Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 1 - Geneva to Cairo

We are heading for our two week anniversary trip to Cairo and Istanbul and I must say that having to leave the girls was very hard. The hardest was leaving A since I'd never left her for longer then 2 nights and that was with her father. I did take a picture of the three of them on the stairs and I've been staring at that a lot lately. Plus showing them to every person I run across, whether they want to see it or not.

Our plane out of Dullas Airport left at 6pm and we meet the cutest little Indian man while waiting in line of the international flight check-in. Turns out he was also going to Geneva, so he was also at our gate where he told us a bit of his life story.

We learned he lived in the area and was planning to visit his son. He had planned on going on the trip with his wife, but she had passed away in March. Such a sad story. Since the tickets were non-refundable, he decided to do the trip anyway. On the plane, Richard helped him put his bag in the overhead. Later, during the flight, he brought over a book and had wanted us to read a chapter on parenting. It was adorable.

When we landed in Geneva, he offered to have his son drive us to where we needed to go, but we declined. We really wanted to go explore on our own.

At the airport, we stopped at a machine that gave us tickets that allowed you to ride the bus or train for 80 minutes. Why not 60 or 90? No idea! We later found out that we never needed the tickets. On the various buses we used, not a single driver asked to see these. The Swiss are so trusting! Nor did we ever see anyone buy tickets from the ticket boxes next to several of the bus stops. Go figure.

We took the bus to downtown and walked along the river for a little while. We tried to find a cafe to get a little breakfast. I really wanted some tea to wake up a bit, since I had watched movies on the plane to catch up on what we don't get to see at the theaters. We ended up at a mini grocery store and just got two sandwiches and cold drinks. The cheese, tomato and basil sandwich was amazing. The tomatoes tasted so fresh, as if they had been picked a few moments before.

We walked to Lake Geneva with the huge spouting jet d'eau (fountain). It was taller than the buildings surround the lake. We found a farmers market right in the middle of the downtown area with fresh fruits and vegetables. The smells were so wonderful and I wanted to buy everything. While walking back to the bus stop, we passed a school with a large park next to it. We got quite a giggle out of a very funny Do Not Pee sign next to a little kids playground.

We took the bus back to the airport, but first stopped at the Balexert Shopping Centre. Man, that thing was huge! It was deceiving on the outside, as it looked like a giant metal box. But once inside, there were over 100 shops, including a grocery store, wine shop, post office that sold electronic goods and delis with the same sandwich we had found earlier. Although I was full, I really waned to buy another one, just to re-experience that taste explosion in my mouth again.

We headed back to the airport and waited three more hours for our plane to Cairo. The chairs at that airport are the most uncomfortable chairs in the world. I decided against buying postcards at the airport, since the only two options were of the jet d'eau and cows in fields. Guess my postcard collection would have to go without Switzerland for now.

When we landed in Egypt, it was still light out, but the haze was so bad that we couldn't see the pyramids from the plane. It really is shocking how Cairo seems to go for miles and miles and miles. It is estimated to have anywhere from 20-22 million people. 20-22! Crazy.

We were met off the plane by our Egypt tour rep, Mohammed, who grabbed our bags and lead us outside to the van, which had waiting our guide, Noha and the driver, Aswad. I was so happy that we decided to let Rita at Caravan-Serai Tours take care of the planning of the trip. It would have been a nightmare trying to figure out which taxi driver that was yelling at us to "Come with me, I take you" we would have needed to get us to our hotel.

The heat outside was insane. It was 7:30 at night, yet the temperature read 91*! I can't image what it had been like during the day. We were wisked off and along the way we were given the history of Cairo by Noha. We finally made it to the Cairo Marriott two hours later with all the crazy drivers on the road and Mohammed fixed a problem we had with our room. I'm not sure about the exact details, since he had us sit in the lobby while he handled it all. What a amazing experience to have someone take care of details for you! We finally made it to our room on the Zamelek Tower side and found a surprise. Rita had told them it was our anniversary and we had a cake waiting for us! Yummy....and a perfect ending for Day 1.

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