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“Addis Ababa - What is not visible to the naked eye”
Review of Addis Ababa

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Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
55 helpful votes
“Addis Ababa - What is not visible to the naked eye”
Reviewed May 3, 2009

i get to see a lot of quirky and out of place stuff in my travels and this trip is no different. so belt up for the travelogue

first halt was dubai airport. where i kept my cleanliness record of logging in a shower ever since i discovered it in the business class lounge. travel tip - always try and get a shower and s**t when on a long haul flight. another travel tip - always go to the handicap toilet. they're built like small cubicles where you can carry your hand carry stuff

addis ababa airport called the bole airport named after the village on which it was built. which is good in a way that's it's not named after some long forgotten leader. in addis everything is 15 minuts from bole road. which is about 10 km long.

addis has a large italian population - and genuine italian restaurants run by italian families serving very good food. i ate at castellis' which is supposed to be the best in africa

addis also has a huge yugoslav embassy and a personal palance of president tito. neither tito not yogoslavia exist - one is dead the other all broken up

i saw a lot of lada's which were russian version of the 60's fiat. the car has immense scrap value - becuase russia didn't have the tech to make thin cold roll steel so they made on large thickness steel to make their cars. not seen lada's anywhere else

then the last king haile selassie who was killed by the marxists in 60's - this guy was supposed to be a direct descendant of queen sheba's flirtations and lack of protection with king solomon. head of the rasta fari cult - made famous by bob marley. and his rastafarians

rastafarians come from jamaica and they've a simple philosophy. a man who smokes ganja lives happy and doesn't hurt. so they have huge opium farms in south of ethiopia, smoke, eat, sleep and do this endlessly. life is very easy there. i wouldn't mind doing it but there just a limit on how much reggage i can listen to

ethiopians have 13 months in a year with one month of 5 days (6 in leap year). they tell their time differently - as per them time should begin to count once the sun pops out and it should start with 1. so if you ever ask an ethiopian for the time, make sure you ask the person behind him as well

beyonce was in addis 3 days before i did and 17000 people showed up for her at $120 a ticket.

i also heard two very interesting comments - it is very expensive to be poor. the average ehtiopian pays $0.5 for a meal and sugar is $650/mt when it shouldn't be over $ 350. rice is double what is should be too

i could go on. some stuff depresses as it makes life seem very meaningless. but then the essence remains same. you run till you rest. or become a rastafarian. free resident visa in ethiopia and jamaica

3 Thank anupkum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
2 helpful votes
“Great City”
Reviewed April 12, 2009

I lived in Addis for 3 years and still visit often. It is a great town with good shopping and attractions. It is fairly safe compared to others cities in Africa although petty crime such as pick poceting and minor burglaries are common.

2 Thank rob999Scotland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
columbus, indiana
1 review
7 helpful votes
“my experience in Addis Ababa”
Reviewed February 5, 2008

Addis Ababa is a unique place for anybody to visit. It's one of a kind in africa, or any other place. what makes addis unique, is the people, the joy, it's like there's life there. You see all kinds of people from beggers to some living a luxurious life; ( just check the houses there.) some of them are made of marble. Addis is modern in many ways, and at the same time, there are things you don't have, if you want to compare it with the western civilization. but I can say this, you look for something and can't find it is because you don't know your way around. People are very generous, gracious, and very smart. The rich culture is something to marvel. When you go to visit at someone's house, they will not let you go without eating. They offer whatever they have even if you just stopped by.
overall, I have been to Addis Ababa, twice, and I very much fell in love with the city. there's something about it.

Samantha clark

7 Thank lighofaddis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandria, VA, USA
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
15 helpful votes
“Title: Impressions of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from a first time visitor to Africa”
Reviewed January 29, 2008

I walked off the Ethiopia Airlines 767 at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport on a Thursday morning hoping to see my business partner and good friend once I easily cleared customs. Bole, incidentally, is a modern and efficient airport. I called my friend on my mobile when I didn’t see him. He and his friends arrived shortly thereafter. (One thing you may as well learn now about many Ethiopians is that being on time by American standards has no place in this culture. And my friend couldn’t recall this flight ever being cleared through customs so easily, figuring he had at least an hour or two with delays in flights, etc.). I was rushed to their car and off we went to his family home, which is not far from the airport. I am one of the lucky tourists on a first time visit to stay with Ethiopians, as opposed to either of two international luxury hotels like the Sheraton or Hilton, or one of many independent hotels with varying degrees of service and amenities. Girum, my friend, had his friends unload my baggage once we arrived. They live near Haile Gebresalasie Road (And here’s tip number 2, there are no real addresses used anywhere. They may have an official complicated number recorded on some document somewhere, but addresses are listed something like this: Off Haile Gebresalasie Road near the Duty Free Shop. Take the right off the paved road at that point, seeing the new building underway to your right continuing up the road to the first road to your left etc.). All I could think about when I arrived at his home and was being ushered in to the family living/eating room was the road we just drove down to get from the airport to his home. It was paved until the turn-off to his lane and there were people on both sides of the street on sidewalks, where they existed, on the road and row upon row of small shops selling almost anything you can imagine with many bars, restaurants, and coffee places. Horns honk almost incessantly as part of this driving culture of blue cabs, blue mini-busses, and cars. There were also plenty of beggars and other locals hawking their wares whenever the car stopped or slowed down. And merging or turning onto another road is an experience you will want to experience with someone else at the driver’s seat! It was almost overwhelming but I would soon learn to adjust to this new and wildly unexpected environment. I should mention here this was my first visit not only to Ethiopia, but to Africa. Now to the present moment of arrival at the family home, his family had prepared the traditional coffee ceremony to celebrate my arrival. With wafting smells of roasted coffee beans presented to each guest in the room, incense, and the ceremony it was relaxing and even awe-inspiring as an introduction to this vast, ancient, culturally rich, and even holy land. You will also find coffee ceremonies at many hotels, restaurants, and even some of the local attractions.

