Saturday, August 20, 2011

ETHIOPIA

ADDIS ABABA
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Kaldi’s Coffee – Roosevelt Street (in Sarbet Adams Pavilion Building); 011-251-11-371-4258; kaldis-coffee.com.
Lime Tree – Bole Road (Bole); 011-251-91-120-0072; facebook.com/pages/The-Lime-Tree-in-Addis-Ababa/132100066818955; creative juices.
Tomoca – Wavel Street (piazza); 011-251-11-111-1781; tomocacoffee.com; great coffee; beans roasted on site.

Bars & Nightclubs
Fendika Azmari Beat – Zewditu Street (downtown); 011-251-91-154-7577; best place for traditional Ethiopian culture exposure; intimate, 1-of-kind azmari-bet (might have to duck to avoid dancer’s flailing foot); show starts around 9 pm when azmari (poet-musician) weaves his way around club, strumming 1-string masinqo; star of show is undoubtedly world-famous dancer Melaku Belay; bursts at seams every other Friday when local favorite, Ethiocolor, play; arrive early.

Hotels
Sheraton Addis – Taitu Street; 011-251-11-517-1717; sheratonaddis.com; located in Ethiopian capital’s heart, on hilltop overlooking city with plunging views of National Palace; pool has underwater music; 293 rooms and suites; also, 3-floor villas with personal outdoor pools.

Restaurants
Blue Tops Restaurant – King George VI Street (piazza); 011-251-11-123-2463; expats’ haunt; Italian; calzones, pastas, some vegetarian options; heavenly ice-cream sundaes; pizzas in evening and lunch Sundays; closed Mondays.
Ristorante Castelli – Mahatma-Gandhi Street (piazza); 011-251-11-157-1757; facebook.com/pages/Ristorante-Castelli-Addis-ababa/230715623605957; Italian; where local celebrities (and some international ones) go.
Habesha Restaurant – Bole Road (Urael, next to Sabit Building); 011-2511-11-151-8358; 2000habesha.net; fashionable Bole eatery where serving is art form; live music and traditional dancing every night at 8:00 pm.
Leah’s House British Restaurant – Ring Road (Bole, at Camaroon Street); Cornish pasties, full English breakfasts, steak-and-kidney pies.
Lime Tree – Bole Road (Bole); 011-251-91-120-0072; facebook.com/pages/The-Lime-Tree-in-Addis-Ababa/132100066818955; pita stuffed with falafel or tabouleh, or chicken coconut curry.
Serenade – 6 Kilo (eastern piazza, down road from Nazereth School); 011-251-91-120-0072; tucked up dark, cobblestone alley; magnificent Mediterranean eatery; creative menu, including dishes like braised lamb with caramelized onions, lentils, lemon, and raisin orange couscous; vegetarian; great desserts.

Services
Muluken Girma – tourguides.viator.com/tour-guide-muluken-girma-35745.aspx; private tour guide.

Shopping
Alert Handicraft Shop – Sidist Kilo area (behind US Embassy); 011-251-11-321-1518; Berhan Taye Leprosy Disabled Persons Work Group produces and sells here items emblazoned with embroidery.
Former Women’s Fuelwood Carriers Project – Gulele (off Entoto Market); handwoven shawls.

