Trip Report Statement:
This is my first trip report ever on Airliners.net. I hope that all of you who read this enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the trip itself. Most of all I would like to emphasize how important it is that we as human beings must continue to travel in order to better understand one another and have a greater appreciation for the gift of life. Travel is where we truly meet ourselves. We remember what we must in order to endure, says the philosopher Henri Bergson. That is why so much of commonplace existence is forgotten, while our journeys never are.
Now that I got that out of the way I’d like to talk to you about the trip itself. My father and I started planning this vacation in November of last year. We wanted to most of all to visit the Pyramids at Giza and Sakkara since we missed that last time. However, the bulk of our trip was spent at the lovely (albeit man made) Red Sea resort of El Gouna (450 km southeast of Cairo). Out of all the vacations that I have ever been on with my family this one was the best yet and the memories will be in my heart forever.
August 9, 2005
I spent the first day of the trip still running around town picking up odds and ends that I needed for the trip (Circuit City, Target, etc…). Later in the afternoon we drove up to Boston (AVIS one way car rental OOS vehicle / cost = $0.00, since my father works part-time for AVIS) to spend the night at the Hampton Inn (cost = $0.00, Hilton Honors points used) at Logan Airport in order to catch our early morning flight to London (LHR
). The room itself was pretty decent considering that it was a three-star motel. I was stuck on the roll out couch with my sister (eww), but it was ok in the end. We stayed up for most of the night telling jokes and gossiping about life at home. I think I drifted to sleep at about 1 a.m.
August 10, 2005
Meal: Omelet & Potatoes / Snack (not pictured because I chose not to eat)
Departure time: 9:00 a.m.
Arrival time: 8:25 p.m.
A 5:30 a.m wake up call is just what I needed to wake up and get into the shower. After packing up once again we headed to the lobby for a free breakfast (hot) that had a lot to be desired (what’s breakfast without croissants?). Anyway, after breakfast we were off to Logan Airport at around 7:00 via the Hampton Inn shuttle, and we arrived at the terminal shortly thereafter. Check-in went fairly well, despite having to wait 20 minutes for a flight to Santo Domingo to clear through. While at the counter some old lady came up to me and asked if she could wait with us so that she could get checked in next because she had gotten into a fight with someone in the other check-in line and they wouldn’t let her check in. I wasn’t sure if I believed her or not, but whatever.
It was finally time to proceed to clear the TSA
security line at BOS
. It didn’t seem like there was a “Shoe Carnival” going on (a good sign), but people were nonetheless still taking their shoes off quite willingly. Security took no more than ten minutes and then it was finally off to the gate after a quick stop at Au Bon Pain (mmmm).
I got some weird looks from people when taking this shot just before getting on the plane. Also notice how the 777 we took to LHR
was parked at gate B32, the same gate that AA
flight 11 left from on September 11th (note the flag).
I was upset that I wasn’t able to book seats near the windows, but due to changes in our trip we had to re-book the dates and this was all that was left (Row 33 – C,D,E,F).
For some reason I love the Airshow soo soo much! I only wish in the future there is an interactive Airshow of sorts (think of the possibilities!)
Shortly before arrival into LHR
while we were over Ireland and there was a medical emergency. The FAs were quick to act and came on the PA and asked in anyone on board was a doctor. An older man from Business Class (I think) went back to coach (mini-cabin) and assisted a middle-aged man wearing a red cap. The FAs then brought over oxygen for the man and it was soon realized that he was a diabetic and didn’t have any insulin with him. Another announcement was made for any passengers with a diabetic testing kit to bring it forward, two people stepped forward to offer theirs. I was wondering all the while if we were going to divert, but thankfully we did not have to. The troubled passenger was given an injection of what I believe was insulin and we continued on our way to LHR
. Two FAs stayed with the man for the rest of the flight (until arrival). The FAs handled the situation very well, and very professionally. Kudos to AA
! There was a bit of a wait while paramedics at LHR
attended to the diabetic passenger upon arrival. I later saw the diabetic passenger leaving the terminal as we were and his hand was all bandaged up, eep!
