Wednesday, January 09, 2008


This morning saw me driving Miles and Shani to the airport - and boy is my house quiet. And of course Aymn ran away to Libya - so I am all by my lonesome. In some ways I guess this is a good thing - gives me a chance to put my foot up and maybe it will quit looking like a poison puff toad.

We had a busy time after Christmas. Had guests for Christmas dinner - which was held on December 24. Christmas Day was just the 3 of us as Aymn had to leave for business - after promising me that he would spend the day with us - same old story. We did a lot of flying by the seat of our pants. Decided one evening that the next day we would head to Cairo for a couple of days - I was being brave - we were going on our own - without Aymn - and I would try to find my way around to the Pyramids - not really a problem - I can get there on my own. But finding a hotel and seeing the other things was going to be a challenge - but what the heck - in for a penny in for a pound. Mr. Man called and I told him our plans - he asked why I had not told him our plans - told him we had just made them - he made the big sacrifice and came along with us. Spent the night with us in Cairo - managed to get us well and truly lost a couple of times - so not much more adept at getting around Cairo than I am - but .... it was a relief (of sorts) to have him with us - was easier in some ways - but in other ways.

We headed to Cairo on Thursday - Dec. 27th. While at the pyramids I wanted to contact a 'friend' of ours - we met him when we took my parents to the pyramids and he became our tour guide - we connected up with him again when Maurine was with us - but Aymn got waylaid by a very pushy local 'tour guide'. I do not understand why he cannot just tell them no and get on with things - it ended up pretty badly. Aymn arranged for a 'desert ride' for Miles and Shani - one on camel the other on a horse - and all they really wanted was a 5 minute ride with pics taken so they could say they had been on a camel. The ride lasted over 2 hours - and meant that they had no chance to 'see' anything. A very large bust - Miles was extremely angry - as he wanted the chance to really 'see' things - in other words the chance to get up close and personal - but he did not get it. That did not happen. Then we found the hotel that Aymn put me up in in 2003 - prices had gone up - and the hotel had run down - oh well - it was a place to stay - and of course Mr. Man had no money - so I was using my 'grocery' money to pay for things - after he promised to pay me back. Another story. After finding something to eat - we made our way to Khan el Khalilee - a very old 'souk' - shopping area - that is full of tourist souvenirs. Miles and Shani had been taken to a papyrus shop near the pyramids and found a picture they really liked - only problem was the price - lowest we got was 350 LE. So we were looking for this picture - found one that was very close - enough that Miles was interested - and they ended up paying 130 LE for it - after a lot of haggling. They were afraid they had been rooked - because of course Aymn could have gotten a better price if he had been on his own - but because he was saddled with us foreigners of course the price was inflated - Miles was reallying hemming and hawing about the price - I asked him - do you want to go back to Canada without it - he said no - so I said then pay for it and take it. Which he did. The 2nd day in Cairo saw as at the Mohammed Ali Mosque - which was very different - lots of touristy things - when I was there in 2003 there were no souvenir kiosks - and it was much quieter - but I think Miles and Shani enjoyed it - Miles really surprised me - I did not think he would be interested in the history of the country - but he was - then after Friday prayers we went for a 30 minute sail along the Nile. Shani had wanted to go on a Nile cruise - but it did not pan out - too expensive and not enough time - maybe next time. We arrived home on the 28th - exhausted - my foot was really not happy. And Aymn headed home right away.

