The SwitSalone 2010 BEST OF FREETOWN Social Guide
This past year in Freetown Social Life seemed a tad less glamorous than previous seasons, whether it was the effects of the global economic downturn or fatigue at the redundancy of activities people dem just noh seem fo comot lekkeh dat. But as the holiday season day cam we all go hope say di JC dem go bring merriment, enjoyment, but most importantly dollor dollar. Freetown finally gave in to the sounds of WestAfrica’s New AfroHiPBeat songs like Yori Yori, You Don Make Me Fall In Love, and Timaya. The light got way way way better and though the rains killed the road the SLRA within weeks was at work patching them up again. Emerson finally dropped his much anticipated album “Yesterday Better Pass Tiday”. On the album cover the sentence is followed by a question mark but in the song itself the sentence is a statement. As we prepare for December, we expect much much activity including the first ever Ma Degnbeach festival on lumbley beach, the Africa International Youth football tournament, The African Network Conference, A Booboo gown fashion show, Play On Words, and (shameless plug) the Second Season of the Vickie Remoe Show on SLBS TV and so much more.
I have taken a new less controversial approach to the social guide this time around. Instead of telling u all the restaurants I do not like I have chosen to highlight just the ones that I think are worth visiting or mentioning…establishments that offer more than the average dining experience. Additionally this year I have taken a more succinct approach to the guide. Ideally i would love to have photographs of all these places but oh ya…ah no get camera . Sorry oh
BEST PLACES TO EAT
1. Country Lodge—C-Lodge’s Eden Restaurant is home to the friendliest and most seasoned set of staff anywhere in the city. Boasting a beautiful panoramic view of Freetown’s beach coast, a Mongolian all UCANEAT Buffet on Friday’s C-Lodge is my favorite destination for Sunday Brunch and late night desert treats. *Choco-lava*
2. Posseh’s- Hidden in the suburbs of Babadorie Posseh’s is one of Freetown’s best kept secrets diverse offering of French influenced meat, chicken, and seafood dishes. It’s a quaint some may even say romantic restaurant with excellent service and a wide selection of wines. Best for Breakfast but even better for Dinner. *chateaubriand & mashed mint potatoes*
3. Crown Bakery—It is 19years later and Crown Bakery has survived the test of time to become the best place to eat lunch in Freetown. Whether it is the Eggs Benedict for Breakfast or Portuguese Giant Prawns or Jollof Rice and Stew, the specials are always hearty sumptuous servings for anyone looking for bellyfulls of satisfaction. *Everything is good including people gazing, from ministers, to bank MDs*
4. Solar Hotel-Each time I dine at Solar Hotel I am overwhelmed by the artistry of the locally made furniture and carvings. Out for dinner you can hear the sounds and murmurs of frogs, crickets, and other creatures of the night that turn your star lit dining experience into an adventure. *The Man O War Steak
5. Franco’s & Florence’s—It’s an hour drive to reach but its time well spent when Florence’s Italian Restaurant at Sussex is your destination. All the creatures of the sea seem to swim out of the kitchen right on to your table. From big fat 1kilo lobsters to crab legs, shrimp and scallops, Florence’s is the best place to chow down on the peninsular. *Grilled Lobster & Fries*
6. Mamba Point (Barracuda Sushi Bar)—Enter Mamba Point’s Sushi Bar and you get the feeling that you could be sitting at any Sushi Restaurant in New York, London, or elsewhere. Mamba Point is the best place to grab a drink after work, meet up with friends, eat sushi or share a slice of pizza. If Crown Bakery had a distant cousin it would be Mamba Point. *Sushi- African Thunder*
7. Bliss Patisserie—Bliss is our very own French café owned by a charming and hospitable elderly Lebanese couple. It’s a ideal for Breakfast, Brunch and everything pastry. Treat yourself to a Crepe with Apples Cinnamon and Sugar or a pain au chocolat and certainly stop by to pre-order your birthday cakes and treats. *Crepes*
