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Google and the City

THISDAY

When technology meets travel, seamless travel experience happens. This is something Google has consistently done in the past four years. This year, the maiden Lagos edition wasn’t any different, navigating Lagos with Google tools. I learnt the art of home-made-party jollof rice with Chef Eros, explored the waterways of Lagos and paid homage to Fela’s dynasty with #GidiwithGoogle. Whether it’s a Google map helping you with directions or Google photos creating your own GIFs and video, Google is your best travel partner. Omolola Itayemi   writes

Technology company, Google, is using the growing need for information on the go to showcase some of its applications and how they come in handy during travel. An interesting crop of media personnel including journalists from all over Africa, bloggers and influencers explored Lagos, the city of aquatic splendour using the apps on Google; Stephen Musyoka and Lyra Aoko from Kenya, Karabo Mokgoko and Anje Rautenbach from South Africa and Chuks Nwane of the Guardian. The trip is to engage major media personalities to share their experience using these tools available on Google and where better to do this than Lagos, the only city in the world that has a personal residence turned museum dedicated to the late Fela Anikulapokuti -Kalakuta Museum.

Arriving

Got to the George hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos (our abode for the next three days) late on Wednesday, October 4th and met the most exciting welcome gift in my room. I could not meet up with the rest of the team for dinner at 6.00 pm at the Backyard, Lagos, a bar and grill restaurant located in Victoria Island but from the cool photos that emerged, Google could not have started on a better vibe especially with those Google customised menus and dining accessories.

The George Lagos opened its doors to the public in October 2015 with a legacy that is now the benchmark for luxury hospitality in Nigeria. It is a Nigerian-owned, Luxury Business Hotel located in the heart of Ikoyi, Lagos, known for its opulent suites, indulgent hotel facilities, bespoke features, personalized business and hotel services offering an unsurpassed luxury business experience.

Day 1 – Explore Lagos Island

Following a quick briefing on various Google apps we will be exploring throughout the trip at the hotel restaurant whilst having breakfast, we started on a very early note. Most of us are not strangers to Google apps but how much of it do we apply in our everyday lives and also on trips. Google Maps is every tourist’s essential guide. You can check out the distance to wherever you’re going, the traffic situation and how long it will take for you to get there. Dorothy Oko, Communications and Public Affairs manager, East and Francophile Africa, gave a background to the brand, took us through the apps with illustrations before we hit the road.

You know how people say Google is your best friend? Google is actually your best friend! For travelling, you convert currencies, learn more about the history of the country and more. Personally, Google Voice Search is the star attraction for me with its new accent-friendly edge, you don’t even have to type anything. I must have said ‘ok google’ more than a thousand times.

Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Google Communications & Public Affairs Manager, West Africa, spoke about GoogleMaps being every tourist’s essential guide. You can check out the distance to wherever you’re going, the traffic situation and how long it will take for you to get there. One cool thing is that you can create lists and share with friends.As a frequent traveller, beyond giving direction, I have found this feature very useful. It is for travellers who want to know what to expect from a destination, or want to see if the 5-star Hotel you are booked into is indeed that and not a rundown motel purporting to have star rating. It also allows you to see some famous tourist sites that you may want to visit in various countries, oh yes I can attest to that.

Interestingly, my Google feed gets automatically curated to my interests and previous searches, creating lists I can share with friends and directions to such places.  Capturing special moments and interesting locations are easy with Google Photos. You can create your own GIFs and movie clips (with your selected song in the background). No extra app or struggle involved. Just a few clicks on the Google Photos app and it is done. More so, there’s a sharing feature on the app that sends to loved ones and friends. Just create a new sharing link, add everybody’s email addresses and you can all upload pictures and have access to them automatically.

Out and about we headed to the serene yet rich in fauna Lekki Conservation Centre, Lekki Lagos where we explored the nature trail walk for about 300 metres before climbing the tree house, the view from the top of the tree house was awesome.

Next stop was Chef Eros Studio 1 at Lekki where we learnt the art of home-made-party-jollof rice. Thanks to the famous conversation between Richard Quest of CNN and Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism on the origins of jollof rice, it has become our holy grail, so gidiwithgoogle cannot happen without Naija jollof rice. Chef Eros left no one in doubt about the amazing delicacy Naija jollof rice which left our fellow African influencers asking for more and the recipe too. We finished with a crash course on table etiquette and food party with a twist on traditional Nigeria food.

Nobody looked forward to the Lekki Arts and Crafts Market more than the visiting influencers and were slightly disappointed when we found out the market was shut down for the day. We opted for the boat ride from BayLounge, navigating Lagos waterways with Naija music, food and good company.

DAY 2 – Mainland Fun 

After breakfast, we went to the Quintessence Store, Ikoyi, the arts and crafts on sale there were a collectors’ item and I picked a few with amazing books. Next door is Polly Alakija, (the artist that painted under Falomo Bridge, Ikoyi) art studio where I saw the best murals in Lagos and took pictures with the iconic hand painted volkswagen bug in front of her studio

Next stop was Freedom Park, formerly a colonial prison called Her Majesty’s Broad Street Prison. Although most of the former structures have been demolished, they have built new ones ones with pictures and relics of the old prison. We met, Theo Lawson, the architect that designed Freedom Park and Kalakuta Museum.

We moved on to Kalakuta Museum. What can I say it’s a whole three-floors dedicated to the memory of Fela, the music legend. With a tour guide/former student of Fela, we practically went through his lifetime in two hours. No information or keepsake was spared from pictures, rooms, clothes, musical instruments and even the wrapper of the last chocolate candy he had before passing away. 

After a sumptuous meal at Jevenik restaurant, GRA, Ikeja, we were prepped up for a glamorous night. Face beat by Priye, one of Nigeria’s top make-up artist, off we went to Bogobiri for another amazing party, Google style. A lovely evening with excellent food, wine and Naija music and dance. What a top ending to a brilliant day.

Usual Google style, each person forms a group with tasks at the beginning and the winning group gets gifts.

 I’m proud to say my group won one of the competitions. With Google photos, I know my unlimited amazing pictures I took will be stored and organized, however, much more than the pictures were the daily gifts I got on return to my hotel room each night. Not just any other gifts but gifts that resonate with me. Thanks, Google!

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