|My friend, Bond Hopkins, and his roommate, Colin, picked us up at the Cairo airport on Sunday night (11/2). Driving around in Cairo is the definition of insanity! It is hard to explain, but will try to get video driving around in Colin's car or a taxi ride. Another major obstacles is crossing the street. You take your life into your own hands every time you step off the 'sidewalk'.
We went to the Ancient Egyptian Museum the first day in town, which was enormous and very cool. There were tons Egyptian artifacts ranging from statues, to tombs with unbelievable heiroglyphics, tools, weapons, etc. That night Bond, Brian and I went to a great Egyptian restaurant, (will fill in name). The food was amazing! After dinner we sat around to enjoy some South African wine, Cape Bay, smoke apple sheesha, and catch up on what all we have been up to since we were last together.
Tuesday we tried to vote at the American Embassy, but you had to cast your ballot by October for the state of Tennessee. We decided to explore a bit and crossed over some river called the Nile to the Western side of Cairo. The eastern side is the more historical side, tighter streets, tons of mosques, churches, etc. After exploring the Western side a bit, we went to Coptik Cairo. This had tons of coptiks as well as Christian religious sites. The Holy Family spent a lot of Jesus' childhood years here between time in Nazareth, so there was some great history in this area.
That night Bond took us gambling in Cairo. We had another great meal, actually at the Marriott Hotel which was very upscale. We sat outside and had to suffer through some terrible live music, but met some nice older people sitting next to us from Norway. Then we all gave our donation to the casino via blackjack and roulette over a couple of hours. After the casino Colin drove the 4 of us to this local dive bar in downtown Cairo. We met their friends Shady and another guy who's name was not as memorable. After several beers and Brian being propositioned in the mens restroom we headed back to the apartment.
Wednesday we woke up late. Shady was going to be our local tour guide out at the pyramids and he was running slow too; So it worked out well that he didnt come to pick us up til around noon. We then had a crazy drive out to the Giza Pyramids. The horse and camel salesmen at the pyramids are hugely aggressive and Shady was having no of it. After arguing in Arabic for about 30 minutes we got a pretty good deal on 3 horses for 2 hours. The pyramids were amazing to see. As you got out from the stables and on the far side of the pyramids, and Sphinx, you could see the skyline of Cairo through the smog in the distance. I had forgotten how much fun it was to ride a horse and galloping through the sand brought back some good memories.
Shady took us for some local food before heading back to Bond's apartment. After a much needed shower we got dudded up for a night out at the Cairo Jazz Club. This night changed my whole conception of Cairo. CJC was a very modern club while a clientele much different than the veiled women and aggressive salesmen of the city. There was some great and very loud house music spun by a young DJ. Another one of Bond's roommates is good friends with the owner, so we were able to take in our own bottle of liquor. We danced on til about 4, then decided we needed to get some sleep before heading to Sharm el Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula.
Thursday morning Bond, Brian, Shady and I got set to go for a two day excursion on the Sinai Peninsula. Bond knows a guy, Samir, that owns a hotel in Sharm, so I believe we will actually be staying for free, which would be great. I have somehow found a way to spend a good bit of money here although it is considerably cheaper than anywhere I have been so far. A 6 hour bus ride will take us from downtown Cairo, through the Suez Canal, and down the west coast of Sinai to the very Southern tip where Sharm et Sheikh is located.
Sunday morning around 2 am we returned to Cairo exhausted. We had a lazy Saturday lounging around the pool before catching the 7 pm bus from Sharm el Sheikh to Cairo.
I had an amazing time in Sharm. First off we had THE set up. Samir, Bond and Shady's friend, could not have been a better host. He is 22 years old and 2 months ago his family finished renovating this great hotel, Naama Heights, on Naama Bay in Sharm. Samir put us up in our own apartment right by the action and with a great view of a pool that winded its' way through the hotel grounds.
When we arrived Thursday we ate at the hotel. Then had some drinks poolside before getting ready for Pascha Club. Some big DJ from London was 'spinning' that night and there was going to be a huge crowd. Well there was. The place was packed and the music was great. I have somehow started to enjoy house music. Although the setting and time has to be right. We had a nice group with us at Pascca and partied until the music stopped near 5 am.
Friday we had to sleep in a bit. After some food we packed into Samir's car and headed to a private cove beach in Naama Bay. There was a DJ on the beach and a great set up for snorkeling, skiing, wakeboarding, parasailing, pretty much anything you would want to do at beach. We hung out at the beach until the sun went down. The water at the Red Sea is amazingly clear. The visibility is the best I have seen on the trip so far.
Friday night it was clubbing again, which I guess is what you do in Sharm. We decided on Little Buddha. Little Buddha was a smaller club which was nice. The music was great and I was able to hang out with a couple of Canadian girls that were studying in Scotland.
Since I had never heard of Sharm before this trip I was surprised at how developed and 'posh' Sharm el Sheikh is (the past 10-15 yrs it has experienced a huge boom). This is a big vacation destination for Russia and Italy. We met some great people at the hotel and out. One to mention is Stanislov, a 3 time published author from Moscow, that clung to me at the hotel.
Just saw this on BBC as I was updating...looks like I was a week late to see this in Jerusalem, monks fighting?:
So I am bit backlogged from lack of internet access. I am in South Africa now but will just do a quick fill in on the last few days from Egypt.
After recovering from the Sinai parties I took a day to just chill out at Bond's apartment in Cairo. The next night Brian and I lined up to take a train down to Luxor in southern Egypt. It was a 9 hour train ride over night and we would spend the full day site seeing before hopping back on a train that night.
Luxor was really nice. Leaving the train station we got haggled like crazy for taxis and tours which we shrugged off. This was about my breaking point with the Arab service slingers. We finally did arrange a tour for 3 different sites including the Valley of the Kings and the Luxor Temples, which were awesome. I really enjoyed Luxor but what did put a dampener on this side trip was the train ride. We had to ride 2nd class on the way back to Cairo and it took 13 hours instead of 9. In 2nd class they keep the lights on all night long and I was in an aisle seat and every 20 seconds somebody would walk through the aisles and bump me.
Anywho we arrived at 5 in the morning and came back to sleep a bit. The afternoon was spent hanging out in a coffee shop on the Nile. The next day we were on our flight to South Africa and escaping the Arab world. I had a great time in Egypt but our two week left me ready for new adventures.