We left our touring friends at the train station as they headed north on a different adventure. Now we were four and we hopped into a van and headed East. Our destination was Hurghada. Once a small fishing village, is now restort'ville, for the European tourist namely Italians, Russians, Czechs and Germans. A four hour drive through the desert and over the mountains to the sea. Arriving in the afternoon the sun was still bright and the beer was cold as we sat lounging by the sea. Ahh the Beach!
After a huge buffet breakfast catered to the Europeans we were off to find our boat, get our snorkel gear and find the reefs loaded with red corral. As promised the reefs were incredible and the fish reminded us of the fish in Maui. Abundant in variety and vibrant in color. It was February but the temperature was warm and the sea was even warmer. The boat anchored in two different coves. In the afternoon the wind had picked up and the sea was getting choppy so the second spot was a bit rough. We, of course, took our chances and dove right in for more. When we got out we were thankful that the sun was hot. The boat then stopped at Paradise Island. We all boarded a small motor boat reminiscent of refugees' flight as we all headed to the shore. We spent an hour or so soaking up the sun and relaxing on the beach before the 2 hour return trip to Hurghada.
Today we head back to Cairo. We had a lazy morning around the hotel and by noon we were on our way. Most of the day was consumed by the 7 hour road trip and we were happy to reach Cairo as the sun set on the Nile. That night, now as seasoned Egyptian tourists, we walked to find a local family restaurant and we were quite successful. We dinned on local cuisine. I ordered the grilled pidgeon...delicious!
And so ends our official tour, but we have decide to stay an extra day to see more of Cairo. We walked to the Metro (subway system) and boarded the train towards downtown. We transferred to the south bound train getting off at the Mar Girgis stop and walk to Coptic Cairo (Babylonto the Persions) to see the old christian city. It is believed that the holy family visited this area during the flight into Egypt. So we strolled the old streets, visiting St. George and St. Mary Church and many others sites.
Now a Mariott, it was built for Empress Eugenie wife of Napoleon III in 1860's. Once again it was time for tea, but fist a falafel from a local shop....yuuhmmm!
Then we headed to the rooftop lounge at the Hilton to witness our last sunset over the Nile. A beautiful panoramic birds eye view with the pyramids in sight. A great finaly to our trip.
But wait! We received a phone call from our tour guide. He was officially on vacation but called to see what we were doing on our last night. Meeting him in the hotel bar he invited us to a wedding. We could not refuse. We got into his car and drove to a very poor section of Cairo. As we parked the car next to a huge pile of garbage we walked into an alley strung with festival lights and music.
Here we were introduced to the family and we were offered bottles of cola. I was swept away by the grooms men and brothers into a dance frenzy. Here we were, no language, not knowing anyone and we were received with friendship and outstanding generosity. We danced to celebrate the newlyweds. Unfortunatly for Rena the women do not dance. She sat with the women as the children flocked around and babies were passed to her. What a night! I may have described it as a poor neighborhood but with celebration these people were rich in high spirits and hospitality. They welcoming us with open arms.
We will always remember the pyramids and temples but it is the people, the wedding, and the streets of Luxor as Egypt took the African cup, whom we celebrated with that, will always be in our hearts.
Now back to Turkey!