Can’t sleep-still messed up on time, it’s 1:30am here, so 11:30am in Moshi…so I thought I would catch up!
After a turbulent plane ride on Egypt air, which we later found out has the worst safety record of any airline, anywhere in the world…great… We made it to Cairo! Our hotel was right on the Nile and within walking distance to downtown. Amazing views. We arrived around noon, so did lunch at the hotel. We had been warned before going that the food was terrible in Egypt. Maybe we were just deprived, but this was not the case at all, everything was incredible! As you would imagine the hummus and baba ghanoush was amazing. We spent the first day just wandering around and getting an idea of what the city was like, which could best be described as CRAZY. 20 million people live here, cars are everywhere, and no one seems to believe in obeying any of the trafic laws. Crossing the street Julien and I felt like we had acchieved a major life accomplishment, or at least, cheated death a bit. Moshi prepared us well for street vendors and hasslers which were surprisingly not that bad. As a girl I was concerned, but because I was with a guy no one bothered me at all. The one time I did go out (across the street to the grocery store) I was accosted by several men. I decided it was best not to go out alone, I don’t know how groups of girls would be able to travel in Egypt the men are vulgar and forward to foriegn women, more so than I’ve seen in any other country. For dinner we had lebanese, also, incredible.
The next day we went to the Cairo Museum, which is huge. We mainly went for the royal mummies and the section on tutankhamun, but everything else was also really interesting. We were at the end of the slow season so we were lucky to avoid huge lines, though there were a ton of tourists. That night we went to a dinner spot where you walk in and point at what sea food you want and they bring it to you prepared as they think best. It was great! and again, we got the variety of dips which we seemed to not be able to get enough of. Tried Sheesha, or hookah in north america. Strange, tried the grape flavor. It’s a huge thing in Cairo, people are constantly smoking sheesha (which is tabacco), not sure why this is.
Day three we headed to the pyramids! check of my “life to do list.” It was amazing, and actually more so than I had expected, I sort of thought that I would be somehow let down after learning about them as a kid. But they truly are incredible, though a bit erie, made you think quite a bit about death. We did do the camel ride which was fun, though I at a few points thought I was going to be thrown off as they didn’t appear to get along well with one another, but mostly did it for the picture! We also saw the sphynx and it’s true, not as big as you would expect, as well as the step pyramids and another museum in memphis. A very long day! Very interesting, and loved every minute, but it was incredibly hot (mid 30’s!) and and I suffered a little bit of sun sickness, but once cooled down at the hotel I was fine
Our last full day we spent wandering around and shopping, and relaxing. Much needed. For our last night out we wanted to at least try to have a “big night,” no way we could keep up with the locals there. For them dinner is at 10-11pm and then they go to clubs until 4-5am….We decided that was not such a good idea, so instead we hired a private car to drive us around the city. First we went to El Abu Sid for an early dinner at 9pm. This resturant is listed on the top 50 resturants in the world, and for good reason, it’s all Egyptian food and everything was amazing, including the sugar cane and tequila cocktails. Next we headed to the Sofitel to the Buddah bar who makes incredible cocktails and looks like its the new “it” place to be in New York. Then next to a sheesha bar to finish off the night early around 1am.
Day 5 we took a local train up to the coast to Alexandria (only took 3 hours). Beautiful city, very greecian feel to it, which makes sense considering how its on the meditteranian. We spent most of our time here lying by the beach, eating greek food and exploring the city. Julien’s grandparents were born and raised there, which is why we went mostly, so we found their old apartment and chatted with the man who lives there now. Communicating through our Taxi driver who spoke broken english, it was interesting. I have to say out of all of egypt Alexandria is by far my favorite. We spent one afternooon downtown going to a local falafel place said to be the best falafel in egypt, not sure if thats true, but it was incredible. Then headed to delices for cappuccinos and baklava. We ate well.
Next we took the overnight train to Luxor. Which was pretty much just hillarious, it was a sleeper train so the seats converted into bunkbed style sleeping, and they serve you food that is teribble, so you just order a bottle of wine and laugh at how rediculous the whole situation is.
We did make it to luxor, only 3 hours late! Smaller than Cairo and Alexandria (significantly), this is where the hasseling was the worst. We tried to time how long we could go without being approached, 1minute 30 seconds was our record. It was a bit irritating, but luckly we didn’t need to leave our hotel often. While there we saw the Luxor temple, museum, as well as what we came for: the valley of the kings. All were very interesting, though admittedly got a bit tired of looking at statues and mummies by the end of it all.
Then began the most incredibly rediculous journey home-which would in total take four days. First we took the same overnight train back to cairo where we got a day room at le meridien and slept, then took a red eye back to Dar es Salaam where we had brunch at the Kempinski and back to the airport to catch our afternoon flight back to Moshi (which is luckly only an hour). Once there we showered, grabbed our stored bags and headed back to the airport to catch our flight to Amsterdam, which ironically, had to stop in Dar to refuel, and passes back over Egypt. In amsterdam had a few hour layover and then jumped on another 9.5 hour flight to Seattle. whew. all of these planes (and train) were all on time, no luggage lost. luckly. But once back in the US…I had an 8 hour layover before catching my last plane, and after that many hours of traveling I just wanted to get home…so I got on a flight to Spokane, which was delayed by and hour and a half (but still better than 8 hours!) and made it home! Good thing I did since my original plane, which had my luggage got diverted to Lewiston and wouldn’t have me getting home until after midnight (I got home around 7pm). And slept.
It’s strange being back in the US, I keep trying to speak swahili to people, who just look at me funny, I’m getting better though. I thought I would be incredibly sad and while I do quite miss Africa (and hope to spend this summer there) I’m actually very happy! I find myself relaxed and at ease, laughing at the guy at starbucks who got mad at the baristas who gave him 4 pumps of vanilla instead of 5. I’m finding myself falling into conversations with people, and taking my time to do things. I made a haircut appointment and ended up talking about egypt with the receptionst for about half an hour. I can’t describel the happiness I feel, I didn’t know the impact being in Africa had on me until I came home. I truly now feel like I’m living in the present, something I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do.