Off on another amazing adventure
03.02.2017 - 15.03.2017 29 °C
We have now arrived in Ethiopia after a very long three flights to get here.
Doug decided that this was not on the top of his bucket list, so I am travelling with Lana again this time.
This is our itinerary:
Friday Feb 4, overnight Vancouver
Feb 5. fly to Frankfurt, overnight at airport hotel
Feb 6. Fly to Addis Ababa Ethiopia
Feb 8-15 Private tour to southern Ethiopia to the Omo Valley
Feb 16 Fly to Uganda
Feb 17-23 Private tour of Uganda including a gorilla trek in both Uganda and Rwanda.
Feb 23 fly to Nairobi Kenya, overnight near airport
Feb 24-March 1. Safari in Kenya
March 1 fly to Barcelona arrive March 2
March 3-10 Mediterranean cruise ( France and Italy)
March 10 fly to Brugge in Belguim for three nights
March 13 overnight Frankfurt and fly home March 14 to overnight in Vancouver.
Wednesday March 15th. Home.
It was a good time to leave, in the middle of a snowstorm. I walked on the ferry with my little daypack, carry on suitcase and a massive 50 lb suitcase full of items for the orphanage in Ethiopia. But when I put it on the scale it was over the maximum 50 lbs and the bells rang.
I have to take out some kids clothes to be allowed to check it onto the luggage transfer. Luckily there was a place at customer service that will donate them to Haven Society.
I took the greyhound to the bus station and then took a cab to have dinner with Taylor Reese and my brother Dave which was great
After dinner I met up with Lana at the Travelodge Airport Hotel for our overnight. Lana also has a massive suitcase so we juggled back and forth to make sure they were each under the allowable 50 lbs. We had to leave out a few more clothes .
Saturday Feb 5.
American Airlines to Dallas was delayed by an hour due to having to de ice the plane but thankfully we had a good three hour connection so we were okay
We arrived in Frankfurt at 8AM local time and decided to ditch our two extra huge suitcases at a baggage locker in the airport. So many people are travelling with three or four huge suitcases. I don't know how they manage it. We were happy to just have the small ones for now.
Frankfurt airport is massive. Our hotel is in the terminal which is great and after a rest we went back and were able to check in our 2 huge bags and get our boarding passes for tomorrow morning.
Sunday Feb 6.
We went straight to our gate as we were all set but had to go through immigration and security first. They said to bring out iPads as well as laptops which was a first for me. I brought out my iPad but knew I had another one at the bottom of my carry on but decided not to take it out. Partly because I was lazy but also a part of me wanted to know if they would see it. The extra iPad is for the orphanage. Lana was carrying an extra one too, but she took hers out.
Well......I got pulled aside. Now keep in mind that my carry on has six weeks of clothes for two climates and two different kinds of holidays and packed very strategically .
This lovely young woman said she was going to swab my suitcase.
Sure go for it
With a big smile she says " it has Tested positive for explosives". And laughs.
So I said " ha, you are kidding right?" She said, " I need to unpack your suitcase. "
She pulls everything out, then asks if I have another iPad. Sheepishly I pretend I forgot, "yes I do."
Okay, we just have to wait for the police. And she laughs again. So I assume she is kidding and I laugh too.
No, we are waiting for the police. Really. After some time he finally comes over, looks bored and not interested at all says it's all good and she says okay, you can put everything back now.
Well that was a challenge to get everything back in, but at least I didn't get arrested. Lesson learned. I am glad they found it though. They passed my secret test.
Our flight to Addis in on Lufthansa airlines with a stop in Jeddah Saudi Arabia first and is full to the rafters. In Frankfurt it seems most planes are not boarded by the jetties but by bus to the plane and it feels like we were driving to Ethiopia because it took ages to get to the plane.
Our stop in Jeddah was around an hour and it seemed that more than half the plane left us here. Lufthansa does not have the rights to pick up passengers so we were able to spread out for the next few hours to Addis enjoying the in flight movies and non stop food . Not great food but there was lots of it. The flight attendants were very friendly and joked a lot with us.
We arrived in Addis on time at just after 9PM and had to proceed to customs. Most on the plane were nationals so there were only a hand full of us who went to 'visa on arrival' area. I thought the young man there was making small talk but in fact he was asking me questions for the visa. He said where are you coming from so I thought he was wondering where I lived so I was explaining where in Canada I was from etc. He was laughing and being very patient with me, but he really wanted to know what flight I came off of.
