August 17, 2011

Egypt, Le Fin

The last entry from my last hand-written travel journal


We’re at the airport. To be honest, it felt as if our journey home began last night the second that we set foot in the Sheraton Heliopolis.

But, I’m getting ahead.

We took a very short cab ride from the train station and paid 30 EGP for it. Neither of us minded because the driver was so animated and earnest. He stopped to ask several people if they spoke English to determine where we wanted to go, but it turns out that “Museum” is not a common word in their vocabulary of learned English words. Odd. They seem to have a fabulous command of most other tourist-centric language. Finally, he dropped us at “Masree” which as near as we could tell was the Arabic word for the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities. We sent our bags through the X-ray, checked them, bought our tickets and ambled around the museum for quite a while.

At one point, R realized he was hungry. I might have been but it was difficult to tell with my stomach pain. We left the museum and went to the adjacent museum café to eat. From the window, we had views of spare Egyptian monuments erected in the courtyard as if to say, “Why Not? We have so many!”

The second time into the museum I had to buy another 20 EGP ticket because I couldn’t find my other one. Typical. Thankfully, the King Tut exhibit was worth the second price of admission.

We easily hailed a cab that agreed to take us to Sheraton Heliopolis for 40 EGP. I was shocked to watch the guards search under the taxi for bombs before they let us approach. That had not happened anywhere else we had stayed in Egypt. It definitely made me appreciative that we’d opted out of the traditional western tourist experience.

After we bid our driver adieu, we stepped into the opulence and realized we were basically home. Service, Luxory, English – whatever you needed or wanted. I was amazed to think this is what some people see and think of as “Egypt.” The Heliopolis Sheraton was by far the most extravagant hotel we stayed in, but it was creepy, too. R and I were definitely the only people our age walking around.
Dinner at the Lebanese restaurant was the most expensive meal of the trip at 160 EGP, or roughly 28 USD for two with egyptian white wine (dry, uninteresting chenin gris) for me. We stayed for the belly dancing and wished we hadn’t. She wasn’t very good, although the musicians were amazing. The way that her dress showed off her breasts instead of her stomach was odd and her pandering to the lecherous older men was a bit much to watch.

So, we asked for the check and went back to the room and up to bed.

I finished Palace Walk in my last night in Egypt. It was a good book and a great thing to read while there.

So, here we are, at the airport, but really, having left the Egypt we came to visit last night. It’s been a wonderful, difficult, educational, and interesting trip.

They are calling for boarding.

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