Africa

Arrival in Cairo the impact!

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Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seatbelts, fold your tables and put your seats upright, in a few minutes we will land in Cairo. I look out the window and see that the city is covered by thick fog. Fog? No, it is the pollution that covers everything. We landed promptly at 15.15 and the temperature is 33 degrees. As soon as you leave the plane there are some policemen who make you fill in a white card with your data and address in Egypt and give you a brochure to prevent the spread of influenza A, but they don't take our temperature (as I put on the web of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Our plane has arrived at terminal 2, which is a bit embarrassing, and while we are going to buy the visas we see that the agency guides are inside to pick up their clients and in turn sell them the visas for triple the established price.

Crowd when leaving the terminal

Before passing passport control there are about 6 or 7 windows of different banks that change your currency and sell you the visa stamp. We calmly ask what change they give us in three or four and in the end we change in the one that gives us the best price. In the same bank office I ask him how much the visa stamp is worth and he tells me 15 dollars, and when I ask him how much it is in euros he tells me 15 euros. Well, in my town 15 dollars does not amount to nearly 15 euros so I give 200 euros and ask you to change them to dollars. The cashier hallucinates a bit with the operation and gives me the dollars at a very good exchange too. Once I have the dollars in my hand I give him 30 and ask him to sell me the visa stamps. With the stamp in hand we turn to passport control. I give the police the passport, the stamp and the immigration card that I filled out on the plane. Everything is correct and we go to the arrivals lobby. There is a whirlpool of people looking for passengers and taxi drivers offering their services. One approaches me and asks me if I want a taxi, I tell him that they come for me and he tells me that his price improves. Then I answer that he comes to find me a friend and he doesn't believe it. Shortly after Mohamed appears, a graduate in Hispanic philology with whom I contacted through the Internet and who will accompany us a few days in Cairo. He is about 23 years old and obviously speaks very good Spanish. We go with the airport bus to the parking lot and there Ibrahim, a friend of yours who has a fairly large and new car and also with air conditioning.

Upon entering the highway, Mohamed explains that in Egypt he drives senseless and we see quite old cars beating every two times three and zig-zags trying to advance a few centimeters. And if the highway has three lanes there try to drive five car lines. In addition, cars do not stop at traffic lights and pedestrians play it across four-lane streets in the middle. In the meantime chaos I look out the window at the concrete moles covered with sand and I think that maybe Spain would be like that 40 years ago. Cairo with its 20 million citizens (and perhaps also 20 million cars) gives us a great shock.

A video is worth a thousand words. How the street is crossed in Cairo

And the traffic on any given day in Cairo (attention to constant honking).

After an hour we arrive at Longchamps Hotel and we agreed with Mohamed to meet in an hour, enough time for check-in and a shower. The hotel is in the Zamalek neighborhood, a large island in the middle of the Nile, and where the embassies are. But even so, the whole street is bumpy, holes in the asphalt and barely lit. We had trouble finding the hotel because it is on the 5th floor of a residential building and is not very well marked. Upon entering, the elevator is so old that it seems that the floor will sink with the weight of the suitcases. But arriving at the hotel is another world, it is a 3 star but it is pretty good. Our room, which was the cheapest (56 euros / night with breakfast) is very spacious and clean. Best of all, being a quiet neighborhood you don't hear a noise in the room.

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