(10/14/2011) Sinai and Cairo arrival
This day we must arrive to Cairo. There are
several ways of doing it. Obviously, if we finally rent a car in Sinai,
that would be the way. Another option is to get a taxi or van at fair
price. This should be tied before 9:30 of this morning as the most
secure option is to take the bus to Cairo passing by Taba at 10:30.
Whatever is the chosen way, 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 hours later we
should be at our hotel in Gizeh. Our only visit for this day is Khan el
Is it possible this afternoon we would need to
pass by train station for getting the sleeping train tickets for next
day’s trip to Aswan.
The expected expenses are:
Bus Taba-Cairo: 70 EGP
At 9:00 we’re in our breakfast with our luggage
ready in hotel’s reception desk and already checked out. I’m going
outside often for checking the van arrival and, when we’re finishing
breakfast, I decide to call our driver as he is not still here. He
promises to be in 10 minutes. I’m mainly concerned about don’t missing
the 10:30 deadline, when the bus to Cairo leaves and we will have no
choice but accepting a taxi trip at any price.
My fears are vain, though, as at 9:45 we’re
carrying our baggage at the back of the van and, a few minutes later,
leaving to cross whole Sinai Peninsula. It is costing 20€ per person,
but this confortable van is only for us, they will leave us in our
hotel in Gizeh and the trip will take a lot less than the bus, earning
a precious time in Cairo. We need that time for purchasing sleeping
train tickets as I still haven’t been able of booking them. I really
wish to find vacancy on it.
It’s a pleasant three hours trip across barren
Sinai with some police control on the way where our passports are
checked and one 10 minutes stop at 12:00 along a mosque in the middle
of nowhere for letting our driver pray. The road is in good condition
and the cars we can see on them are funny at our eyes because they’re
carrying a baggage bigger than the car itself.
When we start to see some vegetation around it is the sign
Sinai is ending. A few later, we pass through a tunnel under Suez Canal
and, at the other side, we change driver and car.
One hour and a half later we meet the city traffic
and our driver try to find out the location of our hotel. “Hotel Oasis”
name doesn’t seem to mean so much for him until, when he finally finds
it, he comments everybody there knows it per its Arab name, which I
cannot reproduce here. A little bit before arriving to the hotel we
could have our first sight of impressive Pyramids
I leave my parents lunching at hotel in order they
can enjoy its facilities when going after the sleeping train tickets,
which is becoming the most urgent task now. My wife decides coming with
me and a taxi driver from hotel take us to the train station, which is
just at the beginning of the street ending where we are, but it is a
very long street and there are a lot of cars. Somehow, our driver
comments it is no traffic for them and we’re lucky it is Friday today
because the rest of the days it is a lot worst. Friday is our Sunday
for them and I can only imagine worst traffic jam by being stopped.
Gizeh train station looks, as the most of the city, a filthy
with people sit and laying on the street and trash everywhere. The
pictures we’re taking from Cairo are closer to the ones we could see
from India than from any other place. The office of the “luxury”
sleeping train is a sort of clapped out blue caravan with no
indications or signs and it is closed. Have we been late?. No, our
driver – who is acting as a guide now - states they close at 20:30 and
we’re at 17:15 now, and after talking with some people around he tells
us it seems the guy just left for a while and he left for bring him to
us. In the meantime a Belgic young couple arrived to the caravan
expecting to find tickets for tomorrow too. I guess it is due to
current Egypt situation, but when our driver appears with the guy, it
results to be vacancy for all of us, so I take 4 tickets for two double
cabins by 60$ per person.
We can relax now as our principal task is complete. Our driver insists
on taking us to a friend’s store and we insist on eating something. He
take us to a little shawarmas place with more people outside than
inside, and we take two of them with a water bottle away by 10 pounds
(1.2€) which we eat inside the car in our way to the store. These
shawarmas are shaped different than the ones we know and are long more
delicious than those too. As our taxi driver has helped us a lot today
and we’ve completed our duties we let him do and, besides, he tell me I
will be able of connecting to internet for free.
The store is really beautiful and is entirely dedicated to perfumes.
The owner explains the history of that place in a good Spanish with a
funny accent and a ten years old article from a Spanish newspaper which
he keeps carefully wrapped in plastic. Soon I can see he is a great
storyteller and is talking about his perfumes enveloping their words in
history and exoticism. I don’t know a word about perfumes, but Eva does
and when we’re asked about our favorite perfume or colony she explains
used to have one but then they stopped selling it two years ago and she
cannot find anything similar since then. He states the essence of that
perfume is in there (it seems he has got the essence of all of them)
and put some drops on Eva’s wrist. She can’t believe it when reckoning
the lost scent there. The man keep showing us more and more scents but
we buy a little bottle of Eva’s perfume scent by 120 pounds (around
15€) because we have no more money after keeping the 100 pounds we must
pay to the taxi driver. I can say three days later – with their
correspondent showers - we can still smell the samples on Eva’s wrists.
We come back to hotel to pick my parents up and go
to Khan el Khalili bazaar. It’s shopping time!
A taxi from the hotel leaves us on Khan el Khalili market, after seeing
the mosque of Mohammad Ali – not the boxer - in our way, by 95 pounds.
Taxis from hotel are more expensive than the ones in street, but as the
hotel is kind of isolated, is difficult to find near out of it.
There are a lot of stores with their vendors crazy about get you in
but, as we’re going to a specific spot, we go fast through them. We
find famous Jordi store easily having Naguib Mahfouz restaurant as
reference. The prices are fix in there and, therefore, a lot cheaper
than the ones you get in bargaining around the bazaar, and you save a
lot of time too. We take a lot of items carried in our bags. By 30€ I
got two djellaba, two T-shirts, one shirt, one child pajama and a lot
of monument reproductions and Egyptian object replicas with magnets,
pyramids and beetles.
When leaving we can feel the vendors from the other
stores are fed up from Jordi when they’re seeing our bags with their
big Jordi logo on them. We receive their complaints about his selling
We choose Naguib Mahfouz restaurant for dinner, a beautiful place where
I can finally taste the typical Egyptian dish: koshari, which mix rice,
macaroni, lentils and noodles in a single plate. Delicious! Our dinner
consist on a lentil soup, a chicken soup, one koshari, one barmia, one
tomato salad and water, plus taxes and 12% service tip, all by 186
After walking across the vendors swarm and along the mosque
a lot of local people lying on floor, we get a taxi which leaves us at
hotel by 60 pounds with taximeter.