Today I Spent 278 Pounds

Trip Start May 24, 2009
1
6
34
Trip End Jul 20, 2009


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Flag of Egypt  ,
Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I might want to retitle this posting, the internet here is SLOW!  Sorry this is in backwards chronological order, but I wanted to post about today first (while it's fresh on my mind), and then get to yesterday's London adventure/travel from Houston. 

Today Cory and I got up around noon (local time, which is 8 hours ahead of US Central time FYI), which gave us a grand total of about 7-8 hours of sleep.  We had to check out of our room at noon, so the timing was pretty fortuitous.  We rushed out of our room, checked out, and promptly checked into our new room (in a different hostel 4 flights below us) immediately.  The check-in process was relatively smoothe, although here in Egypt you have to fill out some pretty ridiculous forms when you're staying somewhere.  As a reference, we're paying 60 pounds/night/person for a room with two twin beds and a private bathroom and shower (balcony too).  It was the same price last night that we paid at Ramses II, although if given the choice, I would probably pick Ramses II over King Tut.

The first order of business for us was to shower, it was after all, our first shower since Sunday and let me tell you, it was AMAZING!  While Cory was in the shower, I had the opportunity to take a look through some of the hundreds of TV channels in our room.  Most were, predictably, in Arabic.  I didn't find much in the way of entertainment, though there did, no joke, seem to be a music channel that was dedicated to camels.  I took a picture, so you can all see.

After we showered we were ready for some lunch, since we had missed the free breakfast that was included from 8:00 - 10:30.  So we asked where to go for lunch, and we were directed to some place nearby.  I don't know if that's what we ended up eating, but we had some pretty local food.  Our choices were bread filled with brains, liver, or beef.  Naturally we opted for the beef, and it wasn't really too bad.  We also had some pickled vegetables that neither of us really touched and a 7-up for me, water for Cory.  Cory was a bit skeptical about the food, but we both went through it pretty quickly.  Total cost of the meal?  8 Pounds each (Approx. 5.5 EGP = 1 USD).  We then returned to our room and tried to decide what to do, we opted to save the Pyramids for tomorrow, since it was already after 2:00.  So we were off to the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. The hostel website said it was a 5 minute walk, but the front desk guy said we should just get a taxi and that it should cost 5 - 7 pounds.  The first taxi we got into, he didn't understand a word, and was looking to us for directions.  So we hopped out, and he insisted we pay him like 10 pounds.  After some arguing we gave him 2 and walked out. 

We then hailed several cabs, none of which spoke english, and finally got a guy that we could communicate with.  He tried to charge us 15 pounds, we settled on 10 and made it there in about 10 minutes.  Once we arrived we were accosted by people trying to sell us trinkets or get us a taxi, as it is very touristy around there.  We had to cross the street to get to the bank, so I could withdraw some more money.  We then made it to the museum, after going through 2-3 security checkpoints.  A couple of items to note here, you can't bring a camera into the museum, so check it at one of the front houses/huts before entering the museum, you'll save yourself a hassle.  Also, I had read that the cost was 25 pounds for students, it was actually 30, and they do check for a student id. 

The museum itself was pretty neat, though it was the most disorganized museum I've ever seen.  It seemed like things were just tossed about in no particular form or fashion (although things were loosely categorized by time period).  The best parts were on the second floor in the back, there were many of King Tut's things and jewlery and such.  The other things were neat to see, but alot of it was very similar, and most items didn't have any information on them.  We can't speak for the mummies exhibit, as that was an extra 50 pounds for students, and we didn't think it would be worth it.

After the museum we decided to go out the opposite way that we came in so that we wouldn't be accosted by the same people who wanted to get us a taxi back to our hostel.  We ended up walking along the Nile, which is also an area that tourists tend to be approached about boat rides which looked fun, but we didn't feel up to it.  So we were crossing the bridge over the Nile to this island in the river, when we met some guy who was very nice.  He chatted us up, and convinced us to go look at something in his store, which was actually his father's store.  It felt like a scam kind of thing all along, but he also seemed to be genuinely nice, as many Cairoites are.  He showed us the hotel that Obama is supposedly staying in and had us sit down in his father's shop.  He said his sister was getting married the next day (doubtful) and insisted that we have some tea or coffee, which neither of us wanted since we've been warned about the water.  His father then proceeded to try and sell us perfumes and paintings, making us GREAT deals.  $20 USD for something that we had been offered at less than $1 USD on the street by vendors.  We told him we really didn't have the money and left.

We then decided to make it back to the bridge we were originally planning to cross and walked around for about an hour before deciding it was time to head back.  Instead of paying for a cab, we thought we might try the subway, which we figured would be an adventure.  It was, although not in the way we were thinking.  The cost for a one way trip is 1 pound, and the facilities and trains (that we used) were very well kept.  We couldn't exactly remember which station our hostel was close to, we each had different thoughts.  So we took cory's thesis, and then tried to find our hostel (keep in mind very few of the street signs or maps are in English).  We walked for probably an hour or longer to no avail, before we decided to go in a completely different direction.  We happened upon a transit cop that spoke pretty good english, and he directed us in the right direction, mostly.  We then saw the map with our street and decided we should get off one stop early.  So we rushed onto the train, and then realized the one station early was on a different subway line.  In any case, that just meant we went to the station the officer suggested.  Once we arrived and figured out the way to go, we took a look inside KFC to see how much it was (Cory has been very pro-kfc and pro-mcdonalds so far).  We decided it was too expensive, and just went back to the hotel. 

After a quick rest we went to find some food, and ate at a place down the street that had some sandwhiches for around 10 pounds, not too bad.  Cory had a sandwhich that seemed like it was mexican in nature, mine was fried chicken with lettuce.  It was ok.  After eating we searched for a pharmacy so that Cory could get some shower gel since he forgot it.  I got some cough medicine, since I've been a little sick since like Thursday or Friday.  In the pharmacy we met a woman that was from Germany, she wanted us to go and have a smoke with her, but we politely opted out and came back.  So here we are...that's the day.  A couple other things below, just random thoughts.

This is truly the city that never sleeps!  When we came in last night at like 3 am, there were tons of cars and people out, we were both shocked.  Just before coming upstairs, the sidewalks were jam packed with people, and the traffic was bumper to bumper.  I've never seen it like this anywhere else, New York and Vegas (the two cities that might also have this claim) aren't even close.  The shops here are also all open very late, there were many shops even open as we came in from the airport.

Another traffic issue:  Driving here is CRAZY.  Headlights seem to be optional, lines on the roadway are more of a suggestion than anything else, and traffic lights seem to be for decoration.  There are traffic police at almost every corner, but they just barely seem to contain the madness.  The worst part, and scariest part, is crossing the street.  You essentially just have to be strategic in running out into traffic, it's pretty scary really.  I've begun to adopt the "use locals as a shield" method of crossing with locals on the other side of them, so if somebody were to get hit, it wouldn't be me first!  Pretty wild though.

That's all I can think of for now.  Unfortunately the computer I'm using doesn't have a usb port (it does have a disk drive for some dating of the technology), so I can't upload any pictures yet!  I'll put them up as soon as I can.
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