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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Return to Cairo, 2015

With the holidays past, we turned our attention to the annual trip to Egypt and our non-conventional escape from Minnesota winter.  This year, we again had two stops en-route, at London and Paris.  Total trip time would be about sixteen hours if everything went well, and the hour and a half between planes in London proved adequate.  I was betting against it.

This winter hasn't been too bad in the Twin Cities from a snow and ice standpoint.  It has just been rather cold.  This is the first time in three years that I could get all of the Christmas decorations and cords out of the front yard before we left.  Linda posed for a picture but I didn't get up early enough to capture the minus five degree reading on our thermometer.  You can see it was still chilly around noon.
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We cleared TSA security easily enough in spite of the fact that I was carrying a heavy Xbox game console for a friend here. The Xbox proved of much interest to security staff in three countries.  We settled in at the gate and Linda thought she heard our name called so took our tickets and went up to the counter.  Perhaps we were getting seat assignments on the London-Paris leg which were still open.

While she took care of that, I listened in mixed fascination and horror as a group travel leader lectured her flock on the criminals and scams that would await them at their destination.  Pickpockets - luggage thieves - con artists.  I was appalled.  After a bit, I asked one of the members of the delegation where on earth they were going?  Nairobi I thought?  No, "London, England," was the reply.  I'm glad we don't have any of those kind of problems in Egypt.

Linda brought back a new set of boarding passes and sure enough, we now had assigned seats on the London-Paris leg.

As we began boarding, Linda pointed out that we also were now in row 4 instead of row 40.  We won the lottery!  First Class across the Atlantic.  Now this is the way flying should be.  Four seats to the row instead of eight and each seat stretches out into a bed.  As usual, I rushed to get our baggage into the overhead compartment, not realizing that each person in first class has their own compartment.  Oh, how the other half live.

While we waited for the second class folks to board, flight attendants brought around glasses of champagne.  I felt like "Wally Bird" in the old Western Airlines commercials of the 1960s.
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Once off the ground we were offered complementary cocktails.  Glenlivet Scotch?  Why yes, please - on the rocks - and, make mine a double.  It was served with shrimp and avocado.  I was very happy that Linda had retained her Silver status with Delta via that Portuguese vacation with her traveling ladies during the summer.  We thoroughly enjoyed the dinners before getting several hours honest rest.  (I loved the lobster mac & Cheese.)
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Tail winds gave us a seven hour flight and we had ample time to move through security a second time and reach our gate at London's Heathrow airport.  We had once had a very bad experience changing terminals there and have avoided the place since.  Delta/Air France seem to have a smooth running operation though.  The departing flights seemed to all be bound for interesting locations and several well-know London shops were represented in the terminal.  Those $140 "power shirts" were marked down to around $80.  They brought back fond memories of my days at Pillsbury and Dayton's, but I passed.
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In Paris, we arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport and passed through security a third time, unaware of the emerging Charlie Hebdo crisis that was occurring downtown and that would bring a manhunt to the area near the airport in a couple of days.  There was an unusual police presence at our gate, though.  Since this was a flight from France to Egypt, there was also one of those poisonous "smoking boxes" close by and there were plenty of smokers from the two countries anxious to get in a few final puffs.


The four or five hour flight from Paris or other European City to Cairo usually offers a nice view of the Dolomite mountains before settling down to parallel the Italian coast.  This day was no exception.


We arrived just a bit late at the International terminal in Cairo a couple of hours after sunset.  We quickly cleared passport control, customs and were met by a good friend who took us to our apartment after a stop to pick up a few groceries and bakery goods for breakfast.

It was our smoothest and most pleasant trip to Cairo yet.

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