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round-the-world in 2005

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June 25 - July 4, 2005

It's busy, hot and dusty - and we love it.

Old Cairo from above

25 Jun 2005 Cairo, Egypt

Out of Africa
We had a few hours before our flight to Cairo in the afternoon. We did some internet research on Egypt as we don’t have a guide book for it, and we feel very unprepared. We went supermarket shopping for lunch which is always a challenge as there is so much foreign variety to choose from. We caught a subway back to the park from yesterday, and had to scoff our food as we had taken so long choosing it. Then off to the airport. We have really enjoyed our short trip to Spain, but it has not been long enough as always. Barcelona was our favourite city, with its medieval part of town, and modern architecture. At Cairo airport, we were met by Mr Mustafa who whisked us through the chaotic traffic back to our hostel, this included one kilometre going the wrong way up a one way street. Madness.

Horse ride at the pyramids

26 Jun 2005 Cairo, Egypt

Gazing at Giza
First thing we did was buy an Egypt guide book. We were so lost without some independent advice. The hostel staff were constantly hassling us to take one of their tours, and we were not sure if we could trust them. We went for the plan B tour, a private taxi to drive us around all day. Even then we were still taken to a horse tour place and put under the hard sell. They never stop. We paid an inflated price for the cab, but it enabled us to do our own thing. First stop was the Great Pyramids at Giza, including following a small passage to the hot and humid centre of one. We also had a short ride on a horse around the surrounding sandy hills, and long enough to get a sore behind! We also went for a drive further south of Cairo to Saqqara, the site of the oldest pyramid (step pyramid) and some more tombs, including a ‘special tour’ of some extra tombs. It is amazing what a few extra dollars can do. We had had no lunch and were starving hungry when we returned at 4pm. We went straight out to a local joint, and had a huge meal including falafel and fuul (more beans). It tasted great, and was only $2 including drinks.

carved ram

27 Jun 2005 Cairo, Egypt

Walk like an Egyptian
We went to the huge Egyptian Museum - the volume of pharaoh information was overwhelming. The highlights were the treasures from Tutankhamen’s tomb, and some mummified animals. In the afternoon we headed towards the old Islamic part of Cairo, and ended up a little lost among some narrow street markets. The crowds and traffic here are a nightmare, and crossing streets takes special skills of fearlessness. There are more people in Cairo than all of Australia. We finally made it to our target destination, and started a walking tour of some old streets and mosques. We had to hurry back (lost again) as we had a 10pm overnight train south to Luxor.

Fellucia Captain

28 Jun 2005 Luxor, Egypt

Luck in Luxor
We only had upright seats in the overnight train, so our sleep was not great. In Luxor our first choice hostel was very plain, so we decided to follow a dodgy lying tout to a much better place. Here the people are just too nice, and we can pay ‘whatever we like’! We needed a bit more sleep, after which we caught a local minibus just up the road to the massive Karnak Temples. Later in the afternoon we lazed on a felucca boat for a couple of hours until sunset.


29 Jun 2005 Luxor, Egypt

Royal Valleys
A taxi driver followed us from the east to the west bank, all the way hassling us to go with him for the day. We bargained hard, and got such a good deal he was swearing under his breath for half an hour. We went to the Valley of the Kings, where many pharaoh tombs are hidden in the hills, and Valley of the Queens and other tombs and temples. There was some beautiful artwork on the walls, but much of the contents are in museums around the world. For lunch we had our second meal of Kushari (we can’t get enough), a great mix of pasta, rice, lentils, fried onions and a tomato sauce. Another overnighter to Dahab and the Red Sea - a bus leaving at 5pm.

Dahab at the Red Sea

30 Jun 2005 Dahab, Egypt

Sleeping and snorkeling
We had a sleepless night due to the many stops on the bus. We avoided the hassles at the bus stop by deciding to walk in the heat the 2 kms to town, despite other advice that it was 7km. We splurged on a nice place with airconditioning so we could get some sleep. Directly in front of the hotel we walked out to the reef and did some amazing snorkeling in the Red Sea, despite the small amount of floating rubbish and jelly fish in this area. Back on shore, we zonked out under the sun, to catch up on more necessary sleep. This town is very relaxing, very different from other towns we have visited in Egypt. It has no traffic, but still has the hassle element from locals trying to sell stuff. We finished the day with some beers on the water front with a fellow traveler from Sydney, who has been following us for the last few days.

Ship of the desert

01 Jul 2005 Dahab, Egypt

Mount Moses
We slept in, catching up on even more sleep. We went snorkeling further up the coast at a spot called the Eel Garden, which was even more spectacular than yesterday. The reef drops off close to the shore to a sandy ocean floor, showing off the beautiful turquoise waters, and brightly coloured fish. We had to sleep in our new room, which was more like a sauna, to get ready for our night time hike up Mount Sinai, which was leaving at 11pm in the evening. After a two hour drive to St Catherine’s monastery, we started the three hour hike at 2am up the rugged path to the peak for sunrise.

Mt Sinai formations

02 Jul 2005 Dahab, Egypt

Sleepless in Dahab
We shared the spectacular sunrise on the peak with loads of other pilgrims. There were amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges. We returned down the ‘steps of repentance’ to the monastery, to have a look inside at 9am. The very old chapel inside is filled with beautiful antique religious paintings. An ancestor of the burning bush was also in the courtyard. We returned to Dahab for another quick couple of hours of sleep in the sauna room. We freshened up with another swim in the Red Sea, before getting some food and heading to the bus station for another overnight bus at 10pm back to Cairo.

cocnut seller

03 Jul 2005 Cairo, Egypt

Hot and noisy
We arrived early at our hotel, and were given breakfast of bread and tea. This is a lovely colonial period hotel, with high ceilings and wooden floors, however it is very hot and there are no fans in the room. It was hot and noisy during our catch up sleep. For our last day in Cairo we visited the Citadel on a hill overlooking the city, in which there were a few mosques, museums and old palaces. We then wandered the streets looking for a market, and bought some souvenirs from a dodgy salesman.

04 Jul 2005 London, UK

In and Out
We had an early start to the Cairo airport, arriving in London at midday. We had another overnight bus to Paris leaving at 9pm, so we stored away our luggage, and visited the nearby Tate Britain Museum and had a pint of beer. It is good to not have to stay very long in expensive London. Egypt was very hot and dusty, with lots of people and a real hassle element. Despite this we had a fantastic time, the history is amazing, the natural environment was very special and the food was unexpectedly great.


next we cross over the English Channel to France.

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