Spent the morning hanging out around the beach. Had breakfast with Andrea at a nearby restaurant. Packed up my gear and got it lashed to the Land Rover for the journey back to Abidjan.
Around noon walked with Andrea towards the taxi station. She's heading to Ghana and a more leisurely pace while I need to go back to Abidjan then will be traveling fairly rapidly so I can spend some time in Cameroon and still be in South Africa for New Year's. It's really weird to watch her leave after traveling with her for nearly a month, but at the same time I'm looking forward to traveling by myself again. Hopefully we'll meet up again for a bit in Accra in a week or so.
I rejoined the others and we spent a couple hours walking around admiring the dilapidated building, just getting a feeling for Grand-Bassam, and exploring a few crafts / tourist / antique shops. We spent about half an hour exploring one building that was structurally sound enough to still have three stories. It was beautiful, haunted, and a little scary. Very light and airy, but you could feel the concrete under your feet move and you walked around. Even quite some time after leaving the building I found myself walking with a very light step. The whole experience was equal parts Architectural Digest and Indiana Jones.
Lunch was at an amazing Vietnamese restaurant (there are a lot of them in Côte d'Ivoire?!?!) - it was delicious if a little out of place. Next stop was power shopping over in the new section of town. There are tons of large stalls set up on the road out of town, and the traffic was so bad we could justify wasting the time. It was almost sunset and the shop keepers were starting to close down and were very agreeable to bargaining. I ended up buying a mask and owari board carved as a crocodile (two things I'd pretty much promised myself I wouldn't buy). The drive back to Abidjan was unexciting if a lot slower due to the traffic (Sunday night returning to the city I guess).
We all squeezed into a large room on the Plateau (actually the same hotel that was full when Andrea and I tried it Thursday night). After showering we all packed into a taxi and headed for the casino at the Hôtel Ivoire - Abidjan's (and probably West Africa's) swankest hotel. It wasn't any great thing by Vegas standards - but it wouldn't be out of place there. The pool wandered round the various buildings and must have been over 500 meters from end to end. The casino itself was tasteful (ok, so it wouldn't have fit in Vegas) and small, similar to the casino in Monte Carlo. Four blackjack and two roulette tables plus a couple dozen slot machines was the extent of it. We played for several hours (yes I lost, but not too much). The minimum bet was 5,000 CFA and the smallest chip was 500 CFA (~US $1) - only available if you got a blackjack on an odd bet - I saved one for souvenir. It was fun, but not something I need to do very often.