Ethiopia bleg

I’ll be there, in a bit of time, and I’ll have the chance to get outside Addis Adaba.  What do you all recommend to me?  And where and what should I eat?  I thank you all in advance for your counsel and wisdom.


No suggestions for eating, but clearly, in the birthplace of coffee drinking, enjoying it in traditional fashion would seem indicated.

I don't have recommendations, as I've never been there, but here's an interesting bit of history involving Ethiopia:

for me it will be a shock to eat with bare right hand, but looks it is common in Ethiopia, so it is interesting, how Europeans deal with the situation

They eat with the right hand in the Philippines, especially rice, and they used to eat that way in Greece.

Not sure where you should eat, but you should eat this: "Traditional Ethiopian food is famous for hot spicy food served on top of a soft pancake-like bread called injera. True injera is made from a very nutritious grain called teff"

And avoid the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which is still heavily mined. All that from the internet.

Go to Lalibela of course. Try the Yemeni restaurant near the Rwandan Embassy. Please do some GDP tourism. Maybe try some comparison with Nigeria. I tend to see these 2 countries as opposites on many aspects with Nigeria going the premature deindustrialization route (but relatively good Internet and democracy), while Ethiopia tend to follow a more traditional (Asian) path if you want, with some significant industrialization (mostly textiles so far) but crappy Internet and less democŕatic space. Also, Ethiopian Airlines has been extremely successful while being a State Owned Enterprise. Any thoughts on that?

We've flown Ethiopian. They were rather cavalier in such details as where to land and where not to, and whom to serve dinner to first. On t'other hand they gave us a pamphlet of Old Ethiopian Proverbs which were rather good. "The man who marries a pretty wife is like the man who grows grapes at the side of the road."

We also learned that here was one part of Africa with some stunningly pretty girls; much as the proverb implied, I suppose.

Ethiopian ladies are gorgeous, rivaled only by the most pretty girls in India and Venezuela.

Venezuela and India lead in total winners in Miss Universe type competitions, wonder why Ethiopia isn't there. May be there aren't universal beauty standards?

Take a look at the Meskel Square and walk around it within a radius of half a mile -- you will be see a lot good and ugly. Walk into any sizable cafe, and note the number of wait staff, take a bite at the pound cake they serve. Walk a mile along the Airport Road from the Meskel Square -- this is quite civilized and safe. Take above-ground metro all the way to Minilik Square -- last station on the other size of Addis from the airport -- you will see a lot just looking through the window -- but avoid the rush hour. This is lively, but notice some housing which looks like oversized kennels -- people live there. Notice also how many lower class people how blood shot or yellow "whites" in their eyes -- suggests some diseases or maybe drug use. Note the state of disrepair or roads and buildings. And finally admire amazing faces of some young women -- this is East Africa and it is a combination of black and arab, italian and others. Generally safe, but beware groups of young males.

Danakil is a must visit if you have 3-4 days to spare.

But be cautious. The State Department specifically restricts travel there by embassy personnel, due to the rate of violent crime.

Presumably it's safe if you're not named Dana.

Abbis Adada? Abbis Abada?

Where are you heading to, TC?

Just keep in mind that Ethiopia is under a state of emergency, and the State Department discourages travel outside Addis Ababa. Don't get yourself imprisoned for suggesting that a rebel group should solve for the appropriate equilibrium.

I think Axum is very underrated. I would suggest ancient cultural tourism in Ethiopia. It's one of the few places in sub Saharan Africa that you can do this.

"where and what should I eat? " Try whatever they munch and sluice at Mass, if they do Mass.

Three thoughts:
- If you like Ethiopian Jazz, Mulatu Astatke owns African Jazz Village (next to Ghion Hotel) and plays there one night a week when he is in Addis.
- There is a tour called Addis Eats that is worth it. You can eat kitfo, raw minced meat safely.
- If I had a free week, I would have gone hiking in the Semiens. They are hard to get to, but beautiful!

Lalibela is an obvious choice. From a non-tourist, economist perspective, Hawassa Industrial Park is impressive. Closer to Addis, Bole-Lemi would be of interest. Ethiopia Airlines is not the greatest airline around, but as a business they are impressive.

In Addis, apart from Ethiopian food, try the Greek or Italian Club, not for the (ok) food, but to sample a bygone era. Similarly, try a Chinese restaurant....

