4 Hours In

There’s plenty to ex­plore in the cui­sine and cul­ture of Ethiopia’s high-al­ti­tude, big at­ti­tude cap­i­tal city

Business Traveler (USA) - - INSIDE - By Graeme Green

Addis Ababa


“A sack doesn’t stand with­out grain,” so the Ethiopian ex­pres­sion goes. So fuel up for your tour at Dashen, the re­cently re­lo­cated restau­rant on DAR Sa­hara Street, not far from Africa Hall and the Kazan­chis area of West­ern ho­tels (Hil­ton, Radis­son Blu) where busi­ness meet­ings of­ten take place.

If it’s a cool day, grab a ta­ble out­side. In­side, gen­tle jazz plays, and there’s live mu­sic in the evenings. Or­der the na­tional dish, in­jera, a big spongy “pan­cake” made from the Ethiopian grain teff. Slightly fold the in­jera to use as a uten­sil to scoop up meat or veg­eta­bles and sauces, from beef to spicy lentils, then fol­low with Ethiopia’s fa­mously tasty cof­fee, or tej, a honey “wine.” Open 10:00 AM – 11:00 PM daily; Main cour­ses 70-200 birr ($3.10-$8.90). dashen­ter­ararestau­rant.com


The most has­sle-free way to ex­plore Addis Ababa is to pre­book a guided tour, in­clud­ing a van to get around, es­pe­cially if you are trav­el­ing with col­leagues, friends or fam­ily. If not, ask Dashen to book a taxi to Holy Trin­ity Cathe­dral, just off Niger Street. The ride will take you about ten min­utes and should cost you around 150 birr ($7).

The coun­try’s main cathe­dral, it’s the burial place of Ethiopia’s fi­nal em­peror, Haile Se­lassie, and his wife, Me­nen. Se­lassie laid the cor­ner­stone of the cathe­dral, which was in­au­gu­rated in 1945. A con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure, ac­cused of op­pres­sion dur­ing his 45-year rule, his body was moved here in 2000, 25 years af­ter his mys­te­ri­ous death, which was of­fi­cially re­ported as nat­u­ral causes. He was ini­tially buried next to the Im­pe­rial Palace by his cap­tors, un­der a toi­let. In front of the cathe­dral you’ll find the rest­ing place of Sylvia Pankhurst (daugh­ter of suf­fragette Em­me­line), a fem­i­nist ac­tivist and pro­tes­tor against Italy’s oc­cu­pa­tion of Ethiopia in 1936-41. Open 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM daily; 110 birr ($4.90). trin­ity.eotc.org.et


It’s a ten-minute walk to the Na­tional Mu­seum – head north on Niger Street and cross the Vic­tory Mon­u­ment round­about to King Ge­orge VI Street. Ex­hibits in­clude Se­lassie’s throne and paint­ings by Ethiopia’s revered Afew­erk Tekle. But what re­ally marks the mu­seum out is its ar­chae­ol­ogy and pa­le­on­tol­ogy sec­tion, one of the most im­por­tant cen­ters for stud­ies of hu­man evo­lu­tion in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

You’ll see repli­cas of “Lucy,” whose 3.2 mil­lion-year-old skele­tal re­mains, dis­cov­ered in 1975, caused a re­think in sci­en­tific un­der­stand­ing of hu­man evo­lu­tion: “We” were walk­ing up­right mil­lions of years ear­lier than pre­vi­ously thought. There’s also Se­lam, who, at 3.3 mil­lion years old, is the ear­li­est and most com­plete skele­ton of a child hu­man an­ces­tor ever dis­cov­ered. Open 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM daily; 10 birr ($0.50).


Con­tinue up King Ge­orge VI Street and take the third exit at the large round­about on to Al­ge­ria Street. En­ter the leafy cam­pus grounds of Addis Ababa Univer­sity and walk down to the In­sti­tute of Ethiopian Stud­ies and the Ethnographic Mu­seum, housed in the for­mer palace of Haile Se­lassie (he gets ev­ery­where).

Se­lassie’s bed­room and mar­ble bath­room have been pre­served, along with gifts and sou­venirs from his trav­els. The up­stairs mu­seum ex­plores the coun­try’s past and present, in­clud­ing agri­cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion and war, with weapons dis­played from con­flicts with in­vad­ing Ital­ian, Egyp­tian and So­ma­lian forces. There’s also a room of reli­gious paint­ings

and crosses – Ethiopia was one of the ear­li­est adopters of Chris­tian­ity. Open 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM daily; 110 birr ($4.90).


One of Africa’s largest mar­kets, Addis Merkato is lo­cated in the Addis Ketema dis­trict, a 15-minute drive west. Jump into your tour van or flag down a blue and white Lada taxi out­side the cam­pus (ne­go­ti­ate a fare be­tween 200-250 birr/$9$11). On the way you’ll pass the city’s new Blue Mosque, St Ge­orge’s Cathe­dral and City Hall, be­fore a surge of hu­man ac­tiv­ity an­nounces the start of the mar­ket.

Be warned: the sprawl­ing mar­ket is ful­lon, loud, busy and a lit­tle edgy, cer­tainly not for ev­ery­one, and a faranj (for­eigner) with a cam­era sticks out like a sore thumb. Com­ing here with a lo­cal guide is rec­om­mended.

In the busy streets and maze-like pas­sages vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing is on sale, from sheet metal to tires to beau­ti­ful cloth­ing and col­or­ful bas­kets used to store in­jera “pan­cakes.” The best ar­eas to ex­plore on foot are the fresh pro­duce sec­tions, where lo­cals buy and sell chick­ens from cages, sacks of pre-ground cof­fee, spices, fruits and veg­gies. It’s open all day. BT






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