Day 16 (October 21, 2011)   Cairo and arriving to Athens


Cairo map

   The whole morning will be available for visiting Cairo. The principal visit will be to Archeological Museum. We have the option of going to citadel as well, in case we havenīt gone before. Then we would leave to the airport and lunch once there while waiting to board in our flight to Athens at 14:10. It is scheduled to arrive to Greece capital at 17:10. After checking in hotel, we would get some dinner in Plaka and would go to sleep.

   The spots marked at Cairo map are:

 0- Hotel Isis
 1- Archaeological Museum
 2- Citadel
 3- Khan El Khalili bazaar
 4- Train station


   We’re having our breakfast at 9:00 in our hotel. The views of Cairo downtown from this floor, at the top of a high building, are shown to us at their best version.

Panoramic of Cairo downtown

   At the other side of the building, we can enjoy amazing views of the city too, but we can see what seems to be the average state of maintenance of Cairo buildings. And we grumbled yesterday about this building!
Cairo views 
   At left of panoramic photo we can see the Nile, and at the very left, ending the picture, a small part of a red building can be seen: that’s the Archaeological Museum, our goal for today.

   But this goal is in danger. When I talk to receptionist for booking a taxi to the airport, I’m pretending leaving around 12-12:30, but they have a problem with that: we’re told the best is leaving at 11:30 maximum as, that way, taxi driver will be able of doing his noon pray at airport’s mosque; if not, we will have to wait for him to finish his pray here to go for our flight. I promise we will do our best for getting the hotel as close as possible of 11:30. But this takes time off this already short visit.

   We’re fast enough on getting baggage ready and checking out as per thinking being at museum just before 10:00. Once out of the hotel, we must just go across a street one block far from it, but as it is the back side of the building, we still must walk along its width to get the entrance. We’re quite light as we left cameras in hotel knowing they weren’t allowed in Museum and we are quite lucky for the only street we need to cross to arrive here, as a police stops the cars for letting us to pass. So, we indeed are in front of the museum entrance a few minutes before 10:00.

   A wall built at 20 meters distance of museum limits creates a narrow street in front of the museum and hides from our sight the famous Tahrir Square. We buy the tickets – 50 pounds each – and pass across the railings. There are several military men here and is a group of them the ones who break our tickets. At the stairs there are a row of guides offering their services. The first come to us speaking English and we refuse him in Spanish, then the Spanish guide jumps to us and insists hard for being hired saying the visit is useless without his services and doesn’t reckon the very short time we have for it. They’re desperate to work.

   Once in we go directly upstairs. We’re short of time, so we’re going to organize our route following our personal highlights. We’ve discarded the mummy hall visit, which saves 100 pounds per person; we’re going to Tutankhamun treasures as first visit.

Cairo's Archaeological MuseumCairo's Archaeological Museum

   Although I documented about visiting this museum, I really understood Tutankhamun treasures exhibition needed another 100 pounds tickets as the mummy hall does, but it is not. We can go into the dark small chamber and celebrate the saving by taking some images of the amazing golden mask – the icon of this place - with my iPod’s video camera avoiding being detected by the guard.

   When watching the video later, I could see my high estimation error, recording actually a bunch of legs in a dark room.

   I solved this mistake for the crazy – because of its clandestine ways - video I recorded along museum halls, like the two above, in front of Colossi of Amenhotep III and his favorite wife Tiye. We go to all spots I selected from my guide book map and go out from museum quite tight of time. I take advantage of being out of the museum for getting another video, once out of the rules forbidding it, from which this picture is taken. Cairo's Archaeological MuseumBut, at the moment of getting the street through railings, the same military men who asked us the tickets when coming in ask us for opening my bag. I go pale as, if they’re looking for cameras, mine is just there, but after checking inside they let us go. Now I think maybe they’re not after pictures of objects belonging to the museum, but objects themselves, which is undoubtedly worst.

   We want to get the hotel fast, but the police is not there anymore for helping us on our way across the street, so it’s time to get it by the “local way”: avoiding the cars. We do it by stopping sometimes in the middle of the street and taking advantage of a low traffic moment.

   We get the hotel then at 11:35 and the taxi driver is already there waiting for us. We tell him we’re going to come back down immediately and go up for the baggage. So we go to our room, take the bags and I close the door with the key for delivering it in no time. My parents have been fast too so we’re ready to go. Somehow, when we’re leaving through the door we all can hear screams and hits on my room’s door. It is Eva because it seems I locked my wife in our room. The man use the key for opening the door and Eva’s freedom at once.

   It’s hard to me explaining how, in my routine inspection of the room before leaving it for being sure I don’t forget of any shoe, or comb… anything! I’ve forgotten her.

   So we leave Hotel Isis, a place which has fitted perfectly in our plans, but still we will get contact from them in our way to the airport as they called to the taxi driver to asking us for the key of my room. They cannot find it and are asking us to look for it, but I remember him it was delivered before he used it for get my wife free from the room.

   When we go out from the car to the airport the driver gets his tip in time to go for his noon pray. After few seconds, we already get a boy in uniform trying to drive us to the door for Olympic airlines, trying to help us with the baggage and even pass the security control in preference of the people on queue. As we are sick of confounded bakshish and have spare time to spend here, we take our place in the queue for baggage scanning and go into the airport. We’re almost leaving this country full of contrasts.

Cairo's airportCairo's airport

   We must do our passport control before checking in (that’s new) and queues are long enough as per being grateful of having time enough. After that, we check in really quickly and we’re lunching on a fast food place with more options than burgers. We’ve got more time as our flight is labeled as 30 minutes delayed.

   We still don’t go to seat on our boarding gate as it has its own security control and prefer go around for some shopping. I get a Marlboro carton by 18€.

   Two hours later, after a peaceful flight, we’re back in Europe. We take our baggage and get a taxi, which deliver us in front of Hotel Chic after three quarters of hour trip in the middle of Greek night. We pay the price in taximeter, which we round to 35€. I really expected to pay something more here.

Arriving to AthensViews from Hotel Chic

Hotel Chic's room   We like the hotel and decide to rest in it until tomorrow morning, when we meet early with our breakfast. We’re close to Omonia Square, in an area known by night clubs with prostitutes, but they cannot be seen on the main street where the hotel is sited. Somehow, when I go to the roof for smoking a cigarette in absolute loneliness, I can see the lights of this clubs in the alleys around the building.

Hotel Chic's room