Everyone will tell you not to go to the Merkato area in Addis Ababa. Or if you must go, don't bring a camera, documents, or valuables. On the other hand, you probably know that this is the largest African outdoor market. Let me just tell you actually leave all valuables in a safe place, except for some cash and for your camera which should be worn around the neck ... and as soon as we got there, two cops (or maybe soldiers), came to "escort" us. We didn't see it all, as we were only on a ship deck, with crowded craft stalls from all over the country, as well as clothing stalls and appliances for the locals and not much else. Nothing happened to us. We can never know if it really was dangerous (usually threats are more dramatic than reality, but you never know unless you go and see for yourself). What I would say is that it is no longer Africa's largest outdoor market. No. It is now a large network of streets where quite unsightly buildings or even shacks have been turned into shops or businesses. It is preserved by a specialist organization, and so, if you want to go shopping, you must go to a specific area. If you want clothes, to another, etc. With the monsoon rain and cold (Addis is at a considerable height, even in August it isn't hot, except for times when the sun shines, which are few), the truth is that it was not very appetizing walking around. But I don't think you should give up, and probably with a little discretion and some time, it is a more interesting place.
Lucy is a pre-hominid skeleton of the species Australopithecus afarensis, 3.5 million years old. It is in the National Museum in Addis Ababa and it was one of my dreams in this fabulous journey through Ethiopia, to see Lucy. Her name is because when she was discovered at the Beatles song "Lucy in te sky with diamons" was playing. The museum located in the city center is small but very well kept, has a bit of everything yes very interesting, has paintings of Lalibela, the thrones of the emperors, and utensils. The clothes really are worth a visit, a museum in Africa it is not common and this is worth a visit.
The Cathedral of St. George, the patron saint of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, an essential visit ... was built in 1896 by Emperor Menelik II to commemorate the victory against Italy at the Battle of Adwa (1896), has an octagonal shape and a neoclassical style, surrounded by gardens. The day we went we could not get in because of the funeral of a senior member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. A that could not fit in was beating on the doors,.. and we could see some of the velvet umbrellas and other fabrics, embroidered, used on special occasions, such as Easter and renowned processions.
Lake Langano is immense with golden water, surrounded by forests, inhabited by a myriad of birds and other animals. This is another volcanic lake of Ethiopia, which apparently has become a place of tourism. We were in another less-crowded area in the forest around the shores, and where at sunrise some decided to go in search of elusive birds. Good thing, because after it started raining and did not stop until late afternoon. Is it about the monsoon.
On the outskirts of Addis Ababa is the Menilik II Palace. He was the founder of the present capital of Ethiopia and died in 1913. His death is very curious as he was convinced that by eating the pages of the Bible he would be cured of all sickness. But while trying to eat the book of Kings, he had an apoplexy and died. From the palace you can see all of Addis Ababa, imagine that in his time there wasn't as much polution, now that's all you see. It is worth the climb and shop around. The first Menilik was supposed to be the son of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon
The cemetery of St George is situated right next to the Cathedral of the same name. I decided to walk among the graves, as I always try to visit the cemeteries, which are part of the culture and religion of each place. I also love the diversity and ways to represent and remember the dead. This cemetery was very untidy. The tombs are quite similar to those of our Catholic cemeteries. I found a tomb in the form of a cross faithfully reproducing the famous rock-cut church of Lalibela, the Church of St. George. Weeds, cobwebs and some trash were spread among the tombstones, with narrow paths between them. Two girls ve were sitting at the gates of a small chapel, which was reached by a staircase, called me. I walked up and they wanted to make conversation with me. In English, they asked me where I was from and what I did. Then, the more talkative of the two (the other practically said nothing, but smiled constantly), looking smart and determined, told me that she was studying and that her dream was to leave their country, to emigrate to the West. I asked her why she wanted to do that. She replied that there was no future in her country. I like encounters like this one as they are the ones that give meaning to travel. Above all, being able to exchange a few words with local people and obtaining information about their lives, make me realize how privileged I am.
The English (from WWII), are well known in the capital of Ethiopia: Churchill has an avenue with his name, as does King George VI. It's a large and important street that's a busy avenue for minibuses and taxis. It seemed the most important and modern in the capital: its on a hill and leads to the northern motorway of the country. I dare say they are the Elysian fields of Ethiopia! The street begins at the Arat Kilo roundabout where there's a monument of 28 magabit (according to the Ethiopian calendar), that commemorates the freedom of Addis Ababa on April 28, 1941: it's an obelisk with the Lion of Judah on top, and a pendulum whose hands point to the number 11, the time the capital was freed. The George VI road climbs towards Sidist Kilo and the university campus; it has the National Museum and the Serenade restaurant, which I highly recommend.
In the middle of our tour of Ethiopia, our friends Olga and Abraham took us to a typical dinner with entertainment including the capital. One could assume it was for tourists, but everyone there was Ethiopian, there to celebrate their festivals, weddings and other events and the fact is that we had a very fun and entertaining evening. We had dinner and most of all they served a wine made from rich honey - very lively. I highly recommend it.
It is impressive to see anything burn, but when arriving at a packed square, you see how people are burning a flowered cross, it's eye-popping. Ethiopians dress in their finest, with vivid colors, and after going to church, they go in procession to see the burning of the cross. Crosses made with daisies of many colors on top of a mountain of branches which are on fire. On September 27 of each year, this holiday is celebrated around the campfire. The burning of the cross is made to commemorate the revelation of Queen Helena, who told of the location of the cross of Jesus Christ. Its overwhelming to see the faith of the number of Ethiopians, with thousands of colors that blend in Meskel Square.