to Farafra around 10.30am and Amei bade farewell before
heading off to Bahariya in her Landcruiser. Originally, we
had ourselves planned to stay in Bahariya for a night but
we felt the oases towns had been "much of a muchness"
and we had already seen three of them, so we decided to go straight
to Cairo that night.
took a stroll through Badr's Art Museum (EP5 which
includes a brochure and 2 postcards).
There are some delightful sculptures and paintings here and
it is well worth the money. Don't be put off by the somewhat
"kitsch" exterior garden! This man has produced some
excellent work - the sculptures in particular.
We lunched at
"Colonils" run by Colonel Ali, an ex military
man with a very loud voice and engaging personality. He tells us
the night bus (10pm) to Cairo might be full so perhaps we
would be wise to try for a taxi at 7pm for EP25 each. It
is a seven hour trip.
Taking this advice, we returned at 6.30pm with Jay. We found
Colonel Ali in a jovial mood, laughing and joking as we walked
up the road to where the microbuses were congregated. The Colonel,
who obviously had a great deal of sway with the locals, organised
a microbus to Cairo for us, droppng us off at Midan Tahrir
for EP25 each. That was very good news, as considering
we would be arriving in Cairo at 2am, this would enable us
to be within walking distance of our hotel.
We returned to the Colonel's restaurant and had tea whilst
waiting for the microbus to fill.
Colonel Ali used to live in Alexandria so when we
said we were going there next he gave us a great deal of helpful
advice. His wife and two married daughters still live in Alexandria.
Telling us he was originally a "New Valley" (Western
Oases) man who had returned to his roots, he said his wife was not
prepared to join him in Farafra so he might have to take
a new "young" wife. (This said with a gleam in his eye)
Suddenly, there was a fanfare of horns and our transport arrived.
We were off, lost in the night. It was sad to say farewell to Jay,
who has been such a good friend! I'm sure we will meet again on
our travels - perhaps, like Nellie the Elephant "on the
road to Mandalay" for he often goes to Burma. He
has been collecting colourful Australian sayings and is wandering
around "throwing up his frock", "spitting the
dummy" and "playing for sheep stations".
He also loves the phrase "You've got Buckley's"
which Guy had to explain to him. (I never knew the origin of this
We had plenty of room with only a few people in the microbus. One
stop at Bahariya allowed us to buy a snack for dinner. Bahariya
looked really interesting and we were wishing we had decided to
stop overnight there.
It was bitterly cold in the bus, with windows that kept sliding
open, so we unrolled my sleeping bag and draped it around us.
We drove into the outskirts of Cairo at 2am. On the freeway
into town we got a puncture, necessitating a brief stop, but suddenly
we were driving past the Ramses Hilton.
"Stop!" I cried "We can walk from here."
The driver pulled over, unloaded our bags and departed, pleased
with the extra baksheesh we had given him for a good trip.
We walked past the Hilton down Mahmoud Bassiouni Street
to our old hotel, the Pension Vienna. Cairo is a town
that never sleeps and even at 2.30 in the morning there was traffic
on the road and people in the streets. We felt perfectly safe as
we did throughout our trip to the Middle East.
The night man at the Pension Vienna recognised us with a
smile and a slap of the hand and showed us a room. Believe me, we
fell like dead men! What a day!