05.01.2016

FLOWER CITY: ADDIS ABABA

FLOWER CITY: ADDIS ABABA, Salih Gider | 05.01.2016

In this article I will tell you about Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia and the African Union. This is a central city where Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities live together, and a city where more than 80 different languages are spoken. The name Addis Ababa comes from Amharic, the local language of Ethiopia, and means”New Flower”. The city lies 2500 meters above sea level and even today is still the second highest capital city in the world.

Ethiopia, or Abyssinia by its old name, is a country located on the east of Africa on the tropical belt. As a result of the declaration of independence by Eritrea, which used to be within the borders of Ethiopia, the shores of the Red Sea became Eritrean territory and Ethiopia became a landlocked country.

I guess the most eye catching thing you see as you arrive in the most developed city of the country, Addis Ababa, are the avenues and streets that look very different from one another.  It is possible to see very wide and flamboyant avenues on one side, whereas on the other side you may see muddy streets with no infrastructure. This situation also applies to structures in the city, world-renowned luxury hotels and makeshift buildings can be seen next to each other.

There is very little transport in the city. It is almost impossible to travel to the city center or to areas with shops or cafes by public transport. When and where you will find the blue-colored old model taxis and how much you will pay is totally undetermined; the fare may significantly change depending on the haggling you do with the driver.

Addis Ababans are generally very warm and hospitable. You may see people that you do not know greeting you or smiling at you while walking on the road. Every person that I talked to during my stay was very cheerful and also very kind.

It is possible to find restaurants serving international cuisines in many locations throughout the city. For this reason you will not have any trouble finding places to eat or drink in the city If you wish to try out the local tastes of Ethiopia you will definitely have to opt for a dish containing meat. The reason for this is the fact that culinary skills are very advanced in Ethiopia. Meat dishes cooked in boiling oil are some of the most important tastes of Ethiopian food culture. These meat dishes are generally served having been flavored with various spices Besides these, salads, vegetarian dishes, and various appetizers are some of the other options you may find.

And of course, you cannot talk about Ethiopia without mentioning the coffee. There is a general belief among the people that Ethiopian Coffee is the best coffee in the world. The gathering of all family members on Sundays to drink coffee is a tradition dating back to ancient times. The coffee is slowly roasted in a clay container over charcoal. The preparation method is very similar to Turkish coffee. The one difference is that the sugar is added after roasting depending on taste.

The place that you must visit once you go to Addis Ababa is the Ethiopian National Museum. The museum is said to be one of the best in Africa and hosts the 3.5 million–year-old fossil skeleton Lucy. The rest of the museum displays  ethnographic objects, traditional motifs, and statuettes from the country.

Other important landmarks that you can visit during your stay are: Meskel Square, Mount Entoto which reaches a height of 3300 m,  St George Cathedral, Trinity Cathedral, the Menelik and Jubilee palaces, the Addis Mercado which is the largest open-air market on the continent. I would advise you to definitely go to the Lower Valley of the Omo, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List and has 16 different tribes living there.

You may get to have a new travelling experience, get to see a different culture in all of its ways, and come back with an unforgettable experience of this hospitable and colorful city which is seen as the center of Africa. 

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