Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Top 5 Hot Spots {Favorites: Part 1 of 4}

There were three things I didn't like about our trip to Ethiopia.
1) Using the internet was a patience-building activity
2) I had to take 75% of my photos from the inside of a moving vehicle
3) It was impossible to order a cocktail

Other than these very minor inconveniences, I loved, loved, loved every minute of our trip.

Last March, when we first learned that new laws in Ethiopia required adoptive parents to travel twice, I thought the world was ending. I was devastated by the thought of meeting my baby and then leaving him and I was terrified of the extra expense that would be incurred by an additional trip.

But now I know better. This extra trip was not a burden. It was a blessing.

Not only did we get to meet our boy earlier than we would have under the old system, but we got to do, see, and experience things that simply would not have been possible had we been packing everything into one trip.

I want to share every. single. bit of our trip, but I just don't think that's going to be an attainable goal for this distracted and slightly overwhelmed mama.

So for now, I'll start with my five favorite spots in Addis Ababa.

1) The Korah Leprosy Hospital - As part of their physical therapy, men and women with leprosy are taught to spin, knit, weave, and embroider. Not only do these activities help them maintain their physical dexterity, but they also help them earn a living - and their work is beautiful! (Travelers advice: Don't shop in any of the street shops until after you have visited Korah. Believe me, you'll regret buying a scarf from anyone else!)
2) Entoto Mountain - Just a short drive outside of the city, Entoto mountain is full of beautiful views and eucalyptus infused air. After breathing exhaust fumes for six days, we felt like we had entered a completely different world! We skipped the museum tour at the top and continued on to the backside of the mountain where we saw open pastures and grazing sheep. (Travelers advice: If you have old tennis shoes, take them with you to give to the women carrying loads of fire wood down the mountain. They will be oh-so-grateful.)
3) Ark Cafe - We drank LOTS of coffee in Ethiopia. It's just what you do. Our favorite spot for macchiatos was the Ark Cafe located right next to the Lion Zoo.
4) The Merkato - Ethiopia boasts Africa's largest open air market - it's were the locals shop and the tourists get pick-pocketed - and I LOVED it. The Merkato is crawling with activity - gridlocked traffic, live animals, people, people, people, and every piece of merchandise you could possibly want to purchase. We visited twice and our driver, Solomon, helped us purchase all of the items necessary to host our own coffee ceremony, even down to the raw coffee beans. Though I put up a good fight, Solomon absolutely would not let me walk around the Merkato and he only let me out of the van for about 10 minutes. It's like he thought I would stick out or something. :)
5) Kuriftu Resort - This beautiful resort was located about an hour outside of the city. The drive alone was worth the visit as we got to see what life was like outside of the bustle of Addis. Kuriftu is the Broadmoor Hotel of Ethiopia and we enjoyed a great lunch and kayak ride around the lake. (Travelers advice: If you are looking to relax a bit during your stay in Ethiopia, plan to spend 4-6 hours at Kuriftu. They have a full-service spa, hookah lounge, and places to relax by the water.)


michele said...

You really do take great pics!
Hope you are well. Talk soon! michele

Brockman said...

Hey Beck, I enjoyed the brief, but excellent overview of your trip. Have you read, "Cutting for Stone?" It takes place in Ethiopia and some of the places you visited.

I also liked reading your travel tips. All the best!