8. Senegalese Restaurant—The heartiest biggest portions you will ever thankfully overeat anywhere in town. The Senegalese Restaurant on Wilkinson Rd. offers traditional meals like Chicken Yassa, Theubu jean and grilled fish with atchieke. Owned by two Senegalese bothers, each dish is served to satisfy any hungry man or woman. A local and expat favorite!! * Grilled Fish Atieke with plantains*
9. Caribbean Fusion—Sanders Street never tasted so sweet until Caribbean Fusion Jerked into town. Blending the shared culinary and cultural bridge between Sierra Leone and Jamaica, Valerie’s Caribbean Fusion offers the classics from Jerk Chicken and Curry with Rice & Peas and Plantains to an assortment of fresh home made juices like Sorrel (Bissap) to a Gingerbeer Pineapple concoction to quench Freetown’s hot humid afternoons. *Pineapple shrimp & rice*
10. Chill Grill—Chill Grill is fast becoming a lunchtime favorite for Freetown’s business community looking for tasty Sierra Leonean delicacies. Chill Grill recently launched delivery service so you don’t have to leave your office to get your goat pepper soup. Thursday’s Cassava Leaves with Coconut Oil is a finger licking goodness. *Olehleh & Plaintains*
11. Jaylin Chinese Restaurant–Do not let the modest exterior of Jaylin Chinese Restaurant prevent you from enjoying the delights of its kitchen. For although Freetown boasts of a handful of Chinese Restaurants, Jaylin offers the tastiest fast authentic Chinese food in town and you know its authentic because many of Salone’s Chinese merchants frequent this restaurant.
12. Lillies Café & Bakery—Kingharman Road once just a good piece of tarmark to drive on is now home to Lillies Café a cute, and cozy restaurant catering to hungry mouths looking for good and reasonably priced food. Students from it environs have made this the destination for their after school ice cream treat. Owned by a Sierra Leonean UK returnee this restaurant will soon become a local favorite once construction on outdoor patio is complete. *Grilled Chicken Salad*
BEST ACTIVITIES TO KILL BOREDOM
Charlotte Falls—When I finally made the trek to Charlotte Falls it was perfect. Walked through the Village, up past an old stone building into the bushes and finally out at the opening that is Charlotte Falls. An ideal picnic location with a small pool to dip for the adventurous but certainly get your feet wet if not all of your skin.
Tacugama Chimp Sanctuary—Certain experiences are best when shared so get a friend or a loved one and visit the cute, cuddly, rescued chimps of Tacugama. It’s a beautiful drive up the hills, but watch out for a steep climb up to the sanctuary. Learn about the similarities between humans and chimps, the history of the sanctuary, and learn how to speak chimp
Roadtrips & Excursions: Although they are not yet very people i believe there is much fun to be had discovring the country. Really Big for 2010 will be up country excursions, getting to know swit mama salone. Freetown is only a tiny pary of the country. Get out more
Leone Casino: Before I moved to Freetown I must admit that the closest i had to come gambling was playing the slots at Atlantic City. Now i am a full time poker player at leone casino. I’ve bet as much as 2million in one night and as little as 400,000. Its probably the best fun i ever have in town these days. But please dont turn yourself into a gambler and blame it on me.
Tokeh Beach: Most of Freetown’s shishi fa fa and Lebanese crowd now make the journey to Tokeh on Sundays to enjoy lobster and grilled fish far from the confines of city traffic, noise, and people. Tokeh is what Number 2 used to be several years ago…exclusive
Number 2: Everyone loves Number 2 Beach. It has basic facilities run by youth from the surrounding villages with the option to spend the night either in the concrete rooms or camping out on the sand over night. The sand is white, the ocean is turquoise and the surrounding hills are covered in multitudes of green
Bureh Beach: The best way to head to Bureh beach is through the city via waterloo. It’s a long drive but if u don’t own an SUV it’s a good option. If you are in search of a truly private experience then this is the best of Salone’s pristine waterfront.
Sussex (Francos): Franco’s offers diving and snorkeling for the adventurous sea urchin, they also have canoe boat rides and the option of a small wading pool for kids.