Lana was also providing a comedy relief for her guy. She kept getting closer to what she thought was a microphone because she thought he couldn't hear her. He kept asking her to back up and finally she realized it was a camera and he needed to take her picture. Lack of sleep is what we are blaming this on. I saw as we walked away the two of them were chatting and laughing alot.
Around the corner we had to pick up our passports and pay the $50 US cash visa fee. This young man would hold up the passport and if you recognized your picture you would step forward. Lana got hers but he kept picking up new passports from the pile and mine was continually on the bottom. He finally held up mine, I was the only one left, and we were on our way to baggage.
It is always a relief to me when I see our bags. Another plane arrived at the same time so we had to form a long line to go through a security X-ray machine to scan our bags before leaving the airport which is different.
The first order of business is to find an ATM. Getting Ethiopian birr before hand is not possible, but unfortunately neither one of the ATMs worked for us. A lovely young man tried to help but no luck.
Our hotel was sending a car to pick us up, I sent two messages, via. booking.com but there was no one in the parking lot to meet us. A nice young man from another hotel phoned ours and they said they would arrive in 10 minutes. We spent that time talking to him and he was telling us a lot about Ethiopia but also asking about Canada as well.
Our ride finally came, a young man with a huge smile loaded our bags into the van. Thankfully we had some US dollars to use for tipping until we can get the Birr.
On the drive I asked " did you forget about us?"
No, we were here earlier. In Ethiopia they use a different measure of time. A twelve hour day starting at 6am. Only daylight hours are counted. I am not really sure how it works but 9 o'clock is 3 pm in Ethiopia. I did send the flight number as well, but it all worked out and so now we know to check if it is Ethiopia time or western time
Our hotel staff welcomed us with huge smiles and open arms. are you hungry? Well yes we are but it is 11pm Ethiopia time.
No worries, we will open the restaurant for you.
Delicious bowls of soup were ordered and enjoyed while learning some Ethiopian phrases from our young server. We wrote them down phonetically however once we head south it will be another language once again.
" do you have crackers?
I will go and check in the kitchen
Around 8 minutes later he returns with two plates which he puts in front of us. I don't have crackers but I have this.
Pound cake with raspberry sauce.
Breakfast was included with our room and we wandered downstairs around 930AM. We greeted the staff with Good Morning in the Ethiopian language which caused quite a pleasant response. A man in his mid 40s I imagine was sitting at a table with his laptop, obviously working and asked how long we had been in the country.
We arrived late last night.
Well he was so impressed that we knew how to speak the language already....ha ha. Seriously I think he was quite impressed. We talked over breakfast and then he offered to drive us around the city and take us to an Atm at the Sheraton hotel. We took him up on his kind offer and had a wonderful morning with him. He is AMerican educated, his parents sent him to California when he was 14 because Ethiopia had conscription at that time and sometimes the army would grab you walking home from school.
He went to university in Michigan and now owns many business such as television station in Toronto, communtincation companies and an private airline he was part of in Nigeria.
His wife is currently living with two daughters in Nigeria and she is with the UN. He has a house here in Addis but comes to the hotel to work to get away from the many questions at the office and also the WiFi is better. He was a wealth of information and such a kind and gentle man.
Ethiopia has never been colonized, because Christianity has been here since the beginning of Christianity. It is one of the safest countries in Africa. We notice how all the drivers are calm and polite, no road rage at all, not much honking. Addis has a population of 12 million, not what I would call a very pretty city but it is surrounded by mountains. The weather is very pleasant as it is at a higher elevation, Our breathing is a bit laboured when walking up stairs.
The sheraton hotel is amazing. He greets every worker there and they all seem to really like and respect him. The ATM worked and after a short tour of the hotel grounds, which had beautiful flowers everywhere, we continued with our tour around the city.
Back at the hotel we exchange email addresses and then I went off to get a few hours sleep while Lana went to the hotel Spa. She had a hair cut, wash dry and hair straightening and a short foot massage for $5 but she left a good tip
Skipped lunch and had a fantastic dinner at the hotel, went for a half hour walk up the street and then back to get ready for tomorrow. Everyone is so friendly and we feel so safe here. We stick out like sore thumbs though, especially Lana with being so tall with her white hair and blue eyes.
We are so excited about everything!! I will post on each country , hopefully internet will be okay and I can include some pictures. We would love to hear any comments or emails from you as well.