Day 24: London to Cairo From Queens to Pharaohs
Eggman came to London this morning! For those of you unaware; that’s my husband when he’s in charge of breakfast and makes the most awesome omlettes. I can’t even tell you how amazing it is to have a quick little respite in the middle of traveling no matter how small it is! It was so very nice to have access to a kitchen and just sit on the couch and flip channels for a bit too. We enjoyed our breakfast using up most of our veggies from our salad in our omlette and had toast and some lettuce as well and then headed for a quick walk to the retail park just down the road. Hit the bookstore and got a book (Nicholas Sparks of course-although my English teacher friends would be livid) and stopped at Sainsburys (bigger than Walbaums) for some lunch – quorn cutlets and gouda cheese – and headed back to the house.
We got back to the house, repacked our bags, showered and had lunch and caught the bus and two trains to Heathrow and waited to board our plane to Egypt. For years I’ve been teaching about the Nile and pyramids and now I can’t believe that I’m really going to see them. Really going to watch the Nile flow from South to North, feel small in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza and stand in front of hieroglyphics on cave walls; just unbelievable! I bought a People magazine before boarding (so great to feel caught up on all of the unimportant gossip of the world) and a bit over four hours later we landed in Cairo, Egypt – our first time on the African continent. We got off of the plane and got our visas for 15 dollars US. You go over to this man behind a desk and hand him fifteen US dollars (if you have more you get your change in Egyptian pounds) and he hands you a sticker which you yourself place in your passport and then you get a stamp on top of that! We got through security, picked up our bags and got a taxi to the hotel. So get this…this is what happened… we said yes to the official taxi guy who told us it was 120 Egyptian pounds which is the price we knew was alright. He wrote out a receipt and handed us off to guy number two who carried our luggage about 15 feet, then guy number two walked us over to guy number three who put our luggage in the car and proceeded to get in as the driver. Then after we got in the car guy number two put his hand in the car and said ‘tip’! Are you kidding! I mean seriously, had we known guy number two wasn’t the driver we would have said-um, hello, we can carry our own bags thanks! Well…welcome to Egypt, I guess. Anyway, about 20 minutes later we arrived at the GAP Adventures hotel the Santana.
Now, it’s not fair to judge a city by your visit to one hotel, but a bit of a worry when you have to walk through metal detectors to get to reception. So, we checked in amidst the cigarette smoke in the lobby and got a room out of the early 1900s which looks completely drab and a little yucky. We’re going to try to get upgraded as apparently the rooms upstairs have all been renovated and feel like a completely different hotel. If we can’t, we’ll just chalk it up to experience and remind ourselves that we are doing something that others only dream about doing. It’s not that unique (apparently) for Aussies as many tend to travel for months at a time, but, when we tell people in the states what we’re doing many just can’t believe it. We know that this trip will be draining on our bank accounts but I know that already we’ve had a great experience and have seen things I never could have imagined I would ever see. I would imagine that if you are someone with a thirst for travel it never really goes away. I just hope that we are always able to go to places we want to even if they will not be on a five start budget.
Well, we’ve brushed our teeth (with bottled water), washed our faces, taken out lenses and put our sleep sheets on the bed; the door’s locked, the air conditioning is on, the journal is up to date, the internet is available, breakfast is included and my husband is asleep next to me as I write…what an adventure! Tomorrow there’s an evening meeting to meet our tour manager and that’s it, so we’re off to explore Cairo (don’t worry, I brought a money belt).