Egypt by Rail ~ 2020

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oregon pioneer

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Looking forward to the story, whenever you get to post it!
I hope you will have a wonderful trip.
 

v v

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Have to write that wasn't going to write a trip report this time, a lot going on in our lives at the moment due to B, shutting down our business, planning to move plus other stuff. There is also a longer rail journey coming up later in the year which we have every intention of documenting and one large trip report was enough, so I thought.
But yesterday having finished reading Seaboard92's 'Music Across America' journey I felt inspired by the quality, effort and detail he put into that. Made me think what's the matter with me, if I put a quarter of the effort in that he has it will still be a substantial journey report, and there will be people here who are interested in all things train in Egypt too.

So here we go, it will be a bit rough and ready as not had the time to do a fraction of the planning we usually do, but have a route and all accommodation booked. Whether all the plans are feasible I don't know, but we will give it our best shot.

We visited Egypt on the spur of the moment about 20 years ago. Flew to Luxor on a last minute 1 week holiday, visited some amazing sights then took the express train to Aswan. Aswan is very pretty, has sights but not to match Luxor. We decided at the time that a visit to Cairo was a must (the Egyptian museum and never visited a city of 20 million people before), also the Suez Canal and the Nile Delta. This trip covers all of that plus a little more, here is the route :

Fly to Cairo for 5 days ->

11 hour express train to Luxor for 2 days ->

Train to Aswan for 2 days ->

Our 2 days in Aswan includes a complicated visit to the unique temple at Kom-Ombo. Next door is the Crocodile museum. Rosie is the temple and tomb person, I'm fascinated how crocodiles feature in Egyptian ancient history. The journey to Kom-Ombo is complicated for 2 reasons. Online there are no timetables for most of the stations on the route, only the termini plus Luxor. Online the intermediate station tickets aren't for sale, only the through destinations. The area between Luxor and Aswan is a military zone due to security concerns, so moving freely between Luxor and Aswan by road has to be authorised, another reason to take the train. There are tour trips from both Luxor and Aswan to take in 3 or 4 temples along the Nile including Kom-Ombo (KO), all in a day, just not our style of travel.
All train tickets so far have been bought online, later on in the delta and the canal area they may have to be bought at the stations? With the help of Seat61 to start me off I plodded through the booking process, and once the sequence is found it's fairly easy. But, and a big but, as it's not possible to buy tickets to intermediate stations, that's any of them, I bought tickets through to major cities and hope we can get off where we want to. To cover all possibilities we have bought an early morning train ticket from Aswan to Luxor, and providing the train stops at KO we are ok, we get down to the Nile nice and early. If not we'll be travelling back to Luxor the day after we left! Getting back to Aswan is more complex as there is a train out of Luxor headed to Aswan that arrives only about 3 1/2 hours after we arrive at KO. So now have bought 2 sets of Luxor to Aswan tickets for the same day. We thought what if 3 hours in KO is not enough time to have breakfast, see what we want to see and get back to the station in time, we have to cover all bases. This is not a tourist town, but full on agricultural area so won't have all the visitor facilities or even English/French/German speakers you find in the larger better known places, it may take us little longer to arrange or understand things. With that in mind we have bought the two sets of 2 tickets, one pair for the mid-day train and a second pair for the evening one from Luxor to Aswan, what can go wrong... ->

Aswan to Cairo on the Watania Sleeping Train, a privately owned company which will be a first for us having only ever travelled on national railways until now ->

Cairo to Alexandria for 3 days ->

Port Said across the Nile Delta for 1 1/2 days ->

Up the Suez Canal to Ismailia for 1 1/2 days, Ismailia has an interesting recent history ->

Cairo for 1 day and back to London.

Thanks for sticking with it if you got this far, it could be a great trip or chaos. We think that having visited Egypt already we are very hopeful there is a good chance of this being a memorable trip.

If others are interested in links to or methods on how to book these Egyptian train tickets please ask, like most things, it's easy when you know how... oh and if you are quite patient.

Note on ticket prices: As we all know Egypt is not a wealthy country, ticket prices are very low cost. Buying online allows us to pay what locals do, tourists often have to pay a higher price for various things. The three sets of 2 tickets all 1st class with A/C for three journeys between Aswan and Luxor cost a total of 399 Egypt Pounds (EGP), equivalent to 27 USD. Another detail is Egyptian National Railways (ENR) only release tickets 14 days before departure on a rolling hourly timed release. All the 1st class seats Aswan-Luxor which we booked a maximum of 24 hours ago are now sold out, 2nd class is available though.
We shall use 2nd class across the Delta and back to Cairo, apparently that may be an experience?
 
