NANCY’S TRAVEL TIPS

South African Garden and Home - - Destinations -

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

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