Flight To Egypt – Winnipeg, Montreal, Zurich, Cairo

The alarm went off and the day had finally arrived for us to leave for our African vacation. After initially planning a safari vacation last year, which was to be in Tanzania but that didn’t quite pan out. So Lisa and I were on our way to see Pyramids in Egypt and then down to South Africa for a safari, a wine tour and some sightseeing along the coast.

Like our New Zealand holiday, Lisa’s parents picked us up and dropped us off at the Winnipeg Airport to begin our African vacation.

Our first in a series of connecting flights was Winnipeg to Montreal. This seemed like a pretty quick flight to me; Lisa and I both watched the movie The Proposal. It was actually a lot funnier than I thought it would be. It didn’t seem  to long after the movie that we began our descent into Montreal. Both Lisa and I commented how beautiful the city looked from the air with all the reds and yellows of fall starting to appear on the trees.

Montreal Airport

In Montreal Lisa and I had to go get our Swiss Air boarding passes and pass through security, thankfully we didn’t have to check our luggage again.

We grabbed a quick ‘Whopper Jr’ and fries at the Burger King in Montreal Airport, and passed through security once again then waited to board our Swiss Air flight to Zurich, Switzerland for our 2nd connecting flight.

The flight between Montreal and Zurich seemed to go by pretty quickly for me, but I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable Lisa was and she said that it was one of the worst flights she had ever been on. She can usually sleep anywhere but just couldn’t get comfortable in the old seats.  She didn’t get much rest.

The Swiss Air plane that we were flying in was pretty old and must have been equipped with one of the first entertainment systems ever put into an airplane. There were only 4 older movies to watch and you had to watch them when they started, no pausing and rewinding; the quality was pretty horrible.

Lisa and I ended up playing Battleship on the entertainment system instead. The meal onboard was pretty good and they didn’t disappoint as the air crew brought out wine for our supper. After the meals were served it was lights out on the plane.

I had brought along my phone and had loaded it up with a few of Seth Godins’ audio books before I left so I started to listen to some of those, and Lisa tried to catch some sleep. It wasn’t too long after that, we touched down in Zurich. Lisa and I were kind of excited since it was a trip to Switzerland that we had taken 5 years ago that had brought us together. So it was kind of neat knowing that we were going to be there again, even if it was just to catch another connecting flight.

We touched down in Zurich at 6:00 in the morning so the airport was pretty quiet when we debarked from the plane. We had to wait until 9:45 am to catch our final flight to Cairo, Egypt.

Lisa and I picked a quiet corner in the airport, we sat down and relaxed; we ended up watching the planes landing and taking off. I rather enjoyed it but I don’t think Lisa really cared.

Around 9 am Lisa and I made our way over to the gate to catch our final flight on Swiss Air again to Cairo. We were both pretty tired by now as neither one of us had got much sleep, and it was approaching 24 hours since we had left Winnipeg. So we both were planning to sleep on the last flight.

Swiss Alps

As soon as we took off from Zurich you could see the Swiss Alps rising above the clouds, Lisa tried to sleep and I watched as the mountain tops passed by. We got another meal onboard the flight as well, which I wasn’t expecting. But I wasn’t all that hungry, by now my body was starting to shut down from the lack of sleep. Lisa and I both ate the meals anyhow and I enjoyed some more free wine; we both ended up passing out after the meal.

When I awoke the plane had started to slow down for its descent into Cairo. Lisa and I eagerly looked out the window and were rewarded with glimpses of the Pyramids in the distance and the insanely large city of Cairo below us. All we could see was sand and hundreds of buildings; it was pretty amazing to see.

We touched down in Cairo a little after 1:30 pm. While debarking from the plane I was expecting the biggest culture shock of my life but it didn’t happen. Everything seemed pretty westernized. All the signs were in the English language and there was nothing out of the ordinary that caught my attention.

As we headed to the baggage area, we spotted a guy holding up our names (Kotowicz Legal); Lisa hasn’t changed her name yet. We met Sam whom helped us get our luggage and move us through the airport.