Last edited:

Bob Dylan

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Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
19,972
Have to write that wasn't going to write a trip report this time, a lot going on in our lives at the moment due to B, shutting down our business, planning to move plus other stuff. There is also a longer rail journey coming up later in the year which we have every intention of documenting and one large trip report was enough, so I thought.
But yesterday having finished reading Seaboard92's 'Music Across America' journey I felt inspired by the quality, effort and detail he put into that. Made me think what's the matter with me, if I put a quarter of the effort in that he has it will still be a substantial journey report, and there will be people here who are interested in all things train in Egypt too.

So here we go, it will be a bit rough and ready as not had the time to do a fraction of the planning we usually do, but have a route and all accommodation booked. Whether all the plans are feasible I don't know, but we will give it our best shot.

We visited Egypt on the spur of the moment about 20 years ago. Flew to Luxor on a last minute 1 week holiday, visited some amazing sights then took the express train to Aswan. Aswan is very pretty, has sights but not to match Luxor. We decided at the time that a visit to Cairo was a must (the Egyptian museum and never visited a city of 20 million people before), also the Suez Canal and the Nile Delta. This trip covers all of that plus a little more, here is the route :

Fly to Cairo for 5 days ->

11 hour express train to Luxor for 2 days ->

Train to Aswan ->

2 days Aswan including a complicated visit to the unique temple at Kom-Ombo. Next door is the Crocodile museum. Rosie is the temple and tomb person, I'm fascinated how crocodiles feature in Egyptian ancient history. The journey to Kom-Ombo is complicated for 2 reasons. There is no timetable for most of the stations, only the termini plus Luxor. Online the intermediate station tickets aren't for sale, only the through destinations. The area between Luxor and Aswan is a military zone due to security concerns, so moving freely between Luxor and Aswan by road has to be authorised, another reason to take the train. There are tour trips from both Luxor and Aswan to take in 3 or 4 temples along the Nile and Kom-Ombo (KO) in a day, just not our style of travel. All train tickets have so far been bought online, with the help of Seat61 to start me off I plodded through the booking process, and once the sequence is found it's fairly easy. But, and a big but, as it's not possible to buy tickets to intermediate stations, that's any of them. I bought tickets through to major cities and hope we can get off where we want to. To cover all possibilities we have bought an early morning train ticket from Aswan to Luxor, and providing the train stops at KO we are ok, we get down to the Nile nice and early. If not we'll be travelling back to Luxor the day after we left! Getting back to Aswan is more complex as there is a train out of Luxor headed to Aswan that arrives only about 3 1/2 hours after we arrive at KO. So now have bought 2 sets of Luxor to Aswan tickets for the same day. We thought what if 3 hours in KO is not enough time to have breakfast, see what we want to see and get back to the station in time, we have to cover all bases. This is not a tourist town, but full on agricultural area so won't have all the visitor facilities or even English/French/German speakers you find in the larger better known places, it may take us little longer to arrange or understand things. With that in mind we have bought the two sets of 2 tickets, one pair for the mid-day train and a second pair for the evening one from Luxor to Aswan, what can go wrong... ->

Aswan to Cairo on the Watania Sleeping Train, a privately owned company which will be a first for us having only ever travelled on national railways until now ->

Cairo to Alexandria for 3 days ->

Port Said across the Nile Delta for 1 1/2 days ->

Up the Suez Canal to Ismailia for 1 1/2 days, Ismailia has an interesting recent history ->

Cairo for 1 day and back to London.

Thanks for sticking with it if you got this far, it could be a great trip or chaos. We think that having visited Egypt already we are very hopeful there is a good chance of this being a memorable trip.

If others are interested in links to or methods on how to book these Egyptian train tickets please ask, like most things, it's easy when you know how... oh and if you are quite patient.

Note on ticket prices: As we all know Egypt is not a wealthy country, ticket prices are very low cost. Buying online allows us to pay what locals do, tourists often have to pay a higher price for various things. The three sets of 2 tickets all 1st class with A/C for three journeys between Aswan and Luxor cost a total of 399 Egypt Pounds (EGP), equivalent to 27 USD. Another detail is Egyptian National Railways (ENR) only release tickets 14 days before departure on a rolling hourly timed release. All the 1st class seats Aswan-Luxor which we booked a maximum of 24 hours ago are now all sold out, 2nd class is available though.
We shall use 2nd class across the Delta and back to Cairo, apparently that may be an experience?
Another great Adventure Jamie! :cool:

I'm sure that you and Rosie will have a ball being the World Travelers that ya'll are!

I definitely look forward to your trip reports and am thrilled that we'll see ya'll in San Diego this Fall!:)
 

v v

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Another great Adventure Jamie! :cool:

I'm sure that you and Rosie will have a ball being the World Travelers that ya'll are!

