Wednesday, February 9

Walk like an Egyptian

With all that’s going on in Egypt right now, I feel like now is the best time to catch up on my blogging. I can’t believe how quickly the climate over there has changed from October.

Last October, Amanda, Lisa and I set off for a 10-day vacation to Egypt. Amanda found a great 4-day Nile cruise for us to start with, so we had to fly to Aswan almost immediately after arriving in Cairo. Our plan was to arrive in Cairo at 8:45 p.m. on the 14th, spend the night near the airport, then catch an early morning flight to Aswan – our cruise was to start at something like 9:00 a.m. on the 15th. Well, we all know what happens with the best laid plans, right? By the time we confirmed our cruise dates, there were no early morning flights available – none that got us to Aswan by 9:00. So, our only other option was to take a flight from Cairo to Aswan the same night we arrived. Now, I mentioned that we weren’t landing in Cairo until 8:45 p.m., right? The latest flight from Cairo to Aswan was at 10:15. Pretty tight connection for an international flight, but it was all we could do.

So, we flew from SLC to Paris – had a 5-hour layover in Paris, then caught a flight to Cairo. Even though we unsuccessfully tried to be on an earlier flight to Cairo (which would have alleviated the SUPER TIGHT CONNECTION to Aswan), the layover in Paris was very nice because a. I got to speak French, b. we sat in the Crown Room/Lounge with free food and drinks, and c. I ate French cheese.

So, we landed in Cairo pretty much on time, and since we were in Business Class (sweet), we were some of the first people in line for Customs. Unfortunately, we had to get out of line to buy an Egyptian visa, which I knew we had to buy, but assumed we’d buy it in the Customs line. By the time we got back in line, it was quite long. We were behind a large group of students, and Amanda asked them whether or not they had connecting flights. Since they were terminating in Cairo, we then asked if they would mind if we went in front of them. They were very nice and charitable and let us go ahead of them.

We got our bags, and then asked where we needed to go to catch our flight to Aswan. We were in terminal 1 (I think) and we needed to get to terminal 3… by shuttle bus. We asked several people where to catch the shuttle bus, but (of course) got conflicting answers or incomprehensible answers – as well as people wanting tips for helping us out (that got really old really quick, let me tell you). We finally got on the bus (so, it was after 9:30 by now and our flight was leaving at 10:15) and were on our way. It took FOREVER to get to the right terminal.

We finally arrived at terminal 3 at about 10:00-ish. We ran around trying to find the correct check-in counter, and were finally flagged down by a few gentlemen asking if we were going to Aswan. We checked in, then ran to the gate. We were quite blessed because our plane was still at the gate – and the door was still open. We were the last people on the plane, but we made it. Whew!

As we took the taxi to our hotel in Aswan, we noticed that our taxi driver (as well as several other cars on the road) drove without their lights on. Apparently, this is to conserve car battery power. As we saw this in Cairo as well, it must mean that poor car battery power must be country-wide.

We were finally in Egypt – I couldn’t believe it (if it weren’t for the pictures, I’d have a hard time believing it now). And I’m really glad we went when we did.

More to come…