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Nick and Bec's Big Trip Starting on the 29th of June 2008 Bec and I will be starting a year long adventure, spending 6 months in Africa and another 6 months in South America. It should be lots of fun.

Tea in a Brazilian Coffee shop in Alexandria

EGYPT | Wednesday, 12 November 2008 | Views [1043] | Comments [2]

We are in Alexandria on the Mediterranean Sea.  Here's a few extracts from the diary for Egypt.

29th October - The Cairo Taxi

We hailed a cab, painted roughly black and white with standard array of dents, and did the normal haggling, messing around, going from one taxi to another, until price was agreed.

So we chuck our packs on the roof as the boot doesn't open and climb in the back.  Taxi drivers use one of three makes of car: Peugoet 504s, Fiat 128s and eastern block Ladas.  We choose the eastern block Lada, a quality notor with styling of a brick.  All these cars, I would have thought, would have been scrapped years ago, but no, they were just sent to Egypt.

So our taxi driver merges into the ridiculous traffic and assumes standard position, leaning on the horn.  I notice the safety features of our eastern block Lada, an oversize comedy rear view mirror and some beads hanging from the mirror.  I feel much safer now.

The driver notices Bec is coughing and kindly asks if she would like the window open.  Not via remote electric control, but by passing the window winder handle to us in the back.  Bec declines.

We crawl along, honking away, progressing at snails pace up 26th Of July Street aiming for the nile.  Eventually we reach the bridge and the traffic eases enough so that our driver can select 2nd gear.  Lane markings don't mean much here and I don't think there are any.  It is amazing how many eastern block Ladas fit side-by-side in what looks like a two lane street.

I'm sure our left hand indicator was flashing the whole way, but it was invisible to our driver as the instruments, speedo, indicators, etc, were covered by the tassles of his dashboard carpet.

A point to note is that most drivers of which 90% are taxis, like to drive with no lights on or their lights have been removed and replaced by flashing decorative lights, the sort you would put on the Christmas tree in December.  So we twinkle along the streets.  I find it ia bit scary, our driver seems to enjoy himself.

1st November - Aswan to Luxor by train

...Oh and I am a clutz or just clumsy.  Yesterday in the Nubian museum I nearly fell through a glass panel into a prehistoric grave!  I managed not to by sheer luck.  Then today I fell of a kerb and I am always trying to get myself run over.  I am only 35.  If I make it to 70 I will be a broken man or just extremely embrassed.  I need de-clutzing injections or something...

8th November - White Desert National Park

We are hanging around like a bad smell waiting for the night bus to Cairo to turn up.  Unfortunately it doesn't arrive for 2 hours 45 minutes.  We are sat in the oasis restaurant (El Wada) letting dinner go down and munching on bread and dip, more chewing than munching.

The highlight for today was a three hour safari in the White Desert National Park, 30km north of Farafra Oasis.  The desert is difficult to describe in words and I think my pictures do the job.

Basically in amongst the endless sea of sand stretching from the Nile to Marrakech in Morocco, also known as the Sahara Desert, are incredible rock formations of limestone and chalk carved by the elements over a very long period of time.  The limestone was an anicent sea bed created about 80,000,000 years ago.  Our guide gave Bec some shells he found on the floor.  So these shells were around in the cretaceous period.  Dinosaur shells!  Cool.

So we drive around the formations taking pictures and admiring as we went.  Stopping here and there to try to absorb the wonder.

Then after a few hours we found a suitable spot to see the sun go down and drove back to Farafra.  With the lights off as is the want of the Egyption driver.  Don't ask why, you won't understand.  A highlight of the western desert and Egypt, the White Desert, not driving with no lights on.

So fingers crossed the night bus is smooth sailing tonight.  Then another bus to Alex and hopefully we can find a place of calm amongst the chaos.  That will do.  I've past ten minutes.  Only 2 hours 35 minutes to go!  Ho hum.

9th November - Bus to Cairo, Train to Alex

We are in Alex!  Not on the plan, not in the desert, not Cairo.  Somewhere completely different.  We had had enough of the two horse desert town Farafra and bailed, taking the night bus to Cairo and catching an early train to Alex.

We have checked into the Union Hotel and have spruced ourselves up with a shower and hair wash.  Next stop lunch and a wander along the corniche alongside the Mediterranean Sea.

The bus journey was fairly uneventful and surprisingly arrived early, by about 1 hour 15 mintues.  We started the journey at the very back of the bus in a couple of really cramped and hot seats.  I think the engine was below our feet and the exhaust pipe next to Bec's head.  After a couple of hours we reached Bawiti, the main town of the next oasis, where numerous people got off, giving us an opportunity to jump one row forward.  This was much better and surrounded by friendly Egyptions we caught a couple of hours sleep, plus watched Tomb Raider on the TV.

So we arrive in Cairo at 4:45am and head for Ramses train station, plus a bakery for breakfast.  We purchase our train ticket without any problems, which was a first (apart from the sleeper train), found our allocated seats with ease in carriage number 9, 2nd class and settled down for some interrupted shut eye.

This morning we went to the Brazilian coffee shop in Alex for tea.  Yes I know it doesn't quite work, but hey it was good tea.  Plus brownie and crossiant.  Then we headed back to the Union Hotel.  We also checked out the Acropole Hotel, but the piles of rubble in the hallway didn't bode well and we stuck with the Union.

So that's it for the moment.  We head back to Cairo in a couple of days and then fly to Tunisia.



I seem to remember you had a bit of trouble in Paris with bumping into things. So nothing changes there then.Have a good trip to Tunisia

  Pat Nov 16, 2008 1:01 AM


Remind me to be very careful of moving Christmas trees whilst in Egypt Nick

  Maureen Feb 16, 2009 11:11 AM

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