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Welcome to Cairo

We got home very late from the Henna party, much later than I expected. It made our early flight seem so much earlier. We got to the airport, but then discovered that our flight wasn't so early after all- it was delayed. This meant that instead of having 7 hours in Jordan, we had 4- not quite enough to get out of the airport and see anything in time to get back for our next flight. Oh well. When we got to Jordan, we had to go through screening again. At this screening though, they had a separate direction for men and women. The women's screening was off to the side behind translucent glass with two ladies there to pat us down. Finally, we arrived in Cairo. There was smoking allowed inside the airport, which surprised me a little, but even more surprising was the fact that the people were smoking as they worked. I find it extremely unprofessional for the information booth guy to be smoking as he's talking to us, but apparently that's ok there. He got us a taxi to our hotel, so that's all that matters, I guess. We were staying at the President Hotel in Zamelek. It was a decent hotel. The lobby was very nice, and the rooms were clean, if not the newest. We had a pretty good view of the city from our hotel room. We wanted to let our family know that we had arrived safely, so we went back down to the front desk to see where we could get internet. They directed us to an internet cafe around the corner. Of course, when we got there, it was closed because it was Friday. So, called our family from the front desk. I think we probably should have tipped the front desk person for dialing for us, but we didn't really have any small change. Plus, I wasn't completely sure as we wouldn't have tipped in the US. However, the society there is different, and you pretty much have to tip for everything, even people doing their jobs. I figured we'd tip the guy more later for whatever else he'd have to do for us then. We were met by our guide, Hosein, and our driver. They took us to the Giza area for our Pyramids light and sound show. On the way there, we told us a little about the city. He explained why all of the buildings were half-finished. Apparently, the owners only had to pay taxes on the finished buildings. So, they got one story from being done, made sure to have pylons visibly sticking up for the next level, and then let people move in. In that manner, they could collect rent without having to pay taxes. It's all quite ingenious, except that it means the skyline is littered with unfinished buildings and the government is getting cheated out of money. I'm not sure why they don't stop it, but that's their business. Also on the way, we passed a canal, the shores of which seemed to be made of garbage. I don't get why in third world countries, where everything is worth something, they still have trash lying all around. Somebody has got to be able to use it for something, right? We also got a good taste for the meaning of lines on the road- nothing. If there are lines indicating 4 lanes, there are 5 cars wide, but the cars behind them are not necessarily in a straight line behind them. The cars are all over the place, weaving in and out. I'm not sure how everybody keeps from hitting each other, other than they're going relatively slow and they are used to it. I most certainly would not have wanted driving, even if I could understand the road signs. I think that's why they sent a driver with the tour guide- so one could talk and pay attention to us and the other could have his full attention on the road. We got there a little early, so my sister bought a scarf and some water and we checked out a few of the tourist gift shops. We went into the show and got some good seats. It had been hot during the day, and would have been decent at night, except that it got windy. I was chilly enough to put on a jacket. I didn't really have many expectations, but the show was not what I expected. The dialog was like an old 50's movie. The narrator did not do a great job of holding my attention. The pyramids under the various lights were interesting, though. They had various colored lights for each of the pyramids and the sphinx. They also had a green laser that made designs on the pyramids to illustrate what the narrator was saying. Beyond that, they were projecting images onto the wall next to the sphinx. They were using still images, shadow, and moving each in order to tell the story of the pyramids and the people of ancient Egypt. Maybe it was because we had been up so late the night before, but about half way through, I was starting to lose interest in what the narrator had to say. I think that the show could have been half the time and half the price and it would have been much better. After the show, our guide told us that we couldn't pay in Egyptian pounds, but had to pay in USD, which required finding a place that would change EGP for USD. This place was the bank at the Marriott hotel. We gave him half the payment due, and said we'd have the rest after we got our train tickets. See, we had been trying to get sleeping train tickets by the internet and by calling the train company, but they never responded to our emails or picked up the phone, so we decided to have our tour company get them for us as our trip hinged on getting them and we wanted to make sure to get them. He didn't have the tickets because he required money ahead of time and didn't tell me where to send it, despite me asking several times. That was ok though, we'd have them tomorrow, our guide promised. We made it back to our hotel and got a good night's sleep. (Pictures coming soon)

Pyramid sound and light show

Pyramid sound and light show

Pyramid sound and light show

Pyramid sound and light show

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Egypt

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