FASIKA: The Eloquent Pieces Of Ethiopian Easter Holiday


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Fasika (Easter Holiday) is one of the national and religious holidays of Ethiopia. Year after year Fasika is being celebrated in a most spiritually mesmerizing church service, earnest, unique and beautiful traditions throughout the country by Christian Ethiopians.

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The very fact that makes this particular celebration so unique besides its religious aspect; it is that special time of year when Ethiopians and Orthodox religion followers in particular prepare Easter Feast to be enjoyed after LENT and which is the main topic of this particular post.

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The preparation of Ethiopian Easter Feast and of course other Ethiopian Holidays starts almost two weeks before the actual celebration day. Opening with the top two home brewed Ethiopian traditional mead – Tella and Tej – which takes more than a week or so to ferment and ready to be served. Thus, the long and interesting process of brewing these traditional Ethiopian mead at home makes it one of the eloquent pieces of Ethiopian Holidays.

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Tella – a dark beer brewed from barely and Gesho (a hop-like woody shrub).

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The one particular interesting fact that makes it one of Ethiopia’s distinctive tradition drinks is, its smoky flavor due to the supplement of bread darkened by baking and use of a fermentation container which has been smoked by inversion over fuming wood.

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Tej – a honey wine or mead brewed with Gesho (a hop-like woody shrub), organic honey and water. Tej is a more powerful drink than Tella. The alcohol content of Tej is believed to be ranging from 6% – 9% as filtered Tella’s alcohol content is around 5% – 6%. Tej is traditional mead mainly used for great feasts like Fasika and weddings.

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Tej is also considered as a Royalty beverage.

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These two legendary Ethiopian mead goes well with Ethiopian traditional holiday cuisines and usually prepare for Holidays and special occasions at home at this time of year by many Ethiopians throughout the country.

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Stepping out of the kitchen… of course it is during this time of year when every Ethiopian markets being at its liveliest.

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Difo Dabo (Large and round home backed Ethiopian traditional leaven bread of wheat flour, spices, oil, salt or sugar) is another eloquent pieces which beckons and enhances Ethiopian holiday spirit.

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This simple but divine home baked bread is usually prepared for holidays and special occasions like Weddings, Birthdays and Special Religious Celebrations. An elder person of the family or the owner of the house usually cut the bread after giving out prayer, blessings and best wishes.

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Even though Difo Dabo contains a very simple recipe, it’s interesting traditional ways of preparation that gives its unique look and of course exotic taste. The mesmerizing process of baking Difo Dabo contains ordinary, interesting but worth mentioning details. Using larger and round traditional clay made like oven called Geber Mitad in Amharic, covering the dough with Koba (false banana leaf) as a cooking parchment, adding small eucalyptus leafs to get aromatic and exotic test, sprinkling spices like Tikur Azmud ( Ethiopian Black Cumin) and Nech Azmud (Bishop’s Weed) with a pinch of salt are among the details.

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The tantalizing smell of the baking bread along with the burning woods that emanates from many Ethiopian households during this time of year definitely beckons the holiday spirit, and spurs beautiful memories.

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As food plays big role in every Ethiopian holidays, preparing traditional Ethiopian holiday cuisines takes beautiful details, exotic ingredients, time, passion, family and special religious holiday like Fasika!

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Last but not least, no Ethiopian holiday, special occasions and even weekends here in Ethiopia would be complete without the glorious Ethiopian Traditional Coffee Ceremony and it is one of the eloquent pieces of Fasika and the very ritual which is close to many Ethiopian hearts.

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Happy Fasika!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Africa, Coffee, culture, Culture and Tradition, Easter, Ethiopia, Food, Food Travel, Religious, Tourism, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Siklet: Ethiopia In Commemorating GOOD FRIDAY


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In honoring Himamat (Holy Week) and Siklet (Good Friday), many Christian Ethiopians attend solemn and sacred church services throughout the country, fasting and praying in remembering the crucifixion of Jesus Christ every year.

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It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Luke 23: 44 – 46

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Happy Good Friday!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Adventure, Africa, culture, Ethiopia, Festival, Good Friday, Religious, Tourism, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Gulban: Ethiopian Last Supper


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Here in Ethiopian Tselote’ Hamus (Last Supper) is being honored by preparing Gulban – a simple traditional dish made out of wheat grain and Ethiopian fava beans.

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It is at this time of year that family, loved ones, neighbors and friends get together and celebrate Tselote’ Hamus by attending church service, preparing and eating Gulban.

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Gulban could be eaten plain but usually seasoned with Ethiopian famous convoy Mitmita – a hot spice blend.

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Gulban is a seasonal, once in a year and Ethiopian family favorite dish.

