A Travellerspoint blog

Oow's it? We Saw a Naarce Mountain Witt Rlocks and What Not.

sunny
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

After our hellish flight (hehe) we checked into our hotel, which has a nice view of Table Mountain (albeit with a monstrosity of a hotel in the way)

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.. and I made a mad dash for the liquor store before it closed, with 5 mins to spare – phew!

This morning we got a cab up to Table Mountain, then queued for nearly an hour to get a ticket. No hardship, it was sunny! – and everyone seems very chipper as their summer is late apparently. The cable car is funky – the floor rotates as you go up so everyone gets a bit of everything, view-wise.

Once we got to the top we could see the appeal. The views are stunning!

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(The beach below)

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(ahh, some pretty flowers)

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(A little friend!)

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(Mind your step)

We had a good stroll – not too far of course, and then got a cab down to the Riverside area, where we had some lunch and a few glasses of wine and the local “Castle” beer.

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I’m liking the eating habits here. When we arrived last night we ordered a deliver – of meat! – Seriously – we had ribs that must have been from a mammoth, steak , chicken, onion rings, fries… not a vegetable in sight! YAY! My poos are back to normal! :-)

For lunch today K had a Crayfish and I had a mixed selection from the Braii (BBQ) – lovely jubbly. I’m definitely in tune with the South African way of eating. Meat and beer!

Starting our African expedition tomorrow…. (please God, just this time, keep the giant spiders away from me….)

Posted by Dodgey 08:34 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Economy!? I Thought That's Where They Stored Our Bags!

sunny
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

WoW! What can we say. Our 1st class upgrade “miracle” happened!. We paid £240 each – the cheapest flights we could find, from Cairo to CapeTown, South Africa) – a bargain actually, to then find the tickets as far as Jo’Berg were marked as 1st class. We are still mystified. 1st Class was full on both flights (Cairo to Dubai, then Dubai to Jo’Berg) so it can’t have been to make room in economy. Truly odd, and definitely a once in a lifetime lucky experience. Business class on both flights was not full either…. only a few people (they bumped some business to 1st – one assumes it makes the catering easier).

When we initially got to Cairo airport the check-in desks were unmanned and unmarked. We just stood right at the front of the 1st desk out of about 8 and waited. Big lines soon formed at all the desks. A mature Australian couple got chatting to us (they wouldn’t stop, in all honesty) and we discussed our travelling, and our plans, and our rucksacks, etc etc (the chap joked that they looked like ideal bomb carrying bags). Eventually the desks were manned, and I asked the woman at our desk if it was for 1st class – yep! It was. The Australian couple never said another word. I think they were stunned into silence. Remember I’m in jeans and a t-shirt and K is not faring much better, and we have rucksacks and daybags. It was hilarious :- ) We checked our bags in and wandered off, leaving a million people behind us who all had to side shuffle into the next queue as they’d all inadvertently queued for 1st class and had to move. Classic stuff.

After chilling in the (frankly not very impressive) 1st class lounge we boarded our flight. Totally amazing. There is a BIG difference between business and 1st – apart from the seating, the service is pretty much one on one. We reclined, activated our massaging chairs, and watched some TV on our giant screens whilst perusing our 7 course menu. We both had a seafood starter affair, and I followed up with a fillet steak, all washed down with oodles of Dom Perignon 2000 Vintage and a few glasses of a 1998 St Emilion Grand Cru Classe. K enjoyed the cheese selection afterwards and I gorged myself on chocolates.

Our waitress had clearly clocked that we were not regular 1st class travellers and asked if we were on our honeymoon :- ) – she was great and loved that we were loving it all. They must tire of grumpy execs after a while. I had to stop her topping up my Champaign after a while!

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During that 3 and a half hour stint we managed to stuff ourselves, clear what must have easily been a bottle champers to ourselves, a good bottle of red, and collect lots of eye blinds, toiletries, etc. Dead cool!