I definitely look forward to your trip reports and am thrilled that we'll see ya'll in San Diego this Fall!:)
Us too, it's been a long time since the last Austin visit.
 

Seaboard92

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Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,523
I love that I’m part of the influence for this report. I am really looking forward to this one. I’ve wanted to ride the rails in Egypt for a long time, so you will give me some great insights on your marvelous sounding trip.

You have encouraged me that I need to ride the Trans Siberian Railway soon. And I plan on doing that as soon as I can find three weeks off work.
 

jloewen

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Joined
Mar 10, 2009
Messages
71
I love that I’m part of the influence for this report. I am really looking forward to this one. I’ve wanted to ride the rails in Egypt for a long time, so you will give me some great insights on your marvelous sounding trip.

You have encouraged me that I need to ride the Trans Siberian Railway soon. And I plan on doing that as soon as I can find three weeks off work.
My wife and I took the overnight train from Cairo to Luxor last April in a sleeper cabin that slept two, perpendicular to the direction of travel. As a result we slept better, since most pitching is L/R, not forward/back, on a train. Got dinner and continental breakfast, which were adequate, inferior to Amtrak, about like the old "free" meals on long US coach class flights. Then we took a somewhat longer overnight train from Aswan back to Cairo.
A GREAT trip, astounding temples, etc., much to learn.
 

v v

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26 February 2020

Back in the UK yesterday, catching up with chores and meeting family and friends until late evening. It's always a great way to prepare for a new journey spending some time with people you love.

Today is a rest day, just adding a little to our research of Egypt. There are still quite a few details not completed yet, but we are getting there. Also some of what we need to know will depend on us visiting Cairo's main rail station (Ramses Railway Station, what a great name!) plus a bus station down by the Nile as we have to ask a few questions before we travel across to Giza (the Great Sphinx and pyramids) and down to Luxor.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramses_Station

Our first hotel for 5 nights is just off of the Kasr al Nile in Cairo's central bank/business district, very well located to get to places we wish to visit and a Costa Coffee just a minute away. The Egyptian Museum is at the top of the list and only a 15 minute walk away, a metro station 7 or 8 minutes. We think we have booked a hotel but it may be a hostel as we know it, we'll see.

Feels a little like the calm before the storm, and having spent some time in other north African countries years ago we know the assault on our European senses will be intense at the start. Neither of us can wait for the off tomorrow, we leave from the rail station in Brentwood, Essex, UK at around 1pm, heading into central London and beyond to Heathrow. If it's not raining we'll take the 20 minute walk to the station rather than taxi.
 

v v

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Thursday 27 February 2020 Day 1 ~ Brentwood to London Heathrow airport
Updated central Cairo, Egypt ~ Saturday 29 February

Woke to light snow, that wasn't supposed to happen, not in southern Essex anyways. It cleared as rapidly as it arrived but we still accepted a lift to the station from cousin Sylvia, although the reality was she wouldn't accept no, she's a real sweetie.

Snow! Well a little anyway
N62576a.jpg

Brentwood railway station and the seat we usually start our journeys from
N62578a.jpg

An updated Victorian Liverpool Street railway station on the east side of the City of London
N62582a.jpg

Uneventful journey across to Heathrow but pleased we had started early to miss the rush hour, it was pretty busy on the Tube across central London even then.

Reasonable walk from the Heathrow terminals 2,3,4 tube station to Terminal 2, but not too bad. We couldn't check in as we were 2 hours early, headed for Costa Coffee who have supremely comfortable seats to wait out the time. Caught up with a little further research while Rosie read the London's free newspapers, after the past week it felt good to slow down.

Moved through security with no questions asked of us re where from or anything relevant to the Coronavirus, slightly surprised as it is the only news headline around at the moment.

Decent flight, some good night views passing over the Nile Delta and down to Cairo, never seen such extensive urbanisation before, and Cairo is simply massive.

To be continued...


 
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v v

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Friday 28 February 2020 Day 2 ~ Cairo, first look

Updated central Cairo, Egypt ~ Saturday 29 February

Before we landed a cabin crew member walked up and down the aisle spraying something into the air both directions. Hardly anyone had coughed up until that point but that set many of us off.

On entering the terminal building we were asked where had our travels originated from and if we had flown directly from London. Then our temperature was taken with a scan of the forehead. Passed through the arrivals quite fast as the airport was not too busy at 5am, there was our booked driver to take us to the hotel.
This ride from airport to downtown Cairo if all conditions are just right can be done in 45-50 minutes, usually 1 1/2 hours is the norm but 2 hours if conditions are very bad. Our driver did it in 25 minutes.

