Mountain View Hotel Lalibela

evening in lalibela

Friday, October 26:  After leaving the Lalibela churches, we head back to the room, where I take a little nap.  Then we go up to the terrace for a bottle of Ethiopian wine: Gouder, produced in Addis Ababa.  There we run into some colleagues of Ed’s from the embassy and chat with them a bit.  We sit and enjoy the sunset and the wine over the beautiful valley of Lalibela.   Dinner follows at the Mountain View Hotel, probably one of the few places to eat in town.  It’s typical tourist hotel food, and not at all memorable.  I don’t even bother to take a picture!

Below are pictures of the town and landscape right outside the Lalibela churches.

leaving the Lalibela churches

some crazy hordes of cacti 🙂

And on the terrace of the Mountain View Hotel.

Ethiopian red wine – Gouder

the view of the Lalibela valley from our hotel as the sun is setting

a view in a different light

me relaxed and topping off the day 🙂

and a little different light

me at the top of lalibela land



Categories: Africa, Ethiopia, Lalibela, Mountain View Hotel Lalibela | 5 Comments

arrival in the land of lalibela

Friday, October 26:  For the second day in a row, I am up early to catch a 7:40 a.m. flight.  This time, we are leaving Addis Ababa for Lalibela in the north of Ethiopia.  Locals say the drive to Lalibela takes several days because the roads are not good.   Lucky for us, our flight is only an hour.

We arrive by Ethiopian Airways to Lalibela.

After we get off the plane, we drive through the countryside to reach Lalibela.  We pass fields of tef, the grain used to make the spongy staple Ethiopian bread called injera.

fields of tef, used to make the spongy local staple injera

other crops in the agricultural land around Lalibela

the view on our drive with tef in the foreground

We see the Mesket Escarpment, where multi-day trekking tours can be arranged.

the Mesket Escarpment

We see children herding a menagerie of sheep, goats, donkeys and cows.

a menagerie of herd animals

the child herders

We see agricultural fields and tukuls, Ethiopian traditional cylindrical huts with cone-shaped roofs.

tukuls, traditional Ethiopian houses

We see men, boys, and children carrying crops on their heads.  One man rides horseback but most people just walk.

looks like a heavy load

one of the few Ethiopians we see in the countryside who has transportation

the view as we drive up the mountain to the town of Lalibela

We arrive in the town of Lalibela and settle in briefly to the Mountain View Hotel Lalibela. (Mountain View Hotel Lalibela)

the Mountain View Hotel

up closer to the entrance at Lalibela Mountain View Hotel

a little display of clay pots in the lobby of the hotel

in the lobby of the hotel

the dining room of the hotel

the view off the deck of the room

Then we head out to explore the rock-hewn churches of the town.

The rural town of Lalibela is famous for its churches carved out of rock.  These churches are important in the history of rock-cut architecture.  Though the exact dates they were carved are not certain, most are thought to have been built during the reign of King Lalibela, a member of the Zagwe Dynasty, during the 12th and 13th centuries.  The churches are grouped together as such:

The Northern Group: Bet Medhane Alem, home to the Lalibela Cross and said to be the largest monolithic church in the world, is possibly a copy of St. Mary of Zion church in Aksum. It is linked to Bet Maryam (possibly the oldest of the churches), Bet Golgotha (known for its arts and said to contain the tomb of King Lalibela), Bet Mikael, the Selassie Chapel and the Tomb of AdamBet Meskel and Bet Danaghel, a semi-chapel and chapel.

The Western Group: Bet Giyorgis, said to be the most finely executed and best preserved church.

The Southeastern Group: Bet Amanuel (possibly the former royal chapel), Bet Merkorios (which may be a former prison), Bet Abba Libanos and Bet Gabriel-Rufael (possibly a former royal palace), linked to a holy bakery.

Categories: Africa, Ethiopia, Lalibela, Mountain View Hotel Lalibela | 7 Comments

eid al-adha & a birthday escape to ethiopia

Wednesday, October 24: Tomorrow, October 25, is my birthday!  At my age, this shouldn’t be anything to celebrate.  After all, who wants to be a year older?  Yet.  I always believe in celebrating my birthday (hey, at least I’m still alive!) and I love to have people celebrate with me. In addition to it being my birthday, it is also Eid al-Adha in the Arab world, and so luckily my birthday coincides with a 9 day holiday in Oman.  Lucky me!

