2nd April 2014 Cairo. Twenty million people. Bad traffic.
The first you see of Cairo, entering from the south, is a myriad of ten story blocks of units and as you drive in you reacquaint yourself with the African style of city driving, i.e. every man for himself but, having graduated from the Dar es-Salam school of driving, I survived, more or less.
We finally found the Isis Garden Camp owned by an Adelaide lady, Sue, who gave us a warm welcome, and her Egyptian husband, Helal who is also friendly and helpful, organising our sight seeing for the next three days. Their home is an interesting building of six floors, which houses their extended family and has views of the Great Pyramid of Giza only three K’s away. The Great Sphinx is also there, right in the middle of town. There is also a very nice garden, pool and camp kitchen. Parking is limited but gated and under security cameras.
We have heard the call to prayers, that start early each morning, maybe at 5am, and throughout the day, but here in Cairo it is overwhelming. We have a Mosque just two doors down and they do have a PA system along with several other Mosques in the area and when they all get going at the same time it is a unique experience not entirely unpleasant.
3rd April 2014 Just did a bit of washing and walked down to the supermarket about 2K’s away and caught a tukk tukk back, these guys really do have some awesome driving skills.
There is no municipal garbage collection in most of Cairo.
Tomorrow we travel…………………by camel.
4th April 2014 We rode by camel to the Great Pyramid and Sphinx of Giza. Camels are much better on sand than on road and the ones we rode were decorated with ink designs which made them look even better. My camel’s name was Michael Jackson and Judy’s was Cleopatra. They were well behaved and didn’t spit or bite. I think Cleopatra took a liking to me.
The pyramids were also good.
5th April 2014 Cairo is a BIG town, we realised, as we headed toward the Egyptian Museum. This museum is right next to El-Tahrir square where the recent rioting occurred. The entire street in front of the museum was full of tanks ready for the next riot, also a big building burnt out next door.
The museum houses many relics from antiquity including King Tut’s stuff and we spent a couple of hours here before going with our driver, Walid, to see old Coptic churches and some very impressive mosques including the Mohamed Ali Mosque.
Lunch was Kusheri, a spicy mixture of mince, chick peas, noodle, and macaroni. Good.
I mentioned earlier that there was no municipal garbage collection. I may have been wrong as I saw a backhoe clearing a huge, accumulated, hill of rubbish. Maybe this is how they do it.
6th April 2014 We were taken on a tour to Saqqara. Because we were with an Egyptian guide we were able to bypass a lot of the hassling that goes on at all the tourist sites. We did see the very first pyramid ever built as well as other tombs and for an extra consideration were taken on the unofficial tour of an as yet unexcavated tomb. We clambered down an awkward entranceway, past a heap of rubbish and into a small tunnel from which several birds flew (no bats) and we explored the pitch black passageways for quite some way until we came upon a skull then another and finally two side rooms which were full of human bones. No explanation given.
There were some excavations going on around the site but when I tried to photograph it I was waved away, all very Indiana Jones.
Finally came to saying our goodbye at Isis Garden Camp and settling the bill. Very expensive. See “Travel notes/accommodation”.
8th April 2014 Arrived at Ras al Barr late yesterday, one of the most northerly points in Egypt from where our car will be shipped to Iskenderun in Turkey. We worried that the ferry may not be operating, it is, and we have the arrangements in place thanks to our agent here Mohamed Ali El-Hefnawy firstname.lastname@example.org. Two days ago we applied for and were granted a three-month visa for Turkey on line US$60.00. Too easy.
Ras al Barr itself is a large resort city with hundreds of huge three story buildings that look to be hotels, though they all look empty at present. All appear to be built around the same era of the 50’s and 60’s, with surrounding palm trees, they remind me of Miami slightly past it’s prime. I have been told that this place really hots up around holiday time. In fact it did hot up on Saturday night, just like Brighton in Sydney, complete with drag racing, doughnuts, people milling and the odd firework. Very entertaining for us from our balcony.
The Nile empties into the Mediterranean Sea here so in a way it is a fitting end to the African section of our trip as we have followed the course of the Nile, on and off, from source to fin.
Just had yet another black out. Not me personally.
10th April 2014
Took the ferry to the other side of the Nile to Al Malaqa village that is the opposite of Ras al Bar with busy markets and exotic smells.
Have you seen the old 50’s vintage cars in Havana, Cuba? Same here. I was admiring one of these old classics when the owner, Adel Ali came over and invited us for a coffee across the road and as we shared a shisha he explained that his Dodge had the original body but that the rest of the car was made up from various Japanese parts of different brands. I think he was trying to sell it to me.
14th April 2014 I’m not going to say Out of Africa but finally we say our good bye to Egypt.
The Ro-Ro (Roll on-Roll off) ferry to Turkey does not take passengers so we are flying to Turkey along with the 250 swarthy Turkish truck drivers who have their rigs on the vessel. Judy is the only female passenger on the plane. I must say they were a pleasant bunch and well behaved.
Just heard on the news of a bomb explosion on a Cairo bridge, killing two policemen.