Egypt #2

Egypt #2

I Must Brie Crazy

Hi Everyone! We're Travelling the World! Atlanta>England>Egypt>South Africa>Sumatra>Bali>Australia>New Zealand>South America>Central America>Where next??? I really hope you enjoy my blog. I'm new at this, so be kind.

Day Two in Cairo

If you read my first post on Egypt here then you will know our first day in Cairo was sort of a bust. We made it on the metro to Tahrir Square and back. It’s good in a way because we were still so tired from our overnight travels. We were determined to get us after a full night of restful sleep and make it to the museum in to find a guide for the museum and the pyramids.

Tahrir Square = Egyptian Museum and Traffic

Let me preface this story by saying when I first planned to go to Cairo I thought it would be nice to also go to Aswan, Luxor, and Alexandria. However, after more research I decided I was being too ambitious, and we should just stick with only Cairo. Our plans quickly changed when Yousef, and every other Egyptian we spoke to, said we needed to go to Aswan and Luxor, at least!

We’re Going to Aswan and Luxor!

I’ll admit that Andrew and I are not the early bird catches the worm type of people. We woke up later than we had planned. Yousef does not have air conditioning in his apartment so the nights are much warmer than we are accustomed to. Our plan was to visit the museum, but first we would buy train tickets for the sleeper train to Aswan since we would be leaving that evening.

I downloaded an app called Rome2Rio which lets you type in two places and shows all the ways to travel between the locations, time, distance, and cost. It’s really helpful! When it’s not helpful is when it tells you to get off a metro stop that doesn’t exist.

Metro Chaos

We boarded the metro, I took the ladies’ train this time, and were shocked when we didn’t see the stop we were supposed to use to find the Ramses train station. We did the next logical thing and got off at Sadat. Sadat spits you out in the middle of Tahrir Square, you know, the place we went yesterday. We asked a guard if he knew how to get to Ramses station from where we were. He was very helpful. He said a few names I didn’t recognize but held up three fingers and said get off then. We boarded the metro again and prayed that when we got off in three stops, we’d be at Ramses station.

That was almost the case. We ascended the steps out of the metro station and spilled in to a large city filled with people with no train station in site. I was frustrated and annoyed at not knowing where we were. We were about to just head back to Sadat and visit the museum. As we were walking back to the metro I spotted a building with a clock on it. If any of you have been to a train station, that’s a pretty good sign! We asked a passerby and the guard’s directions were right! We had arrived at Ramses train station.

The Purchase

I won’t bore you with the details of how Egyptians rip foreigners off (I’ll do a post about that later.) Basically, they won’t sell foreigners tickets on what we think of as a regular train car with seats. They will only sell you tickets for the sleeper train, and they will only take US dollars. If you’re Egyptian you pay in Egyptian Pounds and you pay much less (even if you take a sleeper car also.) Foreigners are charged $80 US each for a one-way ticket.

With our tickets purchased, and us feeling better about how to get back to Ramses station that evening to board our train, we headed back to the metro. At this point it was much later than we had planned. We weren’t sure if we had given ourselves enough time for the museum. I was frustrated with our inability to maneuver the city, and with the app giving us wrong information. Everything takes longer in Egypt than it should.

Realizing we wouldn’t have much time for the museum, we decided to head back to Yousef’s to pack, and organize what we should take to Aswan and Luxor. Yousef was kind enough to let us leave our giant backpacks at his place while we ventured off to other cities!

My First Sleeper Train Experience

I happen to love trains so I was excited and interested in the sleeper train experience. A few hours later we took the metro back to Ramses train station. We arrived at the suggested time 30 minutes ahead of our departure time. However, Egypt does not run on time. We waited on the platform for a very long time. As we waited we witnessed many Egyptians with TONS of luggage, bedding, bags, you name it boarding trains. People chose to jump on to the deep tracks instead of taking the tunnels around to different platforms. Women and children threw their bags down, dropped their children down, crossed the tracks, and climbed back up to the correct platforms. It was absolute insanity.

Our cabin on the train.

Our train finally arrived, we boarded and were given our accommodation for the evening.  The sleeper train lived up to my minimal expectations. We had two seats to sit on while we ate the very mediocre dinner they served. Andrew enjoyed it, my white rice was burned. He did kindly swap his roast potatoes for my mixed vegetables. The train rocked and shook along at a slow pace. It stopped at every station where we waited for passengers to board and get off. We had a sink and just enough space for our stuff.

Our car concierge (I don’t know what else to call him.) arrived a little after dinner to turn our seats in to beds for the night. I got the top bunk! I was tired and ready to sleep. Our car was air conditioned! We had a rocky and bumpy ride through the night. I woke up a few times to go directly back to sleep.

We’re Late!

At 8 am we got a knock on the door for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of bread, bread, and more bread. There was a piece of white bread, a piece of cake(?) with berries, a roll, and a slice of American cheese. If you take the sleeper train, bring some food for breakfast unless you LOVE stale bread products.

We asked our concierge how much longer until our arrival in Aswan. The train was due to arrive at 8:50 am in Aswan. We departed a little over 30 minutes late so we figured we’d be a little late. He said we were three hours away still! I don’t know what happened during the night, but we must have stopped a long time, or the trains take a lot longer than advertised. I was worried. We had a guide planning to pick us up in Aswan, but there was no way a guide would wait three hours for us! I assumed we would be on our own in another new city with no set plans and must find our own way around.

To find out what we on our day in Aswan click here.

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