(Day 47) Cairo – 16 May 2011
Distance for the day – 65 km
Odometer – 13 998 km
Hours on the Bike – 02:35
Donations up to date for Adelaide Hospital – R 234 296
Our mission for the day was to get to the famous 4000 year old Giza Pyramids to have a last photo of us and the bikes in front of it. Stelios decided to leave his motorbike at the hotel, because it keeps cutting out when the temperature gauge starts rising. He hopped on with Rufus and off they went on a short 30 km ride that was going to take them 1 ½ hours through the crazy traffic of Cairo to face the wall of noise, snarl of traffic, cry of hawkers and blanket of smog. Cairo, Africa’s largest city, is the capital city of Egypt and has been renowned for centuries as a centre of learning, culture and commerce.
Cairo is a unique mix of medieval buildings and skyscrapers, bazaars and modern shopping malls, museums packed with ancient relics and stunning new bridges.
We worked our way through the traffic, alert with the constant sound of hooting in the air. We had come to the conclusion that a normal three-lane road is used as a four-lane mass of vehicles moving in the same direction and that the actual lane lines does do not mean anything. The drivers are not driving aggressively and give way to whoever wants to cut across five lanes to make a u-turn at the next break in the pavement. The challenge, however, was that our Tracks4Africa software on the GPS did not facilitate the city map and was guiding us in a general direction after punching in the Co-ordinates of our destination. We have had this experience in most of the big cities we have travelled through and it would be wise to maybe get the street maps for them loaded before attempting to navigate.
When we reached the Giza pyramids we were faced with the unpleasant bureaucracy that people warn you of. About 500 m from the parking area locals tried to stop us, indicating that there is no parking ahead. They would then show you a parking space and offer their services as a self appointed tourist guide to help you go through security and get a ticket. This will be offered with no charge because “you are welcome” and they are your “friend”. It would obviously be expected from you to pay him at the end for his good will and this is often where the “friendship” ends. We ignored them and got to the first gate, with security.
They indicated that motorbikes were not allowed into the car parking area and waved us away. We then asked “special” permission to enter as far as the car park to take our photo. It was agreed and we went on. Another security officer stopped us ahead and shouted at us to turn back. After some more negotiations he allowed us to park in the car park. The problem was that nowhere could we get the appropriate picture, because of the buildings and security walls. Rufus spotted a security officer with some heavy brass on the shoulder and asked permission to bring the motorbikes closer to the main entrance, and park them on the side walk to have a quick photo taken and then immediately return. He agreed and we jumped the curb. Suddenly, all hell broke loose with security running towards us from all directions. A commotion started with people shouting back and fourth, with us just standing in silence, waiting for our fate. They were going on about national security and that we needed special permission from the governor to take our picture with the bikes in front of the pyramids. In the same token, busses and some privileged private cars and taxis were waved through another set of security gates to stop a stone throw away from the pyramids. We were shunted around and eventually had enough and left with our motorbikes to park outside the first security checkpoint on the sidewalk. With some tricks we managed to get a good photo.
We were all irritated and went back to buy our ticket and enter through the gates. The pyramids and sphinx was spectacular and a must-see when visiting Cairo. This is the sole survivor of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Tomorrow we need to finalize our deregistering of the bikes and arrangements with the shipping company.