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Sunday 8 Mar 2009
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Back in Addis

Arrived back in Addis this morning. Had a bit of a nightmare when I arrived as I had no cash and the bank at the airport was closed (Sunday y'see).

So I got into a taxi and asked him to take me to the Hilton hotel (which has the only ATM in town). Arrived and thankfully my ATM card was accepted! Thank Christ! 500 birr later I was back in the taxi and arrived at my somewhat tacky abode: Harambee Hotel.

A bit of a stepdown from my last stay in Addis at the Jupiter but it was central and at 200 birr ($20) for the night did the trick.

Relic of socialist past
Relic of socialist past

After yet another injera lunch (I tell ya, I was addicted to the stuff at this stage) I spent the rest of the day wandering around Addis in search of last minute souvenirs (I got some cool tshirts with Ethiopian symbols on them like "Ah-Be-Sha" which is the Ethiopian for Abyssinia - the old name for Ethiopia), and also taking photos of various sites such as the communist DERG monument (the DERG were the military government that ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist in the 80s ... and also contributed to the deaths of the people during the 1984 famine).

One site I tried to get to was the Yekatit 12 monument. This monument was built to remember the thousands of innocent Ethiopians who were slaughtered in Addis Ababa over 3 days by the Italians after the attempted assasination of the Italian viceroy in 1937.

People were hung, shot, beheaded, even disembowelled and this is all graphically portrayed in bronze on the lower half of the marble obelisk.

Lonely Planet's maps are notoriously misleading so what I thought was going to be a short 30 minute walk, soon turned into an hour long trek (uphill too!) along the streets until I realised that I was still only half-way there! At this stage the sun was coming down and I really wanted to see the monument so hopped into a taxi and we rode the rest of the way there. Once again I was back in crazy traffic land where people walk out in front of oncoming traffic, and at several points I was sure we had run over somebody. It took another 15 minutes DRIVE before we reached the monument, but by that stage the sun had set and, as the monument isn't lit up, I could barely make out the sculptures. DOH!

Show at Dar Abyssinia...
Show at Dar Abyssinia...

Nevertheless, later that night I had a truly excellent experience that more than made up for the somewhat wasted day in Addis. On the advice of the American girl I met in Lalibela who was working in Addis, I went out to a restaurant on Bole road called "Dar Abyssinia". What a mind-job! As soon as you enter, it's like arriving at a huge theatre with a stage of noisy dancing directly to your right, and a full crowd of 300 tourists staring at you. Not at all what I was expecting!

Ethiopian dancing
Ethiopian dancing

I sat down at a table and was soon joined by a group of wealthy locals (it was a rather upper-class place... more expensive than your average restaurant but still easily affordable for a tourist) and soon found the place to be rather excellent. The decor is distinctly Ethiopian, with thatched roof, and very confortable cushions to sit on large bamboo chairs. The food was devine! And the entertainment was non-stop and exceedingly good (the performers showed the various dance forms from around the country, whilst being supported by a live acoustic band playing various Ethiopian instruments). Very tourist-oriented, but a lot of locals were there enjoying it equally.

Eventually the inevitable happened and the audience were encouraged to participate and show their dancing skills. Fortunately I'd a bit of the ol' shoulder thrustin' experience from the night before so I was now "an expert" and proceeded to show off (i.e. make a fool of myself). The copious St George beers helped no doubt.

Highly recommended (and apparently it doesn't close till 4am)!

Got a lift back to my hotel with the wealthy Ethiopians (who were at the same table as I was) in their huge Landcruiser. The guy must have been a diplomat or something as he was staying in the Sheraton hotel (which has rooms starting from $300 per night!), so I was kinda embarresed at the state of my hotel Tongue out

Great last night in Abyssinia! ... back to Tanzania tomorrow to catch my return flight home from Dar Es Salaam

1 Comment for this Travel blog entry

Gretta Says:

7 April 2009

Hah, now you understand when I tell you about the guy with the load on his head who walked right in front of my car in Nigeria and fell down, tray of goods and all. Luckily no injuries sustained or i'd have been in trouble oh.

I bless the rains down in Africa

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Day 3  ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

Day 3 ... Lookin forward to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro

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