Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How not to go about getting a Ghana visa

Okay, so in actuality, I must have done something right because we are indeed here in Accra. The time in London wasn’t the most comfortable however…

So the first piece of advice would be to book your chosen hotel in advance. This may seem obvious, except Jacob and I never do it.

But in London you should do it, because tears of frustration and anger formed after two hours of looking for a place that wasn’t $400/night and nearby the Docklands where our business conference was at.

The consequence?

Stress Less Hostel.

We arrived, chipper and cheerful, in London at about 7am on the day the business conference was starting.

We did get to use American Airlines’ magnificent first class, and in this photo, Jacob is trying to hide how extremely pleased he is to have a desk on the airplane.


We managed to take the Heathrow Express ($50 for our 15 minute ride) into downtown


and then we took the tube to Leyton without any trouble.


Then we walked, and walked, dragging our suitcases and our tired, sticky bodies looking for “Stress Less Hostel” for 30 minutes. We were on a street that looked like this:


Yeah. And no one had ever heard of it, either.

Well, we finally got our phone hooked up and we called, and we found out it was number 37, not 49, and that no, there was no sign marking the doorway whatsoever.

We finally arrived, and were greeted by a Chinese girl who was very short with us. I told her, “This is very hard to find!” And she replied, “No! Not hard to find.”

We ended up staying here an uncomfortable 10 or so days, but it was cheap—for London you can’t get any cheaper than $55/night. And that’s because it was probably illegal.

It was uncomfortable because (guess)

A) it was dirty

B) it was pile on all your clothes and get under the covers cold

C) the Chinese girl, when told how cold it was, said “The heat is working.” lies!

D) it felt like we were staying in a random stranger’s house

E) All of the above

Hostels can and should be a pleasant experience, but it’s places like this that can give the industry a bad name.


In case any of you get a Ghana visa in London, let me make it easy on you because it’s hard to find the information online.

First. find an internet cafe and print out the form. You just need two forms/person. Make sure you do this before you go because there aren’t any forms there. If you don’t, there’s an internet cafe way at the bottom of the hill and you’ll have to walk up, walk down, and walk back up the hill again.

Second, affix one passport-style photo to each form.

Third, make up contact information for hotels in Ghana. Use real hotels, but it doesn’t really matter if you are staying at them or not.

Fourth, I had my bank statement and itinerary but they didn’t ask to see it. Nor did I have return plane tickets, which they did ask to see, but it wasn’t a deterrent.

Fifth, you have to have proof of yellow fever innoculation.

Sixth, go to Highgate Hill at Archway tube station (consulate is open Monday-Friday, 9:30-1). It’s on your right, about 20 minutes up the hill.


Check in and be ready to race up to the front when they call your number, because they will skip you if you’re not there immediately. I was skipped.

They said online it takes 4 days but it took a week for us…repeat step #6 to pick them up and you’ll have some shiny new visas. If you ever get the whim to go to Ghana. Why you would, I don’t know. We hardly know ourselves.

This is how we entertained ourselves for a week:

I met up with Meagan who was in my freshman year LDS ward. She very kindly showed me around a bit. I got to see original copies of Alice in Wonderland, the Quran, and the Beatles lyrics along with Harry Potter’s train platform



The iconic clock Big Ben




Then we met up with Ben and Sally, our favorite British friends (we’re not antagonizing anyone out there, are we? I’m pretty sure they’re our only British friends) and great travel partners. I look forward to meeting up with them in different spots around the globe years in the future!



We hit up the Modern Tate museum where we saw classics like a room full of sunflower seeds



Then I suggested we go to Portobello Road. The reason I suggested this was because of guilt.

You see years ago, when my dad, Kai, and I went on our trip to London, Kai’s only request (besides eating out at Pizza Hut daily) was to go to Portobello Road (thanks to the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks) and I quashed—overruled—his idea. It made him very grumpy but I have this way of getting what I want. I have felt guilty ever since, so I wanted to go so he could at least have pictures of what it looks like.

What it looks like, is a market with antique clothing along with lots of shops.


P1090395 P1090400 


Our final night we actually stayed inside the airport in something called a Yotel.


You pay by 4 hour increments. So convenient—you can be at the terminal for your 6 am flight without having to worry about a thing. One awkward thing, was that they gave me the key to a room and I noticed as I settled in that the trash was unemptied and the bed was made kinda funny, but I thought that was the way they did things. Shows how used I am to crummy hostels, but anyway about 10 minutes in as I was all snuggled up in bed they knocked on the door and told me I was in someone’s uncleaned room! Haha. They made me hot chocolate to make up for it.

Post on Ghana coming soon.

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