That was one of the really interesting rides of my life and had one or two. Early twenties driver in a lightly damaged reasonable car, the horn worked very well and he probably had brakes too but didn't use them often. Flashing headlamps worked amazingly well, a bit like the parting of the waves in the Red Sea. I did mention we were not in too much of a hurry but he just turned round and smiled "no English" and continued. Mainly we were only a little fazed by some amazing driving and co-operation of other road users which even at this early hour there were quite a few, but we did have seatbelts which was comforting, until we realised that the buckles we needed to attach the belts to were missing...

We then convinced ourselves we were visiting Cairo for a little excitement, just didn't expect it to start quite so soon.

Arrived at our hotel in one piece and have to write he was one of the most talented drivers we have ever driven with. Smooth and calm, nothing bothered him at all including red stop lights, they were obviously for other drivers, and any pedestrians along the way were all good sprinters.

He stepped out the car grinning, possibly he now held the world record from Cairo International to central Cairo. Couldn't help myself but congratulate him on an accomplished bit of driving, then turned and there was the smiling manager of the hotel ready to carry our bags, what a smooth hand over.

Usually I carry my own bags as I need the exercise, but the young manager insisted it was important for me to let him carry at least the cases. In the past this had been a grand apartment block, it's about 120 years old, now it had plenty of faded grandeur. In the imposing entrance hall, we were told the hotel is on the 3rd floor, that's 3 floors above the ground floor but make that 3 and a half as there are a set of steps to get into the building first. Wonderful worn broad marble steps, all 97 of them from inside the entrance hall. Did I mention there is no elevator?

The manager had to stop twice before we reached the hotel floor, we gasped a little and sat as soon as we reach the front desk. The staff are friendly and helpful, the room is more than basic and very clean, we wanted to be in the centre of it all and we are, it's 20 USD a night with breakfast, perfect for our purposes.

After an early check-in we slept for 6 hours and decided to try to find the tourist office less than 10 minutes away, it's Friday and a day off for many, the city is buzzing, the air is also highly polluted with traffic fumes.
We are in an area where people work and live, there are no 'sights' here at all. Every road has shops with added people on the pavement selling just about anything and everything. Quite a few disabled folk hawking packs of tissues or other cheap small items to earn a little. In the main though the people are well dressed and happy looking, and as it's Friday families are out window shopping, as well as small groups of teenagers doing what teenagers do the world over, and lots of people just milling around. A real kaleidoscope of Egyptians, some Africans but no obvious tourists.

They are a friendly bunch as sometimes we got in the way, we are still learning how to move around here. When people realised we were visitors the remonstrations always ended with "welcome to Cairo" and always with a big smile, something we could learn from these people.

It was a superb afternoon although didn't find either of the two Tourist Offices, but we had a lot of fun diving into here or there, down alleys and into businesses asking for a tourist office. Never a word of English spoken but always a smile, even if they thought we were a little crazy.

Gave up on the tourist office and headed for the main rail station, Ramses. I knew just about where it was but by now the world of central Cairo had become very busy, it wasn't obvious. Used a high level pedestrian bridge and spotted an ancient train in front of a bland building, it had possibilities we thought.

As in Russia you have to pass through security to get into the station, there are a number of entrances only and exits only, but it doesn't appear to slow people down too much. One poor young man had a huge suitcase that was too big to go through the scanner, had to unpack it on the station floor.

The train schedules are shown in Arabic only, but if you wait long enough (a long time) they are displayed in English briefly too. Most of the platforms don't have numbers, but we found two that did and knew which direction to count from when we come back next Wednesday for our train to Luxor.

When looking for the first tourist office a very kindly soldier we asked offered us a tour of the closed temple he was helping guard, he also pointed a good restaurant out too. He found the temple curator then waved us goodbye, we explained to said official we were looking for the tourist office not the temple, he couldn't help either even though we were at the address given.

On the way back from the Ramses station we did have an evening meal at recommended restaurant, very nice indeed and not at all expensive by western standards.

Back at our hotel and long discussions with the manager about religion, people around the world, more religion and his world in Cairo and at hotels on the Red Sea.

What a first day in Egypt, interesting, happy, amazing, colourful and hate the smell of vehicle fumes, but what a place and we haven't scratched the surface.

The hotel's 3 flight of stairs

N62587a.jpg

This elegant enormously tall minaret
N62593a.jpg

Minaret in it's full glory
N62597a.jpg

Moving towards rush hour
N62602a.jpg


This train engine looked original, is that possible? In front of a bland building that had the be the railway station
N62609a.jpg

Then the bland exterior turned into this
N62610a.jpg

Train schedules
N62614a.jpg

Amazing interior
N62617a.jpg

This sort of reminds me a little of Grand central in NYC
N62624a.jpg

Same colour scheme as earlier Amtrak cars?
N62618a.jpg





To be continued...