Lumbley Beach: It could be cleaner but Lumbley is probably the quickest fix for some fun under the sun. I recently organized a super fun Beach party complete with water balloon fight and egg and spoon race. A great place for exercise and crusing on Sundays. If you wanna beat the crowd Saturday is the best day for beaching on Lumbley.
Exchange Rate: It is has fluctuated like wildfire. We are now at Le4200-1$. Dollar denominations of 50s, 20s, 10s, 5s, change at a lower rate so avoid bringing them if u can.
Western Union: If you run out of money you can send money to yourself online and pickup at any local
Procredit Visa: Procedit bank is the only financial institution that offers visa services. You can use your foreign visa cards to withdraw money from their ATMs. Additionally you can open a local account get a visa card that can be used everywhere visa is accepted all over the world.
Open a Local Account: a foreign friend who recently relocated to Sierra Leone was amazed at the ease of opening her bank account at a local Ecobank branch. I don’t know if its equally as easy at other banks but I’m sure it must be. At most of the banks all you need is 2 passport photos, a complete application form, a permanent address, and sometimes, a reference.
ATM CARDS: UBA, Access Bank, Procredit, Ecobank currently have ATMs operating around the city linked to local bank accounts. You must have an account with the various banks to use the service except for Procredit which accepts all visa cards.
Last year u graded the bottled water companies which have more than doubled in the past year. In addition to GRAFTON, MAGRAM, BLUE SPRING, LUVIAN you can now add Liberty Production, Nour, and three or more new bottled water companies to the list. Not including the pure water brands in the plastic bags…plastic bags that sell over an estimated 1,000,000 sachets a day…1,000,000 little sachets destroying our environment.
Even though I still refuse to drink imported water I was informed by a friend at a local Bottling Company that none of the water producing companies have the treatment plants to process water. He claims most of it is tap water and that some tap water is even more hygienic than what’s in the bottle.
RECYCLING: In some way we re-use many of the materials that we throw away but there is no recycling as u would imagine so please opt for paper when u can or take a shopping bag to the super market. Drink bottle instead of can with u can
KANKANKAN or SUYA@ brookfields across from NP: Everyday starting at 5pm till they run out of beef. HMMMMM HMMMMM GOOD
VEEGEES PEPPER CHICKEN the last right hand turn before u take congo cross bridge heading to town: hot, spicy and to die for
JELLY/COCONUT. There is a science to buying jelly the novice or beginners usually miss. For more coconut juice ask for a young jelly or half and half young or if you are hungry and want more of the fruit than the juice ask for half and half strong or strong which is the equivalent of a coconut
Please don’t come to SaLone looking for T1 and DSL speeds on internet. If you want the internet look for reliability cause any company stressing speed is just FLAT as LYING. But don’t worry I hear the contract to bring fiber to Salone has been signed…ETA?? Ah noh know.
SIERRATEL: New on the GPRS internet and mobile phone company game is none other than the once defunct Sierratel. I’ve been using it for a while now but I must admit the speeds are sometimes painful.
ZAIN: Zain formerly celtel also offers mobile internet services…it’s a bit faster and certainly more reliable but at about $80 a month. It’s a bit on the pricy side.
ZAIN BLACKBERRY: A couple weeks ago Zain launched its Blackberry service those of you who need to stay connected. It runs about $70 a month I hear.
COMIUM: Comium also offers internet but its weird.
MOBILE PHONE COMPANIES
Africell: a Lebanese owned company operating in Gambia & Sierra Leone recently took over the assets and liabilities of TIGO formerly Millicom. By the end of this year TIGO customers will need to transfer to one of the existing companies. Most reasonable in network rates. I have an africell phone now (Users are typically blue collar workers and students)
Comium: Many people I know have comium. I used to have comium but I gave my comium number u a couple years ago. I fed up with the dropped calls and unreceived text messages that arrived a couple days later. (Users are the people in the people)
Zain (operations in 22 countries): I also have a zain phone and when they launched their one network service I was super excited cause I thought it meant I would no longer need my local Ghana sim but on two occasions I have had problems using the service. It works but not completely. Recently I’ve also had problems sending text messages on zain. USers are usually high income earners/ people in the provinces
Most people tend to carry both Zain & Comium phones although i use Africell & Zain.