The same day of arrival my new friends took me to their social activities (read several bars/restaurants) and we had a welcome to Ethiopia party which lasted for many hours. The next day we decided to spend driving around Addis Ababa. One stop was for shai (locally popular hot spiced tea); once for a light snack of something locally enjoyed; once for fresh yogurt (the Ethiopian version is not even close to the pasteurized American version), so be careful if you elect to try it and if you’re feeling adventurous add some of their ground chili pepper which is the favored option; and, once for gas and coffee. Tip # 4 on getting with the local scene and people: relax, be with your new friends, become an Ethiopian in spirit. Stop for a break often. There are no “to go" food and beverage items in stores and cafes in Addis Ababa and the rest of Ethiopia. It’s very civilized. You’ll discover the myriad shops that serve coffee and tea are everywhere and they all have Italian Espresso Machines.

There are other hotels, inns, motels in the city and they have varying degrees of service and amenities from luxury to very basic, but clean. Prices are generall very low by western standards except for the Hilton and the Sheraton. My favorite guide book is the “Brandt” travel guide for Ethiopia edited by Philip Brook. He lives in South Africa and the fourth addition was the best available in my opinion. Actually, we spoke to several visitors on the trip including two ladies traveling alone from Israel and two from Germany ending an internship in medicine…we all agreed on this. There are other publications including one from Lonely Planet. However, the Bradt guide to Ethiopia for local flavor and understanding of the culture particularly if you are traveling alone or in a small group, this is tops! My trip paralleled the guide book and I’ve not mentioned details readily available in his book, but rather my version of this new-found land which I am adopting!

I'll be happy to share more specific experiences of Addis to readers. A brief summary of what might prove interesting in Addis and nearby includes: the National Museum; various embassies; the Mercado, the largest enclosed and open air market in Africa covering many square miles (if you can't find it there, it probably doesn't exist); very affordable gold and silver shops; nearby Entoto mountains and forested areas, a local brewery where instead of tasting the brew like in the west, you merely bring a group of friends to the Meta brewery and party all day! You can order food in the indoor or outdoor setting (have someone else drive); so many restaurants/bars/entertainment places I can't list them all here. A favorite just to remind myself of the west is the Old Milk House that is located on the top floor of a high rise (10 or 11 stories) near the Organization of African Unity. It has great crisp thin crust pizza and a great view. There are several headquarters buildings related to the United Nations economic efforts in Africa also nearby. You should also not miss some new additions: near the round-a-bout near Medam Alem (sic) Cathedral out the Bole area is the new just opened Edna Mall with three or four first-run movies from the USA. They have assigned seating, fast food, amusement type section outside of the movie entrance aimed at the younger set, a great coffee shop, terrific bar/club, and it is currently the hip place to see other Addis residents who are considering themselves part of the happening of families and younger adults. I'm being a little personal here but three of our friends gained in Addis own three different places nearby this area. One is Sky Bar owned by Paul; The Blues Bar owned by Salla; and Canape Restaurant owned by Galilla (it is near the Old Train Station). Each is distinctively related to the owner's personality and each is usually present to make your visit really pleasant. All are relatively small but worth checking out if you want to become a regular while you are in Addis.

Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention all the history surrounding the various Ethiopian Orthodox Churches and a Grand Mosque all worthy of visits. From Injera and a host of traditional foods to even ice cream you can find it in this city. Certainly it's got its contrasts with the old and new. And certainly if it's your first visit I want to suggest you read a short, but concise history and take a look at the Brandt travel guide at the very least. You'll find many excellent local guides who can help you make all the arrangements. I had the pleasure of working with one, Habtu, a University student who has formed his own company. Let me know how I can help you discover the alluring city of Addis and other parts of Ethiopia. I'll be writing more about other cities and habitats soon.

14 Thank WindowToEthiopia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia
1 review
7 helpful votes
“Haven on the earth”
Reviewed March 3, 2006

I have just return from short break to Addis Ababa - Ethiopia, A haven on the earth, where every thing is simple by its nature, peoples and climate. I have stay at a place near Awrarish Hotel; meet good, honest, sincere friends. The weather is very fantastic, raining most of the day. Have visit very famous place called - Sodari, about 109 Km away from the capital Addis Ababa, in which you can stay for a day or 2 and enjoy the nature, the hot water as well as the animals. the place is very recommended by so many friends from local as well as foreign too. But please carry some foods to feed the Monkey.
Overall I would say this is probably the best place I have ever stayed in on holidays and I am extremely fussy! Perhaps not the most convenient if all you want to do is theme parks, but if you want to mix a little luxury with the odd trip to the parks then this is an absolute must

7 Thank toure_saa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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