Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas on the Nile

Well, we made it to Cairo, as you can see. The view above is from the Jazz Bar on the tenth floor of the Kempinski Nile Hotel, where we're staying. That's the Nile, right there in front of the Sofitel and Sheraton hotels on the opposite riverbank. Don't you love the big holiday message on the side of the Sheraton?

We went to the Jazz Bar last night for a much-needed drink after a long, long, exhausting day of travel.

We got up at 2:30 a.m. and had a car collect us in London an hour later for our 7 a.m. flight. Of course we had a super-chatty driver, which you know is my favorite thing in the world, especially when it's still a couple of hours before dawn. But I figured maybe the guy was trying to stay awake, so I talked to him all the way to Heathrow. Blah blah blah.

Then we had the craziest flight to Istanbul. First there was a lot of chaos as people had to be shuffled to different seats, and then all the baggage in the overhead compartments had to be plundered because one passenger "refused to fly" (?) and the flight attendants had to find and remove their bags. Then, in mid-air and during meal service, they asked twice over the PA system if there was a doctor on the plane. Not sure what that was about.

We landed in Istanbul at 2 p.m. with several hours to kill before our connection. I was amused to find the Istanbul airport decked out for Christmas, with "Jingle Bells" loudly playing. For some reason I thought in a majority-Muslim country there wouldn't be so much Christmas enthusiasm, but there it was. At an airport shop I bought a new bathing suit covered with images of tree sloths, kind of like Dave's sloth socks. (Apparently there's a pool available on our Nile boat trip.)

We saw at least six guys walking around who'd had very recent hair transplants. Like, still red and hurting. We wondered what the heck was up with that, and an Internet search revealed that apparently traveling to Istanbul for a hair transplant is a thing. I guess it's much cheaper there.

"Should we get you a present?" said Dave.

Then we had an equally chaotic flight to Cairo, with people once again sitting in the wrong seats. Some people have a very hard time telling 33A from 33F -- although, to be fair, maybe our alphabet isn't the one they routinely use.

In Cairo, we were met by our guide, Cesar, who walked us through getting our visa, passport control, baggage collection and customs. Basically all we did was walk beside him and haul out our wallets at the appropriate times. We boarded a van for our hotel, and Cesar talked to us about Egypt and its culture all the way, I suspect to distract us from the wildly weaving Egyptian traffic. At the hotel Cesar checked us in (apparently we're completely incompetent on our own) and agreed to pick us up around lunchtime today for our onward travel to Luxor. We'll be back in Cairo for sightseeing at the end of the trip.

See why I needed that drink?


  1. Anywhere around the world where there is a dollar to be earned, Christmas is big - like very big. Non-christian countries tend to use the form "Xmas" for obvious reasons - and people have absolutely no idea what the original holiday is for. Enjoy Egypt! And looking forward to reading all about your trip.

  2. Sounds like an interesting journey! Looking forward to hearing more of your trip.

  3. You only needed ONE drink? I'm thinking a minimum of three.
    What chaotic flights, I hope all this isn't the forerunner of things to come..
    As for Cesar, he's your guide and maybe that's how things are done in Egypt. It's also possible that all this attention might have irked you because you had a long and tiring trip and you were just a teensy weensy bit cranky and irritable.
    Just sayin'.

  4. I guess that seeing the hair transplant guys gave you the seed of an idea. You would look so cool with an afro day. No pain no gain. Maybe Dave will buy you a voucher. As for Cesar - I thought he was Roman, not Egyptian. I hope that Dave doesn't get a tummy upset while you are in Egypt.

  5. Cairo's got it going on, doesn't it?
    After having watched far more episodes of "Botched-Up Bodies" than anyone should, I can tell you that cosmetic surgery tourism is a huge thing. Also- DON'T DO IT!
    Sounds like a rather stressful day of travel. And long. Way too long. "Is there a doctor on board?"
    Anyway, glad you're settled and have yourselves situated with Cesar. Now- ENJOY!

  6. What a lovely video and beautiful view! I've never been to Cairo, so this was a nice surprise. As for the hair transplant, I say no no no. You look just fine the way you are. Enjoy your vacation and take lots of photos. Hugs, Edna B.

  7. Yikes, what a travel nightmare. A drink was certainly in order. Loved the little video. That's quite a display on the hotel. That's funny about the hair transplant people. I can't believe people fly all over the world for cosmetic surgery. You are probably floating down the Nile right now. Enjoy!

  8. so, was there a doctor on board? I was surprised too at the christmas display in Egypt. as for hair transplants consider this...a vain plastic surgeon I knew once had gotten got hair plugs to fill in. when I saw him again years later, his hair had continued to fall out and all he had left were the plugs. looked really weird. anyway, I'd be glad for Cesar doing everything for me. looking forward to lots of pictures.

  9. That sounds like a long and exhausting day/night of travel. That view of the Nile makes it so worth the effort. It surprise me to see Christmas lights on the building. It didn't occur to me that Christmas would be celebrated there. Thank you so much for traveling. I get to see things I would never dream of.

  10. When we were in Sopron, Hungary we were surprised to learn that it's "the world capital of dental implants." Who knew? I wonder if there is a directory of what different countries provide. The video is very pretty. It's good to have a Cesar to smooth the way and clear a path.

  11. I enjoyed the video. Interesting boat all lit up going down the Nile. And after that day of traveling and confusion I'm surprised you only needed one drink!

  12. Ugh - this is reminding my why I enjoyed our cruise so much. Lots of chaos getting to the ship, but once we got there it was very relaxing! I hope your river cruise is just as relaxing!

  13. you made it! Bravo! Thank goodness for Cesar, quite a handy fellow to have around.

    Looking forward to your pictures from the ship.

  14. I am amazed that Christmas is so popular there. Great video.
    Hair plugs and comb-overs. No. No. No!
    I am looking forward to seeing more about your trip. If you get the chance, order a 'Magic Potion'..Bailey's and eggnog. Divine!

  15. That sounds stressful and reminds me why I like to stay home :)

    Hope tomorrow is much smoother. Enjoy!