Tearful farewells in Lanarca airport as we said our goodbyes to Tom, Caroline and Wendy … they were heading back to Gatwick as we were flying off to destination no.2 – Cairo. Tom very kindly gave me a great parting gift – a full blown head cold!!! Cheers Tom – I guess sharing is caring ❤️. Missing you guys xx
Pretty smooth journey once again. Having checked in with ease, it took absolutely ages to snake our way through passport control and security, so much so that our flight boarding was being called. They were boarding an hour before departure but it still gets your heart fluttering when other travellers are slowly picking off their trays, unloading their pockets, taking off shoes, taking out laptops etc. and you keep hearing “we are now boarding flight no…..”. A man kept trying to pass in front of us and Steve calmly explained that we all wanted to move forward but …. blocking manouevres were required as the chap didn’t understand English. After some time he did manage to queue jump and made his way somewhat forward in the queue. And he turned up on our flight!! So Steve got his own back with some jumping in at the luggage carousel – he felt better after that!! 😏. We made it to the plane in time and the flight actually took off some 20 minutes early – all good.
We had been due to stay in an airbnb an hour or so outside of Cairo but at the last minute we changed our plans and booked into an airport hotel – excellent decision, it’s fab. I know it’s not very ‘gap year’ and all that but, have you been to Cairo? – it’s mad!! We arrived about 8.30pm and all we had to do was wheel our luggage across a walkway and hey presto we had arrived. By this time my cold was pretty much full on so a quick beer and bed was just the ticket – no long car journey and no worries about what an Egyptian airbnb might turn out to be!? The hotel was heaving on arrival as three weddings were taking place – there was music and dancing, beautiful brides and glamourous guests everywhere – an incredible spectacle. Felt quite tempted to join in for a boogie but we might have stood out a bit in our travelling clothes!
We were up early yesterday morning and hit the hotel fitness centre by 8.00am – an hour’s workout was much needed after 10 fabulous but indulgent days in Cyprus. Following this was a couple of hours lounging and swimming at the hotel’s fabulous pool (well, I am still nursing a cold – did I mention that!!?).
After lunch we decided to head out to discover a bit of Cairo. Now I have had previous experiences of taxis in Cairo and also we had read up on which colour cars to hail, how to establish fares, haggling, lack of air-conditioning etc. And then there’s Uber!! The hotel porter kindly organised an Uber for us and we set off for ‘Downtown’ and the Egyptian Museum. Well – the roads are even madder than when I was here in the 80s – they are insane. 5 or 6 lanes of cars on most of the roads (no defined lanes however – painted lines have not reached these parts!) and they move from ‘lane’ to ‘lane’ at incredible speeds, blowing their horns constantly. Cairo is definitely not a place for a person who suffers from anxiety – I nearly cut off the circulation in Steve’s hand as I tightly grip onto it on various parts of the journeys, eyes firmly shut!! You’re lucky if you get a seat belt – grabbing hold of the front seat is your best defence against whiplash!! We witnessed a pile up yesterday as we were walking ‘downtown’ – they drive so close to each other that this must happen on a regular basis. And as for crossing the roads – it makes Rome seem mild!! Our relationship was well and truly tested yesterday as Steve attempted to guide me across this chaos – red traffic lights mean nothing – it’s so hard to be brave and adventurous when you have cars coming at you from all angles!! But we survived to tell the tale!
Visited the amazing Egyptian Museum – you can’t fail to be astounded by this ancient history – so much to see and learn about the different kingdoms, pharaohs, artefacts etc. Ticket buying a little confusing – sent back from entry to another area to buy entry ticket, then once inside sent back again for another ticket to be able to use camera, once upstairs discovered you had to have another ticket to enter a particular exhibition. But saw plenty, including King Tut himself – no photos allowed in there though!!
After the museum we wandered down to Tahrir Square where the revolution kicked off 6 years ago – now just a quiet roundabout – we stopped at a local cafe for a pepsi and blended in with the shisha smokers – forgotten what it’s like to sit in smog!
Did some exploring of ‘Downtown’ and then walked along the bank of the River Nile, watching the sunset. It seems to come alive at night as the boats light up – hope to come back one evening – if we can face another heart-stopping taxi ride!!
So, up at 6.30am this morning as we had decided on an early trip to the Pyramids – to beat the crowds and the midday sun. And we called good, trusty old Uber. Whilst waiting a car drew up and said ‘Uber’ so we dutifully got in – only to discover 5 minutes later that he wasn’t Uber at all – and so the pantomime began!! We did eventually get to Giza but the journey had involved plenty of arguing, (even some expletives which is a rarity for Steve!), being terrified at the speed whilst the driver was using his phone, constantly being haggled to use him as a guide for the day and then the inevitable fallout over what he expected us to pay him. Steve had to shout at him to unlock the doors and then settled the payment once we were outside – at least he didn’t chase us but I’d love to have been able to translate his farewell words!!
Fairly low key ticket office/entry point to this wonderful piece of historical architecture – a tin shed. By this point we were so shattered by the taxi experience it was difficult to believe any of the many guides that flooded our way – insisting that we wanted to walk. Came to our senses though and chose a horse and carriage (my friend Anne and I rode horseback when here in the 80s) – suitable for the more mature sightseer! All went smoothly, amiable driver and our horse called Maradonna – didn’t get whisked off to any perfume shops this time – tricked into tipping for photos taken of us, even though we wisely avoided taking camel photos. But magnificent, what else can you say – so glad we came.
And tomorrow our very special friend, Mohamed Ali (our Egyptian son!!) arrives to see us, for 2 days. Can’t wait to see him – it’s been far too long – looking forward to lots of laughs. 😊