I cannot speak about outside Addis Ababa, but there is a fantastic cultural restaurant called Yod Abyssinia. They have regional musicians and dancers. It was one of the most enjoyable meals I have ever had. You are paying, to some degree, for the entertainment but well worth it. See and . I cannot recommend this place enough.

Ethiopia is a big country with 90 million-ish people and a lot of geographic variety. Two years ago we were very happy with internal travel on Ethiopian Air. I guess first vote must go to Lalibela -though it's a place you should spend some time and best if you do some climbing//hiking. At the southern end of the country, the Paradise Lodge at Arba Minch was amazing and there's lots to see and do around and about.

I think many people would be very happy if this sad troll was moderated into oblivion.

"A hundred and twenty chickens, or sixty-six full-grown fowls, may be purchased for a dollar, and the citizens do not, like the Somal, consider them carrion. Goat’s flesh is good, and the black-faced Berberah sheep, after the rains, is, here as elsewhere, delicious. The staff of life is holcus. Fruit grows almost wild, but it is not prized as an article of food; the plantains are coarse and bad, grapes seldom come to maturity; although the brab flourishes in every ravine, and the palm becomes a lofty tree, it has not been taught to fructify, and the citizens do not know how to dress, preserve, or pickle their limes and citrons. No vegetables but gourds are known." - Richard Burton, "First Footsteps in East Africa"

Ethiopian culture is unique and amazing. Go to one of the cultural restaurants and order a bayonetu (veggie or meat). Also worth going to a few local restaurants and order shiro (lentil sauce), shekle tibs (deep fried meat) and (if you're not worried about tapeworms) tiray seega (raw meat). Go to fendika at about 10 pm - it's a Ethiopian traditional dance, a mix of participatory dance, singing, stand up comedy, and rap battles. Go with someone to translate if possible. The red terror museum, entoto, national museum are all worth a visit. There are lots of galleries (makush is good), coffee shops (to suit all wallets) and jazz nights.

If you're after economics tourism, ride the Chinese built metro or train line to dire dawa. Go look at the condominiums, vast state built housing projects. As a previous commentator said, also go to the industrial parks if you can.

Outside Addis, the historical tour in the North is great. Danakil (an open volcano, look down and watch it bubble!) and the rock hewn churches of gherelta are highlights. Harar is beautiful but probably not a priority for a short stay. If you can't get far out of Addis, there is a beautiful hewn Church and plenty of hiking in a day trip from the city.

Short answer - come for at least three months if you really want to see everything.

Agree that the red terror, entoto and national museum are all worth a visit. The museums are most interesting for what they show about how the ruling party (EPRDF) interprets modern Ethiopian history. The national museum has interesting Marxist artwork from the 70s and 80s on the top floor (starts with Lucy in the basement and goes forward in time the higher up you go).

I like the pastries at La Parisienne. If you're willing to risk it, try a kitfo bet (I tried the raw stuff and did not get sick). Ask a local for the best places. The restaurants that offer traditional dances (e.g. Yod Abyssinia) are fun for about an hour but deafening.

Avoid driving at rush hour, if possible, esp. 4-8 pm. Addis traffic has grown worse over the past 15 years, and the newer roads don't seem to have reduced gridlock. Over the same time foreigners have become much less unusual and you probably will be mostly ignored.

Keep your eyes peeled to the side of the highways (Adami Tulu etc) outside for the rose farms/greenhouses.

10-15 years ago, Ethiopia barely grew any -- now they are the major force in global floriculture.

If you live Europe, and buy a rose on Valentines Day - very likely it came from Ethiopia.

Keep your eyes peeled to the side of the highways (Adami Tulu etc) outside for the rose farms/greenhouses.

10-15 years ago, Ethiopia barely grew any -- now they are the major force in global floriculture.

If you live Europe, and buy a rose on Valentines Day - very likely it came from Ethiopia.

I would shoot Chris Blattman an email for his recommendations

I think you would find Shashamene sociologically interesting, though it's not especially pleasant.

Googling I came across this nugget on a Tour Guide site for Gerealta:
"Some of the churches are so difficult to access even using a robe."

The best things about Ethiopia are the people and sights, which are far more welcoming that most countries with built up infrastructure.

