Egypt by Rail ~ 2020

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v v

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Apparently I have 2 accounts, first I knew about it.
 

Bob Dylan

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Not done yet, want to finish this journey as I wrote I would... just taking a little pause. Yes it does feel a bit frivolous in the current circumstances, but as long as it's ok by the moderators it may be a small distraction for a few.
Hope yall dont get Stranded or Quaranteend since you've been in France,England and a "Foreign Land" Jamie??!!

Really enjoying your reports and pics while I'm stranded here in Austin and cant travel!

Any Virus cases in Egypt, I know Iran has some??
 

v v

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Wednesday 4 March 2020 Day 7 ~ First TRAIN DAY - Cairo to Luxor, 11 1/2 hours down the Nile valley
Updated V V central France ~ Monday 16 March

OK, here we go again. Up at 5:45am to catch the 8:00am express train to Luxor, it's the only departure that travels the entire route in daylight. We had looked Cairo Ramses Station over on the day we arrived and thought we understood how the schedules works, wrong!

At about 45 minutes before departure, our train was posted but no platform, all others had platform numbers. Asked around and got differing answers, so walked up No.8 platform which Seat61 said was the regular platform for Luxor and Aswan and asked the car attendants, yes sir it was correct, we had a whole day on our favourite transport and could relax.

Seats in 1st Class were very roomy and comfortable, it would be difficult not to fall asleep. As a comparison there was slightly more legroom than Amtrak Coach, seats about the same width although they could have been wider as it was 3 across only.

Before leaving Cairo have to mention a brave young man delivering bread to somewhere from somewhere, we saw him from our taxi. He had a tray 2m or a little more long and about 90cm wide, full of bread balancing on his head riding a bicycle. He only had 1 hand to steer and brake, the other balanced the tray. He weaved across a moving 5 or 6 lanes of traffic, spotting the gaps big enough for the tray. It was pure ballet, his movement and judgement were superb, a joy to see. Hope he grows up to do something more aligned to his talents, anyone want a fearless dancer?

On board we were not sitting together, they have an unusual seating pattern of which the logic beat me. That is apart from the fact that everything in Egypt starts from the right, which did make it a little more understandable. The price of the two tickets was 26 $ US, outstanding to our European minds.

The conductor told us to sit where we wanted, so I had the pleasure of Rosie's company all the way to Luxor. Here are the first 3 rows of seats sequence -

3 - 2 1

4 - 5 6

9 - 8 7

I had forgotten to take train photos for this forum, so with 20 minutes to go I'm off to the far end of the 15 car train. On the way I was stopped 3 times by the rail staff and police, "no it was not possible to take photos". I ask why and they just shrug and say not possible. Sorry folks I blagged it and used the names of Amtrak and the USA in vain after explaining I am the Official Photographer for Amtrak Unlimited in the USA, and people in the US wouldn't be pleased if I didn't get what I was officially sent to do, it worked.

Got to the last car, wrong end, oh bloody hell it's a long way back. So here are the photos of the rear of the train, hope you like them.

Rearmost car is very dirty, about normal except for the centre section


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Tried not to run back to our car, didn't want to cause alarm. Had 9 minutes to get to the engine and back so best go for it. After another checkpoint which was a little harder to pass got this photo, arrived back at the seats quite pleased to be back.

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Leaving Cairo, school's in

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Here the train crosses the Nile

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One thing we noticed travelling south, the number of Tuk Tuk's increased. Also the use of donkeys too, carrying crop, goods or people, very biblical. We also noticed there were no announcements when arriving and departing, probably of no use to us as although we had learnt more Arabic while in Cairo, it only took the count from 2 to 3 words though.

They didn't appear to have a system for someone to check the doors are closed, they are not inside the passenger area and the sliding door was mostly closed. Did find a door open at about 50 mph, but as they are so wide it was easy to stand back and slam it closed.

The first 2/3 of the trip was alongside a large irrigation canal, not the Nile. But in the afternoon the valley and the Nile appeared.

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Well we think it did

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As in Cairo the other passengers were overwhelmingly friendly, as were the train staff. The glasses of chai (tea) were excellent.
Arrived 30 minutes early, quite a dramatic station in the evening.