Sierratel: Government owned Sierratel is also up on running again offering mobile services. While you can call africell to Sierratel you cant call Zain to Sierratel cause they have not yet settled the agreement. I have never used Sierratel but I can guaranty that it does work.
A new mobile company GREEN from Libya and another whose name I do not know are both set to launch in the next 6-12 months
1.Aces: Come Wednesday thru Sunday and Aces is the place to be. Aces Formerly Buggies Night Club is what paddies use to be way back when some would head from the airport to Paddys. Aces is an entertainment dancehall offering excellent music and local Salone flavor and style. Its one of those places where u could hideaway in the dark and have really good time no paparazzi no watch watch. The Rufegess All Stars had a regular Thursday night reggae jam session that is no more but Aces is still rolling.
2. @ The Office: Tunku’s @ the office has added one more hotspot to freetown’s night life. With a members only whiskey bar, pool tables, and Wednesday’s karaoke night, the Office has very quickly become the place to be on a Friday and Saturday night. The staff and owner are just superb. The music can be a bit difficult at times but when its good, it is quite good.
3. The Winebar@ Ol Skool: The Winebar formerly Octopussy, formerly the Lounge, formerly Kalmah restaurant has recently gone thru an upgrade and is now a favorite for Freetown’s upwardly mobile crowd. One of the best features of the wine bar, is the no smoking policy. Love it!!! Since the renovation the toilets are much better now…u know me and my toilets
4. Ol Skool Club: This Kallon dancehall is now a landmark for enjoyment. It’s been slightly renovated since Ramadan with a VIP section added next to the bar. The club is best for Friday night but sometimes the crowd is a bit teeny bopper.
5. Paddys: Long long time ago Paddy’s was the spot…I never thought I would ever say this but Paddy is dead. Between the Offices and Aces, paddys has lost its customers and it empty almost every night even on weekends.
6. Tribes: Reggae and Roast beef all night every night and football games all day.
7. NP @ Aberdeen Road: Like tribes NP is not place u’d catch me hanging out cause its not my seen but alot of fellas hang out at NP….like a happy hour after work spot…a place to watch football games…and listen to popular music. Its good for the fellas but not sure its lady friendly
8. Lagoonda: Lagoonda has been closed for renovation for the better part of this year. Not sure when it will be operational again.
9. Lumbley Beach between Beach Apple and Chinatown on a Sunday evening is the closest we will ever come to a Freetown impromptu block party.
10. Atlantic Bar & Restaurant: Number 1 expat hangout in town.
I can no longer afford to shop at super markets except for the occasional popsicle and necessary toileteries. The majority of supermarkets are on Wilkinson road
St. Mary’s (has two branches Wilkinson rd & Wilberforce)
Atsons ( owners were caught stealing electricity….they hadn’t paid their bills for over ten years. The manager was put in jail and they owed millions of leones in back pay)
Payless ( has moved to Wilkinson road next to basha bakery)
Select Supermarket Congo Cross (does not sell alcohol owners are muslim
Thrift/Junks/Bend Down Boutique
Whether you’re coming on holidays or coming for a while do not completely knock the junks. Ok so dont buy your panties and other unmentionables from junks but definitely look out for shoes, belts, sunglasses, bags and other accessories. There are alot of brand name designer and good quality accessories that end up in junks. Going to junks is always a cool Saturday activity
As far as local designers go the fashion scene is really up and coming. Here are four really great designers showcasing afro fusion styles
Swank Couture by Jenneh Amara Bangalie (wilkinson rd)
Kai Couture (formerly picton) By MaryAnne (Syke st)
Bico by Isata Kabia ( 55 Campbell St–or email iklionessATyahoo.com)
Aschobi Designs by Adama Kai (17 pademba rd—or email infoaschobiATgmail.com)
The #1 place to look for or buy african fabric is malama thomas street. If you’re new to african textiles remember that there are alot of fakes in the market as well. You can find cheap prints from London and China. But if you want good quality african fabric and u want to support the growth of the african textile industry buy African made. How do u know the fabric is african made??? Well if it is african made most fabric will have the name of the country where its made printed on the edge of the fabric itself….fabric made in Sierra Leone doesn’t have that though
FOR THE LADIES
Dont let the want want get to your head. yes you’re probably very beautiful and he probably does love u after the first day but know that we like new things in salone….dont forget to use a condom…which you can buy from any supermarket.
