Typed up: at Old Oasis Hotel in Bawiti
Posted from: Intr@Net Cyber Cafe in Cairo
Because first class was full, we took a second class train from Luxor to Cairo. We were a bit concerned whether we'd be able to deal with it but it was no problem at all. It was a lot more comfortable than most plane flights we'd been on. Making everything feel even more first class, the first class waiter came by to sell us extra first class meals for lunch. It was expensive, of course, but nice to get a warm meal in us. The train ride lasted about 10 hours so we made good time, too.
Towards the end of the ride I struck up a conversation with an older Japanese man who was riding next to us. Our only common language was French, and I kept sneaking in Arabic words. Funny how your brain works. He was going to a similar place as us, and we helped him take the metro to Sadat Station. It felt nice to help somebody, although he probably didn't need the help nearly as much as I would like to think. It was very busy walking down Talaat Harb to our hotel. The street was full of young people (mostly men) out to go watch a movie. Danielle was a bit nervous in light of some incidents of groups of young men groping women and pulling off their veils just after Ramadan, but it was not a problem at all.
We stayed at the Berlin Hotel in down town. Because it was full we got the spare room which was had some miserable cots in it. I put my mattress on the floor and that was OK. Breakfast was adequate. The manager assured me that their regular rooms are much nicer, with nicer beds and mattresses. I believe him.
Danielle has a small crack in her tooth. It doesn't hurt, but we figure it was worth fixing now while it's still small. We attempted to find a dentist, but the obvious choices were closed for Eid. The other thing to do was buy bus tickets. We took the metro to the very end of the Giza line (El Moneeb) where we looked for the bus by following directions and looking lost. When you get off the metro, walk back a bit with the metro line on your left. At the overpass take a right, and follow it to cross a busy street. Stay on the right and the Upper Egypt Bus Co. is right there. Then buying tickets was another ordeal. I stood in the "line" (crowd) for half an hour while the people inside drank tea and had a meeting. Finally, with help of some other customers who yelled at the people inside on my behalf, I got two tickets for the next day's morning bus.
Walking back, we had a little interesting experience buying oranges. We were charged the fair, advertised price, but the boys manning (boying?) the cart wouldn't accept my 1-pound coins as payment. They insisted on being paid in paper money. We've heard that people don't like the coins (and consistently get them in change in favor of the paper) but haven't encountered this yet.
We had a late lunch at Gad (solid food, best pizza in Egypt so far but no tomato sauce). For dinner we splurged on Kowloon, supposedly the best Chinese restaurant in town. The food was very tasty, and it was a great change of flavors. Wandering back, the streets were even busier than the night before. Tons of people were out, especially in front of the movie theaters. We saw (from 15 rows of people away) a few pushing matches which the police (which were present in large numbers) quickly ended. I assume some people got upset that others cut in front of them, but I don't really know what was going on.
In the morning we got up quite early for our bus. We left so early that we didn't even get our free hotel breakfast, but just munched on oranges and dates instead.