 
Last edited:

v v

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Friday 28 February 2020 Day 2 ~ Cairo, first look - last photo for Day 2
Updated central Cairo, Egypt ~ Saturday 29 February



A window full of tiaras. Rosie wanted to post this as this town is full of bling

N62627a.jpg
 

Bob Dylan

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Friday 28 February 2020 Day 2 ~ Cairo, first look
Updated central Cairo, Egypt ~ Saturday 29 February

Before we landed a cabin crew member walked up and down the aisle spraying something into the air both directions. Hardly anyone had coughed up until that point but that set many of us off.

On entering the terminal building we were asked where had our travels originated from and if we had flown directly from London. Then our temperature was taken with the scan of the forehead. Passed through the arrivals quite fast as the airport was not too busy at 5am, there was our booked driver to take us to the hotel.
This ride from airport to downtown Cairo if all conditions are just right can be done in 45-50 minutes, usually 1 1/2 hours is the norm but 2 hours if conditions are very bad. Our driver did it in 25 minutes.

That was one of the really interesting rides of my life and had one or two. Early twenties driver in a lightly damaged reasonable car, the horn worked very well and he probably had brakes too but didn't use them often. Flashing headlamps worked amazingly well, a bit like the parting of the waves in the Red Sea. I did mention we were not in too much of a hurry but he just turned round and smiled "no English" and continued. Mainly we were only a little fazed by some amazing driving and co-operation of other road users which even at this early hour there were quite a few, but we did have seatbelts which was comforting, until we realised that the buckles we needed to attach the belts to were missing...

We then convinced ourselves we were visiting Cairo for a little excitement, just didn't expect it to start quite so soon.

Arrived at our hotel in one piece and have to write he was one of the most talented drivers we have ever driven with. Smooth and calm, nothing bothered him at all including red stop lights, they were obviously for other drivers, and any pedestrians along the way were all good sprinters.

He stepped out the car grinning, possibly he now held the world record from Cairo International to central Cairo. Couldn't help myself but congratulate him on an accomplished bit of driving, then turned and there was the smiling manager of the hotel ready to carry our bags, what a smooth hand over.

Usually I carry my own bags as I need the exercise, but the young manager insisted it was important for me to let him carry at least the cases. In the past this had been a grand apartment block, it's about 120 years old, now it had plenty of faded grandeur. In the imposing entrance hall, we were told the hotel is on the 3rd floor, that's 3 floors above the ground floor but make that 3 and a half as there are a set of steps to get into the building first. Wonderful worn broad marble steps, all 97 of them from inside the entrance hall. Did I mention there is no elevator?

The manager had to stop twice before we reached the hotel floor, we gasped a little and sat as soon as we reach the front desk. The staff are friendly and helpful, the room is more than basic and very clean, we wanted to be in the centre of it all and we are, it's 20 USD a night with breakfast, perfect for our purposes.

After an early check-in we slept for 6 hours and decided to try to find the tourist office less than 10 minutes away, it's Friday and a day off for many, the city is buzzing, the air is also highly polluted with traffic fumes.
We are in an area where people work and live, there are no 'sights' here at all. Every road has shops with added people on the pavement selling just about anything and everything. Quite a few disabled folk hawking packs of tissues or other cheap small items to earn a little. In the main though the people are well dressed and happy looking, and as it's Friday families are out window shopping, as well as small groups of teenagers doing what teenagers do the world over, and lots of people just milling around. A real kaleidoscope of Egyptians, some Africans but no obvious tourists.

They are a friendly bunch as sometimes we got in the way, we are still learning how to move around here. When people realised we were visitors the remonstrations always ended with "welcome to Cairo" and always with a big smile, something we could learn from these people.

It was a superb afternoon although didn't find either of the two Tourist Offices, but we had a lot of fun diving into here or there, down alleys and into businesses asking for a tourist office. Never a word of English spoken but always a smile, even if they thought we were a little crazy.

Gave up on the tourist office and headed for the main rail station, Ramses. I knew just about where it was but by now the world of central Cairo had become very busy, it wasn't obvious. Used a high level pedestrian bridge and spotted an ancient train in front of a bland building, it had possibilities we thought.

As in Russia you have to pass through security to get into the station, there are a number of entrances only and exits only, but it doesn't appear to slow people down too much. One poor young man had a huge suitcase that was too big to go through the scanner, had to unpack it on the station floor.

