Ethiopian Airways through Addis to Cairo was a good choice. Everything arrived at the same place and time in good shape; us, bikes and luggage. Then it was through passport control.
Officer to Andy, ‘You need a visa.’
Andy, ‘Yes, I know. I’ll get one here.’
Officer, ‘No, you should have got one from the Embassy before you left Johannesburg. Sit over there…
Some minutes passed as we sat where we’d been directed … at nearly two in the morning without our passports it felt rather longer. Then out of the blue came a Tour d’Afrique fixer. ‘Ah Andy. I’ve been looking for you’ he cried. ‘Visa problem? Who took your passport? Come with me’.
So I spent some time alone, standing in no-mans’s land, no sign of Andy, no passport until… whew…relief…a bunch of customs people appeared with Andy in the middle, smiles, laughing, friendly…and with his visa stamped in his passport.
My EU passport was given an Egyptian visa in exchange for $25 in seconds. Turns out SA passport holders do indeed need to get a visa before they leave SA.
But the night was still young and we had the ring road to circumnavigate before we could get to our beds. 45 minutes at break neck speed on a busy four lane hi-way at nearly 3 in the morning is not the best night cap after 15 hours of travelling. We read that very few tourists hire cars in Cairo. Go figure…
Four hours sleep was enough. The two photos above give some idea of how complex and varied this city is; certainly far too interesting to sleep in and on Friday morning we headed straight for the Egyptian Museum. It’s hard to describe how it feels to look at 5 000 year old artifacts, a 110 Kg solid gold sarcophagus or the 11 Kg gold mask of Tutankhamen. It’s actually beyond description. One could spend days and weeks in a museum like that, coming to understand some of the history and significance of all the pieces.
We were fairly mummied out after a few hours so we went in search of lunch and a SIM card with local air time. Andy now has a local wifi hot spot radiating from his mobile and internet access…connected to the world once more. He’ll get a local SIM in each new country he enters. The ride is through 10 countries, one of which is S Africa.
We spent the rest of the day exploring central Cairo, finished off with another taxi ride through rush hour traffic (much, much worse than Joburg!) in the Islamic part of the city, to a hill top restaurant with amazing sunset views. On the way home we stopped for fresh baked goodies at a local bakery, open and busy at ten at night and then were enticed by Bedouin tea into a perfume shop. The tea was refreshing, Abdul was persuasive, the oil based perfumes irresistible…
It was a day at whose end we were a little tired…
It was also a day that proved the wisdom of the advice in our Rough Guide to Cairo…to be a little careful as in any new city but not to let that care prevent you engaging with the local people, who in Cairo are wonderfully friendly. They’ve taught us to cross busy roads and we’re getting better. It takes good timing and nerves of steel. Andy managed to get it wrong at one point and brought about 5 lanes of traffic screeching to a standstill…through which he strolled smiling and waving…you have to admit the man has style!