We have arrived… 24 hours travel time, some moet champagne and only one political insensitive question.
So after 3 separate planes we arrived in Cairo and surprisingly considering our masses of luggage we were quickly let through customs. With the 4 boxed bikes into a very tight van we headed to the hotel passing several dimly lit sites (granted it was night time) to the chorus of the evening prayer. First impressions were good although all seemed relatively quiet for a city of 22(ish) million, this could be attributed to the fact that tourism is down 90% due to recent events.
Up early for our first daylight sighting of Cairo and straight to the Australian and then Sudanese embassies, subtle differences between the two i.e. one was in a furnished office the other in a room AND one would let Justin take his pocket knife in the other wouldn’t. In between the embassies we stopped at Tahrir Square which is a very prominent site in the recent Arab uprisings. It was only recently that this was the central location for protestors that helped topple the former ruler ‘Mubarak’. With demonstrations still occurring last week due to a lack of change the space and its current occupiers still evoke emotion and a tense feeling. Not the ideal spot for my SLR. Surrounding this area were barbwire lined boulevards where upon entering through an open section I was certainly the only ‘tourist’ a point proven by the solid stares from the machine gun wielding soldiers. It was all summed up by a locals ‘welcome to Egypt’ greeting.
The afternoon was spent checking out the ‘alien inspired’ pyramids and sphinx. Always a rewarding sight when your fortunate enough to stand in front of something that you’ve seen many times over but not in person i.e. Eiffel tower, Christ the Redeemer or Adelaide. It’s at this time you can get to comment on scale i.e. the sphinx isn’t that big, appreciate the design i.e. the perfect symmetry of the pyramids and laugh i.e. watching justin being told to ‘go to hell’ after accepting a lucky charm and photo whilst not paying. Several times I had to remind myself where I was as I watched the setting sun lend its colours to the pyramids with a background of the bursting construction site also known as Giza.
Evening was spent reassuring ourselves that our bikes arrived as packed. As a cute group we built our bikes together scrounging the boxes to find several bolts, washers etc… that once were on the bikes. Overall all seems good evident by riding down the hotel corridors.
A few more tourist trips took in the sowk, several mosques, the citadel, city of the dead, museum (with real tutenkhamun mask) and several local cafes. In between these sites long lengths of time is spent in a cab whilst we pass through up market areas, sprawling apartment blocks, pass heavily laden donkey and carts, sit still in traffic jams and simply survey the roads to see which ones lend themselves to be cycled down… not many! At times it’s a place that resembles a shelled out Beirut, a place that is coming back from a war torn period which for some areas is true. Certainly a city which 3 days doesn’t do it justice but we must move on eventually considering we haven’t actually started and there is approximately 12,200kms to go!
Please note that I apologise for the poor grammer, spelling mistakes and incredible humour for this post and the ones in the future. Computer time is very limited and I would prefer to be enjoying the trip then to read over my terrible writing. As for photos also check out Justins blog (http://www.justinmolik.com/blog.html) as he is putting all his photos up and then some whilst I will only put a few up from my point and shoot rather than my SLR when I get a chance.
Thanks said wade