March 18, 2008Flight: Bahar Dar (BJR) to Addis Ababa (ADD), Ethiopian Airlines 121, F50, EconomyFlight: Addis Ababa (ADD) to Washington DC (IAD), Ethiopian Airlines 500, 767, Economy, miles earned: 7195 (LH)
Our last day in Ethiopia, we had an early flight out this morning back to Addis. We ran into the American family again in the hotel lobby, they were going to Gondar
today. It's a 17 minute flight or 4 hours in a bus. Checkin at the airport went quickly and we headed upstairs to grab breakfast when I heard my name called on the loudspeaker.
I went down to find out they wanted to examine D's bag, he had bought a souvenir cross in Lalibela
and they were just making sure he wasn't trying to steal a real one! Early morning is rush hour at Bahar Dar airport, two flights showed up at the same time. Our flight to Addis this morning actually left and arrived on time, the only one of our Ethiopian flights that did! We arrived in Addis at 10AM had all day to kill, we were still hoping to change our tickets to visit Somaliland, but if not our flight back to the US left at 10PM. Visiting Somaliland would have involved a 20 hr ride in a minivan, first going overland to Harar
, then overland again to Hargeisa in Somaliland.
Normally you can fly nonstop from Addis on Ethiopian Airlines , but the outbound was showing sold out. We would then fly back to Addis from there and connect directly to the flight back to the US.
We were able to leave our bags at the Addis airport and caught a cab to the Ethiopian office. No luck again for Saturday, they did offer to put us on a waitlist for the Friday flight, but that did not give us enough time to get to Somaliland and back. Stymied, we decided to go to the Somaliland office anyway, if nothing else to get a souvenir visa! It was within walking distance, so we headed there before they closed for siesta. The visa only took a few minutes to issue, cost $40 and they needed a passport photo. We passed the 'interview' with the ambassador there, he had lived in Seattle for some time. But now we were pretty resigned to having to head back to the US today.
Next we caught a cab across town to the Ethiopia National Museum, where they have the Lucy skeleton (not the real one, currently it is in Houston!) The museum had old bones and stones in the basement, then tribal weapons/clothing/etc on the top floor. There was also a huge wooden throne that had belonged to Haile Selassie.
For lunch, we headed across the street to the Blue Tops restaurant. This is popular with expats and has delicious homemade pasta and icecream. It was also our most expensive meal in Ethiopia, and it came to $6.50! We walked up the street some more to the Yekatit 12 monument to the martyrs killed during the Italian occupation, then over to the Ethnographic museum, part of Addis University. They had a very impressive set of pottery and other tribal artifacts, much better organized and presented here than they had been at the National Museum.
Sheraton Hotel, Addis
The museum is in Haile Selassie's old palace; you can see his 'throne' room (blue toilet) and his wife's bathroom (pink). Next we caught a cab to the Piazza area and St. Georges Cathedral. From there, we walked down Churchill Rd to the Derg monument in front of the hospital. The Derg were the communist government during the 70's, and this was a very soviet style obelisk monument, giant red star on top. It was located in the 'Ethiopia-Cuba Friendship Memorial Park'. The Sheraton Addis was nearby so we decided to walk over there to check it out. It's quite out of place in the rest of Addis, very opulent with fountains and well manicured gardens. As we were leaving, some street kids attached themselves to us, assuming we were staying there. We only had a few hrs left, but had been walking for quite awhile. We caught a cab to a British pub close to the airport, our last meal in Ethiopia was cornish pasties with chips, served by a West Indian Rasta! We then walked to the airport and checked in for our flight back to the US.
We mentioned that since tonight's flight was full, could we take Saturday's instead? But still no luck, they said the Saturday flight was full (as it turned out, O-class opened up the day after we left, we could have done the Somaliland trip after all!!! ). We noticed lots of couples adopting Ethiopian babies were going to be on this flight; we saw at least 6 babies! We still had quite a bit of a wait, as our outbound flight to the US ended up leaving 45 minutes late. This flight was a 767 as well, but did not have seatback IFE. These seats were blue leather instead of the cloth. The flight was quite full, but did have a few empty seats. The worst bit was the baby express; most were seated in the rows just in front of us, and one of them had quite a set of lungs. Though finally they all settled down and I was able to get some rest. The flight stopped again in Rome to refuel and change crew, and we arrived in Washington around 9:30AM. So that brings an end to the Ethiopian adventure.