10 February 2013

leaving Al Fayoum
taxi to bus to Beni Suef
transfer to bigger bus
endless road with speed bumps
along the canal with the range in the east
traffic jams
Minya with nice old buildings
Nile and photo ops

Bye Bye VIP.

Bye Bye VIP.

Leaving Al Fayoum for Minya. We did think about stopping in Beni Suef for a night to visit Meidum pyramid, but decide against it as Beni Suef is a biggg city and we are not in the mood for more of those. We can do Meidum as a day trip from Cairo anyway later.
We stop for a last coffee at VIP cafe, but it is quiet and the owner is not there.
Leaving Al Fayoum is easy enough. We grab a taxi to the bus station and find a minibus. The bags have to go in front of us, so it does not leave much or any legroom.
According to the book Beni Suef is about 20k away, but according to the road signs it is more like 50k. Our bus driver is slightly mad and has no problem overtaking when you can already see the face of the driver of the oncoming car. Moto on Egyptian roads is “they will move if I don’t give them any other choices”. As other drivers are just as mad, it means that our two lane road is mostly used as a three lane road. Or occasionally a four lane road if we have to overtake a truck that is just overtaking a donkey-cart.

Laundry in the Canal, I think I will pass...

Laundry in the Canal, I think I will pass…

Not sure how, but we make it to Beni Suef bus station without hitting anything.
Here we get on a bigger bus heading for Minya. We were advised to take the train from here, but as we are at the bus station, a bus seems the easiest. Our bags go in the storage area of which the lid is tied op with some string. Let’s hope it holds, or we will be loosing our bags along the way. We find a seat all the way at the back of the bus.

The easy way to go

The easy way to go

Again Minya is further then we thought and it will be late afternoon before we arrive.
The bus follows the irrigation canal on the west side of the Nile. Right along the rail track. We see many trains pass us by.. Not the most attractive looking carriages, most look old and worn, but they are travelling faster then us. At first it is fun. We have time to look around. See the many little cafes set up along the canal, the ferries, the washing and the fishing. After a while it is getting painful. Our bus does not have any shock absorbers and to reign in Egypt’s mad drivers there are speed bumps everywhere. High, uncomfortable speed bumps. Passing a village, there seem to be bumps every 10 meters or so. Besides these slowing us down, in every slightly bigger village we end up in a traffic jam.

The hard way to go.  Or not go as the case may be.

The hard way to go. Or not go as the case may be.

In one town our two lane road was a turned into a five lane, all going in our direction. On the other side of the crossroads the incoming traffic had done the same and of to the right, the traffic trying to come over the bridge onto our road had completely blocked anybody from leaving the road there. Busses, cars, tuktuks, donkey carts and horse drawn carriages, with the motors trying to force their way through. Can you imagine the horn honking and yelling that was going on?
Some traffic police was trying to sort it all out by getting the cars on the wrong side of the road to back up and make way for traffic from the other side to come through. But by the time he had done the same on the other side, our side would be blocked up again and he had to start over. It was total chaos, but kinda entertaining at the same time. Eventually our bus driver forced his way through and we could get going to the next jam..

Minya.  Style and collonial buildings.  Just don't look too hard.

Minya. Style and collonial buildings. Just don’t look too hard.

In Minya we jumped of the bus just after the train station. All we had to do was drag our bags over the overpass to hid down town old Minya. A hotel was easily found and we decided to spend a bit extra on the luxury of an ensuit. Still cheaper that the Al Fayoum hotel room. A quick walk around. Minya has some beautiful old buildings. They are not in the best maintained state, but it gives Minya a nice feel and something to look at. A little way down the street is the boulevard along the Nile. It is quit nicely set up with some greenery and parks along the water. The other side is mostly still fields with some hotels and a big new museum further south. We head that way looking for dinner. Strangely there are no food stalls at the waterfront and we start heading into the city again. Here we find a nice place and order meat with mixed salad. A plate of mixed meats (chicken, mince and beef) served with Babaganoush, Tahini, yoghurt dip, tomato&cucumber salad and bread. Yummy!



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