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Pyramids at breakfast

Cairo Travel Blog

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Cataracts Pyramids Hotel pool

Having booked dates for this next flight some 12 months ago we were unsurprised to find that our flight departed some 30 minutes later than our ticket showed.  Despite the added security measures at London's Heathrow Airport we check in easily as we have no hand luggage but Andrew is convinced that we will never see our pole again!   I  bought a telescopic flag pole for use at folk festivals and put it through as luggage.  Once on board we are told that 3 people have checked in but failed to board so their luggage has to be removed before we can fly -- shades of Jamaica!

The food is good on British Airways and I have the Atlantic salmon and Andrew has the Moroccan chicken and we have lots of white wine.  The flight lands at about 12.

Dinner on the Nile - Andrew & I
30am and as we are walking through arrivals, a Travel Talk guy is waiting for us.  George takes our passports and the money for visa stamps and quickly whisks us to immigration and we are through!  The luggage takes for ever to arrive on the carousel and the pole is eventually found where someone has put it up in the central island.  Outside the heat hits us and an air-conditioned mini bus is waiting with three more guys, one with a gun, to take us to Giza and our hotel.  George points out all the places of interest at night time, the Citadel, the Nile and we see the squalor of the streets as he tells us that the city of Cairo has 20,000,000 million people and there are not enough houses!

Forty five minutes later the mini bus weaves through barriers over a canal bridge through a pivoted barrier at the hotel.

Sufi dancer twirling one of his skirts!
  I am starting to realise that these are here for security measures.  The Cataract Pyramids Resort has a marvellous domed ceiling four floors high, with a night sky and stars painted on it above the circular foyer.  Our luggage is whisked away by porters and once we get our keys the porter leads us out into the night down a grand walk way with soft lights fringed with bouganvillea, tall date palms, frangipani and jasmine.  A golf buggy with trailer follows us with the luggage and the room is gloriously air-conditioned.

It is now Friday (27 days until we get home!) and we sleep well and head to a smorgasbord breakfast up above the foyer with the domed ceiling.  While enjoying my tropical fruits I glance around out of the window and nearly choke as I see two pyramids rising out of the smog.

Lobby at hotel
  Fancy having breakfast with the pyramids!  We find Narelle from Travel Talk and check in with her picking up details of the options we can add to our basic trip.  Spend the rest of the day beside the biggest hotel pool in Cairo.  As soon as you look at a beach chair towels are brought over to you.  Lunch at the La Pergola near the pool and siesta a bit. 

Saturday and we finally get money out of the temperamental ATM machine and do much of the same as yesterday.  I have a long chat with an Egyptian guy who is in the pool with his children.  The Travel Talk group meets at 6pm and we find that there are 20 of us a New Zealander, a Chinese family of four and the rest are Aussies.  Other than the Chinese parents the group age ranges from 18 to about 30 so we are the oldest but is so good to be amongst irreverent Aussies who look as though they are going to be up for anything.

Walk way to our room and the pool
  Our tour guide is a female called Rasha and we are told that a female guide is not so common in Egypt.  Rasha gives us a run down on the money telling us what to look out for, tipping expectations, not to drink the local water at all (we have water purification tablets but I ended up with a glass of scummy brown water) and we meet back at 7.30pm to get taken to a cruise boat on the Nile for dinner and a show.

There are singers and then we have a belly dancer all of whom are a bit tacky with fluro costumes and a wig.  A sufi dancer comes out and he is spectacular with whirling skirts, one of which he slips up over his head and continues to make spin from his hand for 30 mins continuously as he poses with the audience and does tricky moves!  Before we get to the hotel there a stop at a large supermarket with an ATM where we get a 10 min shop stop.

part of our Travel Talk group at lunch
  At the hotel by 10.30pm and as we are settling in to sleep I hear drums and wailing pipes and sneak out to watch a wedding party emerge from a function room and parade down to a banquet setting around the swimming pool.

Sunday- after breakfast we check out but leave two suitcases and my pole with the luggage store taking only our small back packs and board the coach and now we are 22 as two Colombians have joined us.  Head to the pyramids and Rasha begins to instruct us in Pharonic history.  Three periods, Old, Middle and New, 30 dynasties and a lower and upper Egypt.  The oldest period had pyramids with sides built at 54 o angle changing to 45 o about 65% of the way up and no decorations inside.  The middle period had smaller pyramids with 45 o angle sides and were highly decorated inside and the new period had smaller pyramids again but had mummies inside.

This is what Egypt is about

Camel rides across part of the Sahara then happened for those who wished to participate and as I had done that in Alice Springs many years ago I didn't feel the need to do it again. Learn to use our new words 'la shokkran' (no, thankyou), 'beckom' (how much).   Lunch was at a small outdoor restaurant with a shade roof of palm branches and woven mats and a clean toilet.  We visited the Sphinx and Sakkara then went back to the hotel where two rooms had been allocated to the tour group to shower and freshen up in until about 9 pm.  Arrived at Cairo Railway station and waited and waited for our train, an overnight one with reclining seats to Aswan.

showing the size of some of the blocks in the pyramid
  Some of the group opted to pay more to go on the sleeper train and the rest of us watched the locals! The station was teaming with humanity as they regarded us curiously.  Second and third class trains came and went and the waiting people would rush the doors and try to cram on.  Sometimes those on the train would hold the door closed and jostling fights would break out!  As trains left there would often be guys hanging on at the back and some up in the parcel racks. 

Finally our train arrived at about 1 pm and we all piled in, booted a guy out of Andrew's seat and were off.  Someone checked out the toilet and came back looking very white,  said that you needed a strong constitution to cope with it.  I decided to try and last the distance but only managed 11 hours before I had to use them.

We were there!
  Not good.

clearviews says:
Thanks. Yes we are having fun.
Posted on: Sep 13, 2006
pacovera says:
You seem very happy. I am glad. Greetings
Posted on: Sep 12, 2006
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Cataracts Pyramids Hotel pool
Cataracts Pyramids Hotel pool
Dinner on the Nile - Andrew & I
Dinner on the Nile - Andrew & I
Sufi dancer twirling one of his sk…
Sufi dancer twirling one of his s…
Lobby at hotel
Lobby at hotel
Walk way to our room and the pool
Walk way to our room and the pool
part of our Travel Talk group at l…
part of our Travel Talk group at …
This is what Egypt is about
This is what Egypt is about
showing the size of some of the bl…
showing the size of some of the b…
We were there!
We were there!
Doing the Walk like an Egyptian
Doing the "Walk like an Egyptian"
Cairo
photo by: vulindlela