We had 4 hours to kill in Dubai’s new terminal 3 but as they had a dedicated 1st class lounge it was an easy task – more akin to a private, free hotel.

Then we had the next 8 hour leg to “endure” :- ) - hell, can you tell I’m oozing with smugness?

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This was where the extra space came into it’s own. We had “near flat” beds on our Jordanian business class flights to Bangkok in January, but this was far better. Totally flat, and they give you a mattress to put over your seat. It really does make a proper bed. I went to “bed” almost immediately and woke up 6 hours later feeling fresh. K stayed up a bit longer. Free Dom Perignon was making it hard for her to give up just yet!

I finished off the flight with “breakfast in bed” – you ever had a fillet steak for breakfast? Nope? Neither had I up until now. Why have sausages when you can have steak? Odd, but nice. Kirstin woke up and said I looked like “Little Lord Fonteroy” eating by breakfast . lol.

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(Anyone say “leg-room”? - and that’s not a video game in front, they have a “nose cam” so you can watch the take off and landing from the pilot’s perspective – you can also watch a “belly cam” that looks straight down – so I had K’s screen set to that so I could watch both!)

Really totally amazing service, and both have our bags stuffed with freebies lol. I looked up the listed 1st class price for our tickets, on the same site as we got our “lucky ones”, and they come in at $12,000 – Each! depending on the time and date. You can do it for as "little" at $3500 each if you fly odd hours.

Well, now we’ll have to get used to slumming it again. After whisking through Jo’Berg airport…..

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(Welcome to South Africa)

We boarded out last 2 hour flight to Cape Town. This bit is economy – we assume because the 1st 2 flights were Emirates, but this one is South African Air. I’m typing from our tiny seat now. My bladder is full, babies are crying, my knees are in the spine of the guy in front, and I turned down the meal offered. I just could not face ruining the memories just yet!.

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(Just a bit of a contrast…)

Very smug and content, looking forward to arriving in our hotel in Cape Town and then starting our African adventure.

Posted by Dodgey 07:15 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

In Sha'a Allah

sunny
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

Well, after an 8 hour coach journey, which was actually really easy going, we arrived back in Cairo and grabbed a taxi to our hotel in the center island - Zamalek. Quite a good place for £22 a day including breakfast. Nice balcony too, with abundant free wi-fi.

The next day we set off to see the Egyptian Museum - where all the artifacts form various tombs are kept, plus the Royal Mummies. We decided to walk as it doesn't look too far on the map. Not a bad walk but bloody challenging trying to work out how to get up onto the bridge highways to cross the Nile. We made it though :-)

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That's all you are going to see. No cameras allowed inside of course!

A mighty impressive collection of stuff too, and we are not really "museum people". The collection from the TutanKhamun tomb is amazing - particularly when you know that he was a pretty insignificant young king, and therefore the collections in the tombs of the great kings must have been mind boggling (all looted of course - there must be some pretty amazing private collections hidden away round the world).

We saw Tut's mask which was every bit as fabulous as you might imagine it to be in the flesh, plus his coffins , one of which is made of solid gold.

We didn't bother seeing the Royal Mummies as they wanted another £10 each and we decided we could give it a miss and live happy lives still.

Suitable knackered we had lunch at the Ramses Hilton then got a cab back and chilled, and enjoyed the US election on telly :-) - That McCain chap is a bit of a nutter!... "We will stop buying oil from countries that don't like us very much" etc etc. Thank god he din't get in - sounded like a real antagonist. Anyhow, America has their black president now (omg! I said "black" and not African American. For goodness sake!! I'm white, some people are brown, some are black. Daftness I tell you. Daftness. I even noticed UK reporters referring to him as black, in the UK, and then "on location" UK reporters in the US referring to him as "African American". How I laughed.

Moving on....

We went to the Islamic quarter of Cairo today - where the best mosques are and also the famous giant bazaar. We hit the mosque 1st, and immediately "picked up, involuntarily" a "guide". He was great although he fleeced us. He showed us all round and explained how all the different groups of Muslims pray in different areas etc.

