Sunday, April 30, 2006

Greetings from Egypt!

Greetings everyone! I am writing to you from Cairo, Egypt!

I arrived with Kristin, Loren and the rest of their journalist group early this afternoon (although it was the middle of the night in Iowa!).

I am SO excited to be here. And unlike some of my previous trips with Kristin and Keith, I didn't have any unusual adventures to get here.

We left Washington, DC on time and flew nearly 7 hours to Frankfurt, Germany. We had what Kristin calls a "tight connection" so we had to rush from our plane to catch out flight to Cairo. Changing planes was interesting. We had to walk outside and get into a LONG bus. It was SO long that it had an accordion-like center so it could turn corners. It looked cool but I'm not so sure how safe it was to ride. The bus took us to the terminal where our next plane was located. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before boarding the flight. Here you can see me watching the crew get our plane for Cairo ready.

Kristin told me before we left Washington that I needed to try and get as much sleep as possible on the plane rides because I was going to have "jet lag" again. Kristin tells me that Cairo is 8 hours ahead of Iowa time. That means when it is noon in Iowa, it is 8pm here in Cairo.

I slept pretty well on the first flight but I was so excited to be going to Egypt that it was hard for me to take a nap. I keep forgetting that I need to be patient when traveling. The flight attendant knew I was with Kristin so he gave me a coloring book to pass the time while Kristin took her nap on the flight to Cairo.

We arrived at Cairo on time and I immediately realized Kristin wasn't kidding when she said I would need to pack sunscreen and sunglasses for this trip. It is really HOT and SUNNY here in Cairo. I think it was close to 90 degrees when we stepped off the plane.

Once we got off the plane Kristin had to wait for Customs to stamp her passport. That's when I realized I don't have my own passport yet! Kristin told me not to panic. She and the other members of her group got their visa stamps before they left Washington. So she said I could travel with her as part of her "group." Whew! But I need to remember to get my own passport when I get back to Iowa.

All of Kristin's luggage arrived with no problems and once everyone had their bags, we took a big (and air-conditioned!) bus to the hotel. It took longer to get to the hotel that I thought. But then I realized that traffic here is VERY bad. I think it is even worse than the traffic in New York and Dubai.

But we arrived at the hotel in less than an hour and soon we were check into our rooms. But all of Kristin's bags had to be checked AND we had to walk through a metal detector before we could enter the hotel. Kristin says this is to make sure no one brings anything bad into the hotel that might hurt someone. This is similar to what we had to do in Doha except they don't have an x-ray machine here. Darn! I like the x-ray machine!

We are staying at the Cairo Marriott. It is located on an island in the middle of the city. The center of the hotel is part of the famous Gezira Palace that was built in 1869. WOW! That means parts of this hotel are REALLY OLD.

The lobby is very beautiful but Kristin's room is just OK if you ask me. Her room in Dubai was MUCH nicer. Kristin says our room on this trip is much more like the hotels she is used to staying in when traveling overseas. Well, I am not impressed! Kristin says that's because we were "spoiled" on our last trip to the Middle East.

The Nile River runs past the hotel. The Nile is a very famous river in Africa. From the way Kristin talks about the Nile, I think it is similar in importance to the Mississippi River that runs through Muscatine. You can see the Nile from Kristin's balcony.

Here's another view from Kristin's balcony.

Cairo looks very different than Dubai. It looks like a yellow haze clouds the sky. Kristin says this is pollution. After walking outside for awhile, I realized it is harder to breath here. I'm glad I have strong lungs!

The buildings here are much older and many of the buildings also look alike. And ALL of them are loaded with satellite dishes. There are satellite dishes everywhere. I've never seen so many in my life! They hang from balconies and crowd the roofs of every building I see. I asked Kristin why there were so many satellite dishes. She just smiled and then told me that TV is very popular here and that's one of the reasons why she and Keith went to Doha and Dubai to study Middle East TV news broadcasters. Here what the roof of a building across from Kristin's balcony looks like.

I like the balcony but it is also VERY noisy. Cars trying to make their way through traffic are always honking their horns. I've heard more horns today than I heard during both of my trips to New York City (and cabs like to honk their horns in New York)! Kristin says this is why she has earplugs just in case she has a hard time sleeping. I think I am going to borrow a pair from her so I can sleep too!

Well I am getting sleepy so I think I am going to sign off for the night.

Until next time!