Day Twenty Two: Cairo

We got up early on the final morning with the intention of cramming as much of Cairo in before our flight as possible. No-one would take us to Tahrir Square, and the Metro wasn't running. Taxis claimed to drop us off at the famous market, but we struggled to find anything much... We wandered many backstreets, and concluded that it was just early (for Ramadan) and everyone was probably not quite up yet. Cairo streets are covered in gunk and litter and smelly things, and they're tight and winding. I love them. The high walls and narrow paths created an effect the closest to being hugged by a city I have ever felt.

We visited a couple of churches that we were ushered into by locals, before stumbling across the Mohammed Ali Sibel and learnt about its history. We climbed down a ten metre shaft too, and wandered around in the dark beneath the building. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Heather and I had to head back for midday, and we enjoyed a whirlwind taxi ride. Our driver stopped to ask directions from pizza delivery boys, other taxis, policemen, passers by... We saw a huge amount of the city in the hour it took us to find the hotel, with criss-crossing, elevated main roads providing the perfect viewing platform.

Cairo has perhaps the best cityscape I have ever seen. Sprawling and uneven and huge. Bright colours, haphazard shapes, buildings that are jostling for attention. Windows that churn out flapping bedsheets, streamers of electrical wires; low roofs beside high walls, supporting slouching heaps of sand, bricks and mud. The feeling that everything is always moving and the overriding sensation that something is always happening in your peripherals.

Needless to say, a half day was not enough. I will be back.

Our predicted hour-and-a-half journey to the aiport took barely half an hour. Free wifi at Cairo International could sure teach Heathrow a thing or two... The airport was near enough a ghost town during the late afternoon. Staff were laid back and friendly, and most of the queues we stood in were probably unnecessary. I walked the wrong way down a conveyor. I had THE BEST TIME. One lifetime ambition fulfilled.

The flight, which left a bit after 5pm, was uneventful and we landed at 2125 in Heathrow, to 15 degrees, or what the pilot described as 'a standard British summer evening'.

I am counting down to my next adventure.

It's not planned yet. Donations welcome. Watch this space.

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