Rob and Jacky Black
Mon 28 Jun 2010 10:56

31 18.5 N 32 18.2 E

Port Said and Cairo 22nd - 26th June

While making breakfast on our arrival Jacky leant over the cooker and her blouse caught fire

in trying to rip it away from her body she burnt her left hand. The shock was bad and the burns really hurt – she immersed the hand in water and ice for more than an hour and then had a special burn dressing applied which helped to ease the pain. Two pain killers and a 4 hour sleep restored

her a bit so we were still able to join the trip to Cairo the following morning. The bus left at 0600

so having packed up we secured the boat and headed off for the 3 hour journey across rather flat and uninteresting land to the city of the Pharaohs! We had a security chap on board each bus and a police escort all the way to the city.The land was very arid apart from a narrow strip along the side of the Nile where one could see large and small fields being heavily farmed. The buildings and towns seemed to be extraordinarily poor and as we approached the capital we went through large areas of ghost suburbs where tower blocks were built but not finished all set close together with seemingly no kind of town planning or care for how they looked – it was pretty grim!

Our first stop was at the Egypt Museum where the majority of the relics from the various pyramids are housed. We headed straight for the exhibition of the tomb of Tutankhamen which was excellently presented well labeled and very interesting. We then wandered around the rest of the halls but were rather over-whelmed by the huge number of sarcophagus and burial items very few of which were labeled. Next on the agenda was the Citadel started by Saladin (of Crusader fame) inside the walls of this rather unimpressive place was a large Mosque with some beautiful painted and mosaic ceilings. After this we were taken to the ancient bazaar area where we had time to wander the alleyways and experience the pushy stall holders and other boys trying to make money by offering to show you the way to the best café! Etc. We were pleased to meet up with our guide and head off to the banks of the Nile for a sail on the river in a traditional felucca which proved to be great fun with our helmsman demonstrating excellent boat skills and 'winning' the race to the bridge and back! After this it was off to the hotel for a rest and some air-conditioning it had been a long day.

Our hotel was very close to the Pyramids of Giza so we had our first view of these as we drove near-bye. I was amazed at how close to the sprawling city they are sited . The hotel was lovely with large rooms elegantly appointed and a huge swimming pool. We had an excellent dinner and were in bed by 2200. Jacky had an early morning swim before breakfast and then it was off to to see the pyramids. In addition to hearing about the building of these enormous structures we were able to take a carriage, camel or horse ride over some dunes to experience the views of the three large pyramids with sprawling Cairo in the back ground. We opted for the carriage but wished we hadn't as it was most uncomfortable!

We then went to see the Sphinx and took some photographs before we were again on the coach and heading back for Port Said. En-route we stopped at Ismailia a town on the lake that is situated in the middle of the Suez canal. Here we saw two huge racing trimarans on passage to France - they are both entrants for this year's Rue de Rhum Race. There is a small sailing club where boats can moor up over night to break the passage through the canal. Our journey back was marred by a rather unpleasant attack on our coach – as we passed a farming area some one threw a water melon on to the windscreen of the bus. Most of us were asleep so the first thing we knew was the bus breaking hard and a loud thud (I thought we had hit a bird at first.) The armed guard on the bus called the local escort car and we stopped as did the other two coaches in our convoy we all witnessed a small van racing off down a narrow dusty track through the fields. Fortunately no one was injured and it wasn't a 'bomb' (but it could have been) so we were all rather subdued for the rest of our journey. (An armored escort with 3 soldiers in full battle gear and shouldering sub machine guns stayed in-front of the bus until we reached the outskirts of Port Said.)

The rally dinner was held in a pleasant hotel looking out across the harbour with tables set around the swimming pool.We had the usual speeches and flag ceremony, followed by a buffet meal and then a rather loud disco. In the hotel there was an Egyptian wedding party going on so some of us went to witness the bride and groom being escorted to their table by a drumming and tambourine ensemble. The bride was resplendent in red with elaborate head gear and many of the female guests were wearing the most beautiful outfits in vivid colours. As we were leaving the following morning for our passage to  Herzliya in Israel we took the first coach available back to the port to get an early night. The following morning we left the harbour just after 0900 and once out of the canal we were able to set the sails and head north. We had a fantastic sail with the wind on the beam and were soon stomping along at 7 + knots at times. (and that was with a reef in the main!) Later the wind died and so the 'iron top'sl' was used again- but all in all we had a good 140 mile passage to our final port on the rally - Herzliya and were all tied up on a finger pontoon by 1000.

Overall our impression of Egypt have been mixed a very bustling place heavily built up with huge areas of poverty around the cities.Litter every where! Contrasting transport donkey carts, bicycles, clapped out cars, ancient buses and luxury BMWs and Mercedes all rub shoulders on the roads. People were friendly and helpful but not so many spoke English.