Addis Ababa Thread, what to see, avoid, going out
Replies: 1 - Last Post: Feb 18, 2013 4:15 PM Last Post By: gwaan
Feb 18, 2013 5:03 AM
Addis Ababa Thread, what to see, avoid, going outThis is retrospective having returned in the past few days with fresh memories and hopefully will be of assistance to others.
Ethnological Museum at the University of Addis Ababa (Arat Kilo area)-Haile Selasies’s former Palace. It did feel a little weird viewing the toilet and bidet of a ‘living’ God. A few interesting things to look at here, which we did by torchlight, as the power was out. Mental note: this is a far more atmospheric way to view museum artifacts and all museums worldwide should follow suit! The adjusted ‘Fascist steps’ are culturally very significant. Lots of super art work.
National Museum: Just down the street from above. Probably one of the best, if not the best, collection of early hominid and era-related animal remains. Many artifacts between 1-3 million years old+ Lucy, of course.
Entoto Hill (go to Arat Kilo then take a mimibus taxi as far North as you can and walk): A nice walk through forest in clean air, nice views of AA. Glimpses of rural life. The walk to the church (St.Stephen’s ?) is very long though, bring lots of water and sunscreen. Emperor Menelik’s Palace is worth a look.
Red Terror (Derg Period) Museum, Meskel Square.
It’s very positive that they are recording the numbers who died and are now in the process of identifying who some of these people were and are appealing for more information from Ethiopians to add to the exhibit. However, the museum does not explain how and why the 1974 Derg coup occured (it doesn’t touch on the abuses and social disintegration of the Haile Selassie years which were very significant in bringing about the coup) and does not explain from which sections of society those murdered were from, nor why they were rounded up and killed. So much work to be done here...I got the impression the organisers assume non-Etrhiopian visitors have far more knowledge of these events than is actually the case.
Holy Trinity Catheadral (Arat Kilo): worth a visit if only as it’s the resting place of HS.
Lion Zoo: I declined to visit on principal
Derg Monument: Worth a walk past, there seems little point in entering the enclosure, especially with the numbers of guys hanging around there.
Piazza area: A good place to people watch from cafe balconies. I liked this area more than I thought I would (during a day visit).
Statue of Lion of Judah: These are several in the city, the one outside the National Theatre is best. The smaller statue on Ras Mekonen is used as a public toilet, seemingly. Revolting.
Avoid and hassles:
AA is no different to other African cities I’ve been in (and nowhere near as bad as, say, Dakar or Nairobi) in that scammers and thieves are present, though they appeared to be few in number. Certainly most people are just going about their business and it’s a shame a very small number can mess you about and create a poor impression of a city. My advice to the Ethiopian Police would be to round these people up and put them in a hard labour camp up the Simien’s somewhere, preferably for life. I got the impression that when caught, justice is severe.
These people are easy to spot, so keep your eyes open .....they are almost exclusively male, young children to young adult age. Anyone approaching looking down towards your waist line is one to watch as is anyone standing around an intersect, roundabout or barrier with no particular active purpose. Groups of young children or men standing around the below named streets should especially be given a very wide berth—stay off the pavement or cross. If anyone approaches of above profile and opens a conversation they are likely to be a scammer. It’s difficult because there are people who genuinely want to talk to foreigners and aren’t scammers. Give away lines: ‘ Hey my friend/American/German/add nationality where are you from’, ‘ I have a message from your hotel for you’ (quite original, actually), ‘ Can I walk with you/guide you’, ‘I’m not like all the others’ (!) etc etc etc. These guys are trying to distract you so ignore completely or ask them to go away. If they won’t, head for a police officer and watch them disappear. Key hotspots are roundabouts and intersections in central AA, where a quick getaway can be made. Be very wary on these streets in particular: Gambia and Sudan Street intersection, Olympia area, King George V1, Yohannis, Churchill, Ras Desta Damtew Streets. Absolutely avoid groups of street kids selling stuff...they will make grabs at pockets, which we witnessed. They are often in the company of older teenagers nearby, who seek advantage from the mayhem their approaches can cause. At night in central AA, best to get a cab unless in short walking distance, and even then, avoid above listed scenarios.
At the junction of Yohannis and Ras Desta Damtew a guy stopped in front of me to ‘tie his shoelace’ then pointed at me while stooped. We ignored him then I realised 50m down the road he had spat on my trouser pocket, an obvious attempt to get close to go through pockets. Absolutely revolting stuff and when I realised what had happened I wanted to go back for a quick word, but he had legged it off.
Gabon Street area is safe for a few drinks at night, we had no problems at all here, even sitting streetside. Stacks of bars, most of which are small, clean and friendly. The bar-butcher combos are most interesting. I mention this area because most reports speak of Piazza and Bole Road only. The section of Bole near the airport has the greatest concentration of bars and restaurants.
Lucy Cafe beside the museum is nice as is the ‘national’ restaurant upstairs in the Ras Hotel (Gambia Street). A little gem, in fact, with most preferring to sit at the ‘international food’ section downstairs. Huge plates of injera and dishes, cheap.
Feb 18, 2013 4:15 PM
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