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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

An armed escort to Cairo

Day 11 Port Siad.
 First impressions as we docked by 7am was not good. At first I thought it was because of the general look with itss high rise flats looking grim in the morning light. And then I noticed the rubbish lying around. Not a good first impression for any cruise ship arriving with what turned out to be most welcome tourist.

 With our tour to see King Tut at the Cairo museum and then onto Geezer to see the great Pyramids, we had to breakfast early, collect our passports which had to be stamped by the Egyptian authorities and proceed to the coach by 7.45am for the 3 ½ journey to Cairo. And what a journey that was. First thing we became aware of as we left was the sirens. Turned out that we not only had a security guy on the coach with us but had  an armed guard consisting of 3 Police vehicles and 1 police motor cyclist escorting us tto the motorway. They stopped traffic at junctions, diverted traffic to keep us moving and cut up any vehicle that tried to get in front! Talk about feeling important. All the locals stopped and stared and then gave us a cheery wave.

 Even with all this hardwear around it still took ¾ hour before we made it through the city. The traffic was horrendous. And we think we have it bad. Still this was nothing compared with Cairo. Our tour guide told us for an Egyptian to pass his test all he needed to do was go forward for two hundred yards, backwards the same distance, pass the eyesight test and he get his licence. Once they owned a car they also felt they owned the road so consequently driving on the highway was a free for all with slow cars in the fast lane and drifting from lane to lane. Many a time our coach driver had to slam on breaks and use evasive maneuvers On the outskirts of Cairo the Police joined us again but even they couldn't get us through the traffic any quicker.

  We made it to Cairo within 5 minutes off the 3½ hours so this journey was timed to perfection. Loved the museum of Antiquities and would have loved to see it all but our allotted time only allowed us to see the wonderful artifacts found in the boy kings tomb. Nothing can compare to seeing king Tutankhamuns gold mask and belongings. We were all in awe of the magnificence of it.No photos to show as cameras would have been confiscated if caught taking a photo and I wasn't going to risk that!! Leaving for lunch in the Meridian hotel overlooking the Giza pyramides we then made our way to the Pyramids. Now this is where I felt the whole experience a bit truamatic. Every where you went the Arabs accosted you to buy their tat (and I mean tat). At one point I was trying to take a photo of Ian at the Pyramid tpo show the size of stone when he barged in and wouldn't let us go until we bought something. No amount of threats to him made any difference and it was only because Ian finally agreed to by a head dress for 2 Euro that we escaped. No wonder Egypt has a bad reputation and not just because of what happened several years ago at the central Tahrir Square in Cairo

(The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, but the decisive moment that changed the region forever was the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the West’s key Arab ally, in power since 1980. Mass protests started on January 25 2011 and Mubarak was forced to resign on February 11, after the military, similar to Tunisia, refused to intervene against the masses occupying the central Tahrir Square in Cairo.)

Anyway made our way to the Sphinx and because of the lateness of the hour I got some good photos without the usual amount of bodies hanging around.

 Got back to the ship after a 4 hour escorted journey back at 9pm. Now Balmoral was due to sail at 11pm and enter the Suez canal at 1am. This understandably pee'd us all off as it would be dark during the voyage through. So we were delighted to be told that because of a convoy of 40 ships waiting to go through we wouldn't be leaving until 7am. Went to bed happy.

 As I have so many photo of today I have put them on my web album so if you would like to see the rest click on the link.


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