Much of the week we stayed in Cairo was spent following the tracks of the pharoahs. That included day trips to Giza (Sphinx & Great Pyramids), Saqqara (Stepped Pyramid - the oldest), and Dashour (Red Pyramid & Bent Pyramid). We also visited the Cairo Museum which houses many of the treasures and artifacts, as well as mummies found at the pyramids and other burial sites. While we were using more conventional forms of transport our weary bikes (Old Saartjie and Fuloose) were recovering in the room of our budget hotel in downtown Cairo. After all the lazing about, drinking (Stella & chai), and eating (felafel, swarma, foul, & sweet dessert), we had to get on the road again. We have since cycled on to Alexandria, a pleasant (non-touristy) city on the Meditteranean coast. On our way out of Cairo we again passed Giza (photo). Obtaining Euro visa's from here is proving to be a bit of a problem, so we plan to move East to Sinai, via Suez. Later we will probably proceed towards Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries. Distances since Cairo were:- Sadat City 122 km; Amriah 97 km; and Alexandria 42 km.
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
I don't want to keep harping on about the wind, so I'll just mention that it made the going up the Red Sea / Suez Channel coast quite tough (both on the road and when we camped). Along the way we met the 2008 Tour D'Afrique enjoying the tail wind on their 2nd day to Cape Town (Leana did the "Tour" in 2005). However, once we'd turned away from the coast the wind helped us down the new toll highway towards Cairo. Arriving at the city limits around 16h00 meant that we had a rather hair-raising trip in the chaotic peak-time traffic, arriving downtown after dark. For me there is a sense of achievement, having reached my 1st tentative goal since leaving Cape Town on 27 March last year (no photo's of pyramids yet - there are other priorities). We are unsure of our route from here as a lot depends on visa's (there are a number of options). In the mean time we will be resting, and exploring this large and interesting city for at least the next few days. Distances since Hurghada were:- Sukheir 106 km; Ras Gharib 52 km; Amba Bola 72 km; Zafarana 40 km; Ain Sukhna 84 km; and Cairo 128 km.
Monday, 7 January 2008
As I'd never been to the famed Red Sea Coast before, I was keen to cycle via that region towards Cairo. Right now I'm regretting that decision, as the N-wind (like the S-Easter in the Cape) is all but blowing us off our bikes. After leaving the protection of the Nile Valley at Qena, the route through the moonscape desert to Safaga was uneventful enough. The ride North along the coast to Hurghada took up most of yesterday, and the breeze was of a sufficient velocity to clear our sinuses and cleanse us of the desert dust. It didn't help that I was suffering from a stomach bug, and understandably Leana is threatening to take a bus to Cairo. We've decided to spend the day in Hurghada to try and figure out what the attraction is for the hordes of tourists. We're staying in a budget hotel in the older part of town, but on the way we passed through about 20 k's of fancy resorts (there's even a large airport - with a constant flow of aircraft bringing even more visitors). The area is known for good scuba diving (there are many dive operators around), but in this windy winter season diving is probably not a priority. We've heard that there are a number of good eating and drinking establishments, so we plan to visit some of those places today. Daily distances since Luxor have been:- Qena 72 km; Desert stop 84 km; Safaga 84 km; and Hurghada 64 km.
Wednesday, 2 January 2008
The South of the Egyptian Nile is dominated by archaeological sites of ancient Egypt. Since Aswan we've cycled past the Temple of Soebek to Idfu, where our hotel window overlooked the Temple of Horus. The 2 days in Luxor so far were mainly spent visiting the Luxor Temple, the Temples of Karnak, and the tombs of the pharoahs in the Valley of Kings. We're still getting accustomed to the number of foreign visitors, as the place is literally swarming with tourists. On the roads the tourist vehicles are forced to travel in convoy, and so far we have been fortunately allowed to proceed by bicycle through the many police check points. In one instance a police van followed us for about 50 km, and when we arrived in Idfu a police motorcyclist escorted us to the hotel with flashing lights and wailing siren. There are many quasi "tour guides", "helpers", and other scams, so the unwary tourist will soon be relieved of his stash of Euro's (or Dollars). One of the pleasures here is being able to relax with a local "Stella", which is particularly refreshing after a month in "dry" Sudan. Tomorrow we plan to proceed away from the Nile towards the Red Sea coast (if we're permitted to cycle that way on our own). Distances since Aswan have been:- Idfu 116 km; and Luxor 122 km.