A Sightseeing tour of Dakar | Senegal Travel (3/4)
Many destinations offer their version of paradise; in Dakar you will find a multi-faceted and original city that has its own story to tell with amazing beaches, restaurants and night life
Dakar is a diverse city full of vibrant arts and traditions. Oh the beaches – did I mention Senegal is like an island surrounded by the Atlantic?! Hence, there are so many beaches to chill at and forget your worries for a minute. See and read all about the beaches here.
In addition to the beaches, Dakar is a city full of bright colours and modern restaurants. It is also home to the world’s tallest statue, the African Renaissance Monument. Definitely a must visit!.
Walking around and touring Dakar was an eye opener to a different culture. Though the most common mode of transport are the colorful minibuses called "car rapide" , I noticed a lot of horse-drawn carts. They are popular for lugging cargo around Dakar.
I spent a day touring the town. The air was fresh and unpolluted that I began I wonder why Nigeria is the way it is. Anyways, I saw Total's office and the America Embassy. The Embassy was heavily guarded and no stopping or cameras allowed from miles away. For once, I wished I was an American. lol. On a lighter note though, there has been terrorist threats and security concerns in the country in the past, that explains the paranoia.
Dakar is artful. I saw more street-arts and Graffiti in the city than I have ever seen. The street-arts like the one below can be viewed as a form of cultural and traditional heritage.
By now we all know I'm not a food tourist. I generally try to play safe with foods especially in a foreign land. Actually, I can travel and not eat or shop but I found this restaurant on airport road called Ali Baba. It was so fascinating so I stopped for meal. They serve largely hamburgers and sandwiches but as part of my fitfat journey, I'm prohibited from such saliva dripping meals. Somehow, they found me rice and Senegalese sauce with chicken. It was yummy.
I also tired to have a meal at Uncle Ben's but unfortunately, they were closed. Heard the steak is heavenly.
Places to visit in Dakar
In addition to the first article on this series (catch up here), below are some tourist places in Dakar;
1. African Renaissance Monument
The African Renaissance Monument was unveiled in 2010 to commemorate Senegal's 50 years of independence from France. It is taller than NY's Statue of Liberty and Rio's Christ the Redeemer, standing at 161ft & 49m in height. I climbed over
It is the tallest status in Africa followed by the great phinx of Giza in Egypt (66feet), the colossi of Memnon Egypt (60feet) and the Moremi statue of liberty in Nigeria (42feet).
2. IFAN Museum of African Art
The museum offers exhibitions of African Art and it is professionally curated. "Organization and ambiance are truly African (poor maintenance and lots of dust)". IFAN usually have exhibitions during the biannual DakArt. Definitely worth a visit. No cameras allowed inside though.
3. Our Lady of Victories Cathedral, Dakar
The sanctuary was built on the site of an ancient Muslim cemetery. The cathedral was consecrated by a Cardinal, archbishop of Paris in 1936. A learnt a cardinal was buried in the back of the altar, next to the statue of Our Lady of Victories, patron of the cathedral. Unfortunately, I was unable to enter as it was closed.
4. The Place du Souvenir, Dakar
It is situated near the Sea Plaza shopping mall and Radisson Blu hotel. I found on my arrival an unexpected oasis of tranquillity amidst the hustle and bustle of life in Dakar. Senegalese flags fluttered in a cool ocean breeze. Palm trees, exotic plants and ornamental fountains adorned the area, with the vast Atlantic Ocean providing an impressive backdrop.
The most impressive feature is the sculpture of the African continent. It symbolises the strong, vibrant and forward-moving African continent.
5. Librairie Athena
I also visited Librairie Athena, a bookstore owned by a trio of Senegalese writers. The store sells everything from business studies textbooks to crime novels to children’s books, but its real specialism is African writing. Showcases high quality Africa writers.
6. Mosque of the Divinity
An impressive, half-century-old oasis of peace. My taxi-driver stopped for me to take pictures. I didn't go inside but the mosque looks beautiful and there's a beach in front.
7. Art Gallery
I found this gallery near the ferry dock in Dakar. Sincerely can't remember the name but I loved the space and the art pieces I saw. Dakar is definitely a great destination for art lovers!.
8. Dakar Railway Station and La Place du Tiralleur
Let me laugh first.Hahaha. Okay, you must have read my about page and realised I am into economic development. Just as we have food tourist, I'm a 'development' tourist. lol.
Okay, I visited the old railway station but more interesting was the statue I saw in front of the station. It is dedicated to the Senegalese soldiers who participated in the war and in the construction of Dakar's railway station. The statue stands just in the front of the colonial train station, built in 1885. It was the first railway station in West Africa.
9. Grand Theatre National
10. MAGIC LAND
Magic land is few minutes away from the Independent Monument and located on the sea front. It is a theme park for children and has a wide variety of activities. There's also a hotel called Hotel Magic land just next to the park if you wish to stay close.
Walking around Dakar
I spent half of a day just roaming the streets of Dakar, trying to decide if it was time to relocate from Nigeria to Senegal. I visited the presidential palace but has you would imagine, the security was very tight. What was so funny was that I got so close and no one stopped me until I tried to ask the guard a question. "Please can I take a picture", I said. The guy didn't move and before I knew it, security men gathered. LOL.
Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember