Egypt

VIP Treatment at the Cairo Airport

Earlier this winter when we decided to go to Egypt for a long weekend, our buddy Adam (who traveled with us) was telling some friends of his that we were heading to Egypt.  As he was talking to his friends about Egypt he soon found out that they used to live there, and still had some great connections in Cairo. They were so excited that we were visiting their home country and offered to help us plan our trip to Cairo!  We were all pretty excited to have some help from people who knew the country so well.  They asked for copies of our passports and flight itineraries, then assured us that everything would be taken care of.  We were so surprised and grateful for their help!  A couple of weeks before our trip, they told us that they would have a driver for us at the Cairo airport, and that everything was taken care of for us . . . . . . . we all thought hmmmmmm . . . . . . I wonder what that means?!?

We all just figured that we would be looking for a guy at the airport holding a clipboard with our name, and that he would give us a ride to our hotel.  We were super excited about it, but then this happened . . . . . .

When we landed in Cairo, I was a bit disappointed when there wasn’t a gate available for the plane to pull into.  Instead, the plane had to park on the runway, and we would be shuttled to the terminal in those cramped busses, like cattle going to the slaughterhouse.  Rachel and I got off the plane first, with our friends Adam & Lauren a few rows back.  We were approaching the bottom of the rickety staircase from the plane, about ready to head towards the bus, when we noticed 3 huge dudes, in black suits and aviator sunglasses standing with their arms crossed, looking all tough.  One of the guys was holding a sign that said, “Adam XXX and friends.”  I thought to myself, holy crap I know Adam XXX and that means I’m one of the “and friends!”  We introduced ourselves to the guys, as they quickly grabbed our bags from us.  Adam and Lauren were soon to follow, and were just as surprised as us, to be greeted on the runway at a major international airport!

Once we were all together, the three dudes led us AWAY from the packed busses and the crowds, towards two luxury cars parked on the runway next to the plane.  These weren’t just two  regular cars, they were brand new Jaguars!  Adam and I kind of looked at each other like, “WTF, are these for us?!?!”  We were correct, they were!  Rachel and I hopped into the back seat of one car and Adam and Lauren had their own.  The next thing we know, the driver is hauling ass across the tarmac!

I’m sure the grin on my face was from ear-to-ear. I kept whispering to Rachel, “this is so awesome!”  I didn’t want to talk to loud, so the driver knew that this is how I “always” travel.  We were able to sneak a quick selfie in:

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After a high speed ride around the tarmac, we pulled into a special VIP entrance at the terminal.

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When we walked in, we were the only passengers inside this special area, and it was so fancy and nice inside!  There was a little security checkpoint inside and when we tried putting our bags on the conveyor belt, the worker started laughing at us and told us, “no, no, no.”  We walked through the metal detector (as it was beeping like crazy) and were ushered through to this super fancy terminal area. They even laid out the red carpet for us!

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Then they led us into our own private waiting room!  The room even had a butler, who brought us complimentary food and drinks!

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After we got cozy in our own private hang out area, a worker took all 4 of our passports and said he would be back soon.  He ran off with them and headed to Immigration/Customs to get our visas for us.  We just sat there giggling, enjoying the moment, living the life of the rich and famous!

After about 20 minutes our guy returned with our passports and we were all set to leave the airport.  He walked us through towards an exit, where another driver and a tour guide were waiting for us.  We soon found out that they were “assigned” to us for the next four days!  They would do anything we wanted, at anytime, and take us anywhere.  They had a four day itinerary jam packed with things to do.  All of this was arranged by my buddy Adam’s friend, who’s main focus was to show us a good time and to make sure we enjoyed their home country!

All weekend in Egypt, we just chuckled about the whole experience.  We wondered if we would have the same VIP treatment when we departed Cairo, but we didn’t want to get our hopes up.

The day we left Cairo, my fingers were still crossed that we would get to ride in Jaguars.  When we pulled into the airport, we quickly realized that our driver wasn’t going to the Main Terminal.  I held my breath, and sure enough, we had arrived at the special VIP entrance at the airport!

We were greeted by a butler and led back to our special private waiting room.  We didn’t have to check any of our bags, stand in long lines, check-in, or deal with any of the other hassles of airports.  A worker grabbed our passports and told us he would be back with our boarding passes soon.

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As we were enjoying our morning in the lap of luxury, we soon realized that our plane was departing in 45 minutes, and our guy still hadn’t returned with our passports or boarding passes!  We were getting a little nervous so we double checked the status with another worker, and they said, “no problem, have a seat” as they pointed us back to our room.  Next thing you know . . . . . 30 minutes until departure . . . . . . 15 minutes until departure . . . . .

About 10 minutes before our plane was scheduled to depart, our butler returned without any sense of urgency with our passports and boarding passes.  We were practically freaking out and thought for sure that we were going to miss our flight.  However thankfully, they had two cars waiting for us outside to escort us directly to the plane on the runway again!

After our high speed cruise across the tarmac, we approached the plane and could see all of the other passengers getting off the crowded bus and boarding.  The driver pulled right up to the staircase, but wouldn’t let us out of the car until all of the passengers were on the plane.  As we got out of the car you could just tell that everyone was starring out their window thinking, “are these people rich celebrities or something?”

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Perhaps we gave it away though when we walked past all of the First Class seats on the plane, and cuddled into Coach with all of the other middle class people!

Until this trip, I had no idea that services like this even existed!  It is something that none of us will probably ever experience again, but it sure was fun and makes for some fun stories!

Egypt Through the Eyes of Mitch’s iPhone

The other day I was going through the pictures on my iPhone, reminiscing about the memories of the last few months, when I realized . . . . . I have some pretty crazy photos on here that people would like to see!  So here are a few from our trip to Egypt last February:

  • The main reason we decided to travel to Egypt was to see the Pyramids.  For some reason I assumed that they would be located out in the middle of the desert, but boy was I wrong!  The city of Cairo/Giza is basically built right around them.  I was surprised when we were driving down the road to check-in to our hotel, and BOOM . . . . there were the Pyramids!
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  • We even had a view of the Pyramids from the pool at our hotel!
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  • Cairo isn’t one of the nicest/cleanest cities we’ve ever been to.  Here is a view of one of the freeways in the city.  *Notice the garbage along the center median and the amount of sand along the emergency lane.
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  • One of my favorite things to do when we travel is to buy food from street vendors.  In Cairo you could find just about any type of fruit or vegetable being sold alongside any street.  We bought some of these bananas from a guy on a bicycle and they were DELICIOUS!
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  • Cairo isn’t a very rich city, so one of my favorite things to see were the different types of transportation.  Here I was able to snap a picture of a tuk tuk (like we saw in Sri Lanka) and also a donkey pulling a wagon down the street.
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  • This guy was nearly breaking the speed limit with his 2 donkeys!
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  • We also saw horses pulling wagons.  This one was right in the middle of the city, with tons of speeding cars going by.  The engine size for this wagon is 1-horsepower (insert charity laugh here, for my lame joke!)
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  • When you did see a vehicle, chances were that it was overloaded with either goods (or even people).  By looking at this picture, I would assume that this little truck is slightly overweight . . . .
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  • Even when the trucks got bigger, they still seem to find a way to overload them!
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  • One day my buddy Adam and I ventured out to the desert to visit some secluded ruins.  I love this picture, with the lush palm trees going right in the middle of nowhere.
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  • Inside one of the ruins we found these awesome hieroglyphics.  They were so precise with such outstanding detail.
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  • It’s kind of hard to see in this photo, but it is a zoomed out view of the hieroglyphics in the previous picture!  The walls of the ruins were completely covered in them!  Every single image was as precise as the one next to it.  It was incredible to view such large areas of them, it must have taken them years to accomplish!
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  • We also saw lots of graphics like this one.  This one was about 6 feet tall, and right outside the exterior door of one of the ruins.
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Sometimes I wish I had our big fancy camera along to capture high quality images, however sometimes the images you are able to capture in a moment’s notice with your iPhone, are just as special and memorable.

 

 

The Camel Ride from Hell

**Warning this post is going to contain lots of fucking vulgar language.  Like . . . . . tons!  So to my mom, “I’m sorry.”  The events listed below were a traumatic experience for my friends and I, and swearing is the only way to effectively describe it.  We still laugh uncontrollably when we reminisce about this camel riding experience in Egypt.  Now, let’s fucking begin! (oh shit, there’s another curse word).

Before our recent trip to Egypt, I was reading online that you could take a camel ride through the desert around the Pyramids.  I thought to myself, “cool, what an awesome experience!”  Unfortunately our experience wasn’t awesome. Now that it’s over, it makes for a funny story though.

After a long day exploring around the Pyramids, which Rachel talked about HERE, we headed towards a viewing point.  This vantage point provided some awesome views of the pyramids.  We were able to take a few good pics with our friends Adam & Lauren there.

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It also provided a nice backdrop for Adam to take some great “jumping” pictures.  You know, the same ones that all of the super cheesy tourists take!

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After we snapped some pics, it was time to board our camels to take a stroll through the desert.  As we headed towards our camels, Rachel made it clear that she was not interested in riding another one, especially after her experience in Dubai (refresh your memory by reading about it HERE).  She hates the mistreatment of animals for the benefit of tourists.

As we were walking towards our camels, I’ll never forget Adam saying, “I hope I get Angry Arnold” with a laughter in his voice.  Famous.  Last.  Words.

We were all pretty excited as we hopped on our camels.

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Once we were all up on our camels, they tied them together in a line.  Lauren was first, I was next, then Adam was in the back.  We were led through the desert by an 18 year old kid, who was holding onto Lauren’s camel with one hand and a whip in his other.  Rachel hopped back in our minivan and drove back to the Pyramids, where we had planned to meet her in about 30 minutes.

If you have never been on a camel, it is actually pretty tricky to ride.  There isn’t a saddle to put your feet in to help balance, and it’s a really bumpy, uncomfortable ride.  However when you took a look around, and realized that you were in the middle of the desert, on camels, heading towards the Great Pyramids, you realize that this is a pretty sweet experience!

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Our camel ride was off to a great start!  We even stopped about half way and had our camel guy take a few pics for us!

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It was at this half-way point when things started to go sour with our ride.  Before our camel guy took our pictures, he wanted to line them up just perfectly with the Pyramids in the background.  In order to accomplish this, much to our disgust, he began whipping the crap out of them until they were just perfect.  We all looked at each other with wide eyes, and gave the look of, “what the hell is this guy doing!”  The camels did not appreciate the whipping either, and were making goofy sounds and started acting strange.  We immediately interjected, because we couldn’t handle witnessing this abuse any longer!

After a few pictures, we resumed our trek towards the Pyramids.  Suddenly I noticed that Adam’s camel was biting the thick-burlap blanket on MY camel!  I’m sure he was getting a little piece of my camel’s skin each time too, because I could tell my camel was starting to get pissed off.

Here’s Adam’s camel: Angry Arnold which started all of the ruckus!

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After my camel was bitten a few times in the ass, he had a major meltdown!  Out of nowhere, he put his head down, leaned forward, and bit Lauren’s camel right in the thigh!  AND DIDN’T LET GO!!!!!!!!!

LET THE CHAOS ENSUE!

  • Lauren’s camel begin moaning and making some of the most awful sounds I’ve ever heard come from a living creature.
  • I started yelling at my camel and kicking him in the neck so he would let go of Lauren’s camel’s leg
  • Lauren’s camel started to kneel down in pain, spin around, and looked like he was going to toss Lauren off.
  • Then, the camel guy started whipping the crap out of HER camel for not standing up, even though MINE was still biting hers!
  • All of a sudden I heard Lauren yell, “OWW!”
  • Adam and I started yelling to Lauren, “get down, jump, get the hell out of there!”  I think we both knew that she was about to get bucked off and go flying through the air at any second.
  • The camel dude finally realized that my camel was the one being the asshole, and started whipping my camel, so he would let go.
  • Lauren took a leap of faith and jumped off her camel.  I think she started running away before her feet even hit the ground!
  • Adam immediately jumped off his camel to check on Lauren.  Keep in mind that the top of a camel’s back is 7 feet off the ground!  He was flying through the air like a ninja warrior!
  • My camel finally let go, and all three of these ugly creatures were just standing there in the middle of the desert.  I was the only one still on their camel.  Lauren’s had blood gushing down his leg!
  • The camel guy, in broken english, kept saying, “it’s ok, get on” to Lauren and Adam.  They basically told the guy to get bent, and that there was no way that they were getting back on.
  • That’s when I decided, “fuck this,” I’m outta here!  I asked the guy as politely as possible to please let me down.  After pleading a few times, I quickly realized that he wasn’t going to let me down.  Then Adam, being the great friend that he is, marched over and repeatedly told the guy to, “get him the fuck down!”  The guy didn’t know much english, so Adam was nice of enough to say it multiple times, in a louder voice, and pointing his finger!  It was a little dose of Good Cop/Bad Cop.  Soon I realized the guy was not going to get me down, so like Adam did earlier . . . . I busted out my own ninja move and jumped off my own 7 foot tall camel!

All of this happened in less than a minute, but it was like slow motion.  As soon as I jumped off, we all decided to abandon our camel ride experience, and just start walking away.  So the three of us began trekking through the desert towards where we were going to meet up with Rachel.  We laughed the whole way back, reminiscing about what we were now calling our “near death experience.”

Rachel soon saw us walking over the horizon and greeted us with a, “What the heck happened?  Where are the camels?”  I just smiled at her and said, “you were right!”

**Remember when Lauren yelled, “OWW!” when she was on her camel?  It’s because she got whacked in the back with the camel dude’s whip!!!  She had a pretty wicked bruise to remind us of our “near death experience!”

Pyramids

We went to Egypt a few weeks with one purpose: see the pyramids.

Mission Accomplished. IMG_5718We went to the pyramids on our first full day in Cairo and my first impression was “whoa, these things are huge!”  I realize that I could have looked up the fact that they are 456 feet tall but honestly I probably still would have been surprised at how big they were. IMG_5682I tend to take pessimists approach when I am traveling to famous destinations, I think things such as “I bet Machu Picchu won’t even be that impressive” (it was) or “the fjords of Norway won’t be as beautiful in person as they are in pictures” (they were) and in this case “I bet the pyramids won’t look that big in real life.” (they did) I have a bit of a fear of giving a destination more credit than it deserves before I get there, and then being disappointed once I arrive. As a way to combat my fear of being let down, I bad talk the travel destination in the months leading up to a trip. Irrational? Probably.  Am I going to stop doing this?  Nope. IMG_5653 We roamed around the pyramids for a bit before we decided we wanted to go inside the first pyramid to visit the tomb of King Khufu.  We weren’t really prepared for what the climb inside the pyramid would entail.  We started walking through a small tunnel on the path up into the pyramid.  IMG_5649

As the tunnel ascended it also narrowed, till it was just wider than our shoulders.  The narrower the tunnel became the more the roof dropped in on us.  Before we knew it we were hunched over, essentially climbing through the pyramid on our hands and knees.  It was hot inside the pyramid, it was dark, and you were surrounded by stone just above your head, and to your left and right.  As the tunnel hit its smallest point we came face to face with a group of people on their way down, trying to exit the pyramid.  We would press our bodies against one side of the stone tunnel as the people on their way down would press against the other side and carefully slide past one another, becoming awfully familiar with each person as they passed our way.  All of a sudden our progress stopped.  IMG_5626 Lauren had been our fearless leader the entire trek up into the pyramid and she had stopped in her tracks.  All I was able to see from my crouched position was Adam’s tushy.  Lauren was unable to continue on her path as a gentleman coming down through the tunnel began to feel the anxiety that comes along with being in a hot and very small space.  Unfortunately, the only path up was through this man.  We all held our squatted positions waiting for him to gain enough composure to continue on his way.  The longer we held our position waiting for him the louder the voices in my head were telling me to turn around and run for the fresh air.  After what seemed like an eternity, but in reality was probably less than a minute, the man slowly continued on his trek down and out of the pyramid.  We quickly snuck past him, and scurried as fast as we could the remaining climb into the tomb, and thankful for the tall ceilings and the wide open spaces that met us once we arrived. IMG_5713Of course, any day where you can spend a ridiculous amount of time taking jumping photos is a success.  

Sneak Peek: Pic from Egypt

Today we received a message from one of our most loyal fans, from New Brunswick, Canada asking, “where are the pics from Egypt?”  We have been super busy this week, and just finally got them downloaded from our camera to our computer this weekend.  We are still in the process of finishing up some blog posts to share a few stories from our trip, but in the meantime I thought I would give everyone a little sneak peak of whats to come . . . . .

The pyramids were incredible, huge, and an engineering feat that I will never understand.  Here is a group pic with our friends Adam & Lauren, in front of a few of the pyramids.

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The Pyramids were HUGE! Take a look at the cars in the background to get an idea of their size.

 

We also visited the Great Sphinx during our trip.  Again . . . . . . . . super cool!

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These ruins are about 4,500 years old!

 

This little punk ass camel caused a LOT of drama during our ride through the desert!  There was swearing, people flying off camels, bruising, yelling, pleading, whips, and blood.  Everyone survived, so we can laugh about it now!  I think you will enjoy this story . . . . . coming soon!

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We called this camel “Angry Arnold” and he was a jerk.

The last pic of this special edition: Sneak Peek, is probably the most memorable story from our trip to Egypt, and one that I will never forget.  It was taken from the backseat of a luxury car, as we were rushed across the runway at the Cairo Airport, to board our plane back to Kuwait.  You will never believe what led to this ride!!!!

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We should have been on that bus with all of the other passengers, but instead . . . . we were in the backseat of a luxury car!

 

I apologize for all of the “cliffhangers” I’ve provided you!  Hopefully this week, we will have some time to fill you in on all of the details from these pictures, as well as more photos.  Until then . . . . . I ‘Might As Well’ go to bed now.

Good night New Brunswick!!!   🙂