Before I Even Arrived In Egypt……

I was experiencing the hospitality of Egypt from an outgoing, young, helpful, english fluent Egyptian named Moro.

In Vienna, as I was boarding the airport shuttle bus to my Cairo bound plane, I exchanged brief pleasantries with a man on the bus. He said he had come a long way today and was going home to Cairo. I asked him how far away was ‘a long way today’? (I was confident I could win the traveler bragging rights on distance traveled.  Hell, I was flying half way around the earth). He had flown from D.C. today, after visiting his sister, one of several trips to visit her in Virginia that he makes every year. We had been on the same flight from Dulles.

I beat him by 5 air time hours and an additional 3000 miles. We connected immediately.

Within 30 seconds I was getting recommendations about places to visit. He gave me his phone number and email, then was showing me pics on his phone!  Moro said I could call him anytime!  Although I was dead tired, my first thought was “my first friend on my walkabout”.

The plane on last leg of the trip was nearly empty. There were multiple empty rows and most rows had only one person, but I sat in my own row and did not talk with Moro. I listened to music.

On the plane, I celebrated passing through Vienna for a second time by listening to some hometown music – Mozart. (I stayed in Vienna for one night about 15 years ago while traveling across Europe by train following two weeks of sightseeing in Poland).

Traveled a total of about 9000 air miles today and I am very tired. But it has been a good start.

Departing Vienna, we flew SE – over Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, F.Y.R. Macedonia and Greece but you could no see anything as there was heavy cloud cover until we got over the Aegean Sea north of Rhodes.

Since I left PDX 8:00 AM Saturday and was arriving in CAI at 2:00 PM Sunday (and I was feeling like a lonely boy out traveling on a weekend), I listened to Neil Young’s “Out On The Weekend” on the Harvest album.

Lyrics:

“Out On The Weekend”

Think I’ll pack it in
and buy a pick-up
Take it down to L.A.
Find a place to call my own
and try to fix up.
Start a brand new day.

The woman I’m thinking of,
she loved me all up
But I’m so down today
She’s so fine, she’s in my mind.
I hear her callin’.

See the lonely boy,
out on the weekend
Trying to make it pay.
Can’t relate to joy,
he tries to speak and
Can’t begin to say.

She got pictures on the wall,
they make me look up
From her big brass bed.
Now I’m running down the road
trying to stay up
Somewhere in her head.

The woman I’m thinking of,
she loved me all up
But I’m so down today
She’s so fine she’s in my mind.
I hear her callin’.

See the lonely boy,
out on the weekend
Trying to make it pay.
Can’t relate to joy,
he tries to speak and
Can’t begin to say.

We landed in CAI and Moro showed me where to purchase my 30 day VISA for $25.00 and followed me through customs and immigration. I opted for the “Nothing to Declare” lane and my backpack and day sack were prodded as though I was smuggling a baby or a live endangered species within each bag.

Gabriel, a retired Egyptian policeman, was standing with a Pyramids View Hotel sign as we exited Customs and he took me to the duty free shop where I picked up a bottle of tequila for $30.00 which I will enjoy on the hotel rooftop during the 7PM pyramid laser shows the next 4 nights.

First impression of Egypt in the airport parking lot? New cars, clean, efficient – not a third world appearance.

Traveling to Giza we would traverse Cairo.   It had a soviet feel – thousands of 5 story apartment buildings, both lived in and under construction.

Malls, shopping centers – IKEA, Toyota, Honda, Victoria’s Secret.  Lots of English signage.  The highway had 4 or 5 lanes, but there were 6 or 7 lanes of traffic. Gabriel constantly goosed the gas and then braked – every 6 or 7 seconds – as we negotiated the freeway.

We crossed over the Nile – it did not look as wide as the Columbia where I usually fish – more like the Mississippi in St. Louis. Trash and garbage increased and soon  there were piles, mounds and in places truck loads of debris on the shoulders of the freeway. Several piles were on fire. There were tire sellers/repairers and lemonade stands occasionally in the far right lane of the 5 lane freeway.

We stopped in the bridge over the Nile and I took some pics.

 

 

 

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