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Decided as we have been sitting all day we would walk to the hotel, probably. It depended if we could wheel our luggage to the hotel or not and 1 km is not far for people who often walk.
It was the hurly burly we remember from 20 years ago, everyone and their mother had something to sell, owned a taxi or a Caleche, arranged the best tours around the sites ever.
We were in good humour and managed to lose most of them, Luxor had changed since our last visit, now it was on steroids but as we were to find out there were almost no visitors, no tourists. It was no wonder we were a target.

Hotel Nefertiti down by the Temple and river here we come.



To be continued...
 
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v v

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Hope yall dont get Stranded or Quaranteend since you've been in France,England and a "Foreign Land" Jamie??!!

Really enjoying your reports and pics while I'm stranded here in Austin and cant travel!

Any Virus cases in Egypt, I know Iran has some??
Will come back to you with more answers tomorrow Jim, and yes this evening Macron has decreed that travel only for food, work or medical is allowed. Anybody else caught out on the streets will be fined, not a problem for us as months of work to do here, and we stay well stocked at all times, not just now.
 

Barb Stout

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Hope yall dont get Stranded or Quaranteend since you've been in France,England and a "Foreign Land" Jamie??!!

Really enjoying your reports and pics while I'm stranded here in Austin and cant travel!

Any Virus cases in Egypt, I know Iran has some??
The first 2 cases in New Mexico was a couple that had just returned from a trip to Egypt. They could have gotten it in transit though.
 

JRR

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Messages
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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.
That would be a great trip. Hope you make it someday. I have settled by taking it virtually on YouTube!
 

v v

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That would be a great trip. Hope you make it someday. I have settled by taking it virtually on YouTube!
Ah, but you can't smell the Vodka on their breath watching YouTube.

If you ever get the chance then take the trip, don't think there's anything like it on earth, 6 1/2 days on one train.
 

v v

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AU Supporter
Joined
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Hope yall dont get Stranded or Quaranteend since you've been in France,England and a "Foreign Land" Jamie??!!

Really enjoying your reports and pics while I'm stranded here in Austin and cant travel!

Any Virus cases in Egypt, I know Iran has some??
We're fine Jim, learnt a lot about Egypt, more about Egyptians and got very lucky in the people we met and our timing which was a fluke.

Received an email from EgyptAir to say our flight on the 17 March was cancelled, they could offer another flight the following day. If that didn't work for us then go into one of their offices in Egypt and speak with somebody. We are flying from Cairo.

We were in Alexandra, Egypt (Alex), about 150 yards down the road from our hotel was an EgyptAir office. Offered flights for the following day (already late in the day so difficult to be in place for a 09:00am flight, or another 09:00am flight on Friday the 13th, that we could make, we hoped.

Had all sorts of adventures getting from Alex to Cairo, had more adventures getting from downtown (yes Egyptians do use the American word downtown) Cairo to the International Airport.

We were stared at all the way from London Heathrow to South Woodham Ferrers, Essex on the Tube and trains, people moved away when they realised we had arrived from somewhere abroad. Collected our vehicle and headed without stopping at our UK home for Eurotunnel and France.

Once there the anxiety and panic we had experienced in the UK subsided completely, our only need was sleep before we drove to central France. Found a French motorway aire (parking area) that is very beautiful and slept for the first time in 2 days for 6 hours.

Got back to our place in France, lit the wood burning stove and we relaxed mentally, then fell asleep again.

We have had to leave many things undone in the UK to arrive early in France, but that's life. We had had a tip off from a friend in France that Macron was about to close the border, and most of the work we have in front of us is in France, but we made it.

If EgyptAir hadn't cancelled the flight we would only an hour ago arrived at Heathrow, and wouldn't been able to enter France, just luck. We had great help and co-operation all along the way, in Egypt and in the UK, I'll describe it as I write the blog.

We are here in our rural idyll, have some very enjoyable chores to do, are warm and fit, almost compos mentis again and can stay 3 months, what more could we want.

Note: while in Egypt there was a Nile hotel boat that had to be quarantined, but very few reported cases. After talking with people that know it is in great part that most people can't afford to pay for health checks or even go see a doctor, so there may be far more CV sufferers than the official total.
It's not a big help either that so many of them still smoke heavily, or live in the most basic conditions. Hacking coughs are a thing of everyday life here, without CV.
 

Bob Dylan

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May 31, 2009
Messages
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We're fine Jim, learnt a lot about Egypt, more about Egyptians and got very lucky in the people we met and our timing which was a fluke.

