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The long road home

Egypt

EGYPT | Friday, 4 January 2008 | Views [654]

We were travelling through Egypt and Jordan with Travel Talk. A tour Company I had not used before and I have to say I was mighty impressed. Right from our airport pick-up the service was great!

We left Heathrow at stupid-o'clock on Saturdy morning (mental note to self - don't arrive at heathrow before 4.30am as the check-in counters are not open). In our attempt to re-align ourselves with the budget-travelling-set we were flying via Milan with Alitalia and I was convinced my bag was going to be lost in transit. I should really have given the italains more credit, as, after experiencing some of the worst air-turbulance ever, us and our bags arrived safely in Cairo.

The tour kicked off almost immediatly, although Si and I opted to skip the cheesy belly-dancing evening for an early night after a rather frantic last 2 weeks in London.

After a day viewing Pyramids in Cairo we boarded an overnight train to Aswan which is right down the bottom of Egypt. The overnight train was suprisingly comfortable (although I was very happy to have my sleeping bag as the air-con was freezing!) and Si chatted to an Ozzie guy from another tour who passed on a bunch of trashy mags to keep me amused during the 3 hour delay the next day.

Down in lower-egypt (as they call it) they get rather wound up about tourist security and all tourists are required to travel in convoy (something to do with tourists being attached in the 90's and being pretty close to the Sudanese border). This gets rather frustrating and means your timetable is pretty heavily dictated by what time the convoy leaves to your chosen destination. For visiting the temple of Abu Simbel, it means the convoy leaves at 4.30am, you arrive at 7am, have 2 hours to look around and are back in Aswan by lunchtime. Its quite frustrating as it means you arrive and leave at the same time as 50 other bus-loads meaning its very crowded for a couple of hours a day but empty the rest of the time. It also means you feel quite rushed getting around the place as you know you only have two hours. It was amusing, however, to watch all the tour leaders leap off the bus and sprint to buy tickets.... can you believe they have only one guy selling tickets.

I won't bore you with details of all the temples and places we visited, I'm not sure I can remember them all. But I will say the highlights were definatly the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the temple of Abu Simbel.

We left Aswan by Felucca, a traditional Egyptian sailing boat crewed by three Nubian chaps (the Nubians are indigenous to Lower Egypt). It is a simple boat with one flat deck covered in mattress's and a cupboard underneath for your bags. You sleep sardine-style on the deck, your crew cook you tasty meals of pasta. You help yourself to beers and coke's from the chilly-bin on board. And you hope you don't need to go to the toilet too often as there isn't one. Toileting meant pulling the boat up and finding a bush. Easier said than done in the desert. Worse was finding an un-used bush. I'll leave that to your imagination.....

We spent 2 days and 2 nights on the Felucca and it was lovely to relax in the sun and watch the Nile flow past and chat to our fellow tour-mates.

We spent a couple of days in Luxor, more temples, Valley of the Kings etc before we headed off to Dahab on the Sinai peninsula. Dahab was fantastic. It was the first time we had a couple of days to just chill out and relax. It was very windy but we found some sheltered loungers where we drank fresh strawberry juice and contemplated a swim in the Red Sea. We did a bit of snorkelling as they have a number of reefs right off-shore, it was impressive, but I'm a tough cookie to please. I've been to the Great Barrier reef too many time.

In Dahab we ran into Simon's cousin (we knew they were travelling but thought they had left Egypt by then) so we had a few beers with them and dinner one night too. The food in Dahab was great - and nice to be beside the Beach too. Given that it was off-season we were constantly offered free starters and desserts with our meals so it made it that much nicer!

From Dahab we split off again and headed out to Jordan with 14 of our tour.... but I'll save that for another intallment.

Tags: On the Road

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