The train schedules are shown in Arabic only, but if you wait long enough (a long time) they are displayed in English briefly too. Most of the platforms don't have numbers, but we found two that did and knew which direction to count from when we come back next Wednesday for our train to Luxor.

When looking for the first tourist office a very kindly soldier we asked offered us a tour of the closed temple he was helping guard, he also pointed a good restaurant out too. He found the temple curator then waved us goodbye, we explained to said official we were looking for the tourist office not the temple, he couldn't help either even though we were at the address given.

On the way back from the Ramses station we did have an evening meal at recommended restaurant, very nice indeed and not at all expensive by western standards.

Back at our hotel and long discussions with the manger about religion, people around the world, more religion and his world in Cairo and at hotels on the Red Sea.

What a first day in Egypt, interesting, happy, amazing, colourful and hate the small of vehicle fumes, but what a place and we haven't scratched the surface.

The hotel's 3 flight of stairs

View attachment 16994

This elegant enormously tall minaret
View attachment 16995

Minaret in it's full glory
View attachment 16996

Moving towards rush hour
View attachment 16997


This train engine looked original, is that possible? In front of a bland building that had the be the railway station
View attachment 16998

Then the bland exterior turned into this
View attachment 16999

Train schedules
View attachment 17000

Amazing interior
View attachment 17001

This sort of reminds me a little of Grand central in NYC
View attachment 17002

Same colour scheme as earlier Amtrak cars?
View attachment 17003





To be continued...














Wow, I'm convinced that yall could go anywhere in the Universe and get around fine! More!, More!
 

IndyLions

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Messages
326
Great report! Keep the details coming - I feel like I’m there with you.
 

v v

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Messages
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Saturday 29 February 2020 Day 3 ~ Cairo, Islamic City - Part I
Updated central Cairo, Egypt ~ Sunday 1 March

Late start on a slightly cooler day. Not a bad thing that's it's cooler as a fair amount of walking today. Still surprised at the hustle and bustle, noise and smells that hit you as soon as you step outside the hotel. Car horns are the most prominent noise by miles, until there is an important football (soccer) match being played that is. At which point the hundreds and thousands of outdoor tv's and radios that are blasting out the commentary of demented sports media people at full volume take over, added to which the shouted opinions of excited outdoor watchers and listeners is added to the mix. A maelstrom of noise attacks your hearing and gets right inside your brain, but more on this later.
We are walking from the well laid out central area of Cairo to the medieval Islamic City section, most called it Khan Al Khalili. It's a place where there is very little logic to the tiny narrow twisting lanes with hardly a large road anywhere. On the way, not too far from our hotel there is another shop window that attracted Rosie's eye, this was the place to go if you need to dress as a belly dancer. Rosie's shop window of the day...

s71516a.jpg


Had to cross a 3 lane in each direction road that created the barrier between modern and ancient Cairo, this is where we discovered Tuk Tuk racing.
If a pair of Tuk Tuks are at the front of the traffic lights they shoot off the line a few seconds before the lights change to green, this is normal for all road traffic here but they are a fraction ahead of everyone else. Very rapidly they catch the slower lumbering vehicles and appear to select a single truck that is so heavily overloaded it can't travel fast and change direction easily. The actual road width is about 1 1/2 lanes as vehicles (have to write vehicles as almost anything that moves including the improbable is out on the road) will have double or triple parked on the inside and sometimes just for fun on the outside lanes.
The 2 Tuk Tuks approach the slow vehicle at full speed, about 45 mph, both aiming to overtake the truck on the outside, although there is barely room for one. At the last millisecond they nudge each other to get first shot at outside overtaking then just as you think a big accident is about to happen one goes round one side and the other the other, a reverse nutmeg in English football parlance.
As they pass the truck still without a drop in speed they aim to get into the centre lane at the same time, and they come together and bang doors, although they aren't usually fitted with doors even if they started life with them. If this was happening with passengers in the back seat I have no idea, but that would have topped our experience of a few days earlier.
At the instant they approached the rear of this 7+ ton truck fully loaded+some, it did look like a serious misjudgement and as though a fatal accident was about to happen, but the drivers understanding of each other all around Cairo is quite amazing, and to that I would add pedestrians are equally skilful just because they have to be,. To us it feels a little like bull fighting where you have to out think the driver and sometimes call their bluff.

After a few mis-steps we arrived at the wall of the Islamic City, but on the way had to ask a few times for directions which is always an experience, and always friendly. There was a store that spilled onto the pavement that sold mattresses, very jolly group of men, the boss in particular. The conversation became complicated as it often does but again as it often does one of the group speak a little English. I am asked, not Rosie if I would like to see the room of the boss, the bedroom. My simple brain connected selling mattresses with bedrooms, and why not he wants like all businessmen want to show their wares, but when the others in the group started laughing Rosie pulled me away which is lucky as I was on my way to take a look...

