Tag Archives: ethiopia

Wishlist – The Ten Places I would most like to see in my lifetime

For those that know me or regularly check back to this blog, you know that I love to travel. I have been to thirty five countries in my lifetime, which is a fair few in my short time on this Earth. But there is a lot more that I want to see, and so, here is a top ten of places I would really like to see before I die. From the impossible to reach to the high tourist footfall, here are the places that I have not yet visited that I really want to get to sometime in the near future.

10) Prague.

I thought I would start with a simple place. Even though I have been to the Czech Republic, the reality is that I drove through the country in the middle of the night. For me the Czech Republic provided toilet breaks, a small fine for not paying the motorway tolls and lots of crazy driving. I hope to rectify this in the not-too-distant future, and visit what is regarded as one of Europe’s prettiest capitals.

9) Bolivia.

In fact I would like to visit all of South America. I have never stepped foot on this continent and so anywhere on here would be great for me. But for me, Bolivia really stands out due to its combination of natural beauty and spectacular culture. In particular, I would really love to see Salar Uyuni, the largest salt flats on Earth.

8) Ethiopia.

Oldest civilisation on Earth after China, this is one of the world’s great cultural treasure troves. In fact the whole of the Horn of Africa is culturally rich. After all, humanity itself evolved here. Next door Somalia also holds a great allure, but that is not looking like a place I could visit anytime soon.

7) Ooty.

India is going to feature heavily on my list. Officially my new favourite country to visit, I have only been here for a few brief weeks and really only saw the North East. I would really love to see more, and Ooty has the combination of all that is magical. An old steam train puffing up the mountains, stunning scenery and a romantic edge that makes it popular with honeymooners the world over. Out of all the destinations on this list, this is probably the best combination of exotic and ease of travel.

(From Pratheept2000)

6) Tokyo.

What can I say. Cute gadgets, cute food and cute chicks. But behind all the cuteness, Tokyo really is one of the world’s great cities, and out of the ‘Big 4’ Global Cities, Tokyo is the only one I have not visited. It is big, crazy and expensive, but it is still worth a look in. One day…

5) Easter Island.

Well, the remotest place on Earth, one of the real outposts of civilisation with a fascinating Archaeological story. There is so much to learn from Easter Island, and so much tragedy too. The planet in a microcosm, and it shows on one small spot the great achievements of humanity and also the worst ravages of man. Expensive and hard to get to, but this is definitely one of the more likely destinations to reach.

4) Aksai Chin.

Yeah, right. The likelihood of getting here is about as good as me becoming a world class sprinter. At this moment in time, all entry is virtually impossible. But for me, it is the perfect combination of my two favourite types of scenery – desert and mountain. I have always been fascinated by the Himalaya, both from a scenic and cultural point of view. But, out of all the places on my list, I doubt I will see this place in my lifetime.

3) Istanbul.

Out of all the places on this list, Istanbul really should have been one that I should have arrived at sooner, but have so far been thwarted at every turn. I did once have a flight booked here, but, yeah, Easyjet changed the flight days, and so I plumped for the refund. Maybe I should have just jumped, but with my work being impossible to work around, it is one that is on my ‘to-do’ list.

2) Madagascar.

It may have been popularised by the cartoon, but for me, this island in the Indian Ocean really has it all. Exotic wildlife, a spectacular fusion of Polynesian and African culture and a landscape that is simply divine. For me, this destination is more about money and time rather than anything else.

(From Frank Vassen)

1) Arunachal Pradesh.

Again, this is one place I really should have visited sooner than I did. Arunachal Pradesh in India’s far North East is simply divine. Nestled in the slopes of the Himalaya, this is where the mighty Brahmaputra gets its power. All of India’s North East is fascinating, which is why on my two journeys to this great country, I focused my efforts here. Arunachal Pradesh would be the jewel in the crown, and it is just a case of getting round the bureaucracy. Unfortunately, it is Indian bureaucracy…grr…

(From Rajkumma1220)

So there you have it. Ten places in the world that I have not yet visited, but would so love to. What do you guys think, and have any of you been to anywhere on this list?

And what would be your wishlist of places to visit? And anything you think I should have included on this list but missed out (and trust me, it was hard to compile). Answers in the comments below!

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So, you were talking about Ethiopia…

Yes, and something that was a surprise in my jaunt to West London this week. I have revealed two of my loves this week – Food and Travel. I do too much of the former and not enough of the latter but Ethiopia is now a place I have been converted to – in both respects.

For me the fascination in Ethiopia is mainly in its position in the greater world. Like most of Africa, Ethiopia has been written off as a pockmark on the tapestry of humanity. But Ethiopia is much more than that, and its recent phase of history, its famine and bitter civil war has made it one of the basket cases of the world. The phrase, ‘how the mighty have fallen’, would be very appropriate to this part of the world, in describing its rich past and torrid present.

