Sunday, December 21, 2008

Travel Blogging II

Dateline: Cairo. Flying out of snowy New York City was no fun, we were maybe 3 hours late getting off the runway at JFK. Egypt Air may have a bad reputation but allowing for a not-updated business class cabin and my wife's reading light not working, it was okay. Clearly the cabin attendants did their best to make it nice, and the food was acceptable. No champagne offered as Egypt is a Muslim country but the orange juice was good, the movies relatively recent, and I got several hour of comfortable sleep.

Anyway, we left blowing snow and landed in shirtsleeves weather in Cairo. The locals think it is very cold here, they are wearing parkas. I'm comfortable outdoors at night with a light jacket, these are very different perceptions of the exact same thing. If they came to NYC now they would believe they were at the north pole. I guess they can tolerate heat that would leave me hospitalized. It is all about that to which one is accustomed. [I love the odd phrasing one must use to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.]

Cairo is an enormous third world city, which means large swaths of it are little more than garbage heaps. Other portions are nicer, of course, not everyone is poor. The terrain is flat, and snuggled up to the Nile River. Where it isn't built it looks very tan and sandy, no surprise. As with our experience in Alexandria, there is armed security everywhere. Again, no surprise. Tourism is the goose that lays golden eggs for Egypt and also an obvious target for those who wish the government ill.

A lot of man-years go into protecting the tourists, although how effective the protection is could be questioned. I suspect it is more in the nature of reassuring the tourists of their safety - it works, anyway. The tourists are here in droves. How can you not come? Egypt is the epitome of tourist attractions, Julius Caesar was interested 2000 years ago.