The Islamic City is/was a walled city which held a large number of mosques and churches. Around these markets grew up, they turned into souks and bazaars. This city was all of these things with thousands of small shops and even more tiny workshops, quite amazing.

We had only wandered for around 15 minutes when we were the target of a guide/tout, and very good he was too. He would show us the religious part of Cairo from the top of the minaret, and he did...

To be continued...


This took us aback as we hadn't reached the old part of the city, a flock of long haired goats close to the banking centre

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One of the city gates with twin towers

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A pair or racing Tuk Tuks

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A city gate

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A massively strengthened Islamic style window grill

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Another view of the gates from inside

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The minaret that unknown to us at the time we would climb

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On entering the mosque this window is in front of you. The guide explained that 3 different religions are represented in the window and that Egypt was always known for religious tolerance. Star of David at the top.

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Saturday 29 February 2020 Day 3 ~ Cairo, Islamic City & old Cairo - Part II
Updated Luxor, Egypt ~ Wednesday 4 March

A few photos from the later part of the day into evening.


This austere room is the Mosque kindergarten, they grow up tough these Egyptian babies

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This was a beautiful sight at sunset. Edit: apart from the junk on the roof tops that is, we appear to have got used to it very quickly.

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The roof tops look like they are in a war zone, the reason is happier. After the 2011 Egyptian Revolution the government decreed that the upper limit on building height be raised from 3 to 7 stories in some cases, and every property owner is taking advantage of this with varying success. Most can only afford to build a floor every few years, so the current upper floor looks like a demented building site.

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Mosques and minarets in every direction you look, and as everywhere in Cairo people out in the streets

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This hat shop and workshop have been supplying hats to the Kings and Presidents of Egypt for 6 generations, they proudly have a montage of photos and drawings of all the rulers they have supplied. The tools and shaping formers are very ancient, much of the work is carried out on the boiler where the tools are situated where they create the initial size and shape. The entire business is shown in the photo, behind the man standing is a teenage boy sewing the fine detail.

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This Bazaar coffee shop was to die for, again in the same family for many generations. The aroma was really magical, almost impossible to pass without having a coffee. Madame who is the current owner sits at a desk at the rear surveying her domain, almost Buddha like.

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The final 3 photos are the old part of Cairo in the evening, the intense noise, movement of thousands and thousands of people, the hustle and bustle of just everything is beyond my ability to describe. The excitement was heightened with the fact there were two very very important (for Egypt) football matches on late afternoon into evening. One was a Cairo team playing a South African team in the Africa Cup, the Cairo team won. The second, the man almost thought of as a god in Egypt, Mo Salah (have at last learnt how to pronounce his name correctly) was playing for his Liverpool team in yet another important match, Liverpool lost for the first time in 43 matches, disaster.
It all added to the mix and assailed our senses so deeply we both thought we were having brain seizures, a quite amazing and overwhelming experience.

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To be continued...
 
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Sunday 1 March 2020 Day 4 ~ Cairo, Egyptian Museum
Updated Luxor, Egypt ~ Friday 6 March


Possibly the main reason for us to visit Cairo is the Egyptian Museum with it's fabulous collection of 5000+ years of history and artefacts.

Just a pleasant 15 minute walk directly to Tahir Square, the museum is located to one side, the main square is used for families to sit or parade during the evenings. It was also the main focal point for protest during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, it's enormous.

The museum is housed in a grand building with grand proportions, it reflects the style of it's age around 1900.

The main entrance is beautifully made, the door knockers (1 for each door) are the size of a large man's head.

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To give the door and the knocker a perspective, the glass panel starts a little more than 6 feet from the floor

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Regular by now security but in an easy manner, then you step back in time to the early 1900's, nothing looks as though it has changed, enhanced by dust on most of the 1000's of items on display, very atmospheric.

There is so much to look at even though maybe 20% of the displays were missing, this is shown by empty plinths and empty glass cases. After a couple of hours you find yourself walking by almost without a glance at a row or two of sarcophagus, any one of which on it's own would be the centre piece of any hall in any museum in the world.
The most stunning according to Rosie is the Tutankhamun room with the centre piece of his death mask. It is the only room in the museum where no photography is allowed, so just believe Rosie when she says she was transfixed by many of the items there, but the mask has it, it's mesmeric.

