Back to Ethiopia
We flew to Gondar and stayed at the Fogera Hotel. We paid more than the room was worth so not highly recommended. Our day was spent wandering around the Royal Enclosure, the former capital of Ethiopia and ate an awesome lunch of shiro tegebani (mashed, spiced chick peas) at Habesha Kifto. In the afternoon we picked up a really yummy chocolate donut then went to the Debre Berhan Selassie Church, which is described in the Lonely Planet as "the most vibrant and ecclesiastical artwork in the nation." The ceiling of the church, pictured below, is beautifully painted and quite famous. It was really quite amazing to see every square inch inside of the church covered in paintings describing Bible stories.
2 December, 2007
In the early morning we walked to the bus station (we bought tickets the day before) to go to Bahir Dar and watched the sun rise as we left on the three hour journey, which was similar to the bus rides in Tanzania that we had become so accustomed to in the past two years. We made our way through mountains passing small villages and cow/goat herders along the way. The environment was green, yet the people were poor. A women behind me was very ill and kept throwing up. We finally reached Bahir Dar on the edge of Lake Tana and made our way to Ghion Hotel (budget hotel at 125 Birr) to drop our stuff. We walked on the path along the lake, grabbed some soda and cake to eat the went to the market where we were bothered by two guys who wouldn't leave us alone. I told them off once and they went away but they followed us to bother us again later. I just couldn't take them so we left the market. At the market there were lots of plastic stuff being sold as well as cloth and spices, especially berebere, which is used in nearly all Ethiopian dishes. Later that evening we went to Bahir Dar Hotel for dinner, which in the Lonely Planet says is the best in town, and I'd have to agree. Not a classy place, though - my wine came in a beer bottle.
3 December, 2007
In the morning we walked 3 km to the War Memorial, which, when we arrived, was being guarded by two official looking men who wanted our passports in order to enter the memorial. Yeah, so we declined and took a local minibus back to town. Silly us - thinking memorials are open to the public. Our afternoon flight was only an hour and bumpy as we landed back in Addis Ababa then made our way to Ras Hotel. The only rooms left were ones with TVs so we treated ourselves and paid 270 Birr a night for two nights for what turned out to be the nicest hotel we have ever stayed at in Africa, which isn't saying much. We ate dinner at Dashen Restaurant again - yum.
4 December, 2007
In the morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we walked 3 km to the Ethnological Museum (which is inside the Addis Ababa University), which had a lot of centuries old crosses, idols, paintings, and history. We had a fabulous lunch at Blue Tops Restaurant, a popular ex-pat place, then went to the National Museum, which was still under construction, but an alright way to spend an hour or two. There were lots of things inside, just not laid out very well. On our walk back to the hotel we stopped at the Sheraton and had milkshakes. The grandness of the hotel, a small city unto itself, seemed over the top for such a poor country. Again, we had dinner at Dashen, but tried the fasting food this time, accompanied by different singers during our candlelight dinner.
5 December, 2007
Farewell, Ethiopia. Welcome, Egypt. At the airport in Addis Ababa I did some last minute shopping (lot of options in the airport), exchanged leftover money, and boarded our plane. Our plane stopped in Khartoum, Sudan for about an hour and most people got off. As we flew over Sudan I saw how dry and desolate the environment was. Very brown, except along the Nile River where trees followed the banks. We landed in Cairo then made our way to the local bus station. We were going to use local transport instead of paying a fortune for a taxi. In the Lonely Planet guide it says to take bus 356 to downtown. Easy enough, right? Well, all the numbers, not to mention everything else, was all in Arabic! We quickly looked in our book to find the symbols for 3, 5, and 6, asked the conductor who spoke little English and hopped on a bus that we hoped would take us downtown. After getting to downtown we walked to meet up with Laura and Bekah, who were PCVs in our training group and bought train tickets for us the day before, and went to the train station via the metro station to catch our overnight train to Luxor.