Well, here we are in Egypt at the start of another holiday - retirement sure is great!
After leaving Australia on 4 October we arrived in Abu Dhabi after a 14 hour flight. With changes made to our flights by Etihad we had a 24 hour stopover in Abu Dhabi, but they looked after us very well. A chauffeur driven car took us to the Raddison to our room and all meals were supplied. The next day we took a city tour to see what was around - there sure is a lot of money over there. Stepping out of our hotel was like stepping straight into a sauna, but the countryside was very green in parts due to major irrigation. Beautiful buildings too, the best one being the mosque in the photo. Later that evening we were picked up and taken back to the airport for our short flight to Alexandria.
We arrived in Alexandria at midnight, managed to get a taxi at a reasonable price and were taken to our accommodation, arriving around 2am. Fortunately Terry and Joy were awake so could let us in!
Our flat was quite "interesting". The beds were brick platforms with mattresses and pillows on top - and these were as hard as the bricks underneath! The bathroom had no floor waste so to have a shower you had to stand in a large plastic bowl, then empty this down the toilet when you had finished - and then mop the floor which was always swimming. It was located between at least three mosques, so when the call to prayer started up we got it from all sides - and not in unison!
On the first morning we wandered down to the market and bought fresh bread, fallafel and bananas and sat in the sun to eat them. The locals are very friendly and all said "welcome" instead of "hello" - no hassles from them, but this is quite a laid back part of Egypt. We checked out the beach - where the World Life Saving Championships are being held is out of bounds for the locals and there are guards on the entry points. We spent a few mornings on last minute training sessions with a bit of sightseeing later. One day we took the red bus along the Corniche to the fort and wandered round there for a bit, then had lunch at a restaurant - fish and numerous salads, plus a free CD on Islam for each of us! - before heading back, stopping at a mosque on the way where I was accosted by a local saying "Hello nice lady" and proceeding to give me books on Islam. I get the feeling they wanted to convert us!
We watched the national teams on the beach for a couple of days, with some very exciting finishes - the sprint events were delayed for a day as the lane ropes had gone missing, I also heard that one set of swim cans was snaffled by a fisherman but later recovered from him! Our competition program changed completely from what was advertised, so we had the sprints first up thank God, good to get them out of the way early. I'm pleased with my bronze medal in the sprints, Terry managed a silver and Joy also a bronze, even with a badly sprained ankle (possibly even broken). She ended up in hospital for xrays and retired from the competition. I'm even more pleased with my silver in the 2km run, as is Terry with his gold in the 1km run.
On our second day of competition Terry got gold in the flags, whereas I got bronze in my flags event and 4th in the surf race.
Richard and I are now in Cairo where we have 3 days before we join our trip from Cairo to Istanbul. Tomorrow we have organised a trip to Saqqara and Memphis. Saqqara is a huge necropolis covering 7 sq km of desert and covered with pyramids, temples and tombs. Memphis is the former Pharaonic capital and is now an open air museum centred on a huge statue of Ramses II. Watch out for the photos tomorrow!
We've just finished a beer in the hotel lobby and will now head up to the rooftop bar on the 9th floor - this is the life!