When: Sunday, January 17th
Time: 4:30 pm to 6 pm
SAVE THE DATE
Sunday January 17 – 4:30 PM
The Late Christmas Show
@ the Fekat Circus compound
Phone: 0947 89 7 620
Addis Ababa is a huge and confusing city and, to a new arrival, it can seem overwhelming and inaccessible. It’s sprawling, busy, and chaotic but it has a charm to it that I love and it invites me to try to uncover its mysteries. One of my favourite things to do in Addis is just to walk around, explore, and see what I see. True, I’m making a map of the city so that’s kind of a part of my job, but work aside, wandering Addis’ streets, observing the hustle bustle, and seeking out restaurants and cafes that I’ve never been to before is fun for me.
So, with this in mind, I was pretty pumped to discover Addis Eats. This small company started a few years ago giving food tours around the city and they’ve since grown to include market and city tours along with custom tours out of town. Addis Eats was started by Eliza and Xavi, Americans with a love of Ethiopia. Eliza grew up in Washington DC but has a special connection Ethiopia, having grown up with an Ethiopian nanny since she was two months old. Since her early days she’s been listening to Amharic, has been in a house full of Ethiopian friends, has driven with Ethiopian music blasting in the car, and most importantly for their current business, she’s been eating Ethiopian food for a long, long time. She’s taken all of this an forged it into a pretty great little business and I was super excited to try their food tour.
Our tour happened to be led by the Addis Eats founders themselves, but their company employs several Ethiopian guides who get amazing reviews as well. I was impressed with Eliza and Xavi from the start. They’ve got an excellent rapport with everyone they come in contact with and a real understanding of life in Ethiopia and the ability to explain things to us confused new arrivals. They’re patient with questions and thorough with their descriptions and explanations of everything, leaving us tour-takers feeling quite informed. This personal connection to Ethiopia, her and her partner’s skills with Amharic, and their love of great food makes them a pretty great team to run an Addis Ababa food tour.
Our afternoon eating frenzy started at O’Canada, a popular bar in the Chechnya area of Addis that taxi drivers know, making it a good meeting point. After a coffee and a quick orientation and explanation of our stops, we hit the road towards our first destination – a popular local restaurant known for it’s shiro. Not being all that familiar with what shiro actually is, the Addis Eats folks gave a good explanation. We also got a nice history of the restaurant along with a useful demonstration on how best to eat injira. Sadly for me, I still had a nice selection of reds and yellows on my pants before the trip was done. The atmosphere in the first restaurant was great, the food even better, and on top of all of that, we got to sample a few of Ethiopia’s beers.
We wandered on from there stopping at a cool tea and oils shop before meandering through an interesting old neighbourhood. We saw some berbere drying out in the streets and were treated to some more anecdotes on life in Addis as we walked. Our next stop was a meat house with some of the most amazing beef I’ve ever had. It better be good – that’s all they serve! I even tried it raw in all of its chewy, meaty, glory. I only had one piece of the raw stuff before switching back to something more familiar, but I was happy to have had the opportunity to give it a try. We dabbed our meat in some great sauces and washed it all down with ‘turbo’ before continuing on our way.
Next up was fish. While Ethiopia seems to be all about meat, somehow fish has become an acceptable meal during the fasting times – which we learned all about. We were presented with a plate of fried fish, given some background on where the main fishing areas of the country area, and washed it all down with some more beers before moving next door to a local coffee house.
We got a bit of a crash course on the history of coffee, the Ethiopian love affair with the drink, and their care in preparing it in their own homes as part of coffee ceremonies. We also learned that these small coffee houses that are scattered all over the city attempt to combine the atmosphere and great coffee into a shorter experience and had some amazing coffee at what is essentially a local neighbourhood cafe. Plus, there’s popcorn!
