EgyptWritten by admin on November 1st, 2008
In total it took us 3 hours to cross between Libya and Egypt. With most of the 3 hours spent walking backward and forward between various buildings, huts and apparent bedrooms, handing scraps of paper from one person to the next. Laughing about the also pretty pricey (E£1162 for customs, insurance and number plates) experience we were relieved to be back on the road again for the long drive to Alexandria.
We stayed at our first hotel, Union, as camping has been banned in and around Alexandria and while we felt a bit bad leaving Bob in the street it was nice to have a hot shower and sea-view balcony room. Felicity was also pleased it didn’t take half an hour unpack everything and find her pants!
We ended the evening on the balcony and watched a dramatic argument break out between a mature lady and guy. This went on for quite a while until it was brought to a definite conclusion when the guy, precariously sat on the edge of the sea-wall, was shoved over the edge by the woman and had to be hauled back up again with his leg shattered and bundled into a taxi.
Friday 17 October
Today we had sun, sand and sea all in one place and we spent much of the day chilling out on the beach. We then had a wander around town and a hot chocolate and very rich gateaux, which Alexandria is well known for.
Saturday 18 October
We drove to Cairo with Felicity opting for the easier first leg of the journey driving out of Alexandria and leaving Marc to negotiate the crazy unpredictable driving in Cairo. Had our first glimpse of the pyramids as we drove in and then began the search for the campsite we had read about. However, every time we found the right road we were quickly taken off it again by road works but eventually found the lovely Camping Salma. Great campsite and peaceful away from the hustle and bustle of it all.
In the evening we went to a brilliant restaurant above the AA stables where Marc used to ride when he lived in Cairo 22 years ago. It was perfectly located, as it was right next to the pyramids, so a great place to sit and watch the sound and light show. Had a fantastic evening and great to be so close to the pyramids!
Sunday 19 October
Today we got a taxi to the Egyptian museum in the morning and then Zamalek Bazaar (a big market) where we haggled our way to a few vital bargains, including Felicity’s new favourite T-shirt with a camel on, which she pretends is just for rough. We then headed back to the campsite for a chilled evening with the mosquitoes!
Monday 20 October
We drove to the pyramids first thing to have a wander round and also to go inside the Great Pyramid. It was really impressive getting up close to them and we got some good pics with Bob after sweet talking the police captain to allow him into a good spot. Inside the pyramid you climb up through a series of tunnels made from huge perfectly carved stone blocks to the tomb inside. The different angles of the stairs and blocks made it quite disorientating and hard to tell which way was which.
Once it had cooled down a little we headed to the AA stables to horse ride through the desert past the pyramids. Great fun and holding on for dear life Felicity got into her first gallop (despite some debate about the difference between canter and gallop) on a horse!
Tuesday 21 October
We enjoyed Cairo, but were quite relieved to be escaping the smog (Bob probably could have run off the contents of our lungs for a few hundred kms) to head to the Red Sea. En-route a policeman stopped us and told us we had been speeding doing 115 Kms. We couldn’t help but laugh, as Bob struggles to do more than 100 and the policeman quickly realised he was unlikely to get his bribe, and after a bit of joking he let us on our way.
Well unimpressed with Hurghada, as we drove through, we were pleased to find a lovely place to camp called Sun Beach in Safaga, the next town and much less developed and spent the rest of the evening in the beach side bar.
Thursday 23 October
We have been very much getting used to life on the beach the last couple of days, just going from the sea to the sun lounger and back again. Today, we also went out on a boat to snorkel around a few reefs and top up our tan further! Great snorkelling in beautiful crystal clear waters.
Bob needed a bit of attention, as an exhaust bracket had sheared off, but luckily the mechanic came out to us to fix it, so it didn’t interrupt with our beach time!
Friday 24 October
Reluctantly we left our good spot on the Red Sea and headed further south to Luxor. You must travel in police convoys to Upper Egypt, so we joined one, which quickly turned into everyone else deciding it was a race to the front and cut us up frequently during the trip.
We arrived at Rezieky Camp and set up home for the night. After a wander around town, then the obligatory afternoon siesta we headed for the sound and light show at Karnak temple. This could have been quite interesting, but with the overly poetic/dull commentary that dragged on for a very long time, the most interesting part was the scabby dog that followed us around, howling occasionally! We headed back to the camp and had good dinner that they had put on, as a couple of overland trucks were also staying there.
Saturday 25 October
Joined the next convoy to Aswan today, driving alongside the Nile. This was a much smaller convoy, which took off at the usual pace, leaving us way behind and then not in the convoy at all. This resulted in us getting stopped at each police checkpoint (of which there are many in Egypt) on the way down.
Once in Aswan we found Mr Sallah to sort out our tickets for the ferry to Sudan. You would think that getting a ferry ticket is easy, however in Egypt they like to make any procedure such as this very difficult and time consuming! We were first directed to the Traffic Court about 3kms away where we would get a piece of paper declaring we had not been in any accidents in Egypt. After eventually finding this unmarked building, a scruffy looking bloke sitting on a broken chair in the street beckoned us over, and it turned out this was the official guy to arrange this bit of paper. As with everything in Africa, waiting and having a lot of patience is essential! Eventually after getting conned out of a bit of money we were on our way to the next office (this time the Traffic police) another 3k drive where we had to hand over our scrap of paper and give back our Egyptian number plates and in exchange get a piece of paper giving us permission to leave the country.
It is a strange system here, so many police, but with apparently absolutely nothing to do. We sat laughing as we watched for about half an hour as some guy, who looked pretty important, just moved his papers from one side of the desk to the next, then his post-it notes, then his computer mouse, then having a fag, then biting his lip while contemplating what to move next, all while we sat patiently right in front of him. He then disappeared and sent someone else to tell us to go downstairs where we could get the necessary paperwork done. We emerged with the necessary paper work, but not our money back for the number plates - for foreigners they make this an impossible task!
We camped up for the night on the Nile at ‘Adams home’. A great place and were joined by some Polish bikers who we met in Luxor, a South African biker and then 14 campervans of Italians who were touring round Egypt.
Monday 27 October
After another night camping at Adam’s home, which included a quick visit to the police station to ask if he could have permission to let all of us stay, we headed for the port for 09.30 to start the immigration and customs procedures for departure from Egypt.
We paid the customary baksheesh and confirmed we had no chemical weapons to avoid our vehicles being searched, and paid the considerable sum of money for our vehicle to be loaded on to the ferry. This was all completed by 11.00 and then we sat and watched and waited as bags of onions, then barber’s chairs, then onions, then fridges, then 3 piece suites, then tubs of pickles, then onions, then cookers, then onions, and finally sinks and toilets were chucked into the hold of the ferry on top of each other. Occasionally a little man, bent double under the weight of a fridge freezer, or washing machine, would collapse and we would watch as a few others would rush over to help by shouting at him to get up off the floor! At about 16.00 the last few things were being loaded up and it looked like it was time to load Bob, Elsie (another English couple’s Toyota) and the 5 bikes – not before a last-minute lorry load of pickles and of course one of onions.
Finally we drove Bob and the other vehicles on to the very limited deck space. Once he was secure we reluctantly waved him goodbye and at 19.00, ferry and barge set off and we quickly left Bob behind in the night.