I was glad to finally be on the ground in London. I just hate all the walking you have to do there. It’s like a giant maze of hallways that never seem to end. T3
seems likes it’s getting a facelift of sorts inside. Anyhow, after promptly getting through immigration, fetching our bags and exchanging some dollars into pounds we were on our way to catch the Hoppa Bus to the Sheraton Skyline for the evening (cost = $120 USD including all taxes, day rate, upgraded room).
After checking into the room it was very late (around 23:00) and we barely ate anything in the horrid “American” Restaurant / Sports Bar at the Skyline. I DO
NOT suggest that you EVER eat there! We finally passed out around midnight and woke up again at 3:30 in the morning to head back to the airport via minibus for our flight on LX
(Swiss) to ZRH
and on to CAI. We’re getting closer to Egypt every minute!
August 11, 2005
Swiss International Airlines
Meal: Croissant with Jam (not pictured)
Departure time: 6:20 a.m.
Arrival time: 9:00 a.m.
While checking in for our flight on Swiss I couldn’t help but be reminded of how claustrophobic the check-in area of T2 at Heathrow is. If I were taller I’d be constantly hitting my head on some of those signs! However, the colorful mix of people made up for the ceiling height. Swiss has Alitalia and TAP employees checking people in for our flight to ZRH, is this typical of Swiss at LHR?
We left on time from an unusually sunny and clear morning at LHR. I found the seats on the A321 to be quite comfortable, despite their age. I just wish the seat pitch were greater. At this point I was really missing the MRTC on the AA 777s. Breakfast consisted of a croissant with jam, which was quite yummy! The customary Swiss chocolates were also passed out prior to arrival into ZRH. The scenery around ZRH on approach is truly beautiful.
Shortly after takeoff from LHR on our way to ZRH
After arrival at ZRH
Swiss International Airlines
Meal: Chicken with mushrooms, greens and potatoes (EXCELLENT meal, not pictured)
Departure time: 9:45 a.m.
Arrival time: 2:45 p.m.
We didn’t have much time to take the train from the gates in A to dock E at ZRH as we have a very short connection. Sadly, this meant I didn’t have time to take many pictures while at ZRH on the outbound portion of my trip. I loved riding the train to E though!
Flying over the Alps on our way to CAI
Flying over the Greek Isles
HP-JMH has the new style Airbus interiors
We’re getting closer to CAI
I love the Swiss A340 interiors
The first sign of the Egyptian coastline near Alexandria
Descending into CAI
LX 236 pulling into her gate at CAI Terminal 2 (the “new” terminal)
Drive down to El Gouna
After arriving into CAI it was a breeze to buy our VISAs from the bank at the airport and then proceed through immigration. It was a while still before all of our bags showed up. Having got a cart it was time to make our way outside into the heat and find our driver who was to take us to El Gouna.
He found us before we found him, but it all worked out. The transportation however didn’t. We were expecting a new microbus to take us (per our arrangements), but the chariot that was presented to us was a mid 1980s Mercedes Benz limousine. My family and I seriously doubted if we would actually make the 450-km trek across the desert and down the Red Sea to El Gouna. Along the way our driver had to constantly pull over and add water to the radiator, let the car cool off, or secure the trunk again. It actually made the trip more or an adventure for me because there was a bit of a thrill involved if we would actually make it or not.
Leaving Cairo we traveled on the highway out to Sukhna on the Suez Road I think (making a few stops to ask for directions) and then travel down past the Gulf of Suez and eventually arrive at the Red Sea resort of El Gouna. The drive itself was pretty amazing with spectacular scenery. It was sad however to see how much greed has taken over along the Red Sea coast. The northern parts near Sukhna are darted with dilapidated half-completed concrete resorts and other structures. It’s just as bad as pollution or littering.
Approaching Suez / Sukhna
Ships after having passed the Suez Canal further north now traveling south to an Arabian port perhaps?
Making a stop so that my sister can use the bathroom (always tip the person outside the restroom in Egypt!)
Car Troubles….. again
I liked this picture a lot for some reason
This was very cool to see in person. Our driver was telling me that they burn something out here in the desert to make fuel of some sort I think (it’s not oil).