Monday night saw us on the train to Luxor - we were planning on taking the sleep train - but I have not been impressed with the thing - they jack up the price for foreigners - and this time - because I was travelling solo - I was going to have to pay for the whole suite - double the price - so we opted to take just the regular train. Well let me tell you it was an adventure. From Alex to Cairo the train was not bad - but when we got on the 10:00 p.m. train in Cairo to Luxor - OMG - when you got within a foot of the door to get in you could smell the urine from the bathroom - and that was just the beginning - it was really really nasty - well welcome to Egypt. And it took forever to get to Luxor - a little over 12 hours. I had phoned my contact in Luxor and he met us at the station when it finally arrived - he had reserved rooms for us at a hotel, found us transportation and a tour guide - he charged 120 USD for his services (and of course Aymn figured we should have only paid 100 - and my attitude is - since you cannot come with us - shut up and leave me alone) which included all the arrangements he made as well as the transportation, tour guide and a lunch out on Tuesday. We 'freshened up', changed, had breakfast and we were off and running. Tuesday saw us at Luxor and Karnak temples - our tour guide was fantastic - his name is Hameda - and he is going for his doctorate in Archeology - so he was a fount of information and he was a real character - a great fit for Miles and Shani - I also enjoyed him - but must admit that as this was my 3rd visit - it was getting to be old hat. The highlight of the trip was a hot air balloon ride on Wednesday morning - the 2nd of January - up bright and early to watch the sunrise over the area - WOW. I was not sure I was going to go - but then Ahmed - my contact - told me the baskets had doors - not true - had to climb a set of stairs to get in - no problem - but then to get out there were foot holds in the basket - and no way could I get myself up them - my foot was just not cooperating - so one of the ground crew came into the basket - lifted me onto the side of the basket - Miles helped lift my bad leg over - and then the same fellow lifted me and put me down on the ground - swept up in the arms of a handsome stranger - in front of a shwack of people - just a tad bit humiliating - but what the heck. Met up with Hameda and we were off again - we went to see the temple of Ramses the II or is it the III - anyway - I had not been to see this - so it was very interesting. Then on to the temple of Hatshepsut - I opted to sit and wait for them - thank goodness my tickets are cheap - I get in as an Egyptian - so it was 2 LE for me - 40 for Miles and Shani - each - not a great deal - but would have been a real waste. I did not feel too badly about wasting 2 LE. Then we were off to the Valley of the Kings. They had opened King Tut's tomb - and his mummy was actually in residence - so Miles and Shani wanted to see that - and it costs extra - 80 LE for tourists - and 40 for moi - I went into one chamber with Miles and Shani and then sat and relaxed while they went to visit two others - for the price of admission you are allowed to view three tombs - and then we went to see King Tut's only to find out that it was closed until 2 p.m. - and it was only 12:30. Hameda to the rescue!!! He found someone and we got a very personal tour - not that there is much to see - the tomb is very stark - not much to see - the walls are not at all decorated - but his mummy was there - so that was interesting - neither Miles nor Shani had ever seen a mummy up close and personal. After we finished at the Valley of the Kings we were taken out for a buffet lunch at one of the hotels - got in for 1/2 price - which was good. Then back to the hotel to rest - and put my fat foot up. We then headed to the train station at 6 - for our train at 7. Ahmed had assured us that this train would be much better - we learned that if you want a 'good' train you must take a train that leaves prior to the 'sleep' train - another tidbit that will be stored away. And we had to book our trip from Cairo to Alex in Cairo - not sure why - but for some reason the train company does not know when the train from Luxor will arrive in Cairo - so could not reserve the seats for us to Alex. Got to Cairo around 4:30 a.m. - only to find that the ticket office was not open - did not open until 5:15 and we caught the 6:00 a.m. train - and I booked first class tickets - I was tired of being squeezed into a seat beside someone else - always a male - the first class car has only 3 seats across - so I got the single seat and Miles and Shani got the double one - and it only cost 8 LE more - less than 2 dollars - money well spent.

While in Luxor we went to Egypt Air and made reservations to fly to Sharm el Sheikh. I had phoned while we were in Alex and had been told that there were no places on the plane that was leaving on the fourth - so I was going to drive it. But Shani - ever the travel agent was not sure - so we stopped in - and after a few phone calls regarding the hotel we were staying at - we booked a flight leaving at 7:00 a.m. on Friday - Jan. 4th - and coming back to Alex on the 8th at 9:20 p.m. - remembering that Miles and Shani are heading out on the 9th at 3:15 a.m. Talk about cutting it close - but we got tickets - cost a bit over 700 LE per person - well worth it in our books - a 50 minute flight as opposed to an 8 hour car trip. (Around 130 USD for the return flight for each of us - not bad).