Here are a collection of photos showing the diversity of 5000 years of Egyptian history, from before 5000 BC to around 20 AD


An encased Egyptian mummy

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One of a number of thrones made from gold, other precious metals and precious stones

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The rear panel in detail created x thousand years ago

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A death mask, not Tutankhamun's

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One version of Horos, an important diety for Egyptian kings and queens

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An enormous Sarcophagus. Rosie isn't the tallest person in the world but how big was this person.

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One of the display halls, it does paint a picture of the museum

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The best proportioned and condition Sphinx we have seen in Egypt, this was carved from stone xthousand years ago and is about 9 feet long

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To be continued...
 

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Tuesday 3 March 2020 Day 6 ~ Giza, Cairo: Great Pyramid & the Great Sphinx - Part I
Updated Alexandria, Egypt ~ Tuesday 10 March


Hope to add more text but internet is quite difficult currently, here a few photos to start

Bus from central Cairo stopped outside the Pyramids area, leaving about 1/2 mile to walk to to the entrance. Walking along the road and up pops the Great Pyramid between a couple of trees, just like that!

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With the Great Puramid on the left, an even taller pyramid complete with original coating on the sumit is on the right side of the roadway, I believe it's called the Khafre pyramid.

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The sheer bulk of the Great Pyramid is shown best with the sun behind us, people look like ants

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Rosie posing to give proportion to the size of each stone block

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Just beyond these iconic structures are a couple of camels passing through the desert

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… and in the opposite direction Giza City is creeping ever closer to these world class landmarks

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And the Great Sphinx in it's natural setting, could almost be Arizona apart from the subject matter

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The Great Sphynx with it's usual companions

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Our favourite Sphinx photo

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Great Pyramid without any of the modern infrastructure such as roads

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Tuesday 3 March 2020 Day 6 ~ Giza, Cairo: Great Pyramid & the Great Sphinx - Part II
Updated Alexandria, Egypt ~ Tuesday 10 March


Four large pyramids in a row

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Made us laugh. How about mixed metaphors

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Writing this in a small century old elegant Italian style hotel about 100 yards from the 'Corniche' in Alexandria. It's making me laugh as concentration is impossible. I'm in the lobby, a tv is blaring out an American western in Arabic while to my right a very old elevator is being noisily repaired. In the mean time a few guests are arriving, the family who own this hotel appear to be living their lives in full view of the guests, oh yes, and there is a very loud banging coming from somewhere in the building enough to shake the floor a little. All this at just after midnight, got to go.


.
 
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PeeweeTM

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Great report. I like the pictures an your story-telling. Another destination added to my list.
I hope you all are okay weather-wise; there was a big storm in Egypt...
 

oregon pioneer

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And while I very much appreciate the photos and the travelogue, I do hope that you don't have too close a brush with COVID-19. I see that Egypt has 93 cases, and I know that number is bound to go up. I hope you are able to practice social distancing and stay well.
 

flitcraft

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I was just thinking the same as Jennifer--things are escalating quickly in the COVID 19 world. Hope you are keeping safe and healthy!
 
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Thanks everybody for your concerns, we are back in France 5 days early and apart from our traditional colds when we travel no harm done.

Great report. I like the pictures an your story-telling. Another destination added to my list.
I hope you all are okay weather-wise; there was a big storm in Egypt...
We didn't realise the extent of the storm at first, or that it was the second in 2 weeks. Yes it did affect our and many peoples plans as has the Coronavirus, will explain when I get the rest written out over the next week. Will say we left our hotel in Alexandria at 11:00am on Thursday morning, got back to central France at 11:30pm this (Saturday) evening, without stopping and without any sleep until this lunch time. We got very very lucky with our disrupted travels, almost everything went wrong and the replacement plans went very right, just lucky and quite funny too.

And while I very much appreciate the photos and the travelogue, I do hope that you don't have too close a brush with COVID-19. I see that Egypt has 93 cases, and I know that number is bound to go up. I hope you are able to practice social distancing and stay well.
Thanks Jennifer. We wouldn't know how close we got to infected persons, we were mainly in cities and Cairo and Alexandria are teeming with people everywhere around the clock. All the advice except hand washing can't be put into practice easily, just impossible unless we were to lock ourselves away for our entire visit and travelling to and from. We read what we could before travelling, assessed the risk, worked out we are not in a high risk group, and took into account that most people recover perfectly normally from this infection. We worked on the basis there is a risk and it could if everything went wrong be dangerous, but if we shied away from all risks we would never travel again, and travel is what we exist for so prepared to take calculated risks


I was just thinking the same as Jennifer--things are escalating quickly in the COVID 19 world. Hope you are keeping safe and healthy!
We did our best, but walking through a bazaar with thousands of people and animals milling around there is no chance of keeping your distance. Still, so far so good.
 
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