Seven Olives - R85 p.p
Oldest Hotel in Lalibela, good food, hot water geyser
We got woken by a knock on the door from the receptionist who said our car is waiting outside – 30 minutes to early. We got dressed and packed up in 10 minutes. We both had a bit of a cold which didn’t seem to get better and we didn’t have any medicine left.
A driver with a Toyota Corolla was waiting for us outside. Without confirming who arranged for him or what his price is we got in. He took us to the airport for 200 birr which was the agreed upon price with Peter who called us yesterday.
The airport is super small, but they had a restaurant where we could eat breakfast after checking in. We ordered Shiro yet again, but this time it was Shiro Tagabino which turned out to be a stiff putty form of Shiro. It was actually quite good in its own way.
The airplane was a small De Havilland Canada DHC-8 Dash 8 with twin propellers and seating capacity for less than 100 passengers.
The flight was only 30 minutes long so we basically just ascended and descended. The Lalibela airport is even smaller and we again had to walk from the airplane to the building over the tarmac. The arrival hall just consisted of about 20 small desks for different hotels.
We spotted the 7 Olives Hotel desk which we read about and negotiated the price down from 450 birr to 300 for a double room. The guy behind the desk then actually left with us and joined us in the shuttle to Lalibela which is 30 minutes away.
We immediately noticed that the landscape is much drier and more Karoo like. The road is still somewhat under construction but is mostly tarmac.
At the 7 Olives we got a decent looking room, again with an actual hot water geyser. We just relaxed for a while and just as we wanted to go to a restaurant it started raining. We thus decided to just have lunch at the 7 Olives. Caro ordered Shiro again and Hugo Spaghetti with tomato sauce.
After lunch we spoke to the guy who took us to the hotel, Birhan. Turns out he is also an official guide for the churches. We read only that official guides usually cost $25, so we agreed on the rate. We’ll meet him tomorrow morning at the hotel.
For the rest of the afternoon we just relaxed at the hotel. For dinner we decided to ‘risk’ it outside of the hotel and started walking to the Ben Abeba restaurant, but within a few meters it started raining so we got a Bajaj for 50 birr to the restaurant. We arrived a few minutes later and the rain had already stopped again.
The restaurant which is famous for its strange architecture and delicious food is run by a Scottish woman and her local partner. We sat on the top terrace overlooking the valley and ordered Shiro again for the fourth meal in a row. The food was good and they provided blankets to keep us warm. We took a Bajaj back to the hotel again.
The next morning we had a ‘crepe’ with honey for breakfast, but it was as thick as a flapjack. We then joined Birhan. Our cold has gotten worse so he took us to a Pharmacy, but they didn’t really have anything, just Panado like generic cold/flu tablets. He then took us to a tea shop and ordered ginger tea for us. It was really strong and burned our throats, but we convinced ourselves that it would help.
We only had $50 left, which the guide asked for so that he can exchange it on the black market. He then gave us the correct amount in birr to pay for the entrance and he presumably kept the rest.
During the morning ‘tour’ we visited the Northern Group of churches as well as the famous cross shaped Church of Saint George. The guide told us in all seriousness that Angels helped built (chiselled) the churches during the night, one church was apparently even ‘built’ overnight.
We read some reports of people saying they didn’t find the churches that amazing, especially not at $50. There’s, however, no denying that carving out these churches and tunnels more than 800 years ago was a magnificent feat and thus something to witness first hand.
Biete Medhane Alem is the largest of the Lalibela churches that is still intact. Most of the churches are still in active use.
We finished the morning tour at 11:00 and went back to the hotel not feeling well at all. Hugo slept until 13:00 while Caro sorted out photos. We then had lunch at the 7 Olives restaurant, sharing one plate of Spaghetti and tomato sauce.
We met Birhan again at 14:00 first took us to a different pharmacy where we bought cough syrup, but they also didn’t have anything else for colds so we went back to the first pharmacy as well and bought the panado like medication.
We then went to walk through the last five churches, called the Eastern Group. Two of the churches is connected by a 30m tunnel which we walked through in complete darkness just keeping one hand on the roof and one hand on the sidewall. We’ve never experienced such complete darkness.
After the tour we bought some Shiro flour to make ourselves back in Kenya. We went to confirm our seats at the Ethiopian airlines office and ordered a last Machiatto and Fruit juice before retiring to the Hotel. We basically went to bed at 16:00, but then at 20:00 we realised we should probably go eat to take our medicine. We ordered a ‘Hum Burger’, which was a patty like meat thing on normal toasted bread.