Emergency Contraception (Plan B) Available from IMRES Pharmacy on Wilberforce ST
USE A CONDOM. PLEASE PLEASE BRING IT WITH YOU
TAMPONS bring them with you.
FOR THE GUYS
Dont let all the text messages and i love you after day one get to your head. If its sex you want…its very easy to get it free here…..dont forget to use a condom…u can get condoms from any supermarket.
STDS & HIV(AIDS)
We have those here too so please drive responsibly
MARIJUANA: I dont smoke and i think its illegal. But i hear the weed here is very good and very cheap. Can be purchased on the beach and somewhere between paddys and tribes 🙂 and alot of other places as well i’m sure
LIQUOUR: Moet, Dom Perignon, and all that good ish available locally but may be over priced. Not sure where to get good wine. I may not be the most well versed on things related to drinks
Choithrams is supposed to be the best local private hospital. But there is also Marie Stopes Clinic for Women’s health issues. If you get sick everyone will say its malaria but it may not be…..do take your malaria pills (but stay away from larium it tends to have some side affects). Bring Preparation H or Immodium and any and all run belleh medecine cause it might happen to you.
If you have asthma and u need an inhaler bring them with you…whatever medical needs/pills/prescriptions etc. fill them before you come and make sure u have whatever you need. There is no guarantee that we have the meds available or that what we have is authentic. So please come prepared.
JEMNA’s Hair Salon (wilkinson rd after St. Mary’s) Jemna’s is a new state of the art hair salon owned by returned pscycologist Miss Nasu. It is truly truly a spectular salon…comparable and even better to many in most urban cities in the US. She carries products from Symtonics, Keracare, Mizani and more. HEr stylists have been trained by profesionals from the UK & US. The prices are maybe 2x more than u’d pay at the regular salon and although i was a skeptic before i have been converted and jemna’s is the number one salon in town. They also have a cafe upstairs. LOVE IT!!!!
HAWADA (next to plan b)
When i’m a need of a pedicure, manicure, or fake eye lashes and good company i head to Hawada’s salon on lumbley beach. Do also do hair and offer massage services on appointment only. Nancy gives the best pedicures and she is probably one of the most pleasant person to chat with.
AFROMERIC Salon: Since i started weaving my hair earlier this year I must confess that the best weaves i’ve gotten have been done by Josephine at Afromeric. I had stopped going to the salon but its been renovated and it is back.
HEADMASTERS Salon: I really used to like this salon and i was impressed that it was run by two guys etc.. but they’ve not been able to maintain standards and have slowly run their clientele out the door.
FREE RADIO 95.7 I have a radio show on saturday’s sometimes on FREE RADIO so i am not biased when i say that it is the town’s favorite radio station 🙂
CAPITOL RADIO 104.9: if you like to hear british or wanna be british accents then this is the station for you. They play whats hot in the UK or what u’d hear on UK radio….and they also only hire people who sound like they’re british. No african or salone sounds or songs….but hey if thats your flavor then its your station. they used to have this dj called DJ pineapple and he was really funny but he’s now at Kalleone i think
I Love the DJs on 96.2 ( i cant remember its name tho)
KALLEONE RADIO: every now and they play good shiiiit!! kalleone is also #1 for sports info
RADIO UNAMSIL, CTN, RADIO DEMOCRACY…..all also available but i rarely listen to them…
VOICE OF AMERICA
Local TV: SLBS TV is the only game int own (ABCTV has gone banlrupt for now
DSTV (ku band reception very poor in bad whether) and (GTV has gone bankrupt)
ArabSat (at alot of lebanese owned establishments and homes)
UN GYM ($25/month): but its only for UN staff and NGO staff….(it’s the best value gym, they have Air-conditioning and the trainers are friendly)
Country Lodge Gym ($40)/month):get access to their gym, and pool and tennis court
Elegance Boutique & Gym Campbell Street:
Remys @ Victoria Street:
Abrasy @ Wilberforce ($35/month): CLOSED
I go to my neighbourhood mosque but if u need to pray we have mosques and churches all over the place. Churches of all denomination from Winners Chapel, to Praise Sanctuary, to Mountain of Fire, Mountain of Miracles, Jesus is Lord Ministries, Evangel….and on and on and on and on….we also have the more conservation Methodist/Catholic/Anglican Churches of you’re not of the Evangelical Holy Ghost Fire persuasion. We even have Mormons in Sierra Leone from Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Church
And there is an Indian temple on Wilkinson Road
People will invite to church for thanksgiving this or that but Sierra Leoeneans in generally are not fussy about religion. We are tolerant. Though people tend to be incredibly weirded out if you say you don’t believe in God altogether. We just don’t understand how someone could not believe in God.