Cairo Airport

Cairo Airport

Lisa and I thought customs might be a hassle, but since we were with Sam the guys at customs just grabbed our papers and let us through. I was already starting to see how things are done around here. Sam then led us to our tour host Waleed. Sam took off and Waleed lead us to a van waiting at the curb and the driver grabbed our luggage, he threw it into the back of the car and we got in.

As we started to drive away from the airport one of the first things Waleed said to us is the first rule in Egypt is there are no rules on the road. As we began to drive I found out exactly what he meant. There are no lanes on the roads, cars are continuously swerving all around, there are no stop signs and very few traffic lights; and those are really more of a suggestion than anything.

There are no cross walks so people just navigate their way through traffic like the video game Frogger, it’s really pretty amazing once you see it and realize that it works. I asked Waleed if there are a lot of accidents, he said no but I realized he meant no fatal accidents. Egyptians don’t consider fender bender accidents; every bumper on every car is smashed or dented.

Ramses Hilton

Bathroom in Ramses Hilton Hotel

As we were driving through the city you realize that there are no homes there are just these 8 or 9 story apartment/condo buildings all over the place. I guess it makes sense when you think that there are 22 million people who live in Cairo.

After a few near car collisions in my mind, but daily driving techniques to the Egyptians, we arrived at our hotel, the Ramses Hilton. The hotel is located right across from the Egyptian Museum and definitely sticks out from most of the other buildings in the city.

Waleed helped us check into our hotel, he said goodbye and told us to meet him downstairs tomorrow morning at 9:00.

Lisa went into our room which was on the tenth floor and after putting our bags down; we hopped on to our room balcony and watched the crazy traffic patterns of the city. After a few videos and photographs, Lisa and I were starting to feel the lack of sleep catching up with us and decided to take a small nap.

We woke from our nap around five o’clock and were both feeling a little hungry so we decided to try and find some food. I thought we should walk around Cairo and try to find a restaurant. So we watched how people got across the streets as there is some skill required to cross the streets. After watching some tourists escape near death Lisa said she would feel more comfortable just eating in one of restaurants downstairs in the hotel.

So we headed off to see what was available at the hotel.

We looked at the menus for each restaurant, but the ‘Restaurant Citadel’ looked the most appetizing so we booked a reservation for 7 pm. It was already 6:30, so we figured it would be a good time to try and get someone up to our room to fix our Internet connection. I called down to the business desk when we got back into our room and they said they would send someone right up to fix it. At 7:05 I called back and told the guy who answered to send someone after we were finished supper and he said someone would be right up to help us with our problem.

Lisa and I waited another 10 minutes and decided that we would just leave for supper and call back down later. On our way into the restaurant I told the guy that we would eat first but again he insisted that someone would be right up, so Lisa went into restaurant and I went back upstairs to wait for the guy. Not long after getting upstairs someone finally arrived to fix our Internet connection.

Supper Ramses Hilton

Supper Ramses Hilton

I joined Lisa downstairs in the restaurant about 20 minutes later. The restaurant was completely empty except for two other Canadian women. At first everything seemed normal but then after looking around I noticed there were about eight employees in the restaurant and only 2 of them were actually doing any work. We were so thirsty when we sat down that we ordered a large bottle of water with our supper and drinks.
Lisa ordered the rack of lamb and I started with the calamari, and then had the spaghetti frutti di mare for my entree. The food was good; nothing to rave about and the service was very excellent. Both Lisa and I couldn’t finish our dishes as there was just too much. After supper we were offered some desert but we refused as we were both pretty full. Our server ended up bringing us some desert; sliced mango and kiwi on some type of cream cheese on top of a small pastry shell.

Our bill came to 400 and something Egyptian pounds so I had to quickly run back up to our room to grab some more money as I wasn’t expecting such a heavy bill.

After supper we went back to our room and got hooked up with Skype and called our parents. I then uploaded the day’s pictures to the website so that our family could see what we had seen.

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