the wall and a few offices that were behind the agent counters so one can now see from the line to get your passport stamped straight into the upgraded baggage claim area. Rather than two antiquated conveyer belts for luggage, they now have four new ones. It didn’t make getting my bags any faster, but at least it was newer!
As I got in line to get my passport stamped I looked up and Mr. Horchak was in line perhaps only a dozen people behind me! We could have hardly been any closer. As the line snaked around we were able to talk a little when we passed by. His suitcase came out right away, but mine didn’t – along with the luggage of quite a few increasingly frustrated KLM passengers. Finally I saw my bag on the conveyer belt and we were on our way. One never knows what the procedure will be to get out of the airport. The customs agent never even collected Mr. Horchak’s immigration card, but he took mine. I walked past everyone who was checking numbers on luggage, but he got stopped and had to confirm that he had a right to his bag. But within a few minutes we were outside and the shuttle driver from the Airport West Hotel was waiting for us.
Short drive to the hotel, quick check-in procedure and we were in our rooms. Since we were both a little hungry and thirsty, we quickly dropped our bags in our rooms and met back up to go down to the hotel restaurant for a very light meal and a Star beer. Star is bottled here in Ghana, and is one I quite enjoy. We have much to discuss, and before we knew it the clock said 11:00 pm. Exhausted we headed back to our rooms to collapse into bed. Our driver should be here by 10 am to begin the trip down the coast to Elmina.