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(Each rectangle in the carpet is a praying spot, pointing to Mekkah)

After a good tour, he offered to take us up the main Minarette - for £3 each. We agreed and gave him a tenner. He unlocked a door and up we went... small spiral stairs just like in a castle, but in total pitch black - a tricky and unnerving experience!

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(Just before our ascent)

When we got to the top we got pretty good views of the old city...

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At that point he explained that that was as far as we could go but I noticed some more tiny spiral stairs going up further. After little resistance, he agreed and we went on up right to the very top. No poncey hand rails here...Kirstin stayed below :-)

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(That's as far as we could go :-) )

.. he then convinced me to let him keep the £4 change for the "orphans" and then had the cheek to tap me up for another £1 backsheesh!

All Mosqued-out we wandered though parts of the bazaar - I say parts - it covers miles, and it is chaotic with people tyring to squeeze past carts and persistent shop keepers.

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(the guy on the right REALLY wanted to be in the picture. I took 3 exposures of this shot to get a dynamic picture (which takes a while to setup) and he stood perfectly still, posing. Lol)

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Had fun wandering and gawping. Incidentally, out taxi driver dropped us off at the far end of the market and for a long while we saw no other tourists - which was a little unnerving at 1st but the Egyptians have always proved welcoming and friendly. You could tell we were at the "poor" end - the road was mere dirt and littered with rubbish and various liquids - all very "Indy". We knew when we hit the tourist end - proper roads, and huge coaches, and the pestering got worse.

Talking about pestering - it's bee pretty cool overall. We got constantly hassled in Luxor and it got very tiring. "How much for your wife?", "How many camels?", "You walk like an Egyptian sir!". I had a laugh though. The usual banter was , "Where you from?", "London", "Oh, London, very nice place!". I got fed up after the umpteenth time... "Where you from?", "Space", "Ahh, very nice place!".

Generally though, it was just Luxor. Everywhere else a polite no thankyou "La Shokran" does the trick.

Finally, after over 3 weeks here I'd add one more thing. Just about everyone is Muslim here, varying from "mild" to fully "burkha'd" and not one person seemed "fanatical" or "angry". Just the opposite. Strangers frequently greet us with "welcome to Egypt", or "have a nice time in Egypt" and they are not selling anything. We are left with a great impression of the people here.

Probably the nicest thing someone has said to me for ages was our barman in Dahab when we left - "Insallah" - God willing.

Onward and upwards - we fly to Cape Town tomorrow, and it's going to be an amazing journey. You know I mentioned that our flights (that were economy cost) showed up as 1st class? Well, re didn't really believe it, but I logged back on to check our itinerary last night and they still say 1st class, and our seats have been allocated.... 01E and 01F - it does not take a brain surgeon to work out 01 seats are at the very front. I check on their website and looked at the seating plan for our specific plane, and yep, we are in the front seats of the 1st class cabin tha has only 12 seats in total! - business class is behind, with about another 30 seats.

God knows how this has happened!?! - I joined the airline's frequent flyer programme, and entered our codes when we booked, although we have zero miles. Perhaps their system said, "no economy seats left, bump two people who have membership automatically"? Quite odd but we are most certainly flying 1st class. I'm going to shave tonight.

Posted by Dodgey 05:23 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Map updated

sunny
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

Nothing exciting. Just a note that I've put our future destinations in Africa in as I'm suspecting internet access will be very limited and it's a bugger to do on a slow connection. Anything on the map that is a dotted line is "in the future" - the lines go solid as the dates pass.

We've found a cheapo hotel in Cairo and are soaking up the city atmosphere until the 7th when we fly to Cape Town to start our African adventure.

I've also edited the template for the blog as it's more suited to larger photos. Should be a little less messed up now!

