Vacation 2013 - Egypt & Greece, Days 1 & 2 "Over the Ocean and Through the Airports, To Egypt We Go!"

So, the U.S. Department of State is currently warning U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Egypt to defer non-essential travel to Egypt at this time due to the continuing possibility of political and social unrest. It's a pretty intense situation over there, so I am glad that we went when we did.  Even then, people kind of looked at us sideways when we told them where we were going.

But Egypt has been at the top of my "must-see" list for a while, and once we found out we would be relocating for an engineering position Francisco had been offered, our focus immediately turned to 'how can we squeeze in a vacation this year?' (oh, and finding a place to live :P.)  Less than a month after he received the official offer, we were gazing at the Giza pyramids.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 – Day 1

This barely counts as “Day 1”, but technically we boarded the flight Wednesday, so thus began our vacation. I worked a full day, then we drove up to Hammond, grabbed some Dunkin Donuts for munchies, and made our way out to O’Hare. Our flight to Istanubul didn’t leave until 10:15 PM. We flew Turkish Airlines, so we just had a short layover in Istanbul, Turkey before we would arrive in Egypt. I managed to doze for most of the trip, so it wasn't unbearable. But, boy, do I hate long-haul flights! By far, the worst part of travel.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013 – Day 2

We arrived in Istanbul at 5:05 PM on Thursday, and our flight to Cairo was at 6:10 PM. Our bags were being checked through, so we had a little bit of time to kill. We wandered around the airport a little bit, grabbed a pretty untasty sandwich, ate some stale Dunkin Donuts, and waited to board.

It was a pretty short flight to Egypt - we were to arrive at 7:25 PM.  We were in line with the moon as we flew into Africa.

Our dinner didn't look too appetizing, but at least it was vegetarian.

We had made all of our reservations with Memphis Tours, and a representative was to meet us at the airport, We thought that would be after customs, but we caught sight of a guy holding a sign with Francisco's name as we neared the customs area.  We all introduced ourselves, and he asked if we had a Visa yet. We said no, and he took us to a counter to purchase one. You hand them money, they give you a Visa. Easy enough. :-P

We collected our luggage and saw that the front part of our large bag was absolutely shredded. Good thing we hadn't stored anything in there. Here was the first time Francisco was asked if he was Egyptian.  (We learned that he apparently has a very multicultural face, because he was asked several times throughout the trip - and then he was asked if he was Greek once we'd made it to Greece!)   Customs was a breeze, and then we follow Mohammed outside to get in the vehicle. Mohammed chatted about a variety of things as we kind of stared wide-eyed out the window at the insane traffic, people milling about everywhere, and tried to make out the dim shapes of the pyramids as we pulled up to our hotel. We were pretty jet-lagged. It was a fair distance from the airport, so it was probably about 9:00 PM or so once we arrived.  

We sat in the lobby while Mohammed handled check-in at the Mena House Hotel in Giza, Egypt.  It was so opulent and amazing. We had paid for half of the tour when we booked online, so we attempted to pay for the other half in person, but his credit card reader wasn't working.  He tried a couple times, but ultimately decided to try again the next day.  Thank goodness because I was ready to crash.

The grounds of the hotel are pretty big, so a golf cart took us to the building we would be staying in.  It seemed pretty empty. Everything was very clean and modern looking. Our room was spacious. Our luggage took a few minutes to arrive, but finally we were able to go to bed. And we slept pretty soundly.  


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