Moving on and feeling nicely full, slightly boozed, and enjoying good conversation, we wandered just a bit down the street to a juice place. Juice in Ethiopia seems to be a ‘thing’. There are fruit stalls all over the place and most will whip up a delicious, fresh juice from within their small shops. We parked ourselves in a nice outdoor seating space and waited for the for our ‘esprice’, a mix of the day’s fresh juice. Sometimes these are served in layers but today our 5 or 6 juices were mixed into a delicious orange medley of fantastic fruitiness. It was a perfect end to a wonderful afternoon of eating and drinking new things in exciting and interesting places I never would have found on my own.
The Addis Eats’ tour I was on is their food culinary tour for a very reasonable $60. The tour runs for 3 to 4 hours, explores an awesome part of the city, and includes food at three restaurants with unlimited beers, soft drinks, and coffee. Minimum group size is two people and the maximum is 12, but if there are more then 8 there’s an extra guide. You can join them for a lunch tour starting at 11:30am or the dinner tour from 4pm but they’re pretty flexible and generally willing to tweak the time if necessary.
Check out their Addis Eats website for a list of all of the tours they have on offer. It really was a great afternoon of eating, drinking, nice people, interesting places, and good conversation. I think this sort of a thing is perfect both for tourists with a limited amount of time but also for new arrivals who might be moving to Addis for the longer term. I mean, you can get the lowdown on an awesome shiro place, great meat, and a fantastic place for fish to keep visiting over and over during your stay in Addis. Plus you’ll get a useful bit of background to the city and the customs of Ethiopia. It’s a great introduction to a really interesting and exciting place and you’ll be happy you let the folks at Addis Eats lead you around.
If I haven’t convinced you, check out their reviews on Trip Advisor. They’re the number one option for things to do in Addis and they deserve every great review they’ve gotten so far!
Savor is a newish place in Bole sort of behind Habesha 2000 that has a large menu with a kind of American diner sort of feel to it. The layout is unusual but it totally works. The front area is more of a casual diner style setup with a mix of high chairs and tables, regular tables, and even a couch area off in one corner. Then towards the back it’s a slightly more upscale setup. The multiple windows give it an airy fleeing, and the classical music and open kitchen complete the package.
Shortly after ordering, I was brought a basket of buns and a small bowl of a gazpacho type thing. I’ve never had gazpacho in my life so I have nothing to compare it to, but this little treat (on the house) was amazingly flavourful and it’s something I’d order off the menu in future as a light, refreshing starter.
I asked for a half order of the Greek salad with imported feta (50 birr plus another 50-ish for the feta) and was brought what I would consider to be a full-sized salad. The thing was quite large and totally would have done fine for me as a complete meal. Plus Savor didn’t skimp on the feta in any way as with most Greek salads I’ve encountered in my time. It was packed with feta and olives along with generous chunks of tomatoes and cucumber. I asked for no carrots but the offending carrots appeared anyway but they were sort of strewn around the side of the salad and could be avoided. The light dressing completed the dish and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
My cheeseburger (140 birr) was good but not great. They skimped a bit on the tomatoes and onions and the bun was weirdly greasy and too dense (a common burger issue in these parts, I think), but overall it was a fine burger experience. The patty was nicely seasoned and the cheese did taste like imported cheddar, as promised. Due to overdoing it on the giant half order of salad, I had to abandon the burger bun and leave half of my fries, but don’t let that deceive you! The meal was pretty tasty.
Savor have a nice variety of menu items including pizza and pastas along with a variety of dishes from the grill including various steaks and lamb. There’s a dessert counter up front with cakes, tarts, cream puffs, and ice cream and, though I was tempted to try something, I fear I would have physically exploded due to being so full. So alas, the sweets will have to wait for another time. But they really do look tempting.
Including a large water, service fee, and tax, my meal came to 340 birr which for one person for lunch is obviously pretty pricey. To be fair, I would have been totally satisfied with either the half salad or the burger. I only ordered both to try them out for this review. So, while Savor certainly isn’t the cheapest place in town, it doesn’t have to be expensive, either, and the quality of the food is good enough to warrant their asking prices.
