Monday, 23 July 2007

A weekend break in Ambo

Ambo is the source of the delicious sparkling mineral water available everywhere, and also is a natural hot springs resort only 125km from Addis. It's our 15th wedding anniversary in a few days, and we decided to celebrate with a weekend out of town. I booked a suite at the AmboEthiopia Hotel, and we set off to catch the bus early on Saturday morning. Addis was cool and drizzly, and we were pleased to negotiate the muddy bus depot and be on our way quickly. The road was absolutely perfect, and before long we were climbing into the hills that surround the capital, past eucalyptus forests, farmland and more greenhouses.
The hotel was a delight, originally built as a school it retains a slightly institutional air, much the same as the Chateau Tongariro, with high ceilings, wide wooden corridors and an imposing staircase. We relaxed in our fabulous large comfy room for a while, enjoying the view of the formal garden and Aljazeera on TV. Lunch in the hotel dining room was excellent, and was followed by a leisurely dip in the hot springs across the road. We had a drink downstairs before enjoying the buffet dinner that evening. Perfect.
The next morning was sunny and lovely, and after breakfast the hotel owner took us for a guided walk around the gardens, showing us the conference centre he's building, and the walking trail down to the Huluka River, from where the Bridge of God is visible. The Huluka River cuts the town of Ambo neatly in half, but a huge fig tree branch straddles both sides and connected both sides of town before the modern road bridge was built. The hotel & pool complex also includes a large grassy field where the millennium celebrations will be held in Ambo, and also a camping site. It was really a huge enterprise, but I was still surprised when he told me that he employs 160 people.
There was still time for us to read our books for a while in the sunny garden, before enjoying our last lunch and heading down to the depot to catch the bus back to Addis - which was still rainy and cold on our return. A lovely, relaxing weekend indeed.

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