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Egypt Oct/Nov 2007

November 10, 2007

Our fourth visit to Egypt and about our 15th holiday with Kuoni. Cairo, and especially its airport and tourist spots, is the sort of city where a tour rep. earns his money for you. It was James & Tess’s first visit outside of first-world countries and we didn’t want it spoiled. 21OurTaxiDriver

We found a really good taxi driver outside the (Sheraton) hotel on our first day – one who was willing to take us where we wanted all day, stop at shops for stuff at local prices (i.e. not tourist prices) and not visit his brother’s perfume shop or whatever.

AllFourOfUsAtThePyramids RobOnHorse2 He found a guide for us at the Pyramids, though the horse/camel rides were more expensive than we’d expected. As before, I found the wooden camel saddle far too uncomfortable. I’d never ridden a horse before but really enjoyed it. They let me have the reins to myself as I found I could control him/her pretty well on my own.

05MohamedAliMosque Later, he drove us up to the Citadel area. James isn’t in to museums but the Mohamed Ali Mosque is a beautiful building and the boundary wall has very wide (if drab) views over the city. Tess got a few hisses and stares from local women because of her shorts and t-shirt on the way in to the citadel but outside the mosque it was quite different: young girls wanted to be photographed with her!

Sue and I had only seen the City of the Dead briefly, from the outside. It was a revelation to see the royal tombs and then one of the many, many poor families who have set up home in the ground floors of the tombs in that huge cemetery.

Tess was particularly amazing, if unorthodox, at the bazaar. She would offer 100 LE and stick to it until the seller came down to 100 from his original price of 1800. She got some real bargains and so did we.

29NearlyTimeToGo The second evening we took a taxi to a recommended restaurant where we ate well, drank too much of the local wine, tried several different flavour water-pipes and had our photos taken by a pair of surprised Cairo residents at the next table.

In the morning we braved the Cairo traffic (if you’ve been you’ll know what I mean) and walked to the Museum to see the Tutankhamen death mask and jewellery and all manner of stuff there. Sue bought James and Tess some personalised cartouches and papyrus at the hotel shop. Up early on the last day: we headed south to Sharm el Sheik and the ‘kids’ flew back to London.

The Sheraton hotel was really lovely, but 100% full and heaving with armed security for the arrival of foreign ministers for an energy conference. Its adjacent villa resort seemed to be occupied mostly by Russians on all-inclusive holidays who rarely smiled, never said ‘please’ or ‘thankyou’ and ate and drank too much.

The two pools were unheated, so unoccupied early in the day. Samy, the lifeguard, didn’t have a lot to do at this time of day but, in anticipation of a tip of course, he raised our sunshade, fetched us towels and even brought us our drinks from the bar. He got his tip.

We swam, sunbathed (blue sky, not full sun, near mid-day), went for a snorkeling trip, walked around the resort and, on the last day, went for a horse ride on the beach.

I made the mistake of buying an ice-cream. The waffle cones were individually hand-made and that, I suspect, was the source of the bug which gave me the runs for the last two days. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as I’ve had in that part of the world before and responded to what we had in our travelling medicine box.

So, it’s back home to unpacking and back to work. Lots more photos than these to look at. Please browse and leave comments if you like.

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