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Adventures of a short vet

Late arrival

EGYPT | Saturday, 19 June 2010 | Views [456]

After three months of slaving away in the UK it was time for my first real holiday (one asting more than three days this time). My bags were packed, I’d bribed a nurse into dropping me off at the bus station and I was off…to EGYPT! As most of my friends had already made the trek to the land of camels & pyramids, I decided to join a travel group to meet a few more people and avoid having to make any big decisions. I’ve never been a fan of tour groups, preferring to do things under my own steam, but this time I thought it would be easier to have a local sort things out for me. I chose to go with Intrepid Travel for a few reasons:

  • I've heard only good things about it from people who’ve been on trips with them
  • they use local guides & homestays so you get to know the people of the country rather than moving from hotel to hotel
  • I really liked the itinerary
  • it was a pretty reasonable price all things considered
  • it’s an Australian-based company so must be good

I’d arranged to have a private transfer from the airport to the hotel as I was arriving the night before we were due to meet, and I didn’t want the hassle of trying to haggle with a taxi on my first night in Egypt. We were 15 minutes boarding the plane, which then turned into 1.5hrs sitting on the runway waiting to take off as we’d missed our spot in line, and so finally arrived in Cairo over 2 hours late. Thankfully my bag had not been lost and my driver was still there waiting for me (he had every right not to be as I had not been able to let them know we were running late).

The drive to the hotel was certainly an eye-opener. I would have to say that nothing in the world can compare to the Cairo roads! Even at midnight the roads were busier than Auckland rush-hour traffic. It seems that driving in Cairo has been modeled on the dodgem-car strategy and the lines on the road are there for decorative purposes only. Cars just shoot in and our in every direction (though mostly going the same way), using their horns and occasionally their indicators to let other drivers know their intentions. It seems crazy but it actually seems to work! Okay, so just about every car will have at least one ding on it, and I did see a motorbike rider nearly get crushed by a bus that didn’t see him, but otherwise the traffic seems to keep flowing & we weren’t stuck in a traffic jam once. I was told you need three things to drive in Cairo – good horn, good brakes and good luck!

The Hotel Pharaoh is in what looks like a dodgy part of town, but then again who can tell as they have massive glass towers next to breezeblock slums and there are so many people in Cairo (the number I was told by various people ranged from 20 to 30 million) that you just can’t compare it to home in any way (4-5million people on the whole of NZ was beyond comprehension for most Egyptians I met!). My room was a little small and old-fashioned, but clean and comfortable with air-con & a balcony. But at 2am all I was interested in was my bed, and after a quick shower I fell gratefully into it and unconsciousness.

Tags: airport, cairo, egypt, hotel pharaoh

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