Monday, July 4, 2016

DAY 4 - Pyramids and a Bus Ticket!

It was Tuesday morning, March 9th. I felt rested and had a good night's sleep. Before retiring to bed the night before, I'd made prior arrangements with my hostel to hire a guide to take us to the pyramids. I didn't feel like wrestling with a cab driver. My guide would speak English, and cost 200 LE. Our agreement was for him to take us to the Giza pyramids, wait for us, then take us to the other pyramid Saqqara.

Pamela and I stepped out of our room before 7am to another complimentary breakfast of bread, cheese, fruit, jam, and this time orange juice to substitute tea. I noticed a guy sitting by the front desk and nodded to him. I was pretty sure he was our guide.

After we ate, our guide stood and introduced himself and we followed him out to the street and climbed into his car. Can't remember his name, but I learned he was married, had children in college, and his English wasn't as good as I'd hoped. I strained to understand him.

As typical of Egyptians he stepped on the gas pedal and I braced for a car crash. I once glanced over his shoulder and realized he was going over 100 miles an hour. I finally asked him WHAT the speed limit in Egypt was and he said, 90 miles an hour. In the city, 50.

That explained it.

To my shock, a motorcycle passed with a man, woman, and an infant on her lap.

I told our driver that more than half of Egypt would be in jail for traffic violations if this was in MY country. He laughed and got a kick out of my comments about his driving. I decided to lay off on the remarks before he started to show off his "driving abilities"...

First glimpse of the Nile...
I explained to my guide that I had a proposition. Instead of taking us to see the 2nd series of pyramids (Saqqara) I would be willing to pay him the full amount agreed, if we could substitute the rest of the day by him helping me run errands. I wanted to use his partial English and knowledge of the city to take us to the bus station so I could get our tickets to Taba, Egypt. We needed to be in Taba, the next day, to cross the border into Israel. He happily agreed.

A first glimpse of the pyramids! Our guide parked the car and said he'd wait for us and to take our time. Pamela and I walked behind the shops, and found our way to the gate and purchased our tickets. After we entered the gated area, the touting started! Boy was it bad! People coming up trying to sell us camel rides. One guy was really slick. He demanded I show him my ticket and said I needed to show it before I could go any further. Like a dummy, I handed him mine and then he led me to the Sphinx, even though I was protesting that I wanted to go to the pyramids.
It wasn't until I started to follow him in frustration that I caught on to what was going on. I yanked my ticket back from him and ignored his protests as I stomped off. After several more attempts of tricks and demands, I realized the only way to deal with them was to be very rude. Sad but true.
One guy approached and said, WELCOME! And shoved a gift into my hand. It looked like a head scarf. I shoved it back to him and he insisted it was for FREE. I kept handing it back and he refused to take it back. I finally layed it on the ground and walked off. Boy was I glad I did. I read later that this was another trick.
One mistake was paying a guy 1 LE just to take our picture with his camel. Even though we agreed on 1 LE, he got mad when I handed him the money. His friend said, MISS! MISS! No coins! Give me 20LE and I give you change back! MISS!! MISS!!! MISSSS!!!!!
I walked off. MISS!!! MISS!!! MIIIIISSSSSSSS!!!!!
How rude and annoying! We stomped off until their yells became distant and some poor other sucker got trapped in their line of vision.

Woops! We made eye contact. Better walk off quickly!

I snuck a pat, and the camel felt brittle. Not exactly a petting kind of animal....

Lots of tourist police everywhere.

Really nice standing up close and touching the pyramids. It costs extra to enter the pyramids but we were okay just seeing the outside.

Cairo off in the distance...

The camel photo that cost me 1 LE and a headache.

I couldn't stop staring at the pyramids...

Pamela got a lot of attention from girls her age. They were tickled to have their pictures taken with us and made a huge deal about taking mine as well. I hope I didn't break their camera! :D

What you see behind the pyramids...

Our drive to the bus station...

