Amman to Cairo
Trip Start Dec 18, 2010
20Trip End Jan 04, 2011
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Where I stayed
Our flight was rather uneventful, except they sat Laura 8 rows ahead of us and Sandy and I in the back with a very large group of Indian travelers. Very loud. And then a surprise, the fed us a very fine meal...when is the last time you had that on an hour and a half flight? Very good.
We landed in Cairo and went to passport control where we asked a lady about Laura's visa problems. Seems to be two different scenarios: 1. She is only in Cairo switching planes and thus no need for a visa. 2. At worst, they'll make her buy a $15 visa when she arrives. I think she'll be fine.
We were met after passport control by our guide, Mohammed. Are you kidding me? We now have had Jidad (Holy War!), Achmed (the dead terrorist!) and now the prophet himself, Mohammed! Mohammed is a great guy. He's charged with all our accommodations, and transportation in Egypt. He'll turn us over to a certified Egyptian tour guide tomorrow.
Intersting thing happened when we went through our final checkpoint. An obvious supervisor, trying to show his minions who it was done, asked one of his men to open and check a particular bag of ours. As the guard hoisted it up on the table, all three of us began laughing. You see, we brought only about 8-10 days of clothes and we had not done any laundry since we began. And we filled one suitcase with nothing but dirty laundry. The supervisor chose unwisely....as our guide, Mohammed opened the suitcase (and turned his back for modesty reasons), the guard got a great view of all of our dirty laundry! He rolled his eyes and gave us a look like, "My supervisor is an idiot!" Quickly handed our passports to us and said, "Enjoy your stay in Cairo." We all (including Mohammed) had a good laugh about ti as we waited for our luggage. Got our luggage and headed to the van. The van was driven by a driver other than Mohammed. And now I see why!
By the way, the weather is sunny and 70 degrees her in Cairo...heard you folks are having some snowstorms back there!!!
Traffic in this city is somewhere between just crazy to just plain insanity. We had a 40 minute nail-biting ride to our hotel. Let me tell you that I thought Israeli traffic was nuts, and Jordanian traffic was crazy...but Cairo traffic is just plain insane. They have very few traffic lights and highway lanes, if they exist at all, are merely a suggestion. They turn a 3 lane road into a 5 lane highway. I thought we were going to crash several times...and ours was one of the good drivers. And being a pedestrian is similar to that old computer game, Frogger, except you can't press the reset button when you get hit...you're dead!
Checked into the Ramses Hilton. Beautiful hotel right on the Nile. Our room has a beautiful Nile view. But it didn't have a third bed. A quick call to the desk resolved that problem.
We sorted laundry to have the hotel do it, called and the picked it up, and off to dinner we were being a pedestrian (or is that target) for the first time! We got a tip about a local restaurant not far from the hotel and began walking. Again, we were almost killed several times! Then a storage thing happened. We were walking by the Cairo Museum where we will go for a tour on Thursday, and I took a left down a street. A man came after me telling me to stop. I ignored him as I felt he was trying to sell us something or scam us...happens all the time here. When I turned around, Sandy and Laura were stopped by a uniformed policeman. I went back and he told me that the other guy was a plain clothes policeman and I should comply. He asked to me my passport and I complied. He saw it was American and let us go...I guess the street is for parking busses at the Cairo Museum only...no pedestrians. Look for me he didn't have a gun!
The next guy we met was friendly to us, and helped us across the street...but what he really wanted was to get us into his "cousin's" tourist trap shop where he would get a commission. We bid him goodbye at the next block without succumbing to his requests. Lots of people do this...come up to you, saying "Welcom to Cairo"...befriend yoiu and then try to steer you to their shop. We've succeeded in avoiding them so far.
We ate at a great restaurant called, Arabesque. Great food. Had a local beer...Saakra Gold (very good) and a local dish called Koshari....lintels, rice, macaroni, chick peas, with a tomato based sauce, garlic and vinegar and a bit of hot sauce...excellent and very filling... taseted like the Egyptian version of chili-mac!!!
Made our way back to our hotel and had a drink at the 36th floor bar...great view of Cairo an the Nile!
Can hardly wait to see the pyramids tomorrow!!!