Service at Savor is very friendly and efficient and, except for getting carrots when I asked for none, everything went smoothly. The wait staff checked in at regular intervals and I even had a visit from a different waiter or possibly the manager to check in to see how everything was, which is always a nice touch. It took around 15 minutes to get my salad and the burger came out about 15 minutes later, nicely spaced so I had time to finish my first course.
As an added bonus, Savor has free wifi and it makes a pretty good place to work, as long as it’s not too busy which I could see happening. Luckily for me, the place was about half full when I went so I didn’t feel like I was being rushed or in the way.
All up, Savor is a really great restaurant and I’ll be back! Have you been yet? What did you think? Do you wholly agree with my assessment of this place or do you instead think that I’m a raging lunatic who doesn’t know what she’s talking about? Or somewhere in between? Have your say in the comments below!
Hours: Daily, 7 am – 10:30 pm
Phone: 0116 670 655 / 0116 670 656
When: Friday, November 27th to Sunday, November 29th
Time: 5 pm to 11:30 pm
Where: Oromo Cultural Center – Addis Ababa, in front of Stadium
Cost: FREE ENTRANCE
First event of its kind, the African Circus Arts Festival is organized by Fekat Circus, a social circus established in Piassa. Open to everyone with a free entrance, this event will gather eight of the most active circus teams from Africa. Eighty-five circus artists from Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal, South-Africa and Zambia will have the unique opportunity to exhibit their talent in their own continent.
The program is available on the website of the event. Take a look at it and join us for 3 days of pure fun with your family and friends!
Phone: 0947 89 7 620
I stumbled onto this wonderful little restaurant completely by accident. I was walking doing the street minding my own business when I noticed their sign flapping in the breeze. I curiously poked my head in the gate only to be beckoned inside by a friendly staff member. I was hungry and in need of caffeine so I decided to give this mysterious new place a try and that’s probably one of the best lunch decisions I’ve might in awhile! And I make a lot of lunch decisions, you see.
ViaVia is located in a unique building with wooden ceilings, a mezzanine, and a great outdoor space. Apparently the building was once a kitfo (raw meat) place and took a lot of work to get the space up to scratch. But they managed that and more! It really does have a lovely, welcoming atmosphere and the friendly owner and staff really make you feel at home.
On that first visit I had ‘Thai Green Fish Curry’ which, while definitely nothing like any Thai green curry I’ve seen before (and I’ve seen a lot), it was tasty nonetheless. Three pretty big pieces of fish served with rice with a nice sauce over top and a yummy side salad all for around 90 birr. I sat outside on their patio with my book, enjoyed a coffee, used their free wifi on my phone for a bit, and left a very happy customer, determined to return.
And return, I did! Five times in about two weeks! I work online so when I find a nice space to hide away with my computer that has lots of space, good tables, a friendly vibe, good food, and wifi, I’m going to be back again and again. I’ve also tried the ViaVia burger (90 birr, I think) which was really good. It comes with all of the fixings and the bread is really tasty. It’s served with potato cubes which, while super yummy, are sort of small which makes eating them with a fork a bit challenging. More than a few went for a swim in my pot of ketchup. Fortunately I love me some ketchup.
Being relatively inexperienced in ordering Ethiopian food, I’ve always felt a bit intimidated by the local places. ViaVia has a few Ethiopian dishes on offer and it was great to be in a place where I felt comfortable asking questions. I finally figured out that the name of my favourite dish is ‘Doro Wat’ (120 birr) and I had it twice at ViaVia and was happy with it both times. The serving is very big and there’s always an offer of more injera, though I had plenty to start with.
I also sampled their mojito (90 birr) and was very impressed! All of the minty, limey goodness that one would come to expect. Having had more than my fair share of horrible mojitos during my travels, I always expect the worst but I was very pleasantly surprised. ViaVia have a nice little cocktail menu and I also tried their Jamaican Breeze (60 birr, I think) which is white rum with fruit juice and fresh ginger and it definitely a winner in my books!
