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Published: June 21st 2014
Traveling from Bahir Dar to Gondar is a shocking change in scenery: we went from a muggy, tropical atmosphere to a mountain town in just three hours. We barely missed the 7AM bus, but after a fist fight or two between bus station touts, we found a minibus and headed to the foothills for 60 birr per person (about $3, and the same price as the bus would have been). I woke up with a bit of a stomach bug, so the winding rode made for a difficult ride.
I started to feel more and more ill along the way, and by the time I arrived in Gondar I was running in and out of the bathroom every few minutes at the house of a Peace Corp volunteer friend of Hannah's. But after a day of rest and many hours of sleep under a mosquito netted bed in the kitchen of another house, I felt much better the next day and was ready to explore Gondar (sometimes spelled Gonder) a bit.
At first we stayed at a Peace Corp abode at a teaching university, which is a mile or two down the hill from the downtown area. Most of
the tourist attractions and a nice town center lay at the top of the hill, which is a much more convenient place to stay. My guidebook recommended Queen Taitu Pension, which is fine, though perhaps a bit overpriced at 320 birr per room, which is a fair amount more than listed in the book.
The main attractions here are the ancient castles and churches, which date back to the 1600's (see photos). The main castle complex was closed for lunch, so we set off to find me a walking stick for the trek into the Simien mountains (a separate page on my blog, though it's easiest to arrange such treks in Gondar). Half of the population carries one everywhere they go, but no one seemed to sell them, even in the market. Eventually we found someone who gave one to us as a gift. After coffee at a traditional coffee house, we headed back to the castle grounds (entrance fee 200 birr, which includes entrance to a nearby church and the Fasil Baths) and then headed to a large ceremonial pool, which is a couple of kilometers away.
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