I flew from London to Cairo, via Istanbul (meeting my friend Emmi there – she’d flown in from Helsinki). Nothing to note except Turkish Airlines showing a nice documentary entitled ‘Cheese Slices’ about traditional English cheese making?!
Landing at 3am, despite pre-booking a car from our hostel, we had to deal with a Policeman a little keener on supplementing his income than doing any Police work (handy travel tip is ALWAYS carry photocopies of your passport so you NEVER have to let it out of your sight if corrupt officials want ID). If the driver had to pay him off it was incredibly discreet (unlikely, nothing else was!) and such a small amount that the hostel never asked us to cover it.
After a quick nap we were in exploring mode. Cairo traffic is crazy, and it doesn’t stop for anyone. Having quickly adopted the local way (saying ‘inshallah’, bowing, and just ducking in between the cars anyway). What followed was your usual meandering around downtown and getting oriented, but add an emo pharmacist (surely not a good idea giving over-emotive types such ready access to prescription drugs?!) and some VERY scary shop dummies (think the ‘Rose’ episode of Doctor Who) at every turn.
After a spot of lunch, we decided to head out to the Pyramids. I’d been told they were right at the edge of the suburbs, but this close to a six-lane highway?
They have cops on camels, which must be unique?
At this point I should also introduce to you to ‘Travel Paddington’ (purchased from the bargain bin of Harrods in Heathrow T3 on the way out – I couldn’t leave him to the mercy of the posh people!) who may be sneaking into pics from time to time…
The proud Sphinx (I’d like to say I didn’t do the over-touristy ‘kiss the Sphinx’ photo, but actually my mate just got the angle wrong!)
By far the most amazing part came at the end of the day. We’d bought tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid, and left it until right before closing when the crowds had died down. Partly that, partly because my friend felt a little claustrophobic, I found myself being the only person inside the Great Pyramid. Climbing up the steep steps with little headroom, then the passage opening out into the Grand Gallery (that I’d seen so many times in documentaries and photographs) was breathtaking.
Standing alone inside something over four thousand years old. Just wow.