ViaVia have quite a mix of music playing – from Michael Jackson to Johnny Cash to Guns and Roses to Florence and the Machine – in my books, all good. I found myself toe-tapping and singing along from time to time. They tend to crank the music pretty loud, though, so if you’re sitting inside you might feel a bit overwhelmed. They did once ask if the music was too loud (I think I was the only person in the place) and turned it down just a bit which was nice.
ViaVia is part of a worldwide global network with each of the restaurants owned and run by Belgians, except for this one which is run by a Dutch lady. The network spans some really great locations from Senegal to Kathmandu along with several locations in Belgium. The menu changes monthly and they’ve had a couple of different desserts on offer so far. The menu is interesting, the service is super friendly, the cocktails are tasty, and overall this is a really great little spot for a coffee, a boozy beverage, or a whole meal.
Check out ViaVia Cafe and let us all know what you think in the comments below!
Hours: Daily, 8am to 10pm (kitchen closes at 10pm but the space will stay open after that as long as there are customers)
Phone: 0913 575 097
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ViaViaAddis / https://www.facebook.com/viaviatravelerscafe
The weather in Addis is mostly wonderful and hiding away at a swimming pool on a hot day is the perfect escape from the hustle bustle of the city. Fortunately, there are plenty of swimming pools in Addis to choose from. What follows is a list of the swimming pools in Addis Ababa I’ve found so far with a bit of a summary or what to expect and a list of prices. Keep in mind that the prices were accurate in October 2015 so if you’re reading this far into the future (hello from the past!) then it’s probably better just to use the prices as a means of comparing the cheaper ones versus the more expensive ones. If you do have any updates for me or know of a pool for me to check out to add to the list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cost: 1 Day 395 birr / 1 month 2,250 / 3 months 6,950 (kids cheaper)
Capital Hotel has a range of passes and prices so your best bet is to go in and see them. If you want to get a membership for off-peak times (which I assume is during the day) then things will get a bit cheaper. The a day pass it’s the most expensive pool in town which seems a bit strange to me since there are other much nicer pools. Sure, the pool is fine and an ok size to be able to swim laps, but it’s certainly not secluded and there’s little space around it to chill. It feels sort of closed in an, while it’s a nice enough pool, I’d spend my money at the Sheraton or Intercontinental instead.
Cost: 300 birr
Addis Ababa’s Hilton has a bit of a communist bunker sort of feel to it… probably not the best look for a supposedly high-end hotel chain. It’s certainly seen better days and the swimming pool is no different. The changing rooms are cramped and kind of gross. Plus the communal shower isn’t something I’d expect when I’m paying 300 Birr to use the facilities. For that price I’d at least expect some nakedness privacy. The way the pool is set up doesn’t leave a lot of room for doing laps if there are more than a couple of people in there. One side is for the kiddies and the other is the deep end where people attempt to do laps. The weird cross shape and the fact that it’s been divided in half means that there’s not much space and the five or some people doing laps at the same time as me kept nearly colliding. I did two and fled. The water is hot spring fed (or so I’m told) and so slightly warm. This is great for some but it’s not the most refreshing splash around after a day of sun baking. It would be a pretty good choice for colder days where you still want to try to get some laps in. If the human traffic allows it, of course.
Cost: 1 Day 200 birr (300 on weekends & holidays) / 1 Month 2,000 / 6 Months 5,400 / 12 Months 9,000
A rooftop pool! With a bar! This spot is so cool and I was amazed to see that on a hot Saturday afternoon only two young kids seemed to have discovered it. If it’s not to busy you could get away with some short laps in here but since the stairs take up a huge corner of the pool, there probably couldn’t be more than a couple of you attempting laps at once. But really, rooftop pools are for sipping cocktails, sunning yourself, and going in for the occasional dip, anyway. As far as swimming pools in Addis Ababa go, this is one of my favourites.
Cost: 250 birr
A friend told me that the pool at Monarch was free if you bought food or a drink. This turned out to be a bold-faced lie! Or perhaps just a mistake. Probably just a mistake but sometimes I like to be dramatic. This little pool is more for lounging around that for exercising but it’s still a decent enough size to give you some splash space. There are lounge chairs around and tables, too, if you’d like to swim and eat. The pool is a bit on display to everyone coming in and out of the hotel but is somewhat secluded from the restaurant/bar. But I kind of like that it’s in front of the hotel surrounded by tall buildings. It feels like a little oasis in the middle of the city.
