Travelling to Cairo
We thought, before we started the trip, that we were to drive into Cairo. But as you have read we have come from Sinai travelling south to Luxor. Driving in Cairo is suicidal rather than ill-advised and so we left the trucks in Thiemo's care in Luxor and took the day train to Cairo.
Now the train should take 9 hours to Cairo, all going well. But an Egyptian train on time is akin to miraculous and we resigned ourselves to a wait. At Luxor Station, the train arrived only a half hour late. To amuse ourselves in the meantime we watched the other trains passing through and counted how many of the carraiges had obviously spent some time on their sides or their roof.
Our second class carraige was in less than clean condition, but the seats were no worse than economy class airline seats so not too bad considering... The windows however looked as if someone had used them for target practice - whether with stones or bullets we could not determine, but our window had 3 extensive spider web crack patterns in it. Between that and the dirty glass, the view was a little muted!
The trip itself was interesting. We followed the Nile Valley all the way. Small green plots gave way to larger green plots as we travelled north; every square centimeter of arable land was farmed with sugar cane, vegetables, citrus, corn and all sorts of other unidentifiable crops. Old fashioned farming methods - manual labour with hand tools - gave way to tractors, though still with many manually tilling soil, as we travelled north until the farmlands gave up to factories and ugly cities and towns.
Our supposedly express train stopped at many places along the way, we slowed down we speeded up, we slowed down... Our trips to the train toilets became less tenable as they became less than pleasant places to visit. A long range tank in the old body is of great advantage on a journey like this.
And so, well after dark and 11 hours later we arrived in Cairo. The interesting bit was getting taxis to take the 8 of us and our luggage to the hotel which is right in the middle of downtown Cairo. After much haggling and arguing that our luggage was NOT going unrestrained onto the roof rack, we squeezed into cabs and got our first taste of Cairo traffic. It is worse than any report you have heard, or that you could imagine. Everything is done at top speed with roads that should be 2 or 3 lanes wide taking 6 or 7 vehicles side by side. They ALMOST touch but not quite, they weave in and out, they turn right across traffic from the left side without any indication other than the horn, they squeeze their way between other cars, they push and push and push their luck trying to gain even a millimeter advantage. And all this using the only bit of the car that seems to work without fail - the horn. Russ sat in the front seat, I sat in the back with Hans and Jennny. I needed to move my foot and asked Russ to move his seat forward so I could ... he couldn't, as it wasn't actually attached to the floor of the cab. So Jenny had to get out of the car so I could move my foot! In all the best thing to do is close your eyes and not see the hair-raising chaos outside.
Our hotel is handy to everything and quite nice, having been refurbished by the owners lately. It's clean and reasonably comfortable, and our room doesn't face the road, ie the noise, so no complaints there.
A few days here and then the night train back to Luxor.