< beautiful goree

Just 3km off the coast of Dakar is a small island that began as a trading post for the portuguese in mid-15th century. It was constantly fought over by the french and english for the next 2 centuries, was home for 6000 at one point, and only dwindled in influence when Dakar became fortified in mid-18th century.

You can go for it's history, or even to visit the ramparts and fort that were reconstructed for the movie "Guns of Navarone", but Goree is best for its tranquil, laid-back attitude. Delicate alleys span the island, which is only a ten-minute saunter long. Designated by UNESCO as a world-heritage site, it's a strange mix of things that include various institutes for african democracy, george soros' think-tank villa, and even the aga khan's ex-pad.

The most famous building here is the "Maison D'Esclaves" -- a holding point for captives from the interior before they were shipped to the New World in the 18th and 19th centuries.

I was expecting a huge fortress -- but it's actually more like a modest villa perched on the edge of the atlantic -- indistinct from some of the other houses that line Goree's alleys. You can ponder the 6ft square holding cells (for 20 slaves) and join Clinton, Mandela and the Pope who have all stood in the famous doorway that leads directly out to the sea...



I decided to stay the night in Goree as a respite from Dakar. The Hostellerie du Chevalier de Boufflers offered some gorgeous rooms and a view over the bay.