Cost: 1 Day 300 birr (450 birr weekends & holidays) / 6 Months 9,400 / 12 Months 14,400
Now THIS is a pool! Sure, the price is high for a day pass but it’s not bad at all when you compare it with the cost of other pools. Especially the Hilton. That these two pools are the same price is a travesty! Well perhaps that’s a bit extreme but seriously, Hilton… how do you get away with charging the same as the Sheraton’s glorious, spacious, secluded pool? Shame on you, Hilton! The pool was quiet when I was there but given that the Sheraton is a fortress of a place, and there there seem to be hundreds of deck chairs laid around, I imagine it can get pretty busy. There’s a cafe and a bar right next to the pool so you’re pretty much set to camp out all day if you desire.
Vigor Fitness Centre (Laphto Mall)
Cost: 1 Month 2,000 birr / 6 months 4,950 / 12 months 7,200 (kids cheaper)
This is the weirdest pool I’ve ever seen. But, when you think about it, also totally practical. A super long bit for those serious lane swimmers among us, and a little sectoin over on the edge for kids to splash around in. I’m not sure if the laps part is 50 metres but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. The pool is quite big. Located in Laphto Mall, this pool feels a bit concrete-y and closed-in, but it seems like a nice compromise of a pool that’s sort of indoors and sort of outdoors. The pool is part of the Vigor Fitness Centre and you can get gym/pool combo deals.
Praise be to whichever deity you worship for the food at Aladdin is truly wonderful. I think officially, Aladdin is an Armenian restaurant. Or maybe owned by Armenians. Not knowing a damned thing about Armenian food, I’m going to describe the restaurant as Lebanese/Mediterranean. This might be a horrible mistake that causes offense to all that read this review… apologies if that’s the case.
As this far as this type of food goes, it’s the best I’ve had in a long, long time (though I live in Rwanda where we only have two Lebanese-style restaurants, so give that as much clout as you think it deserves). During my 10 day visit to Addis I ate here for lunch three times and dinner once. So that gives a little insight into how much I like the food here.
The meze meal (150 birr) is a personal favourite but it’s only available for lunch, unfortunately. For me, Lebanese food is all about the dippy things and the meze plate gives you a good sampling, allowing you to choose five items from a list of about seven. I tend to go with the classics of hummous, tabouleh, babaganoush, labneh, and tzatiki which come with plenty of pita (although the last time I was here it was more like chapati) for dipping. They start you off with a lentil soup (delicious) and a salad (lettuce, tomato, and cucumber and kind of uninspiring). All of the dips are great with the minty tabouleh being a personal favourite.
I’m a big fan of Aladdin’s kofte (85 birr) as well. Little meaty bundles of joy! I’d recommend getting something to dip them in. If you’re ordering your dishes separately, they each cost around 85 birr and, with the included pita, would probably be enough for one person for a light meal. Bring some friends, order a few! Other menu items include kebabs (beef, chicken, yoghurt, and fish) for 190 birr each, Greek salad, (110 birr), and entrees like fish plaki (190 birr), sempugov jash (190 birr), and sineh kofte (190 birr).
I haven’t tried anything other than the dips and kofte though so let me know what you think! I’ve got it on good authority, though, that the starters are what this place is all about and if you’re with a group of people, skipping the entrees and sharing starters is the way to go.
Finish your meal off with a strong coffee (12 birr) and something sweet! They have a few dessert items on the menu from baklava (100 birr) to khadif (100 birr) to lokhma (60 birr) to plain old ice cream (85 birr). Or for you adventurous types, give their chocolate salame a try for 90 birr. Nope. I have no idea what that is.
