Wednesday, August 28, 1991
We woke up at 0600 to catch the flight at 1000. Isham told us he would take us to the airport and that he would be downstairs at 0715. We showed up at 0730 and he was there waiting. What a guy! He took us to the airport and when we got there it was amazing. There was a mob of people waiting to get into the airport. You have to pass a security check just to step foot in the airport. It was chaotic. We finally got inside and went straight to the Olympic Airways (OA) counter. We checked in and got boarding passes right away. There was a long line for passport control so we decided to be special and flashed our Pan Am IDs and went through the crew only area. We thought we were the coolest and biggest scammers of all time.
At the gate, we waited for 1.5 hours. When we got to the gate security check, they told us we had to get our passports stamped. So, the rig job did not work. We had to go back and get them stamped. After that we had to get searched. Fab and Anne went to a woman. It was hilarious because she grabbed them everywhere sin pena ninguna. A guy had to check me, but he did not do it with such passion. I looked decent so he didn’t seem to care. We finally got on the plane to Athens (ATH). The flight took 1 hour and 30 minutes. I was real embarrassed because we had mama-sized carry-on bags. Other than that, the flight was fine.
When we arrived in ATH, we had to wait six hours for our OA flight to Cairo, Egypt (CAI). So, we decided to go see the Acropolis. We changed money and clothes. We went to store our bags, but it took a long time because the place was packed. From there, we took a bus and it dropped us off near some ruins and we had to walk through Plaka (Old Town) and up some hill to get to it. When we got there, we only had enough money for two of us to enter so Anne and Fab went in because I had already seen it the previous year. They stayed for about 30 minutes as I wandered near the entrance and soaked up the Greek atmosphere. They really liked and we walked back down where they conveniently found a store to do more shopping. I sat on a sofa waiting and waiting until I fell asleep.
After about 30 minutes, they woke me up and took a cab back to the airport. We didn’t have much money so as Anne and I waited in the cab, Fab ran into the airport to get more Drachma. He got pissed, but we didn’t expect it to be so expensive. He took us to baggage storage so we can get our bags and now we had to go back to the OA terminal. I think it’s really stupid to have two airport terminals like 20 minutes apart. That’s really good planning Greek people. We took a cab instead of the bus which cost us like $10. He charged for each of us and each bag. What a rip off! We got there finally, checked in, and waited for the flight. We ate those awesome Chocolate Chip cookies which come in the brown rectangular box. We boarded the flight to Cairo, Egypt on the continent of Africa. Finally, I set foot in Africa. It is really a dream come true.
I never expected to go to Egypt first. Kenya was the place I always wanted to visit, but the thought of Egypt was getting more interesting and exciting. Anyways, it’s a lot cheaper! We got to CAI late at night. We stopped at a hotel desk to make reservations. We had the guy call the Nile Hilton to see if we could speak to Leo, but no go. She was not there. So, we made reservations at the Pharaoh Egypt Hotel. They guaranteed it was within walking distance from the Nile Hilton and a four-star hotel. It was $60 a nite and we had to give the guy a $20 deposit. I gave him the money and we were off.
As we approached passport control, this guy came up to us and asked us if we were American and visa-less. We said yes so he arranged for us to get the visas ($2 each). I was a little disappointed because I expected this huge visa stamp, but we only got a little postage sized one. He then asked us if we had a video camera. We said yes and he informed us we had to register it because if not we would be charged $1000 when we left Egypt. He seemed like a gift from God doing everything for us and giving us these tips. On the flip side, it also seemed he was waiting for us like we were on his organized tour or something. He was too nice and probably wanted something from us.
After that, he pulled out his book and had us go over a tour itinerary (I knew it. What an asshole!) so we could see everything. We sat in his office and started to talk and talk. BLAH BLAH BLAH. BLAH BLAH BLAH. $40 for this. $80 for that. $160 for Luxor. Three-day tour of everything came to like $250 per person. Internally, we all laughed and I told him that we would call him. He even hailed a cab for us. It was strange because we had to walk to it, but anyway we did it. As we were walking, some kids came to help us with our bags. We thought they were with the cab driver. They put everything in the car, so I gave them one pound each and they started to complain. They wanted more money! I gave them an additional five and they still complained. The driver then told them to leave and we realized they were not with the driver. That little scenario would be played over and over again throughout our Egyptian jaunt. Before we left airport, Ana got a hold of Leo and she had told us to go over to her hotel so we could stay with them, but we felt bad because they had made a reservation at the other hotel.
We drove about 30 minutes to the hotel. The driver (Mohammed) was telling us the hotel was far from the Nile Hilton (Lie #1 for the hotel desk guy) and he then proceeded to sell us his own tour to Giza (pyramids, Sphinx, and Memphis Step Pyramids) for Friday. His cost was $10 per person as opposed to $40 per person from the airport guy. Mohammed seemed real honest so we trusted him. He looked decent and cool and it turned out he was. He dropped us off and we checked in.
When we got to the room, there were only two beds and the room sucked. The air wasn’t cooling right so we all weren't too happy. I went to the front desk and demanded my $20 and Ana went to call Leo to see if we could crash. I got my money back and Leo’s aunt said to come over and that she would be waiting for us. We took a cab to the Nile Hilton (now known as simply the Nile Hotel) and went right up to room 311. We talked to Conchi for a while about their trip to Israel and our trip to Turkey. We then went downstairs near the casino to see Leo and her mom. They were buying cartouches from a guy Leo picked up. We talked for a while and then went into the casino. We lost like $5 and Leo won like $28.
After that, we went to eat at the hotel restaurant. The first thing you should know about Egypt is that the service is very very very slow. It took about 1.5 hours to get served. We all ate cheeseburgers and french fries. The fries have a weird taste because they are made with 100% real potatoes and not all the pesticide induced ones. Frankly, I prefer the taste of pesticide. After that, we went back up to the room. Leo’s mom had set up sleeping arrangements and of course being the only male I had to sleep on the floor. I didn’t care because we were saving money and I was dying to go to sleep.