Saturday, 19 January 2008

A flying visit to Cairo

I'm writing this at Cairo airport departure lounge after a very hectic weekend. The departure lounge at the airport still looks like a series of portacabins stapled together but never mind. Colin has been offered a job here in Egypt and we were here this weekend to meet the company people and see the project site he could be working on. There are some photos here.

It’s been full-on since we flew out of Dubai just after lunchtime on Thursday. (I watched "Death at a Funeral" on the plane going over, very English, very funny.) On arrival at Cairo we were met by the Egyptian 'fixer' who arranged the visas and got us through immigration. There is no customs procedure on arrival in Cairo it seems, as long as you collect your bag that's customs enough. The hotel car, a nice new Mercedes, was waiting for us and off we went into the Cairo rush hour traffic. We were staying at the Semiramis Hotel which is right on the banks of the Nile opposite the hotel I stayed in when I was here in 2005. We had time for a quick shower and change before heading off to dinner with the company reps at the Thai restaurant in the hotel. Lovely meal. Unfortunately I couldn't stay awake to watch Dina perform at the nightclub in the hotel, she doesn't come on until at least 2am, though I was pretty annoyed to find out that Saad Al Sagheer sings there on a Thursday night and I'd missed him too. Ah well, next time inshallah.

We were on the road before 7:30am the next morning to drive out to the development site which is on the north coast about 100kms from Mursa Mutruh. Whatever is the Arabic word for "back of Burke/out in the boonies/beyond the black stump" then this is it.

We had a very interesting morning looking at the proposed project, had lunch at the El Alamein hotel which is right on the beach and is now part of the development that Colin was looking at. The sea was an amazing azure blue which I hope will show on the photos we took. Next on to look at villas and apartments at several places along the coast then a very quick stop at the Commonwealth area of the El Alamein War Cemetery. The cemetery is set in a small valley and could be very easily missed. We'd already passed the Italian and German cemeteries which are on the other side of the highway. The Italian memorial is marble with the names of dead soldiers on it while the German memorial is a large cube possibly made of granite, very austere and marks a mass grave, no individual soldiers are named anywhere on it. There is also museum near the Commonwealth area but we didn't have time to visit it unfortunately.

Next we drove into Alexandria but as it was dark we couldn't see much except the marshes of the Nile Delta. From there we headed back to Cairo and arrived back at around 8:30pm. When we got back to the hotel we went for a walk along the Nile to Roda Island, found the palace I visited last time, then walked back along the Corniche. Very nice.

This morning we only have had time to have breakfast and get out here to the airport. Our flight leaves at 12:15. Unfortunately because it was such a short trip and it was all business, Colin hasn't seen anything of the marvels of Cairo, we couldn't even see the pyramids in the distance last night because it was already dark by the time we got back - next time inshallah!

Back to work tomorrow and we have to work a whole 5 day week - good grief I think I've forgotten how :-)

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