To escape the English snowy winter I was bound for Cairo, the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa. Struggling with my huge bag I got on the train to get to Heathrow, when a homeless looking woman sat beside me with 4 grocery bags filled with ripped newspaper. She proceeded to rip up seemingly interesting/colourful bits out of the newspaper and rub them on her skin and sniff them before placing it in the plastic bags. Once they were all full she started to stuff them into her gumboots and down her sleeves - an interesting start to my trip.
With me being tight like a tiger I did not get the same direct flight as my 3 friends - Amanda Winsloe, my partner in crime (I think it is a Southland thing), Kelly, hails from the capital but can pretty much claim to be a Southlander now, and Terri, my wee wifey. I decided to get the cheapest flight possible flying via Milan. As I flew into Milan it had a current ground temperature of minus 7 degrees, with a million inches of snow - I had planned to sleep in the airport as I flew in late at night and had to fly out very early the next morning.
As the airport was closed and a tad to freezing for my liking I had to find the closest hotel to have a kip. I got there and asked for there cheapest room, where the lovely slicked back oily haired Italian man informed me that there was 1 room left and it would cost me 209 euro's. As you can imagine I just about shat myself when I heard this and asked him if I could sleep in his car, after a fair bit of banter he gave me the room for 70 euro's and said that there was an extra key in there for him for later (sleezy much).
The next morning I had to be at the airport at 5.30am to check in, I walked up to the desk and the lady looked at me with amusement and informed me that I was at the wrong airport. Now this would of been handy if I knew that there was actually 2 airports in Milan, and that my e-ticket actually stated this and not just said "Milan", I dont know about you but if you flew into an airport would you not assume that you would be flying out of this airport?? Turns out the other airport was a 1 hour taxi drive away costing 100 euro's, which I would of been too late to catch my flight. I got my flight changed to a later flight going to Cairo via Rome (which only ripped me 50 euro's so I was quite lucky) 3 countries in 1 day - taking the jetsetter name to the extreme. Lesson learnt - buy direct flights even if I have to pay more, and make sure its the right airport because those sneaky airlines will do anything to make a quick buck.
After my stressful ordeal I finally made it to Cairo, got picked up from the airport and taken to the hotel where the rest of the Travel Talk 'Felucca Oddessy' tour was, where I had a well deserved drink of Grey Goose courtesy of Winsloe's duty free.. like mothers milk. Wined and dined at a buffet dinner on a cruise boat and watched some crazy spinning man who spun round on one spot for a good 15 minutes straight, (it made me dizzy just watching this) and some egyptian belly dancing which a group of asians also on the boat were getting quite excited about. Got to meet some of the crazy cats on the tour which set the scene for the days to come.
The next morning we visited the Giza Plateau to explore the world famous pyramids. One pyramid was surrounded by scaffolding as they are doing referbishments, lets just say that OSH would have a heart attack with this setup as it looked to be made out of many planks of wood and string.
Visited one of the Seven Wonders of the World - the Great Pyramid of Khufu, was a breath taking sight to witness and where we got our first introduction to the Egyptian locals trying to sell there products. With great sales techniques that would put some some of the topdog westerners salesmen to shame, calling all the females apparently flattering names like Shakira or Madonna, asking if our eyes were real as they were so beautiful, a little boy around 9 years old asked me what my name was I said Amanda, whats yours to which he replyed Cassanova. They sure do start them young.
It was here that I got to ride a great ginormous camel, it had delightful smelling breath and emptyed its bowels about 5 times while I was on it, other than that it was a beautiful view trotting along in the desert with the great pyramids as my backdrop.
Whilst in Luxor we visited some fascinating ancient royal tombs, enormous temples and witnessed some spectacular views and scenery.
Had a donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings and the City of the Dead where tombs were carved into the desert rocks. They were decorated with beautiful carvings and hieroglyphic text, I am not sure what is it about animals when I am on there backs but my donkey was very slow and was always at the back of the herd as he was relieving himself quite frequently.
Sailed on the River Nile in an traditional Egyptian sailing boat called a felucca. They have no engines, or toilets/showers and was decked out in a massive mattress where we slept for 2 nights under the starry sky. Comsumed copius amounts of beverages in the sun, and the captain of the boat reguarly giving out shisha and other things to smoke.
We docked up at night and had an Egyptian vs International football game, which showed the fiery side of our usually laid back tour guide Yuki (who I had a tourguide crush on, shame he was married!). When darkness set in the locals made a fire, and bought there big banging drums and sung us some crazy traditional songs into the night, topped off with some extreme fire dancing.
Casually dropped in to see the Mosque of Mohamed Ali where we had to be fully covered in green gowns, and it is forbidden to wear shoes - the females had to enter through one door and males through another. I do not really know how to act in places of religious worship thanks to Bruce and Glenys for not teaching me this!
Had a big last night back at the hotel in Cairo, doing shots of gin out of an ashtray, not the smartest of idea's as you know what they say about gin. Got up at 6 am for breakfast and said Ma Salama (goodbye) to the troopers that were continuing on the 15 day tour heading to Dahab.
As I had learnt my lesson regarding the Milan airport situation I was glad to have Nick with me who had the same issue, and Steve who was flying back to Australia. Some sweet yarns at the airport before our flight took off made for an entertaining hungover day. We planned to get a shuttle but we would of missed our flight with the timings, ended up splitting a 50 euro each taxi - one can only laugh at the amount of money I ended up having to spend trying to be a tight arse thats for sure!
I loved Egypt - the culture, religion, the beaut weather and all the amazing people I meet during the 9 days. Big call but am going to put this out there but was the best trip yet. It is such an impressive place to experience as it was unlike any other place I had been to.
Bring on the next trip to Turkey to honour the ANZACS! xx