Third world delays and a 500km drive.

Sharm El Sheikh Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 13 › view all entries
Hello All,

I woke up this morning and checked out of the hotel around 8:30am. I met my cab driver Adbul in front of the Crowne Plaza, and we headed off to the Europcar rental office in the Magic Life Hotel. The Magic Life is about 15 minutes north of Sharm in Nabq Bay, so the cab ride was almost $10 to get there. When I arrived I was told at the front gate that the Europcar agent was not there yet. I then waited 30 minutes to be told that they had no cars for me.

The local agent called his boss with the company and let me talk to him. He arranged for me a rental with another company that was only about $18 more, and they would transport me to that agency free of charge. A real hassle, because I did have at least a five hour drive ahead of me and daylight was burning. The new company was just a local operation, and the small Hyundai I got has about 37,000 km on it, but the owner was friendly and got my paperwork done pretty quickly.

I was on the road by 11:15am headed for Cairo. I had no directions, and only a 34 year old map of 'Israel and adjoining countries' that barely reached Cairo. As I was leaving Sharm there was a checkpoint at which on of the guards asked if I would transport two police officers on holiday back to Cairo. I got their identification to be sure they were cops, and we all headed north. I speak zero arabic, and only one of them had about 10 words of English, so there was little effective communication along the way.

But I really had no problem with this because I knew there would be many checkpoints along the way, and I neglected to bring my International Driving License not thinking I would drive in Egypt. Always good to have the law on your side! Plus I felt a lot better pushing the Hyundai to 130kph with some arabic representation in the car. ;)

The drive was pretty boring. The Gulf of Suez was pretty, and some of the oil industry was interesting, but other then that this was pure desert. The most fun thing was driving from Asia into Africa through the Ahmed Hamdi Tunnel. The tunnel, having been built in 1983 was absent from my map.

I dropped of my passengers on the outskirts of town and made my way into Cairo itself, hoping to continue seeing signs in both arabic AND english. That hope quickly evaporated as the sun set, and I was left to wander through the traffic ridden streets. I eventually found 'The Ring Road' around Cairo and crossed the Nile. I then found the suburb in which the Hilton Pyramids Resort was located. Thinking I was onto something, I stopped at a local wi-fi hotspot to get some possible better directions.

Of course, the wi-fi was not working so I was left to my own. I knew I had seen a sign for the street my hotel was ona while back, so I backtracked a bit and found what I thought was the road I needed. I was delighted to see the hotel at around 8:00pm after driving for eight hours plus to get here. At least I had a tour of the city, and now my driving skills are at a level I can't even comprehend after navigating through Cairo traffic. Probably the most lawless tangle of cars I've ever seen. Just above Mexico City.

The good news was that my room for the night was free with my Hilton points, and that they upgraded me to an Executive Suite, which is hands down the nicest room I've ever stayed in. I also found out that I am only a 10 minute drive from the pyramids, and that parking is plentiful when I get there!

I caught up on some blogs before hitting the sack.

Pyramid time tomorrow!

Later, Phil
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