I met a nice Welsh lady in the executive lounge the previous night who advised me that the tour companies at the Hilton book private 1/2 day tours for about ~$80. She advised me to use the company by the bakery. First I tried the agency by the elevators but they kept saying everything is sold out.
Then I tried the agency by the bakery. They didn’t mention a 1/2 day Addis Ababa tour, but rather were trying to sell me on excursions outside of the city. Since I had time I decided to do one of them…but they couldn’t run any of my credit cards. Since I wanted to spend ~$80, not $175 I figured I would try another agency. I went to the agency across from the shop behind the elevators. They had a 1/2 day Addis Ababa tour for $76 so I booked it and 30 minutes later I was off! After disappointment with my iPhone pictures in Panama i decided to bust off my point and shoot for this, but I think some of those pictures may be worse, but I will not know until I get home to a computer.
First stop: Church of the Trinity. You may want to wear socks because you cannot wear shoes inside. This church has nice stained glass and murals depicting both religious and political topics. It was built in the 1940s (but is falling apart in many places).
Second stop: the national museum. I never saw Lucy when it was in the US and with its importance and relatively few other sciency things in Addis I knew I had to see this. The museum was pretty good and my private tour guide led me through the museum.
Third stop: Mount Entonto. This has a multicolor church (St Mary) and the old castle that’s not really a castle. The view is nice on the way up, but the way up is through a lot of open air markets and there were plenty of women and donkeys moving firewood and people getting their bonfires built for Meskel.
Fourth stop: we stopped in merkato, but I only buy certain types of souvenirs (magnets) and the guide didn’t understand why I would want to buy magnets so he took me to a store overbrimming with wood. I don’t haggle so I avoid these places. I bought a silver ring and went on my way back to the hotel since streets were starting to close.
I must admit, the fluency of English in Addis Ababa is very high. I know to expect high standards from Hilton staff, but even everyone at the tour agencies was very fluent in English. I have not always found that to be the case. And I don’t say that as a dumb American, I say that as someone who knows that tourists from most of Europe and many other parts of the world share English as their second language so although learning German (or in the case of my flight today, Italian) may be great to cater to a niche of tourists with money, English opens many doors. Ethiopia is on the right track. I had problems with some people’s accents, but they always said the right words.