The rugged, landlocked country is found in the Horn of Africa and is split by the Great Rift Valley. This is a country of ancient and diverse culture, soulful people , breathtaking natural beauty and delicious cuisine.

If you have 24 hours in the capital of Addis Ababa which translates as “ New Flower “ best you get stuck in and immerse yourself in this youthful and pulsing heart of the nation’s resurgence as one of the worlds fastest growing economies.

The comfortable climate of” Addis” as its fondly referred to makes it an ideal location in East Africa to explore the bustling streets and mingle with the locals.

Swoop up the history

Visiting the National Museum of Ethiopia is the ideal way to get an over view of a country that prides itself on its history. One of the only 2 African countries that was not colonised, along with the general acceptance that the first humans came from the Rift Valley running through Ethiopia and one of the worlds oldest Christian traditions, Its easy to see why the nation is proud of its heritage. Entering the museum I met a lady dressed in traditional clothes, she was full of smiles and very eager to assist. The most important item in the museum is Lucy, the oldest and most complete hominid skeleton ever discovered, she was found in 1974. Adri is also there , he was heavier and preferred tree climbing more than Lucy. The art combined with traditional crafts makes for the perfect overview of the country

 Delicious food

Having eaten Ethiopian food often at home at authentic restaurants, I knew exactly what I wanted. Injera is the national dish, this white or brown spongy type pancake is served with a variety of vegetable and meat toppings and some sauces. No cutlery is used, with good reason. The infusion of flavours on your finger tips makes it even tastier. Washing ones hands using the traditional silver jug makes sure you have a healthy experience. After this delicious meal its best to end off with the local coffee and popcorn to snack on. I ate at 2000 Habesha Cultural Restaurant, its a favourite in the city and used by tourists as well as local business men. Evenings include traditional dancing displays while you eat.

Gift Shopping

I am always on the look out for something local to take home after a trip so when i popped in to Ekeram’s Tradition clothes and souvenir shop I was delighted to see the large selection of Ethiopia’s traditional style of white cotton scarves and clothes with strips of intricate colourful patterns along the edge. After much oohing and aaaahing I settled on a scarf with gold and black trimming. The lights come on with some cranking of the generator and you feel like you have entered Aladdin’s cave. The shelves are filled with treasures to buy rating form the traditional coffee pots, bead work, clothes and so much more. Located on a busy main road its easy to spot with the bright mannequins all dressed up and swaying in the breeze.

Holy Trinity Church

Now you could try and take the easy way out and arrive at the gates and take a quick snap shot and say you saw it but you are missing so much. It is worth paying the small entrance fee and getting a full page , hand written ticket to gain entry to this massive and ornate cathedral that is the second most important place of worship in Ethiopia. Its also the final resting place of Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife Empress Menen Asfaw. Their massive granite tombs can be viewed inside the cathedral under the watchful eye of the Priest or guide. The exterior of the building is made up of a large copper dome and flamboyant mixtures of international styles.
The entrance fee also includes entrance into the small museum of ecclesiastical artefacts on the grounds at the back entrance. No photos are allowed but its worth seeing the collection. The graves of many patriots who died fighting the Italian occupation can also be viewed, although over grown and not easy to get up close it gives one an appreciation of the history of the country.

 St George Cathedral and Museum

Another church to see in this city of religious buildings is the St George Cathedral, built in traditional octagonal form it was completed in 1911 and was commissioned by Emperor Menelik 11 to commemorate his outstanding 1896 defeat to the Italians in Adwa. The exterior is rather bland in comparison to the interiors flashes of colour and art. The outer walls are covered in paintings and mosaics by the renowned Afewerk Tekle.
The grounds have many people wandering around and praying, there are also beggars but after a polite refusal they will move along.

Drink the world renowned coffee

Known world over for its fine Arabica coffee, its imperative that on a hectic schedule you stop at a roadside coffee spot to enjoy the hospitality of the people and its potent coffee. The legend goes that a young boy named Kaldi was a goat herder who discovered the coffee plant around 850AD. He was sitting under a tree minding his goats, one of them wandered off in search of food and stumbled across and berry tree. After tasting the unknown berry, the goat started to jump and dance around the field . The boy and his father were so impressed with the effect the berry had on the animal they tried it themselves . Hence, coffee with its stimulating effects was discovered. today coffee represents about 50 % of Ethiopian exports. Different regions have different shaped Jebena’s , made of clay ( the container used to brew the coffee ) that are used in the coffee making ceremony.

My advice is to hire a driver so that you can get you around. Not only will you experience local driving but you will get a running commentary from the driver who will fill you in on quirky facts. This country not only has the highest capital city in Africa, it has over 80 spoken languages and is an absolute pleasure to see.
I cant wait to return and explore more of the countryside

My driver