The wait staff are attentive without hovering around too much which makes this a nice place to hang out for awhile with a book or computer if you happen to be on your lonesome. The wifi is good here and there are quite a few tables near plugs in one of the inside rooms. I’ve hunkered down here several times to do work and it’s a nice, quiet place where I always manage to get a lot done.
Aladdin isn’t the cheapest place in town but the prices are, I think, pretty fair for the size and quality of the food. It’s one of my favourite Addis spots and I’d recommend giving it a try and letting me know what you think in the comments below!
Hours: Daily, Noon – 10:30pm
Phone: 011 661 4109 / 011 663 8181
I heard from Five Loaves from a friend who wanted to meet here for coffee and I was impressed before even walking in the door. The cafe is located in a super cute and super inviting brick building, practically making it impossible to walk by without popping your head inside to see what it’s all about. You’ll be glad you stopped by because Five Loaves is, in my opinion, one of Addis’ nicest little cafes.
Five Loaves feels sort of like two places in one. The downstairs is reminiscent of a typical cafe or deli-/sandwich-style place while the upstairs is a bit more like a bar/restaurant combo. Downstairs you’ll find display cases where you can oogle all of the goodies from their salads, pre-made pies, and vegetables to their ample baked goods case. It’s not the hugest place and it gets busy down there but there’s a whole other space upstairs which has another atmosphere altogether with the piano in one corner, tables with place settings, and a bar in the other corner.
On my first visit to Five Loaves I had a tuna sandwich that came with my choice of a side salad (I opted for a pasta one) and the meal was super huge and probably could have fed two moderately hungry people. The sandwich was really delicious. The pasta side salad was pretty good but nothing mind-blowing. But, lets be honest, pasta salad rarely blows ones mind. But I was really happy overall with the meal. A good tuna sandwich can be a hard thing to find, in my experience.
On my second visit I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with the choice in the case and I panicked and ordered the quiche. I’m not a huge lover of quiche. It’s a pain in the ass to make at home and there always seem to be more enticing items on the menu when I go out to a restaurant, so I almost never eat it. But as I stood at the Five Loaves counter feeling the impatience of those behind me in line, I decided abruptly to go for the spinach and cream quiche (102 birr) which happened to be the closest to me in the display case. Yes, apparently this is how I choose my food. Well I’m going to come out and say it – I’ve been a fool ignoring quiche all of these years. A damned fool! This little eggy, spinachy, creamy pie was one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. So simple yet so delicious. Flaky pastry, delicious filling. If this is what quiche is all about then I’m all about quiche.
As far as their super tempting baked goods and pastries go, I’ve sampled a few. For review purposes, of course. Eating pastries for the people! I’m a big fan of their eclair. It’s everything a good eclair should be with sugary icing on top, creamy filling, and that yummy eclair-like pastry. Their doughnuts (11 birr) are ok but I think they could have been a bit more generous with the icing or made it sweeter. Are they are certainly cheap! And as with all cupcakes everywhere, the bites with the icing are delicious but the rest of the icing-less experience seems like a bit of a chore. Again, their cupcakes (32 birr) are ok, but they wouldn’t be my first choice from their impressive bakery display. I’ve also heard good things about their strawberry tart.
The servers are friendly and hard working but it’s frustrating placing an order and then having him take someone else’s order straight after without writing anything down because I’m 90% certain that things will go wrong. However when this happens, I always tend to take my seat and just hope that it’s one of those 10% occasions. Well, it wasn’t and my order was wrong. Wrong type of salad, things forgotten. But I actually preferred the salad they gave me so all was not lost! But if nobody appears to be writing your order down, take a second to ask them to repeat it to you just to save annoyingness later.
I really love Five Loaves! There’s no wifi but it’s the kind of place that welcomes real life conversations with other humans, so that’s ok. It’s not the sort of place I’d want to hang around in for too long when they get busy, so the no wifi thing is probably good for everyone.
The food is good, it’s reasonably priced, and I really like the atmosphere. Give Five Loaves a try and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Hours: Daily, 8 am – 9 pm
As a developing country you cannot expect everything to be working and perfect in Ethiopia. There are always things that you’re going to complain about when living in Addis Ababa. But as soon as you wrap your mind around the fact that it is not going to be so smooth living in Ethiopia or any other developing country in fact, the less you will complain.