Yes u will sit in taxi or poda poda or even in a private car and someone will throw something out the window. Please advise your driver who may not already be doing this to keep a plastic bag in the car for garbage if you eat in streets like me.
Put please don’t throw trash on the street, we’ve been trying to keep them clean You may find it difficult walking in the city to identify trash bins but still don’t throw your trash on the street. More likely than not if you’re on holiday or recently moved back people are going to look up to you so u want to be passing along the best habits…no to so?
Don’t take it for granted that people will be always late. Even though 99% of the time they will be, you should try to show up on time
SIERRA LEONEAN AND PROUD (SLAP)
Sierra Leonean And Proud (SLAP)…I was visitng designer Jenneh Amara Bangali and she shared with me her idea of launching SLAP a brand on Sierra Leonean owned businesses and products. I think it is an excellent excellent idea. It would be a great we to distinguish SL businesses from foreing ones just in case some people actually care to patronize local small businesses and knwo they are empowering sierra leonean business people.
When some people come home they are suprised at the amount of establishments that are Lebanese. Although it wold eb juvenile to say that u wont patronize lebanese establishments, the truth is that if u live your life to the fullest and enjoy the best this town to offer more likely than not, u will end up at a Lebanese owned establishment.
And finally after much has been said the last thing on this list…
FEEB BACK ON LAST YEAR’s SWITLIST
I got much comment on last year’s guide, so much so that it inspired me to do it again. I made a lot of fuss about the toilets so much so that people would say something like oh u know its nice but i knoe how u feel about toilets so maybe u wont like it. I even had people asking me why i said that the toilet at ChezNous was dirty, that it wasnt nice for me to do it. I got lots of feedback from people who read it telling me that they heard person x was upset cause of what i said on my blog. Even some of the college chicks were gunning for me. So as i am one year older i decided to be more politically correct this year so that everyone will be happy.
Lots and lots has happened but as far as the country is concerned very little has changed.
1. BUmbuna is on and there is electricity but infant and maternal mortality rates a still ridiculously high. I know that there are thousands of sierra leonean healthcare professionals out there so this is an appeal to you. I dont have any answers but we need to come up with a plan of action. So for 2010 my number 1 issue of concern will be bringing increased awareness to issue of infant & maternal mortality. Hopefully together we can work together to improve health conditions in Sierra Leone. I may be starting a charity but we shall see.
2. I wanna wish everyone a safe and healthy thanksgiving, christmas, and certainly a prosperous NEW YEAR. Looking forward to seeing you around the holiday season. Loads of Love…Yours Truly.
Disclaimer: The SwitSalone 2010 Switlist was compiled by Vickie Remoe. Although she wrote it alone she let others’ opinions and ideas affect her description and ranking different places and activities. This is the second edition of the SwitLiST and it is neither endorsed, nor affiliated, nor promoted by any of the businesses or establishment mentioned on this list. Use at your own discretion but certainly come back and tell me what you think and prove me wrong if u can…or better yet maybe I missed a lot of other stuff that’s worth mentioning. All the same thank you for supporting me and my blog as we make it thru our 3rd year online. WOOOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!