NANCY’S TRAVEL TIPS
NEED TO KNOW
Do some homework online or buy a travel guide. There’s a lot to learn.
MUST-SEE SIGHT Museums, markets and churches aside, what’s most absorbing about Addis Ababa is the street life – wheelbarrows, taxis, donkeys and all.
FAVOURITE BITE Injeera, a local staple food with a variety of meats and sauces.
NICE TO KNOW Attend a coffee ceremony.
Fancy doing The Great Ethiopian Run? 10km round Addis?” A friend threw out the suggestion over the phone. I’d once been overawed by a traveller’s tale of cave churches dug out of rock in deep, rural Ethiopia – both the image and the longing to visit had stayed. So I was in. I never got to see the rock churches, but I sure got to see Addis on the run.
As foreign trips go, it was a bit of a sprint. Arriving Friday night, warm-up run Saturday morning, squeezed in a traditional wedding, registration party Saturday night, and dawn the next morning at the music-pumping starting line in Meskel Square, together with 42 000 other entrants.
There’s nothing new about running in a city – think New York, London and Cape Town marathons – but with just 10km to cover, it means you can take it all in without killing yourself. A bonus is trotting with Ethiopians of all paces and persuasions – past coffee stalls, goat markets, bars, butcher shops and an assortment of unfinished buildings.
Coupled with altitude breathlessness (at 2 355m above sea level, Addis is one of the world’s highest capitals), the visuals had me stopping at every turn.
But with the run done and a day to spare, there was still more to see of this intriguing city. Given the “singularity of Ethiopia,” to quote Alex Perry, author of The Rift, “claimed to be the birthplace of mankind, one of humanity’s oldest civilisations, never colonised, and with its own alphabet, religion, calendar and clock” – getting some background to the country was a must. An aged copy of Bradt’s Ethiopia had been my inf light companion on the six and a half hour