John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Wednesday 8 February 2012

[Tuesday 7 February 2012 (1), (2)]

Our schedule for today was:
  • 07:30–09:00 Breakfast
  • 11:00 Vacate the cabin by 11am. Leave luggage outside, ca.½-hour before this. Pick up lunch-box.
  • 11:15 Leave boat with Travco rep. →Luxor airport.
  • 13:15 Depart from Luxor airport on EgyptAir flight MS362 to Cairo
  • 14:25 Arrive at Cairo airport. Private car transfer from Cairo airport to Mövenpick Resort Cairo Pyramids for three nights in a Standard room on a half-board basis
After breakfast Janet and I headed out to the bank. The “galabeya” from the other day saw us and harassed us. We crossed a muddy island in the road to get away from him. We wiped our feet on a grass verge outside a building, then proceeded to the bank. We went to one teller who told us he could only give us sterling, so went and waited at the position we got served at the other day. We went down some steps and returned along the quay, so avoided the “galabeya” pest. We nevertheless had to decline a ride in this motor boat, and that felucca, etc. We settled our “extras” bill. Although Drew and Ruby were flying on the same flight as we were to Cairo (they on their way back to Sharm al Sheikh), a different minibus was laid on to take us to the airport. We farewelled Margaret and Mehran, and followed the Travco chap out. We sat with Drew and Ruby in the airport waiting area after we’d been to luggage check-in, etc. One of the security staff spread out a mat for a man who proceeded to start his prayer ritual and bow towards Mecca. Think that’s the first time I’d seen it done, apart perhaps from on TV. Eventually we were allowed through the “gate”, onto a shuttle bus, which went seemingly all over the place till it selected a plane, which we boarded up steps. The EgyptAir Express 76-passenger Embraer E-170 had much roomier seating than on the Thomson flight, and there were only two seats either side of the aisle. There wasn’t much to see during the flight as most of it was shrouded in mist. The stewardesses came round with drinks; Janet had a Pepsi Diet and I had a guava juice — very thick. We were met at the airport by a Travco representative, but we lost sight of him while we waited at the baggage carousel. We resisted all approaches of “help” as we made our way to the exit; and when another man, who looked a bit like Rowan Atkinson, approached us, we ignored him as well till we realised he was wearing a red Travco tie. We went by roomy black Mercedes car to the hotel — a journey of perhaps an hour. If we thought traffic in Luxor was chaotic…! We went via a ring road, crossed the Nile, so from then on were in Giza. We saw a young man being escorted, limping to the side of the road, so he’d evidently been in an accident. And farther along, a car that was smashed up. The Travco rep pointed out the pyramids when they came into view. The hotel was posh, with large reception area, bar, residents’ restaurant, a Thai restaurant, bank, souvenir shop, etc. We agreed excursions in the lobby, but payment was a problem, because the hotel’s bank wouldn’t cash our travellers’ cheques. The awkward teller frowned in exaggerated fashion. He wanted to see printed serial numbers of the cheques on the receipt, which we thought weren’t there. So I had to use my credit card in the ATM. Our accommodation was in “bungalow” blocks. Ours was №7 in Bungalow 11, therefore 1107, a large room with two single beds pushed together, bathroom with alabaster in evidence around the washbasin, and a bathtub with a shower attachment.

Photo lifted from TripAdvisor

We had a Pepsi Diet in the bar (40£E). We asked at reception if there was a shop selling Pepsi and bottled water and were directed to leave the hotel and turn left. Walking along the street, ahead we could see the pyramids — strange, a bit unreal seeming! Not far ahead was a road feeding into our road from the left, i.e. a T-junction, and on the opposite side of that the (soon to become) familiar sight of a street kiosk with fridges. As we attempted to cross this busy junction (fortunately with only traffic from the left) one or two taxi-drivers shouted invitation to us. We got across and bought supplies — what proved to be standard there and in Luxor: 10£E for Pepsi or Coke and 5£E for 1.5ℓ bottled water. When there was no break in the traffic, the vendor kindly said, “Give me your hand!”, and escorted us across. Traffic WILL stop if you step out and don’t dither. We went for dinner at ca.6pm and were the only ones there for much of the time. The placing of labelled food items in covered bains-marie, and display of various other food items, and a chef cooking things while one waited (this evening, koftas), was similar to the Jaz Regency. We started with fish soup (brown) and very fresh, crusty, seeded (tasted of aniseed) rolls. On the Jaz Regency they’d had “bisque” available on one occasion, which I hadn’t had, so I guess this was the same. Janet had been eating undressed salad vegetables every day (except for Sunday — her swapped “Saturday eating day”), “but”, she wrote, “I suddenly decided I didn’t want bloody cold salad and [had hot food]… …I suddenly realised that Mehran had won after all!… I told him last night that he was insidious!… He has succeeded in getting inside my head!… I was actually quite shocked when I saw the photos from the Galabeya Party. I looked SO thin… I realise I should put some weight on… I shall try and eat ‘normally’… I know I don’t weigh enough!” We finished with a cup of strong coffee.

[Thursday 9 February 2012]

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