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In Celebrating The Last Supper!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Adventure, Africa, culture, Culture and Tradition, Ethiopia, Festival, Food, Food Travel, Religious, Tourism, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Siljo: Exotic Ethiopian Fasting Cuisine


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It is all about commemorating Abiy Tsom-55 days long fasting season before Fasika (Ethiopian Easter Holiday) -which has been taking place since Feb 24, 2014  and which is going to last until April 20, 2014 for this year.

In order to do so, picking one particular dish from many Ye’ Tsom Migeb (Ethiopian Fasting cuisines) and presenting it to the world was a little bit bewildering but since I find it appropriate to do so before the fasting season departs and since I had to pick one for this particular post, I present the very interesting, exotic and one of my favorite Ethiopian fasting cuisines and of course to many other Ethiopian’s too which is Siljo. Besides presenting facts and details about this particular Ethiopian fasting cuisine, its recipe is also included for adventurous food zealous out there who wants to try it at home.

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Here in Ethiopia LENT has a broad and deep meaning religious wise but to express its overall implication in a very simple way, it is keeping oneself from indulging body, mind and soul in every worldly aspect and Food is one big part of it.

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Since Today’s topic is all about FOOD, here is something about fasting regarding this particular topic. Besides from not eating until after 3 p.m., fasting is being reserved from eating meat and all dairy products, and for many Orthodox religious followers fasting also includes not eating Fish related dishes too even though few still do. All in all, at this fasting season simply and strictly eating vegetables and dishes made out of different kinds of legumes.

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Siljo is simply a fermented puree made out of Ye’ Bakela Duket (Ethiopian Fava beans flour), unfiltered sunflower seed milk, spices and herbs. Siljo serves as a side dish. Its slightly tart taste, strong mustard flavor along with a nutty and creamy texture make it a fasting dish that goes well with many Ethiopian spicy dishes.

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From all the facts that makes Siljo one of the renowned dish for fasting season is that Ethiopians loves to eat their spicy stews with Ayb (like dry cottage cheese) or plain yogurt and drink their unfiltered homemade milk with a touch of Tena Adam (Rue herb) so for someone who enjoys Milk, cheese and yogurt, preparing this one particular cuisine – Siljo – is like coming closer in satisfying these yearnings all at once during the fasting season for Ethiopians.

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Another interesting fact…since it takes 3 days for Siljo to get fermented and ready to be eaten, there is one particular dish and a drink to be enjoyed which is made out of unfiltered Sunflower seed homemade milk only.

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Ye’ Suff Fitfit (crumbled pieces of Injera with unfiltered sunflower seed milk, minced onion, green paper and salt to create a white milky dish that has mild, nutty flavor.)

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To make the waiting worthwhile, here comes the unfiltered sunflower seed milk with the touch of Tena Adam (rue)… so delicious.

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As many exotic Ethiopian cuisines, preparing Siljo takes time, skill, patience, passion for food and of course a decent recipe handed down from Ethiopian grandmothers or mothers.

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Witnessing our Ethiopian grandmothers or mothers preparing Siljo at home passionately for family and for the season using almost all the traditional utensils is just an earnest and beautiful experience let alone being part of it. In spite of  its time consuming and sometimes daunting, Ethiopian home cooking offers amazing values like bringing family, friends and neighbors together, beautiful memories, inspiration and of course amazingly delicious and authentic cuisines.

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Using timber or stone made traditional coffee and other spice grinder (Mukecha and Zenezena in Amharic) to crush the sunflower seeds after they cooked, picking all the right and appropriate spices and herbs from the flamboyant Ethiopian market as they are, putting the spices under the blazing African sun to dry so that it would be easy to grind it of course with Mukecha and Zenezena and prepare their very own spice blend at home depending on their own taste and persona that gives insight about each individual cook and which obviously makes Siljo’s recipe and even its taste slightly differs from one household to the other are just among the many beautiful details that brings unique energy to this particular cuisine.

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Besides the details, it is Ethiopian elderly women who are behind the world’s best kept secret of exotic Ethiopian cooking which includes the traditional home cooking of Siljo. I am really honored to capture the process which I truly believe is so mesmerizing, need to be showcased, documented and most importantly to honor all the Ethiopian women behind it, genuine home cooking itself and of course for my passion in giving homage to the ordinary.

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Now it’s about time to share the recipe of Siljo with the world… but before doing so, it is good to remember that this particular recipe adapted from a typical Ethiopian kitchen run by an elderly Ethiopian woman and probably used larger portions because it was covered at the time when this fasting Ethiopian cuisine was prepared for a typical Ethiopian large family therefore, if you want to try this at home using this recipe, it is possible to reduce the portions of the ingredients accordingly.

