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Showing posts from May, 2015

Addis Ababa to Frankfurt

I arrived in Frankfurt from Addis Ababa and had a brief layover - 7 hours or so - but it was long enough to leave the airport and go for a walk in the city. Frankfurt was kind of a perfect place to have such a layover. I have never been interested in going there and it lacks 'must-see' sights, so i could wander without feeling any pressure to do or see anything in particular.  I did do some planning and determined ahead of time where the best/most scenic places would be to go (the less time in a place, the more planning required).

I passed by the disinterested customs/immigration officials and caught the easy and efficient train to central Frankfurt.
After my weeks in Ethiopia, and most recently Addis, the air felt so cool and fresh. I arrived early in the morning and it was a monday so the streets were mostly quiet and then filled with suits off to work and a few buses of tourists, waving a plethora of selfie sticks.

The city was...nice. Attractive and clean, with some prett…

Back to Addis Ababa

I left Lalibela the morning after the day of my mule trek. I awoke that day feeling like i might die. Fever, vomiting, and excruciating soreness all over. Thankfully my sightseeing was complete or it would have spoiled the day, but as it was the day was mostly travel: Waiting around for a bus to get to the airport, waiting at the airport, flying to Addis, and then waiting for a shuttle to my hotel. By the time i arrived and settled, all i wanted to do was have a cigar and a bath and go to bed. A word about my hotel, i figured that by the end of my trip i would be worn down, tired, dirty - all of which are true - so i had booked my last two nights in Addis at the Hilton, which is super fancy. I felt like a hick walking in in the same outfit i've been wearing for the past 2+ weeks, smelling of sweat, mule, and probably vomit, but it was the perfect place to actually relax for a change and get some rest. And, as it turns out, there are lots of great places here to curl up with a cig…

Travels With My Mule

The day before yesterday i was sitting in a pleasant cafe near the centre of Lalibela when a local guy showed up and started talking to me. I politely if a bit tersely went though my rote answers to the usual questions: Canada. Vancouver. Just about 3 weeks. Ethiopia is very beautiful and the people are very friendly. (All of which is true.) but this guy persisted and i actually gave him the time to talk. I had been planning on going on an excursion by car the next day to see some pf the countryside and outlying chuches, but this guy had a better idea-to go into the mountains by mule and visita monastery and a village. This sounded like a way better idea, so i agred to meet him early the next morning.

When i pictured a journey by mule i imagined leisurely strolls down wide forrest paths on my trusty...mule.  It certainly started out that way but when we started to really as end the mountain the mules were climbing up very steep inclines over not so much paths but trails of jagged, la…

Aimless Walking in Lalibela

Having spent the previous day exploring the churches of Lalibela, i devoted my second day to just checking out the town. After breakfast, i did pop into a couple of the churches I had seen the day before, but this time i was without a guide and felt i could linger in silence and snap a few photos (because the 200 hundred i took the day before wasn't enough).

As i walked away from the churches i heard a group murmuring and saw robed men and women ascending a boulder. I climbed up after them and saw a group of people sitting beneath the trees, including many priests and nuns, chanting. It was not in unison, though inheard many of the same recurring phrases. There seemed to be no leader. It was certainly religious in nature. I sat and watched for a while, restign under a juniper tree, enjoying the shade and peacefulness.
After that, i headed to the market. Everyone said Saturday was the bug market day, but i had tosettle for a Wednesday. The market was onviously half its usual size …

The Churches of Lalibela

I arrived in Lalibela earlythis morning where i was greeted by hot, sunny weather and a landscape that looked both appealing and inhospitable.

Upon landing they took my temperature, as they have upon each arrival, and i bussed to my hotel, the Tukul Village. While my lodgings in Addis Ababa and Hararr were sketchy and charmless, those in Gondar and Lalibela are fantastic. Upon seeing where i would be staying for the next three days, i wished i would be here longer.
I have this wonderful, round little hut built in the traditional style but with the comforts of a nice hotel. (So far there is running water and electricity so i am hopeful anyway.) Immediately after settling and swapping a book at the book exchange, i went to explore the churches.
Lalibela is famous for a few groups of churches that were built about 1000 years ago after King Lalibela decided to create a new Jerusalem in Ethiopia. But rather than building the churches, he decided that they must carve them into the sold roc…

Final Day in Gondar

My final day in gondar was a relaxing one. After breakfast i went back to the matket to wander around and sat and drank coffees while watching the street scene. Two things i haven't mentioned: the macchiatos here are incredible, like tiny, perfect lattes. Also there are pool halls her everywhere. Typicaly just a one room place with a pool table and nothing else, but they seem to be very popular.

After that i visited Debre Birhan Selassie, a beautifully decorated church dating back to the late 1600s, found at the end of a lovely walk on a countryish road just off the piazza. It was wonderful, but my relaxation was interrupted by a fellow who wanted to talk to me about my life in Canada and was very intent on getting to the bottom of whether i was truly happy. By the end of the conversation, I just didn't know any more. But i did enjoy the church.

After that i enjoyed a lazy lunch and cigar and lengthy bit of reading at a restaurant near my hotel before catching a tuk tuk to Ku…