TRAFFIC: Imagine Washington, DC with its many circles. Add thousands of taxis. Remove ALL traffic lights, yield signs and lane dividers. Result: Cairo traffic. It’s crazy here. There’s not a car without a scratch/dent on it. So far I’ve been in one car that was scraped while we were in traffic and a taxi bumped his car against a curb. Often the drivers create 5 lanes where there should be 4. There are highways with no dividing lines. No rules for entering/exiting. Sort of a driving free for all.
PYRAMIDS/CAMEL: The main reason for coming to Egypt was to see the pyramids which I did last Sunday. Definitely impressive though the Taj Mahal still ranks as the best site of this trip. Got a camel ride through the Giza pyramids and over to the sphinx. Once in a lifetime experience (once was a enough). The following day my muscles could definitely tell that I’d been on a camel.
BEACH BUM #2: Since I didn’t like Cairo much and was warned against taking a bus to Luxor due to roadblocks and attacks, I flew south to Dahab on the Red Sea. Five relaxing days, snorkeling a couple of times and enjoying the easy life. Lots of wonderful seafood restaurants. Stayed in a lovely hotel that had an auxiliary dorm. Had to share the room but it had a big living room with kitchen and free internet. Plus the pool at the hotel was great and the breakfast terrific. All for $9 a night.
Dahab was recommended by my Cairo CS hosts as more laid back than Sharm El Sheik. Glad I went there. Spent my last afternoon in Sharm and it was too glitzy and overbuilt. The only problem with Dahab was the high percentage of Russian tourists.
I did two excursions. The first was to the BLUE HOLE, a famous diving site that’s 300 meters deep. Of course I snorkeled along the edge of the reef, not over the deep part since there weren’t fish there. It was interesting and saw lots of colorful coral and fish. The 2nd trip was nearly all day to St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai desert. Very interesting 2 hour drive there and historic monastery. Enjoyed it a lot.
SNAFU: I really screwed up my travel plans here. I bought a roundtrip airplane ticket from Cairo to Sharm El Sheik (then taxi to Dahab). Should have bought one way. Although the internet and LONELY PLANET listed bus service from Cairo to Israel it doesn’t exist. Thus tonight I’m taking an 8 hour overnight bus trip back to Dahab. Then I catch a bus to Taba (2 hours) and cross into Israel at Eliat. Next I have to go north to Jerusalem by bus. Pain in the you know where. Hope to reach Palestine by tomorrow night. But maybe will spend the night in Jerusalem. Looking forward to seeing my friends in Hares, the village where I stayed with IWPS.