Received an email from EgyptAir to say our flight on the 17 March was cancelled, they could offer another flight the following day. If that didn't work for us then go into one of their offices in Egypt and speak with somebody. We are flying from Cairo.

We were in Alexandra, Egypt (Alex), about 150 yards down the road from our hotel was an EgyptAir office. Offered flights for the following day (already late in the day so difficult to be in place for a 09:00am flight, or another 09:00am flight on Friday the 13th, that we could make, we hoped.

Had all sorts of adventures getting from Alex to Cairo, had more adventures getting from downtown (yes Egyptians do use the American word downtown) Cairo to the International Airport.

We were stared at all the way from London Heathrow to South Woodham Ferrers, Essex on the Tube and trains, people moved away when they realised we had arrived from somewhere abroad. Collected our vehicle and headed without stopping at our UK home for Eurotunnel and France.

Once there the anxiety and panic we had experienced in the UK subsided completely, our only need was sleep before we drove to central France. Found a French motorway aire (parking area) that is very beautiful and slept for the first time in 2 days for 6 hours.

Got back to our place in France, lit the wood burning stove and we relaxed mentally, then fell asleep again.

We have had to leave many things undone in the UK to arrive early in France, but that's life. We had had a tip off from a friend in France that Macron was about to close the border, and most of the work we have in front of us is in France, but we made it.

If EgyptAir hadn't cancelled the flight we would only an hour ago arrived at Heathrow, and wouldn't been able to enter France, just luck. We had great help and co-operation all along the way, in Egypt and in the UK, I'll describe it as I write the blog.

We are here in our rural idyll, have some very enjoyable chores to do, are warm and fit, almost compos mentis again and can stay 3 months, what more could we want.

Note: while in Egypt there was a Nile hotel boat that had to be quarantined, but very few reported cases. After talking with people that know it is in great part that most people can't afford to pay for health checks or even go see a doctor, so there may be far more CV sufferers than the official total.
It's not a big help either that so many of them still smoke heavily, or live in the most basic conditions. Hacking coughs are a thing of everyday life here, without CV.
Thanks Jamie! Glad yall made it home! Best to Rosie, things getting more serious by the hour here, we can either be like Italy or Korea,I'm hoping Korea , but with our pathetic Political leadership in DC, I fear Italy! Cheers! Jim
 

v v

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Thursday 5 March 2020 Day 8 ~ that evening - central Luxor
Updated V V central France ~ Sunday 24 May

Nearly 3 months since the last update, the world is a different place for us all in such a short time. The rest of this journey will be a photo gallery with comments on the photos added:

Rosie was exhausted and we had a big day coming up starting early the following morning. After dinner she went to bed early and I took a look at Luxor by evening.

The Avenue of the Sphinxes undergoing restoration. The lights just beyond the rise is the Nile Corniche

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Entrance to Luxor Temple maybe a little too restored. The minaret of the mosque to the left is a much later addition

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The temple square about 9pm. Lots of local families gather here during the evening.

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This pair were just 'sitting' and asked if I would take this photo. The man on the right was disabled, his friend from childhood on the left helped him get through life along with other friends. The man in the jacket was well educated and spoke very good English, we chatted about things including politics for a while, then he had to go, a niece or nephew was arriving to celebrate his/her wedding, but would I like to join him? You bet!

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The bride and groom (I think married earlier in the day) arriving, both looked very serious.

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It looked very fairy tale, both looking nervous

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At last the bride smiled, he did too out of the picture. They had each individually greeted their friends and family on the stage, then the fun began...

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To be continued... The next morning across the Nile to the Tombs of the Nobles
 
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v v

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Friday 6 March 2020 Day 9 ~ that evening - central Luxor
Updated V V central France ~ Tuesday 26 May


Early morning from our hotel restaurant balcony, the beginning of the Avenue of the Sphinxes in daylight. In the distance a Nile hotel boat with the west bank beyond.

The west bank holds all the major Luxor tombs, Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut and the tombs of the Nobles along with a 'workers' village.
After breakfast we were headed across the river to the Tombs of the Nobles, crossing the river by public ferry just out of shot to the right.

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Crossed the Nile and waiting for this ferry to leave so we can disembark

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The bow of the ferry we crossed on

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Someone has drawn a face on the bow

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A sense of humour naming this private ferry?

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To be continued...
 
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