A belated happy new year to all you lovely people!
We’ve been prepping for our wedding and visiting family much more than thinking about New Year’s Eve or taking in sights. Still though, we’ve managed to squeak in some exploring and eating. So, without further ado…
We went to Japan… In Ethiopia!
Okay, so that may be a bit confusing. Let us explain a tad. In Addis, a fair number of neighbourhoods are known by a particular local hotspot or point of interest. So, the area surrounding a former large abattoir is referred to as “abattoir” in Amharic, i.e., Kera. The neighbourhood in which the Rwandan embassy is found is called “Rwanda”. Aaaaand the streets near the Japanese embassy is called “Japan”. Funny thing though: Japan is where the Chinese restaurants, grocers, and jewellers are found.
That said, Japan isn’t a regular Chinatown in the sense that most would understand. Among the Chinese merchants are plenty of Ethiopian merchants, and there’s a full marketplace of nothing but Ethiopian wares in Japan.
However, you can find Chinese staple ingredients here: Noodles, soy (and other) sauces, and chicken feet, among many others. [Henry: I was really surprised to see all this stuff so far from home. Viva globalism, huh?]
We went back to Nexus and then some
Remember how in our first post on our visit to Ethiopia, we were happily surprised by the Nexus hotel? Well, we went back and got more pleasant surprises. To wit: We signed up for a one month membership at their gym, got nails done there, and had some lunch at their lobby bar. The gym is small but well-equipped – and we’ve been going nearly daily to shape up for our wedding pics!😝 [Mariam: Henry’s pants have been falling off lately – definitely a good sign!]
The hair and nail salon is staffed by friendly and warm folks. They did a great job in Mariam’s nails (which have taken a beating lately from all the wedding prep tasks), and we have faith enough in them that Henry will be coming here to cut his hair before the big day!
We also tried out their menu. Verdict: Not bad at all! 🙂
All in all, we’re really happy with this hotel, and am glad it’s so close to where we’re staying. We might just end up doing laundry there too!
We visited Ethiopia’s first hotel and its most famous one
Among our bucket list items were visits to the Taitu Hotel and the Sheraton. The former is the oldest hotel in Ethiopia, and the Sheraton is where heads of state stay when visiting the country. They were both glorious.
The Taitu Hotel is pretty small building, built of clay and mud and wood. Virtually everything here – furniture and decorations – was here from the day the hotel was built in 1898(!). It’s also bedecked with a virtually countless number of paintings and other works of art. This place is so great we’ll be doing a completely separate post on the hotel soon. In the meantime, check out our lunch there and just two of many, many, many pieces of art at the Taitu!
The Sheraton is a an amazingly complete retreat away from the sights and sounds of Addis Ababa. It’s pretty much the lap of luxury right in the middle of the city; the grounds of the hotel includes buildings that are evocative of what you’d consider as a “normal” hotel as well as what appear to be whole houses to rent. The hotel itself is full of luxury shops, and the courtyard has pools, a concert stage, and even a running track! Beyond all that, the Sheraton is splendidly decorated, both seasonally (in this case, for Christmas) and artfully. Look at the size of the Christmas tree below! And then marvel at both more “accessible” art and the strange, strange bird in one of the hotel’s many halls. It was a great visit!
We checked out the Feast of St. Gabriel
Did you know that there are 44 saints and angels feted by Ethiopian Catholics? There are! December 27 is the day that St. Gabriel is celebrated in Ethiopia, and we ventured out to brave the crowds and traffic to reach the St. Gabriel Catholic Church of Addis Ababa.
Traffic was crazy. As it turns out, even though it’s not an official holiday, many, many people treated it as such. In fact, we actually heard stories of people taking an impromptu day off just to observe the day, and we think we found them on the road or at the church!
Seriously, the church was packed. There were raucous songs and dance by priests with giant drums, and there were many churchgoers observing deacons’ chants with reverence and ritual. The air was electric. This was a very interesting slice of Ethiopian life [Mariam: It’s something worth doing every year!]
We sent off 2018 with fine dining
For the big send-off of the year itself, we decided to class it up by having dinner at a fine dining establishment. That would be Chef’s Plate, a restaurant opened by a former Sheraton chef who’s also done good work around the world. The place was gorgeous, and the food was delicious.
And that’s a wrap for 2018, folks! Thanks for reading and following our adventures across Montreal and abroad! Can’t wait to share more with you all in 2019!