Gonder - Camelot of Africa
Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
125Trip End Jun 12, 2006
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Wasn't looking forward to the trip to Gonder, but it turned out to be really pleasant. Arrived at bus station, no touts, got a bus and seat immediately and we were gone, even arrived ahead of schedule, the burned out tanks on the side of the road were a bit disconcerting, but the scenery was fantastic, plenty of egrets and some cool black and white storks with bright orange beaks. Went to a church that was described as one of the treasures of Ethiopia for it's paintings, Debre Barhan Selassi Church. They didn't open when they should have. I arrived and I was alone, I had to wait for an hour, but they soon opened it when the big tourist bus arrived though! Nice painting but I think I preferred the ones at the monasteries in Lake Tana, a bit more colourful.
Met 3 Bostonians at the posh Goya Hotel, that was placed high on the hill, I'd gone there to have a beer and watch the sunset. Had dinner with 2 very German Austrian guys :-)
Second day in Gonder and I visited a couple of the main tourist attractions, the Royal Enclosure (castle) that gave Gonder the nickname of the Camelot of Africa. Also visited Fasilada's Bath. A place that really kicks into life on Timkat (Epiphany) when they have a mass baptism there - Interestingly the Ethiopians use a different time and date system to us, so their epiphany is on Jan 22! The skies of Gonder are always full with black kites and I've also spotted a number of vultures and there more bloody pigeons here than Trafalgar Square.
New year eve tonight and I went out with Zak (originally from Sudbury, Mass) and his Ozzy wife. We went to see some traditional Asmari music and dancing, the Ethiopian women can really move! They played a one stringed fiddle that made an interesting sound. I think we caused a bit of a fracas when we left for not leaving enough of a tip, the singer kept grabbing my hand and placing it on her forehead - I thought she had the hots for me, but apparently you're meant to place the tip on their forehead! I was totally oblivious to the fact we'd pissed them all off until someone mentioned it to me halfway home - I guess that means it was a good night :-)
One other funny thing in Gonder, one hotel there named after the Simien Mountains, but they had a bit of a typo in the name - they named it 'The Semen Hotel' - well it made me laugh out loud!
Where I stayed