My trip from Harar to Gondar was a long one. First i had to get from Harar to the airport in Dire Dawa, then i had to fly to Addis Ababa and catch a connecting flight to Gondar. I had this all planned, but then the first of my two flights was delayed, causing my to miss the connecting flight to Gondar, which was the only flight to Gondar that day. I was temporarily annoyed, but i didn't have anything planned and i really had more than enough time in Gondar, so i headed back into Addis for the night and stayed at an unremarkbable hotel that was well appointed but entirely without charm (and without running water as it turned out).
I stayed the night there and didn't do much but wander around theneighbourhood, which added to my initial impression of Addis that the entire city is either falling apart or under construction, which makes it very interesting to explore but not picturesque.
The next morning i headed to Gondar, successfully this time. I am staying at the Lodge du Chateau, about which i cannot say enough good things. It is so cute and cozy, with little thatched roof rooms set around a small garden courtyard and with a roof top, outdoor area for breakfast and taking in the mountain views. The service is great and there is hot, running water. An oasis.
Gondar is located in north east Ethiopia, towards the border with the Sudan and is in or in the foothills of the Semian Mountains. Gondar is actually a proper big city, but staying in the centre, near the historical sites, it feels like a small town and is walkable and easy to navigate.
There are really two main reasons that one comes to Gondar: hiking and castles. I started with castles. There are several small castles and related buildings and ruins here dating to the 1600s. Not the sort of thing one expects to see in Ethiopia. They would look right at home in the UK. It was a beautiful, sunny day and lovely for walking around the structures and was especially peaceful due to the very few tourists.
I also went out to Fasalada's Bath (it's more like a pool really) which is only filled with water for religious ceremonies, but is nevertheless a peaceful place to visit and had amazing trees, reminicent of the temples at Siem Reap, in that their vines are slowly choaking the ruins.
After that i wandered through the market. The markets i have seen so far in Ethiopia have been great places to visit, but they really are pretty limited in their produce. The fruit has been limited to bananas, papaya, mango and lime. And the vegetables: potato, tomato, onion, garlic, carrots, and cabbage. Mostly the markets have everything else: spices, shoes, sundry items, clothes, grains, flour, firewood, and livestock. It is all chaotic and very dirty (which is how i like my markets). Seriously, i have never seen so many sheep and goats in my life. Sometimes i've seen a man buy a sheep at market and then carry the sheep on his shoulders. The sheep looks so relaxed, like, "This is the best deal ever. I get carried now?" And i just think, poor guy. You have no idea what is in store for you. Actually, the most distressing thing i saw at the market by far was a man with no hands or feet lying in the street in a pile of garbage, partially covered by a blanket. You see that sort of thing a lot here, but i found that instance disturbing.
After dinner of injerea and lentils, i went back to the hotel and found that the whole neighborhood had been blackened with a power outtage - this seems to be a common occurance in the country. Thankfully, the hotel and provided a little candle lantern, so i read by candlelight until it was time for sleep.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable first day on Gondar and worth the wait to arrive here.