Mount Entoto raises 3,200 m above sea level and offers spectacular views of Addis Ababa. On the way up, one can see elderly women and donkeys transporting dry wood from the forest down to the city, an image that probably hasn’t changed in centuries.
The mountain is where you can visit the palace of emperor Menelik II (the monarch who led his country to a renowned victory over an invading Italian army), a small museum and a few churches. The palace itself comes as a bit of a shock – it is in fact a modest white-washed hut, a far cry from what one would imagine as imperial lodgings.
I have no idea what other people do when they have a day to spare in a new city, but I visit street markets. Nothing better captures the energy of a city and its inhabitants. Nothing offers a better opportunity to people watch, examine exotic products, and inhale unknown smells. In particular if the market is in Africa.
It was all going well until I discovered that Entebbe airport offered fast, free wifi. Having checked my emails and scanned Facebook, I casually googled ‘Ethiopian visa on arrival’. The top of the embassy page was familiar enough – I had checked back home that for 50 USD (presently sitting in my wallet – such foresight!) I could obtain a tourist visa on arrival. Technically, I wasn’t travelling as a tourist, but who was going to check… But then I scrolled down the page and my heart skipped a beat: it said there in black on white that you had to present two passport photos with your application! I frantically searched through my wallet but neither my railcard nor my gym membership card had photos that would be remotely suitable, having been either trimmed and stamped over. Continue reading →