Go on one of these treks. I did about a decade ago and it was the highlight of a great trip to Ethiopia.

Also, for sheer novelty, go on a boat tour of the monasteries in Lake Tana, where the access given to tourists of amazing historical objects, such as thousand-year old bibles, will blow you away.

Finally, be prepared to get food poisoning. Everyone I know who traveled there got it - we got it twice in two weeks. But the food is great. To the extent you can get invited to someone's home, I encourage you to do that.

I've never been to Ethiopia, but I repeatedly tried eating Ethiopian during my time in Kampala. I eventually came to the conclusion I just don't like it. Haven't been to an Ethiopian restaurant since.

At long last, an answer to that age old question: "I wonder if DanJ from the internet likes Ethiopian food?"

I'm going to be going to Ethiopia later this year, so I'm thrilled to see such a thread.

Two questions:
1) If I love Hailu Mergia and Mulato, is there anywhere to see similar music in Ethiopia today?
2) Does anyone have recommendations on here for Jewish tourism in Ethiopia?

From what I've read:
- the Danakil depression is supposed to be incredible.
- if you fly in on Ethipia airlines, all domestic flights are severely discounted (most travellers in Ethiopia recommend flying over long bus rides)

Eat/drink the 'spris' style of layered fresh juices which I'm surprised haven't become a $8 Instagram sensation in NYC yet

My nephew graduated from GMU and asked if I had any recommendations for you. I lived in Ethiopia for 2 years and found it to be a fascinating place, or rather, many fascinating places. But that was over 20 years ago, so I imagine (or I hope) that many thing have changed. In fact, I see a comment about the "above ground metro". That's new.
In any case, one place that I have fond memories of is Lake Awassa. Nice place. Great for birds. The Norwegians used to have a nice guest house complex on the lake for NGO workers. Try some avocado juice.
I got to travel to some far flung and interesting places with the Save the Children/USA Program. The drive to the Afar Region is spectacular. And you will see some of the inspiration for "Lord of the Rings", as Tolkein spent some time in Ethiopia. If I could remember the name of the truck-stop restaurant down in the lowlands that made an incredible oven roasted chicken, I would pass it along. But I doubt it is still there. Maybe a KFC now.
Apparently the Tomoca Coffee Shop still exists in Addis Ababa. Put that on your list.
And Castelli's Italian Restaurant was THE place to eat 20 years ago. It also seems to be there still. But probably there are many more options today.
Bought a wonderful ox leather jacket from a shop underneath the soccer stadium.
Have a great trip.

I don't believe Tolkien visited Ethiopia, but the theory that he drew upon Ethiopian names like Gondar seems plausible:

Ethiopia had been much in the news in the 1930s and it tended to appeal culturally to British conservatives with a romantic streak.

Here's an evaluation of tourist sites by a recent visitor interested in Ethiopia for Waugh-like reasons

And here's Waugh's explanation for why he wanted to attend the 1930 coronation of the Emperor:

"Further information was contributed from less reliable sources; that the Abyssinian Church had canonized Pontius Pilate, and consecrated their bishops by spitting on their heads; the real heir to the throne was hidden in the mountains, fettered with chains of solid gold;... [We] looked up the royal family in the Almanack de Gotha and traced their descent from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; we found a history which began: “The first certain knowledge which we have of Ethiopian history is when Cush the son of Ham ascended the throne immediately after the Deluge.”... Everything I heard added to the glamour of this astonishing country."

I'd like to see the vast dam under construction on the Blue Nile, but the government seems to suspect foreigners of being environmentalist infiltrators out to undermine their dam. Ethiopia at present is ruled rather like it’s 1937 in America and leftist folksinger Woody Guthrie has become dictator and started rounding up reactionaries and turning the Grand Canyon into a reservoir.

Near Bahir Dar there is kibbutz like semi-religous community called Awra-Amba. Very interesting place and they welcome visitors. Also, the mountains above Lalibela are very pretty and well worth hike. They are similar to Simien mountains, with baboons and all, and have well established huts for tourists (Tesfa Tours).

Personally, I have no interest in visiting any part of Africa or the middle east - with the exception of Israel and Turkey. Ethiopia would be one of the last places I would consider seeing, but before Sudan and Somalia. That's just me.

Good luck and safe travels.

