|$1 = 5.6 Egyptian Pounds
I figured that, since I was already half way around the world, I may as well check out the Egyptian pyramids. My hotel in Eilat was right next to the Taba Crossing into Egypt, so I was actually able to walk there. I had been told before that I could get a visa right at the border, but of course once I got into the Egyptian immigration office they told me I had to re-enter Israel and go to their consulate to get a visa, and therefore miss the daily bus to Cairo. But then, as always happens in the third world, at the last minute a smiling guy appeared who could fix the situation for $50. So half an hour and a few signatures later, I had my visa and I was off to the bus station.
I had planned to stay at an inexpensive hotel, but it turned out my financial advisor was training a young guy who somehow got me the employee rate at one of the nicest hotels in Cairo. Rooms at the Cairo Semiramis Intercontinental hotel usually run over $300 a night, but my price was $65 a night, including tax!
Egypt was a major change from Israel. Whereas Israel is small, clean and organized, Cairo is giagantic, dirty and chaotic. Cairo is home to seven million inhabitants, and another ten million live on the outskirts, making it the largest metropolitan area in Africa. It is fun to explore big, crazy cities, and Cairo was no exception. It was also interesting to experience another Muslim country since the culture is so different. I never get used to seeing women in burkas. It is almost like seeing a female Darth Vader walking down the street. Very strange and very sad.
Even though Cairo was poor and chaotic, I had a great time. Exploring the old section of town was fascinating. I met some very nice people, including one guy who approached me inside a mosque, and I was able to go to a camel market and a whirling Dervish performance! Check out the photos.