Monday, 16 June 2008

The bustling city of Cairo

Hi from Clare, Sunday 15/6

Photo 1 - Clare & Pat relaxing at Tel Aviv Airport (after a cocktail or two)
Photo 2 - Patrick, Leanne, Clare, Pat & Ron, let the fun begin.
Photo 3 - Ron, Pat, Kathryn and Andrew enjoying dinner.
Photo 4 - Andrew, Clare at the Sphinx.
Photo 5 - Clare, the reluctant camel rider.
Photo 6 - National Museum Cario.

We left Ashkelon marina and travelled by train to Tel Aviv airport only to find that the train was delayed for a short while due to a bomb scare. We found our later that a missile from Gaza had whistled over the top of the marina and landed in the sea shortly after our departure. The locals on the train didn't seem to be disturbed by the delay, I guess it is just a normal event for them. We on the other hand are hoping to find Eye Candy in one piece upon our return. Good thing we have insurance!

The security requirement at Tel Aviv airport necessitates arriving four hours before a flight. I don't know why this is a requirement as the place is virtually deserted and has only Mc Donalds and a few grubby cafes for dinner. We pooled the last of our Israel money and after a meagre Mc Donald's meal we couldn't afford the necessary $10 for a glass of beer or $35 for a G&T - any wonder at those prices! But being resourceful Aussie's we soon discovered that Duty Free was supplying free samples of a Bacardi cocktail. They were pretty good and after six cocktails (we had to be sure we liked them) we purchased a couple of bottles for the princely sum of $35.99; a much better bargain. After I had rearranged the airport to secure 4 comfortable leather chairs [much to Pat's amusement] we settle in for a long wait for the flight landing in Cairo at approx 3.30a.m.

Even at that hour of the morning, Cairo was a real culture shock - absolutely crazy traffic with cars speeding, madly tooting their horns, no traffic lights, and pedestrians taking their chances ducking between the cars as they crossed the road. And the cars - if you can call them that, were on the whole well and truly due for the scrap heap. During our 2 days here, of the 10 cabs that we caught only 1 had a meter - we presumed the others belonged to the cousin/uncle/friend of the person placing the reservation.

The highlights of Cairo were seeing the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and a trip to the National museum, where we took part in a 2 hour organised tour. We were 'blown away' by the museum as it houses a spectacular collection of statues, tombs and assorted items such as jewelry, weapons, pottery and manuscripts dating back to 3000BC. The most interesting of course, being that of the pharaoh Tutankhamun; the wealth, detail and workmanship of the treasures recovered from his tomb was absolutely amazing. We wanted to buy a book to keep as a reminder but we could not find one that would do it justice.

We met up with Patrick and Leanne and had a very interesting afternoon at the Cairo bazaar. Patrick's knowledge of the culture [having lived in Alexandra for 7 years] came in handy when it came to negotiating a price. It was also very useful when the sometimes unimpressed traders let us know what they thought, not realising that Patrick could understand the language and their verbal abuse. Their look of amazement as he pulled them into line, was really quite comical.

We also met up with Kathryn [a former work colleague of Andrews in Australia] enjoying a long cool beer with her before venturing out into the market place, and later sharing dinner with her in one of Cairo's top hotels where she was staying - what a treat.

Late Saturday afternoon, Kathryn organised 2 cars to transport us to Alexandria where we are now enjoying the air conditioned comforts and hospitality of her home. We will be here for four days visiting the local sites before we set out for Aswan, our tour of the Nile and Valley of the Kings.