Ingredients:

1 Kg of Suff (sunflower seed)

1 Kg of Yebakela Duket (Ethiopian Fava Beans Flour)

2 teaspoons flour of Netch Azmud (Aswan seed / Bishop’s Weed)

2 teaspoons flour of Korerima (Cardamom)

6 teaspoons flour of Senafich (Mustard Seed)

1 teaspoon flour of TikurAzmud (Ethiopian Black Cumin)

1 teaspoon flour of Ethiopian Koseret Herb ( Lippia Adoensis )

2 teaspoons of Salt

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Preparation:

Boil 5-6 cups of water and add the Suff (sunflower seed) and cook until it cooked well.

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After its cooked grind it.

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Marinate the crushed sunflower seed with 4 liters of water for a little while to get the unfiltered sunflower seed milk and strain to remove the shell.

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In a low heat boil 4 liters of sunflower seed milk.

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In another bowl mix the fava beans flour using 3 to 4 cups of sunflower seed milk till you get a thicker mixture without lumps.

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Pour the fava beans paste into the boiling sunflower milk; stir continuously so you do not get lumps. After you make a very thick paste consistency – continue to cook, stir on and off for at least 45 min.

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Now its time for spices and herb… so mix the spices and herb flour all together in another bowl with 1 cup of sunflower seed milk and pour it into the cooking puree and add salt to taste.

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Turn off the heat and let it seat till it cools off and transfer the mixture to container with a lead.

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Put 5 to 6 cloves of garlic pierced with like kebab stick and fresh Tena Adam (rue) herbs to get exotic flavor and keep it in a refrigerator or room temperature for 3 days to ferment and to get a firmer paste.

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After 3 days here is your Siljo looking so delicious and ready to be served with Injera along with other delicious fasting dishes and of course to be eaten.

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Cooked passionately for home, for family, for loved ones, for neighbors and most importantly to honor the season…

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So Ethiopian, So Natural, So Divine, So Delicious and So Healthy!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Africa, Ethiopia, Ethnic Food, Food, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized, Vegan Cooking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Lake Hayk: Enlivening Excursion From Dessie Town


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Dessie situated in the northeastern highlands some 400 km from Addis Ababa. Besides being a major transport hub of the northern circuit, Dessie is also known for being a base for many exciting excursions from its large and modern city founded by Emperor Yohans IV in 1882, in attractive setting at an attitude of 2,600 m near the base of Mount Tossa.

Bati–host of Ethiopia’s largest cattle and camel market, Meqdela Hills – Emperor Tewodros’s former capital, and the picturesque Lake Hayk are among the most interesting excursions which could be enjoyed from Dessie Town.

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Fortunately I am being blessed to visit two places from the above list (Bati market and Lake Hayk), so for now I pick Lake Hayk to talk about in particular. In order to get an access to this splendid lake one has to pass through the almost 30 km far town from Dessie called Hayk itself. Lake Hayk situated only 2 km from Hayk town.

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To make it sound less complicated, The Amharic word Hayk simply means Lake, which the town and the lake named after. I must say Lake Hayk, is one of the most beautiful hidden gems of Ethiopia. I was so mesmerized and amazed by the natural beauty of this place and decide to give it the homage that it deserves by presenting a virtual tour to the world and allowing to capture the aura of Lake Hayk – which is simply heaven on earth.

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Starting with the lake itself, Lake Hayk laying at an attitude of 2030 m and it is a 23 km 2 lake. The lake is known for its remarkable bird life and for its historical monastery that stand on its western shore.

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Here at lake Hayk, it is not only about enjoying the spectacular lake, rather it is also about enjoying Mother Nature in its many forms… so it is about time to stroll along the lakeside and witnessing the luxuriant hills and lush reed beds which lake Hayk encircled by it.

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Walking through cornfields…seeing amazingly green Teff plantation, dedicated farmers working at their beautiful fields, villages surrounded by nature, traditional fishermen on their papyrus Tankwas (canoes), flora and so many soul revitalizing beauty to be admired here at the Lake Hayk.

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Lake Hayk is indeed heaven for birders so I am honor to present few birds here from many that could be spotted at this breathtaking place of Ethiopia.

Pink-backed Pelicans

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Ethiopian Cisticola

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Cattle Egret

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African Wattled Lapwing

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As if the beauty of Lake Hayk and its surrounding field was not enough to blow visitors mind … here it comes a monastery dates from the mid-13th century and was founded by Abba Iyasus Moa and today known as Hayk Istifanos.  This historical men only monastery hosts the oldest known manuscript- the book of the four gospels produced for the monastery between 1280 and 1281.

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It is time for lounging along Lake Hayk which is one of the soul enlivening experiences that visitors could enjoy till its very last drop.

