A profusion of modern high-rises, gaudy casinos, aging colonial structures, mini mansions and shantytowns all stitched together with vendors hawking their wares up and down every street, greater Accra, Ghana’s capital city, is exhausting. Cantonments offers a relatively serene retreat from the melee. Of the city’s 50 official planned and unplanned neighborhoods, the tony diplomatic quarter, equidistant between the airport and the center of town, provides an oasis of calm. Originally intended to be a British military camp, it evolved into an enclave of shady, tree-lined streets; contemporary townhouses; and stately embassies.
Central to the area, a green, elegant park surrounds the cluster of buildings that make up the W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture, a tribute to the famous anti- segregationist, pan-Africanist and civil rights leader. A Massachusetts native and Harvard graduate, Du Bois relocated from America at the invitation of Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah, and became a Ghanaian citizen. His house now holds a research library and a museum dedicated to his memory. In a leafy corner of the complex, Roots café serves beverages and snacks at shaded outdoor tables.
Across from the center you can view the grounds of the American Embassy compound among palm trees behind the metal security bars. Around the corner find the first of a series of popular local cafés and pubs where locals and expats gather to chat and watch sports events on multiple TV screens. In fact, Star, the name of a favorite local beer, serves as an acronym for a popular pastime: Sit Together and Relax.
With TV screens posted indoors and out, Lord of the Wings serves chicken with 14 different sauces, including sweet chili, buffalo hot and garlic-garlic. Farther along, down Dade Street, the Get Stuffed Deli offers menus with Thai and Indian cuisine. A great hangout also on Dade, Smoke ‘n’ Barrel serves thin-crust pizza baked in outdoor ovens and a series of cocktails, many flavored with hibiscus. At Steakstones, customers cook cuts of beef on hot stones at their tables.
Hot stones have a different use at Fiesta Residences Boutique Hotel, where Lurra Spa treatments include a Hot Stone Massage Travellers’ Tension, with the heated rocks providing healing warmth. A refuge from the city’s cacophony, Cantonments offers contentment.
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