Sights & Sites
Africa Hall – Menelik II Avenue (across from Palace); euneca.org; where UN Economic Commission for Africa headquartered, as well as most Ethiopian UN offices; also site of Organization for African Unity’s (OAU, now African Union) founding; also, stained glass windows by Afewerk Tekle.
Ethnological Museum – Algeria Street (on Piazza Haile Selassie); 011-251-11-123-3460; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_National_Museum; Haile Selassie’s former palace; surrounded by Addis Ababa University’s fountains and gardens; cultural heritage emphasized.
National Museum – King George VI Street (on piazza); 011-251-11-111-7150; ethiopians.com/arts/nationalmuseum.htm; houses nation’s artistic treasures, as well as most precious archaeological finds, such as “Lucy’s” fossilized remains (Australopithecus afarensis); recently added to basement gallery is Selam display (A. afarensis specimen considered to be world’s earliest child); at present, 4 main exhibition sections; basement dedicated to archaeological and paleoanthropological sections; 1st floor contains ancient and medieval period objects, as well as former rulers’ memorabilia and regalia (including Emperor Haile Selassie); 2nd floor contains art work in chronological order, from traditional to contemporary works (including murals, Afewerk Tekle works, as well as works by other Ethiopian artists); 3rd floor contains ethnographic displays.
St. George’s Cathedral – Fitawrari Gebeyehu Street (on piazza); 011-251-11-111-6570; zeorthodox.org; built in 1896 in thanks to St. George, whose relic was carried into battle against invading Italians at Battle of Adwa; Ethiopians’ win is only time African army has defeated Europeans in major encounter; shoes must be removed at door; Emperor Selassie's coronation throne on display; also, small museum whose exhibits include garb worn in battle (huge helmets made from lion’s heads, terrifying curved swords, and tridents); also, works by Afewerk Tekle (artist responsible for Africa Hall’s stained glass windows); outside is statue of martyr assassinated in 1937.
Washa Mikael Church – Yeka Park; washamikael.wordpress.com; must-visit rock-hewn church.



AXUM
Hotels
Africa Hotel – Aklilu; 011-251-34-775-3700; africahotelaxum.com; among Axum’s more popular hotels; undesirable restaurant; small bar; friendly, helpful owner/manager; rooms have individual bathrooms with showers; nice courtyard with fruit trees; free airport transfers.
Atse Kaleb Hotel – south of “main tarmac“; 011-251-34-775-2222; kalebhotelaxum.jimdo.com; rooms are fine but fairly noisy due to discotheques nearby; food not worth mentioning.
Yeha Hotel – 3 Kebele; 011-251-11-830-1177 or 011-251-34-775-2379; yehahotelaxum.com; government-owned; overlooks Northern Stele field; good restaurant with mediocre service; excellent view from terrace.

Services
Tourist Commission – located off roundabout (400 ms south of Northern Stelae Field); ticket covers admission to all sights except Church of St. Mary of Zion.

Sights & Sites
Archaelogical Museum – CBD (back of main stelae field); axumiteheritagefoundation.org; stone artefact collection gives idea how advanced culture was; fine and well-preserved early Ge’ez & Sabaean inscriptions, some dating back over 2.5K years; interesting tomb object variety, ranging from ordinary household items (e.g., drinking cups, incense burners & lamps) to quite sophisticated glassware (e.g., perfume bottles); particularly nice Aksumite coin collection (dating from 4th-6th Centuries CE); beautiful lion gargoyles; charming pot shaped like 3-legged bird; ancient amphorae from Cyprus or Turkey evidences ancient trading routes.
Ezana Park – CBD; within rather ugly, tin-roofed tukul; famous 4th Century CE stone carved per King Ezana; inscription in Ge’ez, Greek & Sabaean; records his military victories (over his “enemies and rebels”) and honorary titles; 1 section thanks God of War, thus placing stone’s age before Ezana’s conversion to Christianity; moved to present location from eastern Aksum by 1930s Italians because stood in way of road-widening plan; another set Ezana “scriptures“ on way from northern stelae field to kings’ tombs; usually closed (wait for keybearer).
Judith (Gudit) Stelae Field – near Shire; not as well-preserved Northern Stelae Field.
Gobedra Lioness – near Shire (close to quarry where stelae made); stone lioness carving.
Abba Pantaleon (Abba Penalewan) Monastery – overlooks city; accessible to men only; features interesting artwork and relics; difficult to reach.
Northern Stelae Field – northeastern part of town; whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=31&id_site=15; includes Ezana and Giant Stelae; numerous monolithic stelae fashioned from solid granite; not known exactly by whom fashioned, nor for what purpose; likely associated with great emperor burials; biggest monolith (and largest in world), measures over 108' and weighs 500 tons (fell somewhere around 4th Century CE, now in fragments); 2nd largest is 78', still standing at field’s entrance, at slight angle); another stele, 80', fell while tombs pillaged around 10th Century CE (stolen by invading Fascist Italian forces and taken to Rome, where stood, from 1937-2005, then returned to Axum and re-erected in 2008); mausoleum and tomb no longer open to public; Tomb of False Door very impressive with accurate workmanship.
Queen of Sheba Palace – near Judith (Gudit) Stelae Field; only foundations remain; actually dates from 7th Century CE, about 1500 years after Queen of Sheba.
St. Mary of Zion Church – sacred-destinations.com/ethiopia/axum-church-of-mary-of-zion.htm; repository for Ark of Covenant (chapel next door); stolen from Jerusalem temple by Menelik I, Solomon’s son by Queen of Sheba; chapel not accessible to anyone, even Ethiopian emperors; pilgrims flock to church for festival on Hidar 21 (November 30th).
Tombs of Kings Kaleb & Gebre Meskel – 20-minute walk along road heading northeast from Northern Stelae Field; impressive foundations and tombs; take flashlight.



