The day leaving Cairo was awful!! First, Ryan and I realized 2 paintings from South Africa were missing and likely thrown away by the cleaning staff as they were wrapped in cardboard…still really upset about the loss, but I suppose a now have yet another reason to return to Southern Africa. Though, we will NOT be returning to Egypt anytime soon. The traffic is ridiculous and everyone drives like maniacs. On the way to the airport, like the exit road from the main highway to departure gates, we saw a car flipped completely over. It was a rather nice car, similar to the Mercedes that we were picked up in so I’m sure it was someone on their way to the airport for travel, another devastating sight.
Once at the airport we tried to go through security. In Cairo you go through security for the first time immediately upon entrance. We did this on our return from our excursion during the 10-hour layover with no problem. However, after loading all of our bags and going through we were told we needed to print off an itinerary to prove our destination. After some confusion we gather our belongings and found the Egyptian Air desk to print our itinerary (not the same thing as a ticket which was collected after this initial check). With the itinerary in hand we went through security again and I was pulled to the side so that my small carry on would be manually checked-they also wrote down my passport number.
Once in line for our boarding ticket we were questioned about our travels and the items in our luggage. After getting our boarding pass and checking our bags Ryan and I were again selected to have our checked luggage examined. My nicely packed bag was unpacked and I had to explain every item like oatmeal packets and teabags and chocolates. Then we were forced to separate the wines packed by Ryan to include some in my bag-he had the bottles in a properly fitter box. I tried to arrange things so that bottles wouldn’t break! I don’t know what I would have done if they did break because the remaining works of art I purchased would have also be ruined!!!
After grabbing a quick bite to eat we went through the final round of security that is required at your gate. Here carry-ons were again checked in a metal detector, I had to once more prove that my laptop was real and working, and THEN after going through a metal detector EVERYONE was then patted down. Here is where I had my breaking point. I was pulled into a separate room by a woman and then patted down, she then felt my chest, around my breast, and still felt the need to pull down my 2 tank tops which fully exposed my breast. I left feeling completely violated mostly because I find it hard to believe that the Muslim women on the fight with their thick dresses, coats that were not removed, and head attire could not have been as thoroughly examined as I who was wearing 2 tank tops, leggingss, and a button up sweater that was open, in the same time frame!
I realize security is tight for recent political unrest, and I understood the need to have cars checked by dog, and to go through metal detector each time we entered our hotel, but to fully expose my chest was way too much. Between the pollution, selfishness, and do for yourself attitude of many we encountered, I have no interest in returning to this part of the world anytime soon.
On with the show!
Alexandria>>>Cairo. I realized I forgot to talk about the travel in Cairo during our Saturday tour. As an Islamic nation, Egyptians operate on a Sunday-Thursday work week with Friday and Saturday off. Both experiences in Egypt up until our travels to Alexandria were on Saturday, a day off. Even so we felt like we had experienced quite a bit of traffic. Apart from traffic the levels of pollution in Egypt are unreal. Emissions from old cars for one, and a disrespect for the environment and the river Nile which floods the land with nutrients by littering and using the river as a sewer system. I even saw a group of kids push a bag of trash into a canal of the river!
I know there is always the debate that the Western world had their opportunity to grow during the industrial revolution when our pollution was not managed. However, more than a century later we know better and have created numerous means and measures to improve our environment with new legislation passed earlier this year to cut further cut carbon pollution from power plants. If we are able to lend or donate millions of dollars to aid in healthcare of other countries then we should be able to subsidize programs to educate and minimize pollution in these same countries, which will ultimately, also improve health!
Okay, once more back to Alexandria. As I was saying we had not faced traffic until our journey to Alexandria. On top of commuting on a workday, there was also a lot of fog that resulted in a road closure and a subsequent bottleneck as everyone tried to maneuver onto and off the one road that was open. This made that much more difficult by the fact that Egyptians do not necessarily follow rules of the road. Most highways don’t have lanes and people drive as if they have no clue what a lane would look like and often drift from one lane to another even with lanes are present. As a result of the fog and traffic it took 5 hours from the time we left until we picked up our tour guide in Alexandria.
Side note #3 we went with Ramses tours, which provided transport from Cairo and a tour guide we met in Alexandria plus admission for sights of interest. Given the fog I’m not sure we were able to enter all sights including the catacombs.
We did visit the sight of lighthouse one of the seven wonders of ancient world. This at sunset!
Abo Elabbas Mosque the prettiest mosque in Egypt
Palaces of Farouk, last king in history of Egypt, and Park of Montazha
Another photo with an interested Egyptian.
The Library of Alexandria, the largest in the world and probably one of the best kept buildings in all of Egypt.
And the oldest church in Egypt.
Apart from the sights we also dined incredibly well at a local/small/traditional fish shop. Oh my gosh! So much food!! And all was absolutely delicious. Moreover, we had all for only $30 for all four of us (including tour guide), which included tip!! Photos to come
After only 3 hours and more traffic we were back home and I was ready to crash!
More to come.