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Published: April 24th 2012
View of the mosque outside our bedroom window!
Well it was prob about 2am before we fell asleep as its very loud with cosntant honking outside our bedroom window. Oh yes, and then the call to prayer at 4:30am was something unreal. I dont know how these people can stand being woken up like this. On top of the normal call across the city- we actually have a mosque right outside our bedroom window with speakers blaring directly at us....meant for the rest of our neighbourhood to hear. It seemed to go on forever and once it was over, we were so awake that it took us forever to fall back asleep again after 5am or so. We had the alarm set for 9am for breakfast as it was included with our extra night accommdation that we'd booked. At breakfast we met 3 other Aussie girls who were lovely - just ate quick and told them we were back to bed as we had hardly slept and i think they were doing just the same. As the morning progressed, the outside noise behind our window shutters became increasingly loud! Honking, yelling, more calls from the mosque....I think i only slept from 10am to 11am before room service woke us up. Damn, i cant believe we didnt have a DND sign for the door. Couldnt sleep anymore, so we finally agreed at noon to just get up and deal with our tiredness and go out and explore this crazy city!
As we got used to the hotel, I think we both realized that it wasnt so bad. It was actually kind of charming in a unique way now that we see it in the daylight. We heard later on that it was actually a very expensive fancy hotel back in it's time - however nothing has been done in terms of renos so it just looks run down now. I had read that in order to not be disrespected from other women that I should be covered as possible. I wore lose pants, a tank top with a long sleeve sweater over top and a scarf to cover my chest and neck. We were the ONLY tourists that we saw walking the streets all day long; I couldnt believe it! Mark wanted to venture to Tahrir Square so that was our mission. There was a street called 16th of July which is a main shopping street close to our hotel and Mohammed the night before had recommended us to find a place called GAD to eat so eventually we found it! We ate schwarma sandwiches and fries with Fanta- it was quite yummy! Again, the only tourists in the place but we were ok with that. We walked by a liqour shop and i think it may have been the only liquor store in all of Cairo. I was getting glares from the men and they all said to Mark "Lucky guy" as we'd pass. The women didnt glare at me so i felt dressed appropriately and felt like i blended in enough. We headed down this street too far underneath a sketchy highway underpass and I asked if we could turn around and head a different direction. We could see a high rise which was a Hilton hotel near by and i needed to use facilities so we went there. It seemed closed down or boarded up or something but a nice security man waved us into the driveway so we walked around to the side and it was open. They had even more security at their hotel and metal detectors, etc. Even at the hotel, it still seemed like all locals that were there for meetings, business, etc. There was even a lady praying in the washroom while i was in there. We had a map and asked the front desk for directions to the Egyptian museum and we were close.
Nearly got hit crossing the street, actually i did see an older lady get hit. She was pinned between the sidewalk curb and the car as we walked around them. As the day progressed we got more accustomed to the ways of the pedestrians & traffic. We came up to a burned out building left standing from a bombing from the revolution last year. In front of the building are burnt out cars, etc. It's a crazy reminder that all of that happended not so long ago. Finally we came up to the Egyptian Museum and then Tahrir Square. We stood just outside the square taking a look. There was an effigie which was freaky and some tents of some remaining protestors but all in all it was very peaceful! Mission accomplished! Mark was very happy we made it there! Now the next mission to make our way back. A portion of the way we came seemed like to would be too far out of the way to go back that same way so looking on the map from the square we had to guess what street we should take to head back to the hotel. We picked the wrong street. We headed too far east when we should have been heading more northeast - but we didn't get too far off track before we asked someone and they said we were headed in the correct direction only we kept second guessing ourselves so it appeared to us that we were lost in Cairo! Amazing! Eventually we got back to the hotel around 6pm. We had our welcome meeting to meet the Contiki crew at 7pm. Jackie, (a girl from a previous Contiki I had been on) was ironically on this tour and she found us as we sat in the bar having a beer.
We all gathered in the lobby and got the run down on everything we needed to know from our Tour Manager "Sherif." He was an older guy and not the typical Contiki TM but he seems very wise and happy to have us. There were 28 of us which is more then they have had in some time so it was a good sign that people are not as scared to travel to Egypt. The group consists of quite a few Aussies & Americans, 1 other CAD, 4 South Africans, 1 from Japan, 1 from Germany. Since we have a train ride tomorrow night, Sherif advised us to get snacks and booze if we want it for the train. Everyone went out on missions to get what they wanted. He sent us to a grocery store which was really an "On the Run" gas station store. Got some snacks and bought a bottle of wine from the hotel bar since we didnt want to mission it back to that 1 and only liquor store. Came back for dinner at the hotel restaurant where we joined the South African girls and 2 aussie girls! They were a lot of fun and chatty so it was nice to get to know them! Headed to bed at 11pm as we have a 6am wake up call & a 4:30am prayer call just before that😞
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