Day 75 - Nothing Sweet About Those Chariots

Trip Start Aug 07, 2007
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Trip End Nov 07, 2007


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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Day 73 - Visa Day
So I got my Libyan visa. I am very happy. I have never heard of anyone getting a Libyan visa in Cairo. It is routine from Tunisia but not from Egypt. Indeed the tinternet is choc-a-bloc with tales of woe about six week waits, flat refusal and general pains-in-the-arses about Libyan visas.

I was not very confident to say the least but I applied anyway. Transit visa, one week. The application took about ten mins, I needed one photo and a photocopy of my passport. It then got sent off to Tripoli for approval. Whether it actually left the office or anything was done with I do not know but 2 and a bit weeks later I went back to check and the nice man behind the counter said gimmie 60LE (about 12USD) and come back at 11 the day after tomorrow. I did. He gave me visa. Nice. 15 days. And cheap too!

So that was Thursday so I was ready and raring to go to Sinai (the plan was Suez-->Taba-->Dahab-->Mt Sinai-->Cairo) but a few money issues kept me in Cairo. Then it was the world cup final, which I stayed for. So now I think I'll bin the Sinai beach holiday (I will return for the best diving in the world at a later point) and just do Suez and Mt Sinai. I really don't want to overstay in Egypt and just incase my Libyan starts on the day I got it I will have plenty of time to get through.

Day 74 - On Pause Day
Decided that Mt Sinai was completely binned.  I'm not risking overstaying in this country.

Day 75 - World Cup Final Day
We lost.  I had my first beer(s) in a long time and they managed to numb the pain a little.  There were many South Africans in the bar - they ran the hotel I was in - and with every word the knife twisted just a little more.  I would not be getting off to an early start the next day.

Day 76 - Leaving Cairo at Last
Port Said was my destination, some 250km NE of Cairo.  My route took me through Isamilia (presumably where that branch of Islam sprouted from) and I stopped off at a random little food joint for some lunch.  I was actually looking for a McDonalds, having a dire need for something high in fat/sugar/salt all in one, but couldn't find one. 

The place didn't look much but turned out to be amazing.  In my best Arabic I asked if he had any fish.  He looked at me very strangely  - I then twigged that it was a fish restaurant - the walls were covered in nets and lobster pots.  Reminded me of a place in Italy I went to once gagging for a bit of beef.  It was called 'Pescatore' but I didn't twig and asked the waiter if he had anything other than fish.  Disdain.

Anyway, I had a superb seafood soup crammed with a whole crab, shrimp, squid and mini slugs that might have been whelks.  Soooo good.  Then three huge fish steaks.  All super fresh.  I hadn't really twigged I was on the Red Sea again.  This is what I love about randomly exploring places: once in a while you find an absolute gem.  Of course most of the time you have to eat cat kebabs in three-day old bread but you need the lows to define the highs.

I turned north at Isamalia and headed along the canal towards Port Said.  I was racing the ships that were making their way towards the Med on the canal.  It is a strange sight as you cannot see the canal; you turn your head and suddenly out of nowhere there is a huge ship seemingly in the middle of the sand.

Port Said is quite a cool little city.  Bustling and unpretentious.  However I couldn't find any particularly impressive part of the canal to look at.  Presumably it does have some locks or gates or toll booths but the bits I saw looked like...ummm...well...a canal.  I had just watched a programme about the Panama Canal so was probably expecting too much.  I sat on the Mediterranean seashore, all the way in the top-right-hand corner of Africa, and felt content.  I'd come a long way and this place had a lot of significance to my journey - both geographical and psychological.  I was well and truly on my way again.  It felt good.

I have a cold.
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