Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Mercato

Mercato, Addis Ababa © Philip Kromer
Mercato, Addis Ababa © Philip Kromer

The Mercato is one of the largest outdoor markets in Africa and Addis Ababa's most colourful sight. Ideal for souvenirs, there are tailors, spice merchants, and purveyors of just about every commodity under the sun, including wonderful Ethiopian coffee. Mercato is memorable but not for the faint hearted, with wandering animals, hollering vendors, and a riot of colour, aromas, and sensations. The spice market is particularly interesting with its exotic colours and smells. The Mercato is a pick-pocketing hotspot so visitors should be careful with their valuables. It's best to wear a money belt under clothes rather than keeping cash in an accessible place. Shoppers should bargain hard as prices are enormously flexible and foreigners are routinely charged three to four times the going rate. Often shoppers can bargain their way down to as little as 20 percent of the original asking price. Travellers should be careful of purchasing antiques and historical artefacts as, without a certificate, they may not be genuine and, even if they are, they could be confiscated at the airport. The market is enormous, chaotic, and easy to get lost in, so many travellers prefer to hire a local guide to show them around.