Oh a note for smokers out there (Yes, I know, smoking kills... etc) - I bought 200 at a shop - you will never guess how much! £3.50. Yep. £3.50 - for 200!!! That's 35 pence a packet. And they are good. So when people tell you your smoking is costing the NHS loads of money in healthcare - total nonsense. I reckon, at 35p a pack, after markting, transport, storage, retail markup, they probably cost about 2-5 pence a pack to make. So when you are paying £6 a pack in the Uk you are giving about £5.95 to the government. Smokers should get VIP private medical healthcare!

Posted by Dodgey 01:20 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

Camels, Horses, Wind and Stools

sunny
View Round the World Baby! on Dodgey's travel map.

Well Dahab is different! - We checked into our hotel - a great place, though very windy - it seems the bit of the gulf we are in is typically windy. A nice hotel none the less.

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Notice how the palms are permanently bent? Yep - Windy.

We are definatley in more of a genuine Arabian landscape now.

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(Passing traffic)

The hotel room staff leave some great touches (rather than stealing everything, which is nice). We came back one day to find this on our bed....

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(We loved the way it was garnished with our water bottle tops - others in our group got various animals, including a heart made of one girl's various washing objects and a teddie bear)

Dahab is a diving and snorkeling mecca. We have done neither yet. A large portion of our group did a 3 day PADI course and they are all delightedly qualified now.

On the second night we paid to go to a "Bedouin dinner" in the desert. We knew it would be a con, but what the hell, the gang was great fun so we knew we had to go.

We drove in a couple of jeeps into the middle of nowhere....

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(Dan, Nicola and Michelle in the back of the jeep. Dan ended up on the roof body surfing. The girls screamed. I grabbed a leg)

On arrival is was indeed a con. A made-up tent in the middle of nowhere with a small BBQ. So obviously a tourist trap - a real shame as we hoped to meet Bedouin people (and perhabs buy an obligatory birthing blanket). Still, we got pissed.

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We ended up going back into town and getting thoroughly trashed. The last thing I remember is trying to walk into a "club" with a bottle of wine in my hand.

It's very laid back here. Lots of bars along the coast (beach is a little kind...). We are spending all our time in the "sit on the floor" bars and chilling. Wifi is plentiful so I'm doing well on the poker front.

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Kirstin went out with Michelle horse riding. She tells me it's the best ever! They got to ride around a lagoon and go as fast as they wanted, on the beach! All for £8 each for 1 and a half hours.

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I gave it a miss - my kidneys never forgave me last time I rode a horse.

Talking of health - I ended up getting a doctor to see me as my shits never stopped. I got an injection in my butt, and loads of pills to take, one of which I have since found out is banned nearly world wide. I had some odd side effects. One day I was just plain confused and spaced out. I stopped taking them.

Yesterday I had my 1st recognisable stool! YAY! -in 5 days!!! I'm feeling fine now... and my finger has totally healed, although I still have about 50% mobility in my finger tip. I think it will come back in time.

It's a great place to be. Take a look at the picture below - the coast/mountains you can see - that's Saudi Arabia!

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They even have puppies (who I think wanted to get in our back packs)

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As I'm typing we have been in the same "floor" bar most of the afternoon, sipping gins and beers and surfing the net. We've moved to a new hotel. Our tour group returned to Cairo for the last 2 days of the tour. We opted out - 8.5 hours in a mini van again. We are getting a proper coach on Monday. then 2 days of Cairo museums and Mosques before Africa proper!

A couple of funny things I remember:

In Luxor, Nicola shouted out to one of our guides, "Mohamed, Mohamed!". 5 or 6 guys came running over! :-)

I learnt some numbers in Arabic, and a week later, we are watching "24" on TV, and a terrorist says, "Haamsa blah blah blah". And I understood the 1st bit!!! Haamsa = 5. And I was right! Who would have known! :-)

Looking forward to Africa now, but no hurry :-)

Posted by Dodgey 07:08 Archived in Egypt Comments (0)

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