Travel Journal

Addis Ababa – Ethiopia

(Thursday 13 January 2011) by Mike and Julie's sort of round the world trip
Day 137-38 – 12/19-20/10
We got in around seven with a one hour time change so it will not be dark at 4:30! We were not able to book a room via the internet because the search engines we use do not list any Ethiopian hotels. A very nice man who had a counter for an upscale resort let us use his phone to call a couple places to see if they had rooms available. We find one place and had to pay a set fee of $14 to get to town from the airport which seemed a bit steep but we didn’t really have a choice. The hotel we ended up with was rather basic but was only 270B ($17). The hotel would not take credit cards, in fact no place we went in all of this country would take credit cards, and told us the only ATM was far away but he would get a taxi for us for 120B to go there and return. We declined and found one nearby to withdraw money which was a concern as I had read that our ATM cards would not work here but that was not the case.
I was rather keen on visiting the rock churches in northern Ethiopia but flights were full for today and tomorrow. The clerk told us that both the luxury buses traveled to Lalibela so I checked the office for one next door – no dice, and walked about three klicks to the other to find it also didn’t travel there. So far the clerk was batting a thousand. The book stated it was a two day bus ride there and then we would have to travel back which I wasn’t willing to do.
We ate at a local restaurant sampling some national food that was really good. It’s amazing how cheap things are here. You can get stuffed for $2 and beer is about seventy cents; however, none of the hotels have internet service and going to an internet café is expensive and slow.
The next day we checked on flights to Lalibela but it was too expensive and we didn’t qualify for discounts because you had to have a round trip ticket on Ethiopian Airlines to qualify so we decided to head south and pass on the north. Most people here are friendly and helpful, some people want commissions to help you. A couple young men followed us to the bus station to help us despite my saying we know where it is and we don’t need help and were disappointed when we didn’t give them commission when we got there. We did pay another guy 10B to help us find time and fares for a bus heading south the following day. Walking back we passed the outskirts of the Merkato which some consider to be the largest market in Africa but we have been warned that if you are going to be robbed anywhere in Ethiopia, it would be here. We have had our fill of markets on this trip already so we gave it a pass.
After lunch at an Italian restaurant, we got a taxi to the Ethnological Museum which has several good exhibits housed in a small former palace at the University of Addis Ababa and we got some background of the country in WWII and also some information on the tribes in the country. After Museum we went to sleep early to catch the 12 o’clock bus the next morning. Perhaps I should explain how the country uses time. One hour after sunrise, set at 6 AM, is one o’clock, 2 hours is 2 o’clock and so on. 6 PM our time is their 12 o’clock and then 7 PM is their one o’clock again. So our bus at 12 was at 6 AM. Got it?


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