I have landed in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, Kenya’s neighbor to the north. The journey was a two hour flight from Nairobi on board Ethiopian Airlines, Boeing 767-300.
Having heard so much about Ethiopian and noticing that the Airline is infact a 5 –star Alliance member, I expected an ‘out –of this world’ experience, but alas..that was not to be.. I will blame the short flight for this – a longer journey will afford me an opportunity to savor the ‘world class service and possibly the beautiful cabin crew’.
Bole International Airport oozes relatively superior class than its counterpart – Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) – Nairobi. The exterior and interior works present a relatively finer finish and portray a sense of greater utilization of space, akin to more use of Negative space as opposed to the more congested JKIA. The immigration process and baggage collection is much smoother and admirably quicker.
I need to mention that JKIA recently experienced a massive fire that consumed several arrival and departure sections leading to a number of cancellations and rendering operations at the Airport rather tipsy turvy.
I arrive at my destination at 9.30 pm from the Airport, a journey that took approximately 25 minutes. Addis is chilly, wet this time of the year. Despite major parts of the way from airport being engulfed in darkness, I can’t fail to notice developments in infrastructure in enhanced road network and works in progress towards the introduction of sky-train services.
“The Chinese are here” my host chirps in, responding to my admiration at the country’s efforts towards offering a relatively superior road network. Makes it sound like the Chinese ‘have landed from another planet’. I am promised that with my stay, I will soon realize what the expression ‘influx of Chinese’ really means.
I am holed up at a guest house opposite the Astrada hotel,in the greater Riche’/Lancha My first night is rather uncormfortable, trying to acclimatize to a bed and bedsheets I am unaccustomed to. I have managed to pick up an Ethio telecom line and top up, for $20 and called my family to notify them of my safe arrival.
Morning starts with cold water streaming from the shower. Considering the chilly conditions, I take the ‘passport solution’ – face, hair, shoulder, armpits clean up and I am good to go.
Breakfast at the Astrada is a whole new experience – Innjera (face towel looking Ethiopian bread), pieces of traditional pizza, boiled egg, some Irish potatoes and more spicy tasty bread and very strong Ethiopian coffee… It dawns on me that food will be a an issue that I will need to face up to..
In the course of the day, I visit Piassa, a section of town, whose name derives its origins from Italian inhabitants back in the 19th. Century. The streets in this part of town I notice are dominated by gold and silver merchants, from neck chains, bracelets,rings..you name it, you will find it at.. Piassa is Egoli here!!..
I am given a tour of other sections of town…the names and sites are yet to be absorbed in memory.. a few more days and we meet here for more updates of the land once referred to as Abyssnia….