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For the time being there are only two lodges situated along the shore and provide accommodation in nice thatch huts surrounded by beautiful fig trees for visitors (like my good friend and I) who wanted to enjoy lake Hayk more than a day trip from Dessie town.

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Since the lake shore cafeterias are the place where the locals hangout, it is a beautiful opportunity to blend in and experience Lake Hayk and part of Ethiopia as it is … which means eating and drinking as the locals do.

Talking about food, here at lake Hayk it is all about delicious fresh FISH, authentic Injera, local beer and of course Ethiopian Traditional Coffee along with its eloquent pieces.

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Since the main dish is Fish at these two cafeterias, straight from the lake fish prepare in different alluring and delicious ways. The dishes which are sought after by the locals are Asa Dulet (minced fish sauté in Berebere spice blend), Asa Lebleb (mild fish stew with turmeric touch) and of course huge, fresh and delicious fried fish. Except the fried fish most the dishes serve with wide, thick, home backed delicious Injera, I mean you saw the Teff plantation so no wonder and loved it.

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Lake Hayk is one of the places in my own country which I couldn’t get enough and fall in love with so passionately and I must say the breathtaking hidden beauty actuates me to showcase it on this particular post so that the rest of the world can see it.

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Travelers are finders indeed… so welcome to Lake Hayk – the hidden gem of Ethiopia!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Adventure, Africa, Birds, Coffee, Dessie, Ethiopia, Food, Historical Travel, Landscape, Nature, Religious, Tourism, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Addis Ababa: Way Upon The Entoto Hills


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The Entoto Hills are not only an oasis in the midst of hectic city or the summit that provides an incredible panoramic view of Addis Ababa below…rather it is one of the historical sites of Addis Ababa. Entoto Hills hosts interesting historical churches which are worth to visit. Needless to say, that no talk about Entoto Hills would be complete without mentioning the renowned historical fact that it was Emperor Menelik II former capital before Addis Ababa was found in 1887.

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To take the world way up to the highest part of Addis Ababa and to allow seeing the two sights of interest of Entoto Hills or Addis Ababa through a virtual tour is the main aspiration of this particular post.

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Near the summit is the octagonal Entoto Mariam Church which hosted Menelik’s coronation in 1882 and it is the only apparent vestige of this era which is still functional. In the church compound, The Saint Mary, Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu Memorial Museum which is opened in 1987, contains almost everything of Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu – pictures, clothing, furniture, accessories, interesting collection of religious items, ceremonial clothing and many more to take visitors way back to this particular and interesting era.

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Talking about transporting visitors of this particular historical site to hundred years back, Entoto Mariam church still hosts Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu’s Palace at the back and it offers an opportunity to actually be and feel of a place where Ethiopia’s most adored, valued and respected King, Queen and Legends once lived in it.

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The walkabout to the assembling and banquet room…well, seeing the different sections of entrances of the hall for the king and queen and other high officials and more interestingly visualizing the room with full of people and even allowing oneself  to pass through the entryways, makes it more like a celestial experience.

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Imagining Empress Taitu looking through the window…why not? She was here!

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Dining Room- I was picturing all Ethiopian traditional stools and Mesob (Ethiopian traditional basket which serve as a dining table) in the middle.

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A room where they used to keep food like honey, Tej (home brewed local drink) and the hooks at the wall was used to hang meat.

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This was the room for placing honorable dressings, Jewelries and weapons of Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu.

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Here is the Elfign (master bed room) and after visiting the Enoto Saint Mary, Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu memorial Museum which displays the Queen and the King’s bed along with the pillows make it easier to picture what this room would be like back then.

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Finally the guest house…and I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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Time to move…about 2 km past Entoto Mariam Church, there is another historic church and that is Kidus Raguel church. It is one of sights of interest to visit while upon the Entoto Hills.

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It is a church that worth exploring inside and out, starting with the colorful and interesting murals which embellished it from the inside.

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In the Kidus Raguel compound, there is a disused 13th century rock-hewn church called Kidus Raguel, it was partially destroyed during the Italian occupation but it is open to visitors to wander inside.

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To finish of today’s virtual tour of the historical sights of Entoto Hills, here is a sneak flick of the interesting panoramic view visitors could enjoy and capture right out of the main gate of Kidus Raguel Church.

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Welcome To Addis Ababa!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Adventure, Africa, Architecture, Art, Ethiopia, Historical Travel, Landscape, Nature, Religious, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

ETHIOPIA: Happy Women’s Day!


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Well as a woman, it is a privilege to be celebrated on this very special day…I also want to honor every single women in the world by presenting photographs – which are taken at one of the most fascinating cities of Ethiopia – a place where the most beautiful women in the world believed to be found – and of course it is Harar.

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Happy Women’s Day!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Adventure, Africa, Ethiopia, Quote, Quote of the day, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments