Naxos to Cairo

I’m not in Egypt yet but hopefully will be tonight! Writing from aboard the Naxos, on the same ship we came out of Piraeus in, about 6 hours out of Naxos town.

Woke early this morning and had another huge breakfast before going down to the dock to wait for the ferry. The day began as cold, overcast and very windy but weather has improved.

We’re cutting it very fine today as – if all goes well – we should be at Athens airport for our flight to Cairo with only about half an hour to spare. Luck, stay on our side! I can’t believe that tonight I’ll actually be in Egypt – with only about $120 in my pocket what’s more (and a well-used Visa card of course). Just as hard to believe is the fact I’ll be back in Sydney in about 11 days.

I’m in Cairo now (!!!!) and writing from Monday in our room at the Windsor Hotel. To my complete amazement we actually made the plane. Chugged slowly into Piraeus harbour at about 5.30pm and hit the shore running to grab the nearest taxi. The driver got the message and sped through the packed traffic to the airport – I clung white-knuckled to the seat ahead as we careered through cars and pedestrians. Got to the airport with about ten minutes to flight time, ran through the formalities and then, of course, I think it was about 6.45 before the plane took off, so we needn’t have rushed!

Still, we were really pleased with ourselves for catching it, and excited as we climbed the stairs up to the plane door, looking back at the lights of Athens airport.

It wasn’t long before we were flying over the lights of Cairo, at about 9pm. It was a very strange feeling flying into Cairo at night with no accommodation and no idea.

After changing my last traveller’s cheque at the airport we were grabbed, along with a German guy called Marcus, by an official tourist organiser who wished to organise our entire stay in Egypt there and then.

Anyway we said thanks but no thanks but accepted their choice of a hotel. Bad move. Our first encounter with Egyptian tipping, or baksheesh, came with the guy who carried our bags to a taxi. He was like a fly that wouldn’t go away. Gave him a few Egyptian pounds (too much) and then we were taken for a ride in both senses when we were charged 30 EP (10 pounds) for the three of us. The hotel – Pharoah’s Hotel or something similiar, was plain, crappy and overpriced, the bed lumpy – typical tourist low quality. Oh well, the usual first night story. We collapsed exhausted on our beds, had showers, and watched an American movie with Arabic subtitles and big cuts in the kissing bits. But f**k, I was in EGYPT!

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