30 January 2013

Last days in Morocco
Trip to Egypt
Cairo
Walking in a new country for a change
Ali

Sorry for the lack of posts, but we have been staying in a complete dive back in Rabat for our last few days.  Still a city, but not as hectic as Casa or Marrakech.  The internet cafe next door was never open when we wanted it to be, and we did nothing of interest anyway.  We did a museum, drank tea and coffee, talked a bit.  Generally relaxed in the parks, and most importantly bought a new bag!  Morocco has taken its toll on baggage, and we had to replace both our bags here (OK so the firs one was EasyJets, not that they were interested).  We did really enjoy our stay in Morocco, and while there are a few sections we have not done, these are in the Atlas, and too cold for us at the moment.  It is a country that we will remember.

Our flight was at Midnight, so we took our time, and got a train from Rabat to the Airport.  No problems, although when we had to change train, we were a bit uncertain if we were even on the right one.  It was, and we got to the airport in plenty of time.  We needed it.  The Casa airport is proud of its ISO compliance (The standards for an international airport) and as such was as confusing as the rest.  We went to Terminal 2, as it is the international terminal.  However on the board, our flight was from terminal one.  Making our way there, it was under construction.  Back at T2 we asked for help, and were duly sent down to T1 Arrivals.  From here, we were directed to where we could get our boarding pass.  This at least was not a problem.  Then we had to go through customs and immigration.  Following instructions, we ended up at the start of the construction site again, and told we had to go through T2…  Here we were waved through with minimum of fuss, and we were in the duty free area.  This connected all the gates, and our gate was directly in front of us.  No searching.  Being so early in the morning nothing was open.  There was a place we could get a week old muffin for 12Dh (They would not even sell such a bad muffin anywhere else in the country!) and unless you are a millionaire don’t even think of getting dinner.  Even with the credit card, we couldn’t afford it.  To put it in perspective – You thought Sydney Airport was expensive?  Try the equivalent of a $200 hamburger!
Waiting for the flight.  Standard.  Changing the Boarding gate 5 minutes before boarding?  Chaos.  Everything else – Use Mastercard.

Oh.  One last thing.  Don’t try to change money unless it is into Euro’s or US$  They will not change Moroccan Dirhams into anything else.

Royal Air Moroc.  What to say.  The quality of EasyJet and the price of Emirates.  Although to be fair, the food was edible.  This led to our usual bickering when flying.  Why do we put ourselves through this?  Because the destination is worth it, and in a few days you forget all about the trip.  Until the next one.

EGYPT!  EGYPT! EGYPT!

EGYPT!!

EGYPT!!

Landing at Cairo airport.  Finally.  It was not a pleasant trip, and there was no possibility of sleep.  Customs and Immigration was fine.  The only thing that threw us was that we had to buy a visa (which we knew) from the bank (which we didn’t).  No problems and were out of there quickly.  Having (for a change) pre-booked a hostel, we had also arranged an airport pick up.  FANTASTIC!  Really.  The guy was there, and although we had been slow (In respect to other travellers, but lightning fast in respect to other airports) he was there.  Driving off the few people that wanted to take us in their car, bus, limo etc, we went to the car and took a nice relaxing drive to the steps of the hostel.  Dahab Hostel.  On the 7th floor of the building.  Luckily they have an elevator.  Unluckily it was broken….

Surprisingly nice architecture

Surprisingly nice architecture

The hostel is a nice place, the people are very nice.  Friendly and helpful.  They make up for the slightly shabby run down feel to the building.  Settling in and crashing for a few hours was bliss.  Then we were back down the 7 flights of stairs to see Cairo.  We are smack bang down town.  Only a block from Tahir Square, where the protesters have been set up since the revolution.  However it is life as normal here.  The buildings are dirty and grey, due to the amount of cars in the city of 20 million people, but for the most part they are beautiful old English colonial.  Impressive to look at and fairly well maintained.  A few people are pushy for you to see their shop, and one person we thought was friendly and guiding us to Tourist Information took us to his shop.  Leaving in disgust we got a bit of attitude from him, but he had lied to us in the first place.  However most people are friendly, and outside of this, we received many “Hello, and welcome to Cairo” or “welcome to Egypt.”

Back in Nargileh country.

Back in Nargileh country.

There is a good feel to the place, and while the papers and news agencies would have you believe the country can blow up at any moment, we feel as though this is an exaggeration.  It does not feel like the calm before a storm, but more friendly and to a bit, thankfulness that tourists are still coming.  A  bit similar to Jordan in this respect, rather than Morocco.  Finding a coffee shop, where we can appreciate our first Arabic coffee in a long time, we met Ali.  He has a job out at the airport, and was more than welcome to talk to us.  The people at the cafe were open and welcoming, and Ali was a pleasure to talk to.  A little on politics, some history, the problems with money and marriage.  Time passed, and he had to go to the Mosque.  However he made us promise to meet him later in the evening.  Not too sure about that, but we accepted.  On the provision we did not go near the square.

Some streets are nice and leavy

Some streets are nice and leavy

More walking around town.  Through shopping streets selling Versace, Gucci and all the other big brands, while outside people were selling necklaces, tissues, and old clock radios.  Quite a contrast, but very familiar to us by now.  Looping back around to where we had started took us through an Auto repair street.  Here ancient cars have new life breathed back into them, and everyone was happy to see us.  Probably surprised to see us on this street, but happy none the less.

We made it back to the cafe before 8.  The appointed time, and sat for some tea.  Ali showed up, and was happy to see us.  We had not been able to pay for the drinks earlier, and again this time.  Then we set out.  Through a few streets closed off for cafes and nargilehs.  We ended up at a small pub.  There was a bit of hassle here, with one of the patrons.  We thought it could be over two white people, and especially a woman in the bar.  No it was not us.  He had no money and wanted another drink.  Ali thought he may be trying to get one out of us.  When it did get a bit physical (Not badly), everyone jumped up, and we were thrust behind some other patrons just in case.  Ali chose discretion, and we left.  Finding another place.  This was larger and airier, but with a little less atmosphere.  A few drinks appeared.  Stella, the Egyptian beer, and then I.D.  a vodka mixer.  Both were quite palpable, and we talked fairly late into the night.  Unable to pay for a singe drink, we left with eyes barely open, and an unsteady walk that we made our way back to the hostel.  Not exactly what we had envisioned for our first day in Cairo.  Tomorrow evening was also arranged for us to go to a house and see some dancing.  We hadn’t planned much, but this was still far better.

AA

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