Benin is Nigeria's neighbor to the west and it's a welcome change in a lot of ways.
#1 There are way fewer people in Benin. (80 people per square km as compared to Nigeria's 173 - and Lagos' 7,941*)
#2 Benin is a francophone country
#3 There are no restrictions on our movement once we cross the border.
#4 Benin feels less developed as far as restaurants and entertainment, but it does seem to have better roads and utilities than Nigeria.
It took 8 hours of crazy aggressive driving to get our little convoy to the hotel in Ouidah, Benin. Just FYI - according to google the trip was 161 kilometers and should have taken 2.5 hours. The border takes FOREVER if you are in a car and the traffic on the Nigeria side was insane pretty much the entire way.
Despite the 'adventure' involved in getting to Benin, we actually have a very relaxed weekend. We went to a really nice spa - my first spa day with girl friends - which I would highly recommend. We saw the snake temple. We visited the 'door of no return' where slaves were loaded onto ships for the journey to the Americas. (Click here for the Wikipedia page on Ouidah. It doesn't have the best coverage of the route des esclaves but it's an ok starting point if you're curious about the historical role of the town.) Mostly though we just enjoyed the beach and the company and trying out our abysmal French on the locals.
I highly recommend a trip to Benin if you're posted to Nigeria and I'm sure I'll be back at least once more during my tour.
The door of no return.
The road to our beach resort. An exception to the 'Benin-has-better-roads-than-Nigeria' rule.
Ignore the blurriness. Isn't this lovely? This is the spa at the resort. All the white sheets blowing in the wind...heaven.
*all per wikipedia