Monday, July 4, 2016

DAY 17 - Khan el Khalili and Midnight Madness!

We slept in. No particular hurry to get dressed. We had plans to return to Khan el Khalili and do some last minute shopping. After yesterday's exhausting ordeal, we relaxed in our room, feeling excited about our day. No more bus rides and border crossings. Today we would be simply tourists on the town!

After dressing, we checked our emails downstairs at the lobby, before hitting the street. We walked the busy sidewalks until we were standing in a park square across from the Cairo Museum. From there we hailed a cab.

The wall we passed reminded me of Jerusalem.

At the market... Khan el Khalili is a must see! The souq's been around since the late 1300's. Also known as a Turkish Bazaar, during the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, two recent terrorist attacks - 2005, and 2009. I'm not a gambler, but I know the odds. The chances of us being there at the wrong time is the same as winning the state lottery. That's why I don't buy lottery tickets!

The few times I regretted bringing only a backpack. No space for exotic fabric!

We did what we said we'd do before we left on our trip. We ate at the Egyptian Pancake house! They were very delicious, but not what we had expected. I had ordered "nuts" in my butter honey pancake and was served coconut.

The filling was in the middle of the crispy cake.

Touting wasn't as bad as last time. I had learned my lesson. The salesman looks at your expression, (especially your children's) to see if there's a spark of interest. The price will depend on how bad you want something.

Bartering became a game for Pamela and I. We agreed before we arrived that she would not show an interest in anything. With obvious boredom she would stand in front of a display of earrings. I would casually ask her if she wanted anything and she would say as unenthusiastically as possible - "I don't know..." This mean't, YES! YES! YES!

A no, mean't NO, and undecision was a bored, "I'm thinking..."

This worked so well, we were able to bring a quote of 75LE down to 10LE! If that didn't work, we'd walk away and they would yell, OKAY!! OKAY!! We got 90% what we asked for!

We walked the Souq for a couple of hours, and stumbled into an angry shouting match between two Arab males. Not knowing their culture, I wasn't sure what they were capable of. Would they pull out a knife? A gun? I didn't understand a word they were screaming, but the expression on a few women's faces was enough for me. We were tired and decided to leave.

We caught a cab back to the Cairo museum, thinking we'd find our way back to the hotel on our own.

We were starved. Unbelievably no decent restaurants in sight except Pizza hut and KFC! I had long ago ruled out the street vendors.

We were nestled on a corner street across from Tahrir Square, watching the traffic from the 2nd floor of Pizza Hut. I spent over an hour just street gazing.

We walked in the general direction of our hotel. Figured we try it on foot. I pulled out my hotel card and showed it to several pedestrians. We were given conflicting information. We were lost.

Building after building, store after store, was beginning to look the same. Over two hours later, our feet were in pain. I hailed a cab. We drove a half block and Pamela excitedly pointed out her window. She recognized a landmark. I paid the cab driver 10 LE for his trouble and we dashed across the street. Passing a small store, we stopped in to buy bottled water and snacks.

At the hotel, we were too tired to take the stairs. With reluctance we entered the elevator. Half way up, our lights flickered on and off. At first, I thought we were stuck. To our relief, the elevator continued moving. The sixth floor had a door, but no knob. We had to slip our finger into the knobless hole and push the internal bar to get it to open. We tried to do this as quickly as possible as we were afraid our elevator would start moving again with our finger stuck inside! (An elevator dropped several feet with us in it while in the Yacoubian building.)

After getting the door open, we stampeded out. I don't think we ever calmly "walked" out of any elevator's while in Egypt.
Pamela, not very happy I'm still taking pictures...

Caught her again!

From our top floor window... See? It's Garden, not Grande!

What I look at when I open my curtain.

We were tired and more than happy to just lay around. I was also thankful that I had heeded my husband's suggestion to download a few movies onto my computer. With no TV or Internet, this was the perfect escape! While Pamela watched a movie on her Zen, I watched the movie, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, about a family dealing with Down Syndrome.

I wanted to head for the Cairo airport around 10-ish, so we still had a few more hours. We both watched the Disney movie, UP, on my computer.

After the movie, I was anxious to go. It was dark outside and time was escaping. We packed, checked the bathroom, under the beds, and double checked our money, and passports.

The dreaded elevator. We were done with excitement. Loaded with our backpacks, we took the stairs.

We turned the key in at the lobby, and I quickly checked my emails and posted an update. Then we were ready to go. I'm sure the hotel must have been a "palace" back in its heyday... The area would make a great setting for THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

The doorman hailed a cab for me.

Stepping to the curb, I told him through the window we wanted to be taken to the Cairo airport. He asked WHICH airport.


There's only ONE airport, I sputtered to him. The doorman stepped down to help. With limited English, both him and the cab driver asked me again WHICH airport?

Flustered, I dug into my bag and pulled out my airline print-out I had brought back from home. It showed the airport, and departure dates. Both men looked blankly at the paperwork.

There's only ONE airport in Cairo, right? I tried asking. They told me there were TWO.

I explained it was the INTERNATIONAL airport. They met me with blank looks.

I was beginning to feel like the hotel was cursed. Lost getting there, lost trying to leave!

Another cab drove by and I stopped him against the protests of the doorman and the other cab driver. The new cab driver didn't have a clue either. I finally asked HOW MUCH to take me to ANY airport. By this time, I figured maybe I'd just get plain lucky and be taken to the right one. I held my hands apart wide and said I wanted to be taken to the BIG airport. He quoted 80LE. A man and woman were walking down the street and overheard. They told me I was being ripped off. I shrugged. I was too tired to barter and I didn't care anymore. I would have happily paid the cab driver 200LE if he'd just take me to the RIGHT airport so I could GO HOME.

The new cab driver I had hailed appeared to speak worse English than the first, so Pamela and I climbed into the cab of the first driver. I told him I would only pay 70LE. I felt I needed to put my foot down. He agreed and opened the trunk. I insisted on riding with our backpacks on our laps. Since many cabs didn't have seatbelts and they drove like maniacs, I figured our backpacks would serve as airbags! Sounds silly, but while on the road to the airport, we witnessed our second car wreck for the day! The first was leaving the market, and this time I watched a guy rear end the car in front of him.

Traffic was congested and it was already after 11. We seemed to be driving forever. I started to worry. Our flight would be leaving at 4 am, but if we were going to the wrong airport, would we make it on time? At that point, I knew I wasn't going to breathe easy until the wheels of our plane lifted off of Egypt and we were in the air. Not till we were crossing the Mediterranean too.


Anonymous said...

Wow! can't wait to hear the rest of the story

Patty said...

Goodness, one thing after another!

Lancashire rose said...

You certainly have had some adventures on this trip. I am rather hoping our trip won't be quite so colorful! I
ll be glad when you are on the plane and homeward bound.