Once I crossed the border from Gambia, I had to pass through part of Senegal, which completely surrounds the Gambia. At the border, I caught a ride in some thing that resembles a large station wagon. It was cheap, though, and it got the job done. I rode to a city in Senegal near the border of Guinea-Bissau, called Ziguinchort.
In Ziguinchort, there is a consulate for Guinea-Bissau that issues visas. I showed up, paid my $45, and left with my Visa in about five minutes. I caught a ride on the back of a motorcycle back to the main bus station and started seeking out buses and vans to go to Bissau.
I showed up just as the last ticket was sold in one van, so I had ticket 1 in the next van, but we waited until it was full. Took about an hour. Then, we were off.
While waiting for everyone to go through passport control out Senegal and into Guinea-Bissau, I was impressed with this passenger’s style.
Let’s say that the hot sun coming in the window, the poor quality of the van, and the even more horrible quality of the roads made for quite an intense journey. That being said, I got there safely and quickly. I was able to get my visa for a lower cost than what I would have paid on arrival at the airport in Bissau. It was a hectic day of travel, but it worked out in the end.
Once we arrived in Bissau, I caught a taxi to my hotel, Hotel Imperio. The girl at the desk acted like it was a huge inconvenience that I had the audacity to show up and check in during her shift. She also tried to make me pay, despite the fact I prepaid online through hotels.com and had proof of it.
She never said “hi” back to me any of the times I passed by the desk during my 2 days here, so I stopped acknowledging her after a while. Customer service!
I’d traveled all day and sought out some food. The best option I saw was a cafe where I could get rice & beans + vegetables, so I walked up there. It was nothing to write home about.
Heading back to my hotel, I noticed it was close to this large monument and the old presidential palace. I was certain photos of the palace weren’t allowed, but I got one by pretending to take a selfie.
The next morning, I was up early to get in line for a Covid test. The line opens at 7am. After sitting around for a while, I finally asked someone what time the tests start. 9am. You can get in line at 7am, put your name on a paper, but then you can leave and come back. Good grief. I went back to my hotel and had breakfast, since it was just a few blocks.
From there, I walked around until time for the actual test.
I passed through the old part of the city, down near the docks, and then the Portuguese quarter from the colonial days.
Back at the testing center, I saw movement and thought “no way they started early”. I told them I was 15 on the list, and they said they’d called my name a hundred times already, because payments start at 8:30. What a system.
I paid, then waited until testing. It was quite the ordeal. It seems like one of those situations where 3 people could manage this process, but 17 people needed jobs, so they hired everyone while making it unnecessarily complicated.
I also dropped off some laundry that afternoon. The laundromats charge $1 per piece, which I’d never heard of. No way I wanted to pay a fortune to wash all of my clothes, so I washed 2 shirts, 2 pairs of underwear, and a pair of shorts. I went back to my hotel and washed more underwear and socks in the sink, hanging them from the window in my room to dry.
That evening, I walked around more, rather aimlessly. I stumbled onto a Lebanese restaurant, which was a good option for dinner. It was THE place to be, as well. Super popular, apparently. I had a delicious dinner for really cheap, and I was excited that they serve Coke with a lime in the glass. Always a great touch. Later, I accidentally spilled my Coke on the waitress, and continued apologizing until I had paid and left.
The next morning, I had another of the hotel’s lackluster-but-free breakfasts of minimal vegan options, collected my laundry, and headed to the airport.
It’s definitely been a minute since I got a hand-written boarding pass for a flight. The baggage tags were handwritten, also.
Instead of “no smoking” signs, the plane had signs for when to use/not use your laptops and devices. That was interesting.
Bissau was ok. The hotel was a bust (wifi was almost unusable, as well) and the city isn’t super interesting. However, it wasn’t bad, and I left in the right amount of time. Another day would’ve been “overstaying”. About 36hr was sufficient.This entry was posted in Africa, Bissau, Guinea-Bissau