My actual destination was Lalibela in northern Ethiopia, well known for its medieval churches carved in the soft rock by local priests. The eroded scenery in the region reminds you of Grand Canyon and it will be a popular tourist destination in the future as soon as an Indiana Jones-styled movie is filmed there and does to the region what the movie from 1989 did to Petra in Jordan. A tourist is expected to pay 50 USD to enter the churches and all that money go to the priests. According to my driver none of that money reaches the local town and my opinion is that the church needs to do something about this in the near future. At the moment the locals only see rich westerners in the town often without leaving money to them, and maybe that is why you get the feeling that the locals want something from you. The children yell and insinuate what you are to them: “Hey Mr Money!”
Ethiopian Airlines reminds me of the luxurious airlines of the Gulf states. The airline flies to lots of destinations all over Africa and competes with Nairobi as the number one junction for flights. The timetables were quite accurate after the first chock of a three-hour preponed flight from Stockholm to Addis Abeba, which forced me to do costly re-arrangements for my connecting flights. For domestic travel in Ethiopia flights are essential since the distances are long to the sights in Gondar, Lalibela and Axum.
Ethiopia is known for its sour-dough injera crepes, filled wih asmara-seasoned chicken or beef. Sometimes goat meat is also available, but it can be a bit chewy. I personally regard Ethiopia’s number one foodstuff as their world-famous coffee. It seems equally impossible to get bad coffee from Ethiopian cafeterias as it is impossible to have bad wine in South America, South Africa or Australia.
At the end of my trip, in the capital Addis Abeba, a small group of children distracted me so badly that they managed to snatch my valet with all its money and cards. Until then I had thought I would recommend Ethiopia as a great future travel destination in all sorts of Internet forums. Now it feels as it would be better to go there with a group of tourist rather than as an individual traveler.