We had a very late night last night, so a little bit of sleeping in was definitely in order. We were able to leisurely eat breakfast and get packed up before the ground operator arrived at the hotel to transfer us to the airport. We can’t say enough great things about the operator in Turkey, Universal Travel. They were so organized and awesome compared to the experiences we had on the islands. The same person who met us the first day came back to take us to the airport. He walked with us through the line to get us checked in and stayed with us to the point of passport security to make sure everything went smoothly. In addition to giving us more history as we drove to the airport and stood in line, he gave us parting gifts of Turkish towels and a blue eye for good luck.
And the good luck (or my last minute emails to the travel agent and operator) worked, because the ground operator in Egypt was waiting for us at our gate! They told us that Goway had provided them the wrong pickup time, and they had to rush to their airport to pick us up. They made it, though, and that was what mattered to us. We read some less than positive reviews of the experience getting a visa and navigating the airport in Cairo this morning, so we were getting our game faces on when we saw the gentleman with our name on a sign. Woohoo! He took us directly to the visa window and had us through the business class passport control line in less than 5 minutes. He loaded up our luggage, and we were off to our hotel in Giza.
The long trip to the hotel was a bit harrowing for a Western driver… I told Tim that the lanes on the highway were clearly suggestions only, as people straddled lanes for long periods of time as they wove in and out of traffic. Our transfer guide told us that cars move in a snake-like pattern in Cairo, and it was definitely true! Add to that the high speeds everyone was traveling, and I was sure that at any moment we were going to be in a twenty-car pile up!
We crossed the River Nile on our way to the hotel, and all I could think about was seventh grade social studies. I remember sitting in the classroom talking about Egypt and looking at illustrations of Egyptians in reeds next to the river. And here I am, riding on a bridge right above that very river. It was surreal. And then, the guide pointed out the first glimpse of a pyramid between some buildings. I think my breath caught for a moment. As we got closer to our hotel, the pyramids were more visible and became larger and larger. We pulled into our hotel, and it looked like we were pretty much across the street from the pyramids. Wow-oh-wow. I think I was so stunned by the experience that I didn’t even think to get a picture until it was already dark outside, thus the lack of photos for today. (Tune in tomorrow; I’m sure I’ll have loads!)
The guide got us checked in, and gave us information about our tour tomorrow. We pretty much knew the answer, but when Tim asked about walking around near our hotel, the guide said it was better that we did not. We are near a busy intersection, and he felt it would be best if we hung out around the hotel. So that is what we have done this evening. They have a couple restaurants, and we’ve walked around the property a bit. Our hotel room is not exactly what we expected, but the travel agent is working to make sure we end up where we were supposed to be. For now, we at least have a bed, which is important. We’re ready to cozy up and get some sleep before a big day tomorrow at the pyramids!