Eid al-Adha is the “Festival of Sacrifice” celebrated by Muslims the world over to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in obedience to God.  Lucky for Abraham, God intervened and provided his faithful servant with a ram to sacrifice instead of his son.  The actual Eid al-Adha holiday is Friday, October 26, but the government grants a week off, as does the university.

Soon after the clock strikes midnight on this 57th birthday of mine, around 1:00 a.m., I will hop in my car, suitcase in hand, and head to Seeb International Airport in Muscat for a 4:50 a.m. flight to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  I dread the early hour of this flight, but I’m excited about my trip.  As all of you know, I LOVE to travel!!  I’m happiest when I’m thrown into a foreign culture and left to my own devices.

I came across this quote today on Facebook.  It gives me food for thought.  I am thankful that in the last six years of my life, I have been able to do things that I used to say I would do “someday.” I am still trying to do this, as much as I possibly can, despite the fact that often I have to sacrifice a lot in this life journey of mine.

My long-time friend, who works in the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, will be my travel companion and guide.  He has been in Ethiopia for a year already, so I’m lucky to have someone who knows Ethiopia.  He has planned some fun excursions, and I’m happy to have him work out the logistics.  I can’t wait!!

So far, here’s what he has planned.  Aware of the fact that I will arrive without having had any sleep, he hasn’t planned much for my first day, even though I arrive at 7:30 a.m.  I told him not to worry, I will be too excited to sleep anyway.  He says we can go celebrate my birthday at an Ethiopian restaurant within walking distance of his house.

Early the morning of the 26th, we have a domestic flight and private tour of the 13th and 14th century rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, where we will stay overnight in the Mountain View Hotel Lalibela.  The next morning, we will go to Lalibela town’s weekly open market and then fly back to Addis that afternoon.

The morning of the 28th, we will drive 3 hours outside of Addis Ababa to Lake Langano, where we will stay two nights at an eco-lodge called Bishangari Lodge.  According to the lodge’s website: Imagine a natural retreat of outstanding beauty that combines five unique ecological zones, a secluded setting that is host to over 400 bird species, a diverse range of wildlife, spectacular array of plant life and un-spoilt biodiversity. Bishangari Lodge is less than 250 km south of Addis Ababa, situated on the shores of Lake Langano. Bishangari’s secret has been safe thanks to its inaccessibility.

The lodge has been designed on sound environmental principles utilizing solar power and biogas for energy. The lodges have been constructed using natural materials and traditional techniques, without compromising on the quality and luxury of the accommodation. It is a natural retreat of outstanding beauty that combines five ecological zones;- wetlands, beach and lake, the forest, the dry pumice rocks and the acacia shrub.

The rest of our time, we will spend exploring Addis Ababa and all the city has to offer.

According to Visit 2 Ethiopia, Addis Ababa is the capital of modern Ethiopia and gateway for most tourists, as well as the political and commercial heart of the country.  Now a city of around 4 million people, it was founded by Emperor Menelik II in 1877.

The name Addis Ababa means “new flower.” This big, sprawling, hospitable city is more than 2,200 meters high in the foothills of Entoto Mountain. Addis Ababa is one of the third capital cities in the world with high altitude, after Katmandu and La Paz. Modern buildings and wide-open boulevards stand side by side with historic churches, palaces and monuments, as well as simple country-style huts. The air is filled with the scent of flowers and eucalyptus trees, and the rich vibrancy of a city that is home to so many cultures.

Modern Addis Ababa also plays a vital role in hosting many international organizations, including the AU, ECA (the Economic Commission for Africa), and other multi-national organizations, who all have their headquarters here. Addis Ababa is as well one of the most crowded diplomatic cities of the world.

I’ll see you all when I return home on Friday, November 2!

Categories: Addis Ababa, Africa, Bishangari Lodge, Eid al-Adha, Ethiopia, Lake Langano, Lalibela, Mountain View Hotel Lalibela | 5 Comments

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