Ethiopia – Day 1 – Addis Ababa

After a very smooth 7 hour flight on Ethiopian Airlines we arrived bleary eyed into Addis.   The jacaranda trees in full bloom were the best welcoming committee we could have hoped for…..we were now in Africa!
After the typical convoluted African airport process of visa obtaining, passport control, luggage tag checking and security checking (to leave the airport….I’ve never had that one before!), we were met by our guide Dawit.  He was superb, introducing us to Ethiopia & Addis as we drove along, trying to get our bearings.  We were staying at the Radison Blu hotel, a new hotel which opened in 2012. On arrival we met up with the other fam trip host – Janet Shankland from One Greenstone and imparted the glorious words everyone wants to hear after an overnight flight. “Tuck into the breakfast buffet & get a few hours rest before we head out to explore Addis”  Needless to say I took her advice and emerged refreshed a few hours later ready to explore Addis.  First we needed to change some money.  It took 20 minutes, 5 forms plus 10 different members of staff to change $300 into bihr……I love Africa!
First stop was the Trinity Cathedral which was built to commemorate the country’s liberation from Italian occupation.
It is also home to the tomb of the Ethiopian legend, Haile Selasse and his wife.  Isabel from Wildlife Worldwide and I got so carried away trying to get the perfect photo of the tomb that when we finally emerged we’d discovered we’d been locked in and the rest of the group were merrily making their way to the bus.  A few loud shouts later, the emergence of a poor confused priest and we were free… legendary as Haile Seleasse was I wasn’t too keen about spending the night in his tomb!
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Next stop was the ethnographic museum which gave a fascinating insight into Ethiopian life & culture and the National museum where the infamous ‘Lucy’ is held.  It is mind blowing to think how many important discoveries on the human race have been made in this area.
A lifesize model of ‘Lucy’
Lucy’s bones
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St George’s Cathedral was founded in 1896 to commerat victory over Italy in the battle of Adwa.  Italy were so embarrassed that the Italian’s lost this battle and failed to colonise Ethiopia that Musselini decided to try again and in 1936 the Italians started a 5 year occupation.  This is the closest that Ethiopia got to being colonised and proudly remains the only African country not to be fully colonised.  At least poor old Italy can be happy in the knowledge that their ineptitude to properly colonise the country has led to two fascinating churches being built!  The other major Italian influence in Ethiopia is seen in the food.  We had dinner in the oldest Italian restaurant in Addis called Castelli’s. Our table was groaning with the most delicious pasta dishes.  It was incredible value with the average meal costing $5.

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