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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Arriving in Egypt

The flight from Amsterdam was uneventful. Well, if you don't count leaving an hour late because of deicing the plane (temps were right around freezing) and hitting very rough weather over the Alps.  I'm assuming it was over the Alps since we had no navigation view available thanks to the recent "panty-bomber" attack.

We were about an hour and a half into the flight when we hit a heck of an air pocket during dinner service.  Linda caught her dinner as it flew over my tray table, I caught the bun that fell off the tray and the flight attendant's buns just about landed on my lap.  The Brit next to us was mildly panicked.  Dinner service was suspended for a good half hour as we bumped along and our flight attendent later reported, "I've seen worse!"

This put us into Cairo a bit past 3:00 a.m.  We had new paperwork to fill out this year.  A photocopied sheet labeled "H1N1 Quarantine" was passed out to each passenger.  We were invited to check a series of boxes if we were experiencing High Fever, Coughing, Nausea, Diarrhea or several other symptoms.  Well, we knew the Egyptians took this Swine Flu stuff seriously.  They did kill all the pigs in the country.

KLM flies into terminal 1 at Cairo airport where you deplane by climbing down a truck mounted stairway, walk across the tarmac a hundred feet or so and enter a bus.  The bus takes you over to the immigration hall.  As we walked in, two men in white coats, with elbow length plastic gloves and surgical masks were quickly examining the quarantine forms.  I so badly wanted a photograph - but I also wanted to get to my destination.   So you will have to use your imagination.

If you are traveling to Egypt, you can obtain a visa by mailing your passport to the Egyptian Consulate in Chicago in advance of your trip or do what we did.  Walk straight back in the immigration hall to the Bank Misr (Bank of Egypt) booth and hand over 15 U.S. dollars for a visa on the spot.

We quickly passed through passport control, collected our bags and found a "helper" who took us to an office in the airport where we arranged for a car to our apartment.  I obviously "overbid" since I had immediate acceptance of my 100 pounds Egyptian offer."How much do you want to pay?" is the first question in any Egyptian transaction.  Posted prices?  You can't be serious.  That takes all the fun out of buying things.  That's about $18 for a 45 minute taxi ride.

We were in bed by 5:00 a.m.  First call to prayer over the speakers just down the block was at 5:15.

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