Edit Blog Post
Published: June 21st 2014
Washing and bathing and swimming
After a day of walking around Addis second-guessing my options as to how I'd get to Bahir Dar, I finally found an Ethiopian Airlines office that would honor my discount without a round trip ticket from and back to Canada. This meant that the flight to Bahir Dar would be 60 dollars instead of 150.
After an hour delay at the airport and a somewhat stormy flight, I arrived in Bahir Dar at about 8PM. It was still much warmer outside than in Addis, and I was surprised to see that the streets were lined with palm trees. My guide book (Bradt Travel Guide) didn't seem to recommend anywhere they had listed, but some Peace Corps volunteers recommended to stay in this hotel:
While it's a large institutional-looking building, it's well constructed and the rooms and clean and comfortable. I paid 200 birr (10 dollars) for a single room with a toilet, hot shower, locker, and television the first night, and 240 to share a room with my friend Hannah (a Peace Corps volunteer who has lived here for a year and a half) once she arrived -- same amenities, with two beds. The
man and herd
When I took a photo of his herd, this man started waving his arms. I thought he wanted me to stop, but then he motioned that he wanted to be in the photo.
food in the restaurant was fine, and it was just a few blocks from the center of town.
It's a busy, bustling, relatively modern town, with far more hotels than needed (though it was the low season). I saw only a couple of foreigners during my time here.
There is a nice path that runs along the lake's edge, but you're pretty much guaranteed to be bothered by touts and scammers here. Most encouraged me to take a boat trip to the monasteries on the lake, but even with a group of other travelers, it was expensive -- 350 birr / person. Instead, I walked east along the shore, only to find myself being followed by Abraham, a 16-year old local. I made it clear that I wouldn't give him any money and didn't need any services, but he insisted he just wanted to talk and to show me where a monument and a palace are. I had read about these and couldn't find them, so eventually I agreed to follow him for 50 birr. It ended up being a three-hour hike, first to a ridiculous monument that looks like a giant tuning fork, and then to a
defunct palace at the top of nearby hill. A few scammers along the way tried to get me to pay extra -- one to take me to a shortcut, and one to allow me to go to the viewpoint. I adamantly told them I would only go with Abraham and that I'd turn around if they wouldn't let me though, and they all walked away. I also had to endure and ignore most of Abraham's complaints about his poverty and his health, and his offers to take me to see his home and his orphaned three-year old brother (Hannah said some of the scammers make contracts with very poor families in town who pretend to be family members.) Still, he was good company and it was interesting to talk to someone who had never heard of a fork (in my explanation of a tuning fork) or McDonald's. In the end, I gave him 100 birr, so maybe his complaints did get to me, but I felt it was more than worth the experiences I had on the day hike (see photos).
Once Hannah arrived, we still weren't too keen on an overpriced boat trip to see monasteries that are
Lentils drying the sun
apparently better in other parts of the country, so we just lounged around on the lake's edge, like the locals. A few overzealous bureaucrats watched over the area and tried to get me to pay 10 birr to take a photo. I managed to sneak a couple of photos of the lake, though.
We never made it to Blue Nile Falls (which are mostly dry due to a new hydroelectric plant) or to the monasteries on the lake, but Bahir Dar was still worth the trip.
See more photos below.
Tot: 0.078s; Tpl: 0.046s; cc: 9; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0114s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.2mb