Sunday, 29 July 2012

Walk like an Egyptian

Egypt was always on my list of must see countries, but things were getting quite heated prior to my arrival ... and mum kept suggesting I rethink my travel plans so I decided to do a tour with Intrepid just to be on the safe side - and to let them do the negotiations in case I got kidnapped.

I'm a bit tardy with my first blog from Egypt, but the Egyptians aren't big on wifi ... or many other technical things such as computers with an internet connection.

I arrived in Cairo at around 2am and it was a balmy (read that as bloody hot) 35 degrees. I had a day before I had to meet the group so decided to beat the heat at the lovely pool at the intercontinental hotel over looking the Nile.

After a relaxed afternoon with Tania who I'd met in the hotel lobby we rocked up to see who we would be spending the next two weeks with. Very cool, only three other people, girls from the states who are much more Mexican than American. And Ahmed our fab if a little crazy leader.

My first adventure was of course the pyramids. We're belting along the highway in our van when there they are. Such acool site.

The pyramids are much bigger than I expected ....very awesome.

To get a closer look I decided that a camel would be my transport of choice.

Betsy (alias) was a very cool camel, we had a relaxing little journey in the belting Egyptian sun.

The next stop was the sphinx, which was much smaller than I imagined but very very cool.

I needed a beverage stop after all the wandering in the 40 degree heat (at 9am) so made my way over to a group of kids with an esky. I grabbed a seat and hung out with the kids - I was quite good at yelling out coca cola only 10 pounds. Sadly I didn't actually make a sale but the kids were highly amused.

Driving to the museum we went past liberation square where many protestors are still camping out.

The next stop was the Egyptian museum. Sadly cameras are not allowed in so you'll have to take my word for it when I say that this is one of the best museums I have ever been to. The sheer number of artifacts that are so well preserved is mind blowing.

I was so excited to see the King Tut display. Despite the fact that King Tut didn't achieve much during his reign, his tomb is the only one in Egypt that was found intact, hence his claim to fame. His multiple casks, gold masks etc are all there ... very awesome. Makes me understand why Molly Meldrum is so into all things Egyptian.

After a busy day in the crazy city of Cairo it was off to the station to board our train to Aswan. I was prepared for the worst given my Indian train experiences, but the Egyptians can sure run a train service. There are only 2 bunks I each room, there is a lockable door, a sink and towel, very clean linen and a butler type dude delivers edible food.

I woke the next morning to find the train at a stand still. It was very early so I wandered down to the 'have a ciggie' carriage to get a coffee. I found out that we are still 2.5 hours from Aswan and there were protestors blocking the tracks. We waited it out for 5 hours ...

... until Ahmed our fearless leader called for a car to come get us. Well the landscape was a bit desolate....

Many of the passengers looked on in envy as we climbed across the tracks and got into the old blue beast, our transport for the next 3 hours.

We passed the protestors on the way ... they looked like they would have scattered if the train had of ploughed on through.

We arrived in the beautiful town of Aswan sweaty but ready for the next adventure. So we dumped our gear and jumped on a boat to cruise around the islands in the Nile.

We stopped on an island where i had a swim with some local kids. The nile is very cold.

The next morning we were up at 3am to join the three hour convoy to Abu Simbel. The two temples are full of carving and paintings on every surface, cameras weren't allowed inside but the entrances will give some idea of how amazing this place is.

These temples totally blew me away so i wasnt sure whether anything else would measure up or if egypt had peaked too early.

The answer to that and to my crazy sisters' comments about me getting parasites from swimming in the Nile will be in my next post coming soon (while I have a rare wifi day or two) .... unless the parasites get to me first!

Posted from somewhere round the world...

Friday, 13 July 2012

London ... our time is over, just like your summer!

Friday 13 July, my last full day in London. I've woken really early and am drinking coffee and enjoying some time without rain. But it is grey and overcast so the next shower isn't far away.

I've had a ball in this amazing city despite the weather. I've played tourist, joined a gym, caught up with loads of friends and enjoyed being able to cook meals or do the washing. After five months on the road it has been amazing having a home with Kristen for six weeks.

It's so easy to play tourist in this town. There is so much to see and do and I've only just scratched the surface. I was lucky enough to have a few days of sunshine when I got back from Paris, so made the most of it.

Please note the sunshine ... It is a rare event in London!

I hopped on a boat and took a leisurely cruise down the Thames to Greenwich. It was a rare day indeed as I got a bit sunburnt.

Greenwich is a cute little down... And they make damned good fish and chips.

I also left the city and headed further afield on my adventures. I popped in to Windsor Castle to see Lizzie ... she's been having a break in the cute town of Windsor trying to recover from her big Jubilee celebrations. The flag's up so Lizzie was home and probably ready to make me a cup of tea.

The gardens around the castle were beautiful. I included this shot cause I thought mum would like it.

Not only did I get to see the guards practice a few tunes, they took a march through the town. Showing off a bit really ... but gave me some good photo opps.

Bath was the next stop on my adventure. My arrival in town coincided with a big storm but luckily there were very strong winds to blow it away.

The cathedral in Greenwich is magnificent. The Roman Baths are also very cool but there were a few too many people in there for my liking so I strolled the streets.

Bath is the kind of place you could stay for a week. I only had a few hours so strolled a bit faster than usual around town, well as fast as you can go while drinking a warm chai late that is.

Then it was on to Stonehenge. As it was summer solstice we weren't allowed in ... Didn't bloody tell me this when I booked the ticket. But is was pouring rain again so probably good to stay on the bus.

Despite the sightseeing adventures, I was getting a bit over the cold, wet weather so on a whim popped in to Flight Centre near my gym in Clapham. A few minutes later I walked out the proud owner of flights to Bulgaria.

Now I've never been to Bulgaria and to be honest never knew much about the place but it's 35 degrees, has a fab beach and is cheap ... handy when you are on a budget. So off to Bulgaria I went.

I had a lovely week on the beach, swimming in the slightly cool ocean and reading on my sun lounge. But boy the Bulgarians are a weird bunch. Apologies to any Bulgarians out there but you are odd. There are no photos of this week as I don't take my camera to the beach and to be honest I didn't really go anywhere else. But I did get an amazing suntan.

Back from Bulgaria I was still in a beach mood so Kristen and I decided to spend the day in Brighton. I may have been pouring rain, but we were prepared to dress for the occasion.

But there was a miracle. After a short 45 mins on the train we arrived in Brighton to brilliant sunshine. There were even some poor deluded souls swimming.

Now I'm never one to waste some sunshine so I did a little baking while we had fish & chips and bevies on the beach.

It was a very fab day but in the end we had to grab a cab to the station as we got caught in a big downpour!

One of the big events on my London calendar, and the reason I extended my stay was to see Cold Chisel play at Shepherds Bush Empire. And the boys didn't disappoint.

It's probably a good thing I'm leaving town now, I was playing tourist around town yesterday albeit with a slight cold chisel hangover and the streets were crazy busy. I think Olympic chaos has hit town already ... best I head to the quieter streets of Cairo!

Posted from somewhere round the world...