Egypt - CairoTrain
Sat 20 Dec
Caught the 0600 train from Aswan, found my seat in first class and went back to sleep. It was going to take at least 12 hours to Cairo. I would see the sunrise and the sunset again before arriving. I would see the Nile, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right. I'd see major towns of Luxor and Asuyut and cultivated fields. It was pretty and to my outsider's eye seemed unchanging, in fact as I lazed in and out of consciousness we could have been going around in circles for all I knew.
Egyptian trains are generally full but not overcrowded; tickets are sold in advance using a networked computer system. Seats are allocated, only the smarmy English upstart complained "but I paid for FIRST class" not recognising quality when he saw it. A twenty-year-old Egyptian with a sporty haircut brought along his Fisher Price cassette player and entertained us with his tape collection. Actually I quite liked one tape and so I thrust my notebook and pen under his nose. It took him a moment to catch on but once he'd written the artist and title in English I ungratefully handed it back and asked him to do it again in Arabic. It was only later I realised he was armed, I assume a plain-clothed security official. A cheerful waiter walked past frequently, sometimes with a speculatively loaded tray of teas.
We pulled into Cairo's main station at about 1945, nearly 14 hours since Aswan. In one sense I had done nothing all day, in another I felt exhausted. With my scant knowledge of the layout of the city and obvious luggage I went for a taxi option, bound to get fleeced but you can't be on top of these things all the time (I think I paid US$3 instead of US$0.50). A friend of mine, who is the ground agent for the trips I have led in Sinai kindly offered to book me into the Cosmopolitan but unfortunately they had not seen the fax. They could do the first night but were fully booked for the second. I dropped my bags and went for a wander, ate in a locals' café and took a coffee for less than a dollar.
Egypt - CairoTrain