Exploring Addis Ababa with Exodus Tour Group

Trip Start Oct 11, 2012
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Trip End Nov 19, 2012


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Where I stayed
Ghion Hotel Addis Ababa
Read my review - 3/5 stars
What I did
Ethnological Museum at Haile Selassie University
Meskel Square
Holy Trinity Cathedral

Flag of Ethiopia  ,
Sunday, October 14, 2012


Today's recap may be a little shorter - we hope - because it was the first day with the group and it is now past 9:30 pm and I am feeling the need to get to bed sooner rather than later.

I was awake way before dawn and kept checking my watch for the time and finally convinced myself it was OK to get up before 6 am.  I read a little and packed up before heading to breakfast with my packed bags.  I was downstairs by 7:20 or so and checked out, got some small notes and got my taxi ride where they got me again and I had to pay 300 birr to get the 1.5 km to the airport.  I had to go in the right entrance through security to get into the lobby to look for the Exodus leader and try to get my lost luggage.  I found the leader first thing and he led me to the luggage window.  I waited and waited and then the leader came back, rapped on the window and the man came.  Happily my bag was there.  Then I had to wait in the rather long x-ray line to take my bag through - as well as all my other stuff because I had it with me.  I found the leader again and became the seed point for the new group arriving off the airplane.  First was Shauneen, a young Irish woman who lives in London, and is into photography.  She mentioned that this trip is a photography trip.  What planning on my part!  I don't think I knew this before I booked it though.

After the entire group assembled, I got to ride back to the Ghion Hotel with the group.  We were checked in and Jillie became my roommate.  We got to rest until 1:30 but Jillie and I talked pretty much the whole time.  She is also very well traveled AND very much into photography.  She had the tiniest little bags and her sleeping bag takes up almost one whole bag but she had a lovely camera with big lens and other photo equipment and it seems everything that I have and more.  How can she do it??

Kibrom (our leader) gave a short talk on taking photos in the south, tipping, where we will be traveling in the next few days, and off we went on our city tour.  We left the hotel and were immediately plunged into very heavy pedestrian traffic because of the huge Ethiopia-Sudan football game which leads to a decision about whether Ethiopia plays in the Africa Cup after a long absence.  This was all in the big Meskel Square - the center of modern Addis Ababa.  Although the city itself isn't that old, founded around 1880 - or is that when Menelik II, the father of Haile Selassie, built one of his palaces.  We went by them both - one now lived in by the prime minister and the other, by the president. 

We first went to the Ethnological Museum - on the grounds of the University - where I had gone on my own but it wasn't open then.  It is housed in one of Haile Selassie's old palaces - could it really be another one?  There were artifacts, paintings, Haile Selassie's bedroom and bathroom (with blue porcelain fixtures and a double sink.  Very impressive.)  There were also some nice baskets - a gift shop - hmmm, can't remember anything else at the moment.

Next we went to the Holy Trinity Cathedral.  It is Sunday today and we have seen lots of people worshiping, the women in their special handmade white scarves.  By the time we got there, most people were gone, but there were still some very devout-looking worshipers.  People bow, prostrate themselves on the ground, and throw their hands in the air so it seems like a very dramatic religion.  Kibrom mentioned the connection with Judaism:  Solomon and Sheba, Menelik I and the Ark of the Covenant, the 1000 Jews that Solomon settled in Ethiopia.  Now, however, most have moved to Israel.  We took some photos of the inside of the church, the painted glass windows, and the holy altar area -called the Holy of Holies.  Several priests were moving about in the inner sanctum.  We were in the bus ready to leave when I noticed my Lumix camera was gone...just as I was about to let Kibrom know, he asked whether any of us had lost a camera.  A man from the other tour group found it I think - well, someone found it.  Kibrom tipped him for returning it.  I need to reimburse him.  I am not off to an auspicious start!

We then came back to the hotel trying to make our way around all the detours from the football match.  I think Ethiopia won, though.  Jillie and I chatted for a while in the room before going off to the hotel restaurant for dinner.  Dinner here was a somewhat odd affair.  We are never given an Ethiopian menu but Jillie and I were seated as overflow - I am always overflow here - in the Ethiopian eating room.  Our fish was OK and we shared a small bottle of red wine.  After awhile Bev joined us and we all talked about our travels - of course.  Bev is a postwoman and has some stories about her profession as well.  I think everyone but one young woman from Vancouver and I are from England or Ireland.  The Vancouver woman is in Ethiopia with her boyfriend visiting his Ethiopian family and she is going on this trip to see more of the country and give him a chance to be with his family by himself.  Later I discovered that Doris is from Singapore.

So now it is time for me to get to bed.  see this was a shorter blog.  Well, maybe not that much shorter.  Maybe if I forget the things I manage to take in, I can really shorten up these entries. 



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