We arrived at the bus station and boy was I glad we brought our guide. Everything was in Arabic! After purchasing 2 tickets to Taba, Egypt, we happily headed back to the hostel. While driving, I asked our guide if he could suggest a good restaurant, as my daughter and I hadn't had any Egyptian cuisine yet. For the past few days we've barely been eating 2 meals a day, with very little appetite. Other than breakfast, we've mainly been snacking, other than the Mc Donald's meal we'd had the day before.
He suggested the Nile Cruise and said our hostel could arrange. I happily agreed!

The entrance to our hostel...

Shop next door...

Store next to hostel where we've been getting our snacks and bottled water.

Our hostel arranged for us to be picked up at 7pm for our cruise and we would be joining about 200 other tourists on the same boat.
Our driver appeared and I was pleased to see it was the same guy who had picked us up from the airport. This time I remembered his name. It was Wael. Or Waed... or Wa-something.
Either way :) He would be on the cruise with us, and to drive us back to our hostel. This time while he drove, we talked. His sister lived in California and he had never been to the states. He was in his mid twenties. A really nice guy with a lead foot and I braced for car crash! :D

Our boat. Lovely photo huh? I'm quite the photographer! (not!)

At our table, looking at the other tourists. We had a large group of people from India, and a large group from China. Thankfully a man who spoke English sat at our table (American), although his Arabic wife didn't speak English.

Our entertainment consisted of a swirling Dervish, belly dancer, and a band.

The Dervish poked fun at Pamela by imitating her folding arms and her irritation that she was getting unwanted attention! I was really glad he moved away as I was afraid she would do something to embarrass us both! Oh how she hates attention!

The dancer. My camera at this time was acting up, and I became concerned. I had dropped it earlier at the pyramds and had been wrestling with it since.

Our meal consisted of a buffet. While standing in line, I noticed the people from India were pushing and shoving to the point that I told Pamela to fill her her plate full ONCE, and to get dessert while we could and sit down. The food was okay, and the dessert interesting. I'm not too keen on Curry, never have been.
Although I appreciate India's custom to respect their elders, they made a point of taking every elderly person in their group to the front, shoving every one else to the side (even the elders of the other groups)... While this was going on, I kept thinking about those stampedes I had read about in India where people get killed in the temples.
Needless to say, after the cruise was over, a poor elderly Chinese woman was nearly trampled while leaving the boat. We sighed in relief when she finally was able to stand and limp off the ramp.

Before we went on the cruise, Pamela and I had 2 hours to kill, so we went shopping on Talaat Harb street. She selected the pink slacks, shirt, and I got a denim giba. Giba is arabic for skirt.

Glass bathroom in the ship.

My favorite part of the Nile Cruise was sitting on the top deck outside away from the noise and music. It was very restful sitting under the soft breeze of the Nile, watching the city slide by.

The Nile cruise was the perfect ending to our last day in Egypt. The next day we'd be crossing the border into Israel!
Author's note: Due to extreme jetlag, blurry vision, and plain laziness, I'm not going to stress over editing and correcting my grammar. Maybe one of these days!


Anonymous said...

Wow! I read this over on FB but waited to comment here.. this is all very interesting.. I still think you should print it off and bind it into a book.. something for you to return to when the old memory forgets things or even for your future grand kids to read.

cpa momma said...

I am just a reader of your blog and am not a friend on facebook. I have been waiting for your updates and following your trip since you talked about that travel book that inspired the trip. I took out the book and my daughter and I loved it. Your blog entries and pictures are fascinating. What an experience. The pyramids are amazing. Your daughter got such an education on this trip and you obviously really did your homework. good for you! You are such an inspiration as a mom!! Keep the entries and pictures coming. christi from CT

Helen said...

Thank you so much, cpa momma! My inspirations came from other's out there doing their homework too. They inspired me!

My daughter and I really DID find the trip educational. Planning the trip and reading about the places we were going to visit was half the fun! Right now, I'm dealing with the excitement of climbing a mountain. Mt. Laundry! ;-)

Thanks again for your comments!! =)