A country’s best ambassador is its people, followed by its food. All the (few) Ethiopians I have met have been great and the women are F-I-T! Now having sample a little bit of its cuisine, I have grown quite a fondness for this place. Next stop, Addis Ababa…

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Ethiopian Staples 3 – Coffee

Although we associate the coffee bean with Costa Rica, Java or Guatemala, the coffee plant itself is native to Ethiopia and has been part of human consumption for well over a thousand years. This, the most famous of Ethiopia’s exports, started a revolution, enriched a continent and has enabled the Rat Race to continue unbound.

I am not a coffee drinker. This is quite clear in the mornings/afternoons/evenings when I wake up and head straight for the kettle and a tea bag. Sod it, twigs and leaves would do me fine. And the coffee in the UK is simply revolting. I do not know why, but despite the invasion of the Italian styled Barristas, coffee is not an art but a butchery. Well over £2, served in half pint cups, overladen with foamy milk and it still tastes like pulp. There may be a thousand ways to consume coffee on the High Street but they all taste revolting. It also amuses me to see a large segment of my generation that simply lives off the stuff, often holding cups that are bigger than their own arms.

But I do like coffee when I go to coffee drinking countries. The warm cups of Guatemala, the simple little servings of France, the thick creamy delights of Spain, the rich aromas of the Middle East. This is where I drink coffee, not in vast quantities, but enough to appreciate the way that this beverage is meant to be served.

So it was with utter delight on Tuesday that I sampled my first Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, a truly wonderful way to round off a luscious meal. This is what sold me on the idea of Ethiopian cuisine. It was not just the great food, but the wonderful way by which coffee was served that convinced me to write this mini series on Ethiopia. And my, I think I have found a new place to explore in hopefully, the not-too-distant future…

More on the Coffee Ceremony.

A guide to the origins of coffee.

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Ethiopian Staples 2 – Frankincense and Myrrh

The Origins of Incense and Myrrh are not often thought of as the Horn of Africa, but this wretched part of the world grabs us every Christmas with stories of Three Wise Men, but also reflect a greater past of this corner of Africa. The art of aromatherapy can be traced to this part of the world and even today, the Ethiopians are rightly proud of their Ancient Traditions.

But it is amazing that something as simple as the incense stick that is now seen from Brazil to China, originated in the Horn of Africa. And for me, particularly fascinating as an Archaeologist, to see the historic links generated by this trade. Humans have always looked beyond for their needs and the people of the past are no different from us today. We often forget that the Red Sea was a highway not a dividing line and in fact it can be seen in the closeness of the cultures between Southern Arabia and North West Africa. We may not see the full extent of such links in my lifetime, such is the seemingly inherent instability of this part of the world. But yes, it is a dream of mine to travel here one day. To recreate a little bit of the spice trade. I may be over in the UK a lot more now than I used to be, but that does not mean the travel bug has diminished in the slightest…

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Ethiopian Staples 1 – Teff

Ethiopia is not known for its cuisine. Yesterday, while with a friend, he remarked so. And yes, the famine of the 80’s, something on a Biblical Scale has left shocking images, even by today’s standards of 24/7 news reporting. However, we are forgetting that Ethiopia has the Second longest period of continuous culture, only surpassed by the Chinese. So, in this corner of Africa, what delights have spouted out from this Ancient Civilisation. I will give three. Frankincense,
Coffee and Teff. And today I concentrate on that most overlooked piece of food, Teff!

Despite all the health fads of recent years, Teff is not a grain that has caught on, surprising with the rise in gluten free diets. Teff is one nutritious food. It not only is a carbohydrate but also contains all eight essential amino acids (the proteins that the body cannot self replicate). It also contains calcium and iron, a rarity amongst the staples. And yet it is only a major crop in one part of the world, the horn of Africa.

Teff is made into Injera, one of the many possible products, and the most commonly known in the West. With a slightly sourish taste, it will fill any person up to the brim. On Tuesday, I had Injera with meat. Basic yet fulfilling in every possible way.

The real miracle of Teff however is its growth. It can pretty much grow anywhere, uplands, lowlands, on poor soils. And it is fairly drought resistant but will also grow in the rain. In fact, dire conditions are needed for the collapse of a Teff harvest. In a part of the world with climate as unpredictable as North East Africa, this s a blessed grain. It also grows rapidly, ensuring good harvests throughout the year. For me it is astounding that this grain has not been utilised beyond its place of origin. However, this is not a grain in decline. In the last generation, the amount of land used to cultivate Teff has been increasing. While it is doubtful that this particular Abyssinian staple will ever catch on here in the UK (the Ethiopian/Eritrean/Somali communities are too small and at the moment too shattered to concentrate on take-aways) it is a treat that will fill the soul with delights of a full tummy.

Everything about Teff that is not from Wikipedia, here!

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