Go to Bahir Dar, too, and visit the monasteries on the Zege Peninsula. The coffee there is amazing, too - organic and handgrown.

I was in Addis Ababa earlier this year visiting a friend and he took us to a local favorite restaurant called Al Wadi Arabain Restaurant. We got the chicken aqeda and a side of hummus which was delicious plenty of food for three people. We also went to Dimma Cultural Restaurant, which has live music and Ethiopian dancing and traditional Ethiopian food. It had great food (we got the sampler platter that had a little bit of everything) and the music and dancing were very entertaining. A nice, out of the way coffee shop is Steam Cafe.

I second the jazz club at the Ghion. The Ghion itself is interesting. Beautiful grounds but run by the government. Worth staying if you can get the room cheap enough. Yod Abyssinia is a bit of a tourist trap but does put on a good show. kaldi's is their version of Starbucks and is ubiquitous. Personally I like Bilo's better, but there are fewer locations.

Here's my TripAdvisor review of the Finfine Restaurant. BTW I went back with an Ethiopian colleague, and he was as happy with the place as I was.

Terrific local restaurant
I visited this restaurant on the recommendation of my guidebook - a 10-minute walk from the Radisson Blu hotel (turn left at the hotel entrance, and keep walking past Menelik II Street).

The restaurant is definitely popular among locals -- I was the only tourist in sight -- and the menu took a little guesswork. But the atmosphere was friendly, the service impeccable, the food delicious and VERY well-priced. I ordered the "national variety" for 65 birr ($3) plus a half-liter of tej (local honey wine, a.k.a. mead) for 40 birr ($2). The former consisted of at least 8 different dishes, served on top of a huge injera pancake. Every bit as delicious and varied as served at the "cultural show" restaurants, but at a fraction of the cost. Last but not least, a wonderful opportunity for people-watching. Great fun!

Tyler - Hailu Mergia doesn't live far from you. Maybe hire him to take you to the airport !!

This is a nice little story:

My wife and I were in Ethiopia in March 2016 and were guided around by friends and family of our Ethiopian-American friends. Abesha 2000 is very popular with locals (we were taken there twice) for its Ethiopian buffet and nightly music/dancing show. The patrons were about 3/4 Ethiopian and 1/4 tourists (with some large tourist groups). The food is good, but nothing revelatory for someone familiar with DC's Ethiopian restaurants.

We got pretty far off the beaten tourist path, but never found another excellent Ethiopian restaurant and it was not uncommon for a restaurant with a long menu to have only one or two entrees actually available (tibs was invariably available). The best meal we had was at a family's home (where we also had fantastic coffee, roasted and ground in a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony).

One interesting thing we found about Ethiopian restaurants in Addis was that along with injera they also served a plate of western-style sliced white bread, something I've never seen in an Ethiopian restaurant in the US.

The best meal we had in Addis was at Mamma Mia, an Italian restaurant with a tranquil garden (much appreciated after the incredible bustle of Addis) in the Kazanchis neighborhood. It's run by an Ethiopian who grew up in Italy. This was an excellent meal and the restaurant is very popular among well-to-do residents. There was nothing distinctively Ethiopian about Mamma Mia, however.

We also had a very good dinner at Jewel of India, an Indian restaurant off Bole Road. (Note: Be very careful about pickpockets on Bole Road -- we were targeted twice, first by two young boys working in concert and the second time by a group of four boys -- the second I lost my iPhone, which the "find my phone" feature tracked to Johannesburg before it went dark.)

The most distinctive (and very good) meal we had in Ethiopia was on the shore of Lake Ziway, sitting on cheap plastic chairs eating just-caught and just-cooked fried tilapia and throwing the bones to the huge African Marabou birds gathered around waiting.

As far as sites, Lalibela was well worth the considerable effort, as others have said. The food there is entirely non-memorable, however (tibs, burgers, etc.). The Red Terror museum is worth the time, if you have the stomach for open grisliness. The Ronald Reagan quote at the end is inspiring ("Man is not free until government is limited.")

The huge market in Addis is interesting, though it would much less so if you are not with a local who can speak Amharic or Oromo. The two main museums in Addis are interesting, but for us not as educational as just walking around and doing people-watching.

Finally, our Lake Ziway day trip was very interesting.

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