Leaving Cairo

We were sad to leave Cairo, we had had a few days good Rest and Relaxation and had enjoyed the sights. We also said Goodbye to our legendary local shopkeeper, Mr Sharrif. We left Cairo at about 6 in the morning to avoid the insane traffic but one wrong turn and we ended up catching the rush hour of people heading to work and we had quite a bit of difficulty getting out of the capital. You’ve got to remember that driving here doesn’t quite resemble at traffic jam on the Westlink. We eventually found the road down to Saqqara. Saqqara is known for its tombs and pyramid field but when we got there we took another wrong turn and ended up in Saqqara town. If you could call it a town, before long we were bumping along dirt tracks between fields rather than on asphalt. We eventually escaped out of a warren of canals and fields and found the Tombs. After some sightseeing we were back on the road again to Luxor. Surprisingly this is were navigation got quite tricky, we were unable to find a main highway heading south and ended up on a back road covered in pot holes and bumps. After some guesswork we headed out in search of motorway and eventually found one to Asyut. When we reached Asyut the motorway ended and we were back on narrow roads rather than highway. With a vague hope of coming across another highway we headed out into the desert again and were luckily rewarded a second time. The motorway we found was still under construction but it was far better than the back roads. After a few hundred kilometres the road disappeared, it’s a strange thing to be on a 3 lane highway and suddenly find yourself on soft sand. The desert hadn’t reclaimed this stretch it simply wasn’t finished and after some backtracking we found another road heading south. However it was getting late and our experiences of driving through Alexandria at night has completely put us off ever driving at night, we were now racing the sun. The closer we get to the equator the earlier the sun sets, no long summer nights like back in good ole Norn Iron. We had about 100km to go and around 45mins of sunshine left, so in an effort to make it in on time we pushed Doris to around 110kph. This started to drain our fuel and we were not only racing the light but also our fuel gauge. Then disaster struck, we got stuck behind a freight lorry on a windy stretch and the dark caught us. We were driving at night again. Much to our surprise the traffic around Luxor was light and there weren’t the same crazy manoeuvres that were performed in Alexandria. We reached Luxor with just fumes in the tank. Phew! We settled into our hostel called the Bob Marley Hostel, not quite what we were expecting and when the staff put us off we decided to shorten our stay to one night and move on to southern Luxor. After moving we spent the day exploring the Temples at Luxor and Karnak. The ruins of Thebes are truly spectacular and awe inspiring. However, since the Revolution tourism here has taken quite a fall and there are hundreds of guides, Nile boat handlers, hoteliers and gift shops that are descending upon the few remaining tourists. One tourist tout came up to us and asked “Can I practise my English with you? Trust me guys, give me a chance and I will try and rip you off.” We laughed and after chatting to him for a while he told us how badly the lack of tourism had affected the area. “Yeah sure, tomorrow the revolution may have brought democracy  but today I cannot feed my kids because of it.” We understand were he is coming from, Egypt relies heavily on its tourists and sadly at the minute there arent any!

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2 Responses to “Leaving Cairo”

  1. Hi Chris – got your message but no way I can get your email to work for me – keeps being bounced back by the hotmail administrator. Anyway keep in touch and if you can email that LOI (which we think we don’t need as we are getting our visas in Aswan) that would be comforting as the rules keep changing….!

  2. Collecting interesting comments in interesting times.

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