DANAKIL
Sights & Sites
Yellow Lake – Danakil Depression (northern part Afar Triangle); 011-251-91-391-2656; en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Danakil_Depression; Danakil Depression, in northeastern corner of Ethiopia, among hottest places on planet, with temperatures reaching as high as 145F; 2 active volcanoes, bubbling lava lake, geysers, acid ponds & several mineral deposits, setting looks like something from another planet.



GOBA
Hotels
Bale Mountain Lodge – Bale Mountains National Park; 011-251-91-279-0802; balemountainlodge.com; 15 bedroom, boutique forest lodge; home to rare wolves, lions, and stunning wilderness.



LALIBELA
Hotels
Lalibela Hudad – Abuchagula Nature Reserve; 011-251-91-102-9052; lalibelahudad.com; luxury Eco-Lodge; situated in mountains above Lalibela; only accessible by hiking or mule (well worth journey); rooms are tukul style with comfortable beds.
Mountain View Hotel – North Wollo; 011-251-33-336-0804; mountainsviewhotel.com; on hill about 10-minute drive from church complexes; surrounded by glass walls; incredible scenic views; all rooms have balconies overlooking valley; most upscale option available in town.

Services
Ms. Kabebush Sisay – Medhane Alem church area (ask at Tena Adam Clinic, across street from church tour ticket office); best reached through brother, Befekadu Sisay, (home) 011-251-33-336-0317 or (cell) 011-251-91-155-6205; befekadusisay@gmail.com; age 48, conducts 1-2 day cultural trekking tours to rural area called Dugusach; spectacular views of high mountain areas; participate in cultural events (funerals, holidays, wakes, weddings).
Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives (TESFA) – 011-251-033-336-1095 or 011-251-91-324-4479; lalibelactge.com or tesfatours.com/sites/lalibela; offers excellent, multi-day hiking programme along escarpment south of Lalibela; travel with trained guide and stay overnight in local village huts.

Sights & Sites
Rock-Hewn Churches – whc.unesco.org/en/list/18; monolithic churches built during Ethiopia King Lalibela’s reign; UNESCO World Heritage site; 11 churches, assembled in 3 groups: Northern Group (Bete Medhane Alem, home to Lalibela Cross and believed to be world’s largest monolithic church, linked to Bete Maryam, possibly oldest, Bete Golgotha (known for its arts and said to contain King Lalibela’s tomb), Selassie Chapel, and Tomb of Adam), Western Group (Bete Giyorgis, most finely executed and best preserved), and Eastern Group (Bete Amanuel, possibly former royal chapel, Bete Merkorios, maybe former prison, Bete Abba Libanos, and Bete Gabriel-Rufael (possibly former royal palace), linked to holy bakery.
Monastery of Ashetan Maryam and Yimrehane Kristos Church – farther afield, in cave (possibly 11th Century, built in Aksumite fashion).

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