Ethiopia is one of the African countries that have always been on my bucket list for years. From the day I saw photos of the Danakil Depression and the 11 incredible rock-hewn monolithic churches of Lalibela, northern Ethiopia which were built by King Lalibela in the 13th century.
Recently, opportunity struck for work training for only four days in the country commonly known as the “Land of Origin”. Unfortunately, I could not visit the Danakil Depression or Lalibela town because I was in Addis Ababa which is almost 678km away.
With the help of my brother who works in Addis Ababa, I got around the beautiful city.
The locals call it ‘Piassa’. This was home to Italians when they came to conquer Ethiopia. This old town captures the spirit of the past from 1936 to1947 when the Italians explorers made it in the heart of Addis Ababa.
Buildings constructed in the early 20th century with a touch of Ethiopian, Greek, Armenian, Indian and mostly Italian style dominate.
This old-town features; first Italian patisserie, restaurants, coffee houses, the post office, cinema halls, the first Ethiopian hotel, silver and gold smiths, historical Ethiopian, Greek and Armenian Orthodox churches, old schools among other structures. While moving around the well-kept structures I wished most African countries had such love for relics.
My next stop was Tomoca Cafe, the oldest coffee shop in Ethiopia. It is known for serving authentic coffee not only in Ethiopia but also in the world. I’m told Ethiopia is the land where the coffee bean was first discovered. The sweet coffee aroma from the street will automatically lead you into this cafe that is frequented by tourists and locals. It is not as spacious, thus customers take coffee while standing but the delicious and incredible taste of the coffee will make you even forget to ask for a seat.
Tomoca coffee is the gold standard of Ethiopian coffee in Addis Ababa . Tomoca cafe offers a range of coffee at affordable prices including the delightful foamy mocchiato, espresso with a dash of milk, and you can also buy Tomoca coffee souvenir.
Ethiopian National Museum
Located near Addis Ababa University’s graduate school, the national museum offers a wide range of artefacts. These span thousands of years, including some from its earliest days.
But, the most outstanding feature is the replica of Lucy. Lucy is the skeleton of oldest ever female humanoid (ancestor) who lived around 3.5 million years ago. The fossil was discovered on November 24, 1974 in Ethiopia.
It is from the discovery of Lucy that Ethiopia was named ‘the ‘Land of origin’, sometimes referred to as ‘Birthplace of Humankind’.
I had the opportunity to spread my wings in the beautiful historical city but I hope to visit my dream features next time I have enough time on my hands.
• 2000 Habesha Cultural Restaurant on Bole road is a preferred dinner stop after sight-seeing.
• This dinner theatre not only serves Ethiopian dishes but also brings together talented traditional dancers and musicians who showcase the rich Ethiopian culture. Majority of the audiences here are tourists and middle class Ethiopians.
• The show usually features 12 different dances and live music from the different cultures across the country.
• They serve Ethiopian dishes including injera, gored gored (cubes of heavily salted and spiced raw beef), beer and wine during entertainment.