Cairo

On Friday we flew from Paris to Cairo, arriving in the evening. We had a bit of a delay at the airport getting our Visas but even more waiting for our car and driver - we were waiting inside the airport and he was outside.

Egypt is a huge contrast to the other places we have visited during our holiday and we have learnt that no-one does anything for nothing. Everyone is after some money.
When we finally got to the baggage collection area of Cairo airport, our cases had already been taken off the 'turntable thingy', a man rushed up to us and asked if we had come from Paris - and then said he had our bags ready for us........we presumed he was our driver. He then rushed off and got a luggage trolley and placed all the bags on it for us - and then asked for money for what he'd done. Only then did we realise that he wasn't our driver. Iain said we didn't have any Egyptian pounds at that stage and the man offered to walk with him to the ATM or bank - to which Iain said we had someone waiting for us and thanked him very much for helping. Words were muttered behind us!

The drive to our apartment was an eye opener and mouth opener. Paris is much better, compared to here. The freeway is 4 laned each way and everyone and everything travels on it.....there were cars, trucks, motorbikes, people walking, horse and carts,camels, donkeys, bicycles, people fishing, people sleeping and selling stuff. The vehicles are mostly old, well used and dusty - our "limousine" seats 8 but is an old white Peugeot with petrol fumes with only seatbelts in the front.
Instead of using their indicators to show when they want to change lanes, the cars 'toot' their horns and they don't stay within their lanes, often 3 cars travel alongside each other in 2 lanes (so that makes 6 cars in 4 lanes!) and there doesn't seem to be too many road rules or road rage. Everyone just merges and drives with the constant tooting.
It was a 3/4 hour drive to our apartment, which is situated near the pyramids at Giza - a privately owned apartment. It was nice to see the pyramids as we got nearer.
(From our balcony - the geese live on the rooftop in front)

Our first view in the morning is of the pyramids and we have a couple of balconies around the apartment so we can sit outside and watch the pyramid light and laser show (which happens 3 times each night in different languages and an extra performance on Sunday night!)
The other pyramid we can see from the balcony
On the rooftops around us we can see goats, sheep, geese, chickens and cats/kittens - then around the corner (not on the roof) are camels, horses and donkeys. Feels like a farm complete with some roosters that aren't sure what time of the morning, it is.

Children play outside until 1 or 2am, it is a safe area here and everyone knows each other and there is constant chattering amidst the prayers that are heard from the mosques - because they use microphones and speakers outside the mosques.


We are standing next to the first block of a pyramid - imagine how high they really are!

We spent 2 1/2 days visiting pyramids, museums, sphinxes, mosques, hieroglyphics etc, we feel like we are suffering from 'Egyptian overload' today. The boys were disappointed with themselves that they didn't go inside the pyramids but when they saw the pathways leading down inside and how people were looking when they came out of the pyramids, they decided that they didn't want to attempt it. Iain did and he came out sweating, huffing and puffing.The areas that you really want to see have been spoilt with people trying to sell souvenirs - (souvenirs made in China) and the guides who say that they will show & explain to you, what you are seeing for free - that they work for the government etc and then when you have finished they ask for money for their services. They also say at the end that they will show you a good photo spot and when Iain had Ben all lined up in front of a pyramid, the guide suddenly took his scarf off and wrapped it around Ben's head, to make him authentic and then a camel and rider appeared out of nowhere to be positioned behind Ben - and then the guide offered to have his photo taken with Ben.......this is when the penny dropped and we realised that he would want money for this! The Step Pyramid at Sakkara



The Tourism Police are just as bad, offering to have their photo taken, as long as you pay. And at some areas where there are signs saying no photos allowed, if you pay them, they will let you take photos!
At Memphis - King Ramses II (discovered recently)

I had seen some nice beaded headpieces that I thought might be nice for a couple of nieces and when Iain enquired at the price on my behalf, we decided that we would keep looking (they were a bit expensive) so he thanked the girl and walked on. She followed Iain for ages, hasseling him about why did he ask for the price if he wasn't going to buy etc etc

We have become adept at listening to maybe arabic swearing behind our backs?!
All this sounds very negative but it's not meant to be it has just been frustrating as it has dampened our enthusiasm for Egypt and I am sure that it isn't just us that feels this way. Nicholas summed it up by saying that he thought that Egypt would be more advanced than what it was.

The owner of our apartment had given us lots of advice and warnings and has been very helpful in organising things for us, so we were slightly prepared. We have come across lots of nice Egyptians, the children all want to know where we come from from and then they say "Welcome to Egypt, Australia". We had a couple of girls who asked if they could have their photo taken with us and they were that thrilled - we should have charged them a pound for the privilege.

The pyramids and other artifacts and monuments that we have visited are amazing and yesterday we visited the Church that Joseph, Mary and Jesus had been in. Hard to believe that we were there too.
Population is approx 12 million

What is the time?

The last 3 days have been hot and we looked forward to a nice shower and a cold drink at the end of the day. We have become adept at not going to the toilet for 6-7 hours until we get back to the apartments, (grotty toilets everywhere), taking bottles of water with us and also not having much to eat when we are out and about, and so far no tummy bugs! Any weight put on in Paris would have been lost here.

Count the satelite dishes

We are off to Dubai early tomorrow morning, sounds like it might be hotter but it will be nice to see some colours other than various hues of brown!

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3 Response to "Cairo"

  1. marion, on April 28, 2010 at 6:57 AM said:

    I can't believe that I am first! i can relate to what you are feeling. Phuket after Europe was was much the same on a smaller scale. The photos are great though and I am sure that there will be many colourful stories coming from your stay in Egypt.
    Had better go, my turn for the shower. Trudi is about to read this. Bye for now

  2. Barbara, on April 28, 2010 at 7:51 AM said:

    Unreal Banana Peel!!!!! You're really there. What a different world it is. The colours there all look the same - but the history is amazing. Keep on enjoying every minute of your trip and we'll see you soon.

  3. Kirsty, on April 28, 2010 at 7:56 AM said:

    That is amazing!!! The photos are great....it may have its moments while you are there but so great to have seen it all. It looks like I would imagine it to be....which is a bit unexpected!!!
    I too thought it would all look a little more modern.
    You look like you are coping with the heat Christina....Dubai will be swimming pools and cocktails????