CARNIRIV packed an extra punch with last year's event coinciding with the commemoration of the 100 years existence of the city of Port Harcourt. CARNIRIV, one of the oldest carnivals in Nigeria was established in 1988 but was abandoned until it was revived in 2008. In its 5th season, it had a memorable outing.
Arrival: Traffic into Port Harcourt city on Sunday was quite high especially from Lagos where tourists, indigenes and international performers streamed in for the week-long festivity. The Arik flight I boarded was full; Shaggy (award-winning reggae artist and rapper), Patra and other members of their entourage added to the star cast of travelers on that flight. Like any flight with this kind of cast, drama was inevitable and actually took place, though it was before the departure.
Lodging: I stayed at Landmark Hotel located along the financial district of Olusegun Obasanjo Road, Port Harcourt and very accessible to most areas of the city. Maybe it was because we came in at the beginning of the carnival, room rates were still at the prevailing rate. I stayed in an executive double room for N15,000. Considering the high cost of living in Port Harcourt, my friends told me I got a deal.
Cuisine: Tuck into Yellow eba/Semovita and vegetable soup at Eddie Wine Bar, GRA II for a tongue-licking experience. Their in-house chapman came with a good formula.
Aesthetics: My stay in Port Harcourt was brief but I looked out for gardens (Port Harcourt is called the Garden city). I saw very few. I also saw some viewing centres with neat, well-spaced sitting arrangements and no hoodlums in sight. Economic activity is on the high side with shops and kiosks in quite a lot of areas we drove through. Devoid of commercial motorcycles, buses and cabs play a huge role in moving people around. But the chaotic traffic congestion in the city, like Lagos, even in your own private car means you have to plan hours ahead. In spite of the impressive efforts of the administration of Governor Rotimi Amaechi in the area of road rehabilitation, road congestion is still a nightmare in the city. I missed my flight on my last visit to this city, no thanks to this traffic nightmare. But not this time because I took cognizance of this fact and planned ahead.
Ambience: From the airport to the city, posters of CarniRiv adorned the area. A few Christmas decorations were sighted around the city.