It is okay to complain but if you do it too much you might offend your host. It is always better to travel with the right expectations and the following list might help prepare you a bit for those little annoyances that will op up during your time in Addis.
One of the most frustrating things to happen to you in Addis is not being able to make a call or recharge your account during high traffic hours on the network. This usually happens on holidays, Sundays and when Ethio Telecom is trying to ‘upgrade’ something. Ethio Telecom is a government owned and the only telecom company in Ethiopia – this should explain the often terrible service. Add into that a usually terrible customer service experience in their usually crowded offices and they’re unlikely to be your favourite Ethiopian company.
Beggars That Follow
If you are a foreigner, you are to gong to attract more beggars on the street than would your average Ethiopian. It can get really annoying to have them following you after you have already made it clear that you have no change or that you just don’t want to give them any money. And it gets annoying when it is kids that follow you while their condoning/ordering mother sits and watches them follow you till they get what they want.
Some avoid these by walking faster, keeping small changes in their pocket to give away or using Amharic words like ‘yelem’ which basically means ‘there isn’t any’ but used in this case to say that you have no change.
Paying More for a Taxi
The taxis in Addis are not meter taxis, meaning you will always have to negotiate your price. And if you are a foreigner the taxis are likely to charge you more than they’d charge a fellow Ethiopian. But this totally depends on the person, as some just want to pay what they are asked and some will put up a good fight to save a few bucks. If some of the taxis didn’t start their prices so crazy high, it wouldn’t be so annoying but having a guy ask for 300 birr before promptly being bargained down to 150 makes a person cagey and frustrated ad determined to get a good price.
I suppose it’s all in the name of progress, but progress can be a pain in the arse when it comes to traffic or even just trying to walk down the street. Many of Addis’ sidewalks are no more, instead being replaced by piles of small rocks that make it really hard to walk. Add large holes and workmen into the mix and a trip down the road can be a treacherous experience.
Lack of Seafood
Being a landlocked country definitely has its cons. It is not going to be easy to find nice seafood in Addis. Despite not being that far from the coast, I’ve come to realise that the rare seafood I do find has, without a doubt, been frozen and shipped for days or weeks before ending up on your plate.
Whichever nice neighborhood you are driving through, you better be keeping an eye on the road because there are going to be ditches and potholes everywhere. If you dare venture out of town on four wheels, you will inevitably one day come across a hole that is just a little larger than a typical small Japanese car.
Power and Water Outages
Power and water outages occur in Addis from time to time and these outages will depend on the areas you live in. While some of the neighborhoods have no water almost half of the time, some might not have a good supply for months. Therefore it’s is quite essential to buy a water tanker and have it installed or just rent a house which has one in the first place.
Likewise, power in Addis can be sporadic and untrustworthy at best. It’s not unusual for the power to be off for days at a time, which will make it difficult to keep all of your electronic goodies charged up. Plan ahead by taking your gadgets to work with you, planning lunches and dinners at places where you can sneak in some charging, and by keeping candles and flashlights on hand for when you’re at home in the dark.
Church and Mosque Noise
If the house you live in is near a church or a mosque, you are going to have that problem of waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning if you are a light sleeper. It is around that time that they usually do their prayers and they are going to do it through mega horns and loud speakers My landlord was very happy to tell me that I can hear the church loud and clear as if it was in my bedroom. When I asked him if that was a good thing, let’s just say he was not impressed.
Bureaucracy and Wait Times
Things like paying your bills, paying tax, getting or renewing your licenses, getting a new telecom service that will require a few installations, dealing with immigration and so on can be a tiresome task most of the time. There are going to be queues, paperwork, wait times, and other annoying inconveniences. Plan well for tasks like this – as in cancel all other plans for the day. Things will sometimes go to plan but be prepared for the worst, take a book and some patience, and you’ll leave without tearing out too much of your hair in frustration.