We’re in Egypt!
I cannot believe I’m in Egypt!
Our day started out with us waking up at 6:15 am to join the rat race of traffic headed to Manchester . We made it to the airport 2 hours later after a lot of traffic and some amazing scenery. I will definitely miss England, but I am excited to tell you about Egypt!
We arrived in Egypt at 1 am… For you math whizzes that is almost a 24 hour day of traveling. Needless to say we were tired when we arrived. As stated in my previous blog post, our Couchsurfing host Yousef picked us up from the airport. Yes, he picked us up in the middle of the night and had to be up for work the next day at 6:30 am. Yousef and I had messaged a few times before we arrived. I felt very confident I chose the right host, and I have not been let down!
Yousef is kind and friendly, and his hospitality knows no boundaries. He invited us to stay with him in his very nice apartment before we ever met. I was nervous to meet him. What if we didn’t get along? Would we be okay communicating with each other in person and not just through text? Yousef speaks much better English than I do Arabic! His apartment is very clean and has more than enough room for a few more people to visit or live. The only negative is that there is no air conditioning. In a city that is boiling hot, it is hard to get comfortable when you’re not able to cool down.
We slept and slept and slept some more on our first official day here. Touring a big and bustling city is hard enough when you speak the same language and have similar cultures. Getting around a large and hectic city such as Cairo when you’re exhausted is plain lunacy.
Egypt is hot!
We finally ventured out around 1 pm. The streets here are insane! There seem to be no rules to the road. Everyone just goes as fast or slow as they want. Pedestrians step in front of speeding vehicles. Children stand in the back seat of convertibles. Families pile in to vans by the dozen. It is absolute chaos, and I kind of like it. The heat hits you in the face like a wave, and the sun is absolutely scorching. It makes me feel lethargic and tired almost instantly.
Outside of our accommodation is all sorts of Life! There is a market, a bakery, a temple, a cafe, a ton of people, a ton of feral cats and dogs, and a ton of garbage. Sadly, that is the truth. Egypt is not a very clean place once you’re outside the comforts of people’s homes or shops. The streets are busy and crowded. It does not matter if it is day time or night; there is always something going on. It seems to me there are more people out at night as shop owners put out plastic tables and chairs and men gather around and smoke. The nights are cooler, and like every one else I prefer to be outside at night also.
The Cairo Metro
After a trip to the ATM and a few missed turns, and dare I say a small argument over directions (Andrew was right), we made our way to the metro station nearby. We were in Egyptian culture now! We entered the metro area where we saw turnstiles and were so confused when we did not know where to purchase our tickets. Most of the people are very kind, in my opinion. A few went out of their way and helped us without us asking. They pointed us to the correct entrance for tickets.
Andrew braved the horde of people to make it to the counter. Forming a line, or queue for you Brits reading, is basically unheard of here. You get to the counter out of sheer determination to not let anyone else in front of you. No one was pushing or arguing, but you definitely get close enough to smell each others’ breath! We got the tickets, went through security and waited on the platform. An Egyptian man who turned out to be Egyptian-American approached us. He was dressed nicely and seemed out of place among some of the other passengers. No one could have been more out of place than us.
I had seen signs above the platform that said Ladies. I thought it was a sign for a restroom. Nabil, the man who approached us, wanted to let us know that we were both about to board a car that was for women only. We would need to move farther down the platform in order to board a car for men and women. I got on the train and it was packed full of Egyptian men. We were told we were lucky since we happened to get the train that is air conditioned.
The Egyptian men were all very nice. Andrew and I watched the “Amazing Race” before we left on our trip and the women on the trains in crowded places were groped a fair bit. Luckily, I was not groped. Not only was I not groped, but the men made sure I had room to stand along the wall, or found me a seat.
I think there is more kindness on the trains than anywhere else in Egypt. The crowded trains were smelly, hot, and not comfortable, but whenever an elderly person got on the train they made room for them to sit. The car full of men made sure the women had space and were not uncomfortable, and they all seemed to care about the children. After that ride, I took the car for women! Especially when the trains were very crowded. Why? Because the women smelled better than the men.
Our First Travel Fail
We made it to the Sadat station around 2:30 pm. We climbed up the metro stairs which spilled us out in to Tahrir Square directly in front of the Egyptian Museum and a KFC. Yousef told us the museum closed at 4, the website said 7. We hoped for the best and thought we’d at least get to see the artifacts for a little while. Unfortunately, our stomachs were rumbling since we had not eaten since our flight the night before. KFC was our first meal in Egypt; such tourists! We stuffed our bellies and ran back out to the heat and busy streets to find that the museum did close at 4 pm in fact and we were out of time.
The area has a lot of shops, so we walked around the area for a bit, but were not interested in shopping. We were tired and I was overwhelmed by all the cars and honking. The heat was honestly a shock to my system after England. I was so tired and frustrated at how long we were taking to do everything. Find the ATM, find the metro, order food at KFC… just total culture shock. Andrew kindly agreed to head back to Yousef’s with me and my tail tucked between my legs. We kept each other in good spirits though and reminded ourselves that this is our first adventure.
More on our journey around Egypt will follow soon! Thank you all for reading. <3 Brie