A Day in Addis Ababa

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Africa » Ethiopia » Addis Ababa Region » Addis Ababa
March 11th 2012
Published: March 11th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Our time in Addis got off to a rough start with a delay in our flight from Lalibella which caused our luggage to be put on the next flight! I spent about 45 minutes in that stressed-out state that frequent travellers know well: Watching fellow passengers gradually pick up their luggage and leave until you are the last one, then watching the empty carousel go round and round before finally coming to terms with the fact that your luggage is not going to appear through the plastic flaps. We were flying home toCanadathe next day and I have no idea if our luggage would have made it without us to transfer it. Thankfully we didn’t have to deal with all of that because it showed up on the next flight just as we were starting to make arrangements with the baggage agent.

Our next hurdle was finding a place to stay. I had thought that I’d made arrangements at a booth for the Churchill hotel during our stop-over in Addis on our way fromNairobito Lalibella, but apparently they were expecting an e-mail confirmation. With unreliable power and slow internet cafes in Lalibella, I hadn’t even bothered to check my e-mail during our week there. Therefore, our reservation was cancelled. In addition, we arrived on the first day of the African Union summit! Thankfully the Churchill agent sympathized with us and found us a room at the nearby Hailie hotel. We had to pay 200USD for a suite, but it ended up being in a great location, and it was nice to splurge on our last night inAfrica. By then we were used to the exorbitant prices charged by Ethiopian hotels during special occasions.

The hotel had a nice restaurant where we had something other than injera for a change. I had a soup and salad and Chuck had a cheeseburger! We spent our arrival day relaxing, blogging and generally enjoying the suite. The Haile hotel was right on the edge of the Mercato, which is the largest open-air market inAfrica. We had also heard that this was a good place to get robbed, and our bags were stuffed with souvenirs by this point, so we decided not to chance it on our last day of the trip. After a lazy afternoon we walked a few blocks to the Churchill hotel where we had a nice dinner, then took
Watching Arab Idol on TV in our suiteWatching Arab Idol on TV in our suiteWatching Arab Idol on TV in our suite

I found this very amusing as it was exactly the same as American Idol except the music was Arab-style!
a shuttle back to our hotel for drinks in their lounge.

The next day was our touristy day in Addis as our flight toFrankfurtdidn’t leave until 11:30pm. We had a couple of maps and the hotel staff had all encouraged us to walk, so we set out to find the National Museum and the Ethnological Museum at the University of Addis Ababa, in that order. As we had learned during our previous experience driving inSouth AfricaandMozambique, navigating in African cities can sometimes be a challenge. We ended up at theUniversityofAddis Ababaas we were looking for theNationalMuseum! TheEthnologicalMuseumin Haile Selassie’s former palace was actually a much better museum than theNationalMuseum. The exhibits were colourful, informative, and were laid out in a unique way, describing traditional customs by tracing the life of an Ethiopian tribesperson from birth to death. We also saw Haile Selassie’s apartment and explored the University grounds.

The highlight of the NationalMuseum(which was easy to walk to now that we had oriented ourselves) was the fossil of Lucy, our Australopithecus afarensis ancestor. We had a delicious lunch at the Lucy Bistro next door to the museum then walked back to the Churchill hotel for afternoon drinks.

I leftAddis Ababawith a good impression, despite some areas of extreme poverty that we had walked through. The staff of both hotels was extremely friendly and attentive and the city offered some great tourist attractions. I would definitely recommend a stop inAddis Ababato anyone planning a trip toEthiopia.

And that is it for our final blog entry! We have been back inCanadafor over a month and are settling back into the daily grind. I have been telling anyone who asks that they should plan a trip toAfrica. Even two weeks, with a weekend on either end for jet lag, would offer a taste of this amazing continent. We are not sure when our next big trip will be as it’s about time to settle down, but I will enjoy the memories and the photos in the meantime. Thanks for reading!

- Rachel and Chuck

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