We arrived in Alex from Luxor at around 10:00 a.m. - headed home and laundry was done - this is when a dryer would have been nice - but the laundry finally dried - then we were off to Sharm at 6:00 a.m. - I phoned a taxi company to come and pick us up - there is a company here that is very 'western' - new cars - meter - yes - you read me right - meters - so no haggling about prices - it is more expensive but when travelling at 6:00 a.m. - well worth the expense - the car arrived 5:30 - 30 minutes early - we were not quite ready - driver had to wait 10 minutes.

We arrived in Sharm around 9 - our flight was late - Egypt Air seems to have a propensity for this - but not a biggie deal. We got thoroughly hosed by the taxi driver on our way to the hotel. Found out the price is between 25-35 LE - 50 at the most - and we paid 130 - oh well the price you pay for being a tourist. Arrived at the hotel - had to wait for our rooms to be made up - got hooked up at this hotel by a woman from one of the 'clubs' I belong to - the general manager is my friend's husband's nephew - follow that??? It is a four star resort - two pools - 1/2 board - means breakfast and supper included in the price - they have their own beach - shuttle bus to take you to the beach. While we were waiting the GM came out from the dining area - he had been eating his breakfast and took us to the dining area for our breakfast - after breakfast he took us to our rooms - I had a single - two single beds - nice large bathroom - walkout balcony - Miles and Shani had a double room - double bed and a balcony - both beside the pool. We had a rest and then toured around the grounds. The weather was wonderful - we spent a fair bit of time lazing around the pool or on the beach - we spent one day - Monday the 7th - on a boat that took us to some coral reefs and we snorkelled - there were two stops - I only went for one of the tours - too many people for me - and I was wearing 'fins' and I am certainly not used to them - but it was good fun. Miles had a blast - Shani was a tad chilly - one drawback to being so slim - getting back on the boat was another challenge for me - I had two of the crew pulling me and Miles pushing me from behind - after being in the water my legs were like rubber and getting them to drag me out of the water was beyond their capability - will be so nice when my foot is better so I can start working out again. I really need it. We spent a leisurely Tuesday- well not really - Miles had money left over and it was burning a hole in his pocket - he had found a leather jacket that he really liked so he bought it - he had seen a sweater he liked but the shop did not have his size - and he found another shop that had it - so he tried them on and bought a sweater - he bought Shani some pearls - necklace, earrings and bracelet. I headed back to the hotel and left them to it - my foot had had it.

We left the hotel around 7:30 - our flight was 40 minutes late - Miles was getting antsy - we made it back in time though. My friend Anne and her hubby met us at the airport in Alex and drove us home - Anne came with us to the airport - Miles drove - and they made their flight no problems and I drove home - dropped Anne off and then came home and got about 4 hours sleep and here I am.

Will work at putting pictures up later - have to shower and get out and get some groceries. So TTFN.


Cairogal said...

She posts!!!!!!! Great to hear the visit went well. You must be wrecked! Can't wait to see some photos, M.

Lynn said...

Me too! And I sure hope that dang foot gets a rest now. My goodness! Girl....What happened to it. Been so long, I don't even remember if that was one of the previous issues giving you trouble. I just thought you had bug bites on your back and a problem with your hand. Are those heeled up now?
Rest easy for awhile. Can't wait to see pics soon, though.

on the edge said...

WHAT A TRIP !!!! Should call this post the trip of a Lifetime ! Hot Air Ballooning ? My dream , will pass on the snorkeling though . And the tours , WOW !!!! Tell , me did you ever get to sleep ? LOL ! Glade you had such a wonderful time . And Thank god you are back !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Safa said...

Oh, u sure overdid yourself.....sounds so wonderful!

And male attention even with a bum leg? WOW!

Rhonda said...

You are the most determined person! Kind of reminds me of myself, but I am not sure I would be as resourceful. Thanks for the details about the trip! Hope you are feeling better.