We finally got the Sheraton Miramar Resort (cost = $1200+/- USD total for two SPG rooms for 9 nights including breakfast and dinner, rooms were free by using Starwood points, only paid for board, $128 USD per day for 4 people) after having been driving for close to 6 hours (including stops). Before you can get to the resort areas of the Red Sea there are many police and military checkpoints that you must go through. I think we went through 6 until we actually got to El Gouna itself. Our driver was instructed to tell the police at the checkpoints that we were English or French (not American) if they asked what nationality we were so we wouldn’t have police escorting us at all (a good thing). There was a large checkpoint once we were within 5 km of El Gouna. The entire car was searched as well as the undercarriage and our driver was questioned, but we weren’t. A few km later we reached the entrance to the compound of El Gouna, and another checkpoint and another search. A few km after that we reached the Sheraton entrance and another checkpoint and search. We finally reached the front doors to the Sheraton and found more police and a young boy with a mirror who was looking under the car. We were warmly greeted by handsome Egyptian men and taken through metal detectors and led into the hotel.
The following pictures are of my stay in Egypt. I won’t say too much about them because they speak for themselves for the most part. I must say however that seeing the Pyramids at Giza and Saqqara was the absolute highlight of my trip. If there is only one place that you visit in your entire life you MUST see the Pyramids at Giza. While in Giza we stayed for three nights at the Movenpick Resort Cairo Pyramids (cost = $90 USD per night + $15 USD per person for dinner + breakfast). The hotel was located near a mosqe on Alexandria Road. You could hear the daily call to prayer many times right from our room. This hotel need some work on its rooms though.The food in was in keeping with Movenpick standards.
The Red Sea is so beautiful !
Cool ceiling of our hotel room... (entire hotel was built by locals)
Bus ride back up to Cairo (El Gouna Transport Co.)
After being dropped off by the bus in the Nasr City area of Cairo we were picked up by the Movenpick hotel in these two limos (aka Mitsubishi Lancers) and driven to the hotel. The drive was lovely and allowed me to see many historical points of interest.
The Nile River
View of the Pyramids at Giza from outside our hotel
Temple of Ti
Saqqara (first pyramid ever built in the world)
Palace at Saqqara where the first columns (beginnings) ever built in the world are located
As we were leaving Saqqara and heading towards Giza we were ambushed by a pack of cute goats
Giza at last!
My feet got very dirty walking around there all day!
Pyramids of Giza seen at night near Sofitel Hotel
Our bedroom at the Movenpick Cairo Pyramids
August 23, 2005
Swiss International Airlines
Meal: Curry chicken with greens and rice (pictured)
Departure time: 4:00 p.m.
Arrival time: 7:10 p.m.
Cairo airport is quite crazy when you first arrive at the departure area. You must have all of your luggage screened in a small area before you even proceed to the ticket counters, which makes for a very crowded and stressful (but fun) time.
Checking in was very swift and we soon proceeded to duty free to buy some $13 per carton Marlboros for some people back home. Other than the duty free areas there isn’t much to do until your flight leaves except people watch. It was really hard to take pictures since I kept getting weird looks from the security. I did see some very attractive Gulf Air flight attendants (their outfits are the best around!).
We finally were allowed into the gate area at about 3:20 p.m. where we would wait before boarding our flight.
Boarding started a short while later. Just before we were to have our boarding passes checked and proceed to board the flight a woman came into the waiting area screaming something in Arabic and then everyone sat down and the guard stopped letting people down the jetway. I didn’t know what was going on so we just sat there until the guard started talking to someone else and finally let us proceed. If you are even in CAI Terminal 2 in the gate area look up through the windows at the top of the walls and you’ll see guard posts with roofs at each gate area with machine guns (at least I’m pretty sure that’s what I saw).
I keep getting off subject, sorry! We finally got to board the plane and got settled into row 43, nice and cozy (cramped). With all the passengers on board the pilot made an announcement that there was a problem refueling the plane. It was either a computer issue or a problem with the connection to the valve on the wing I think he said. Thankfully it was cleared up in the matter of twenty minutes and we got the fuel that we needed.
I was very sad to be leaving Egypt behind after having the most memorable trip in my life so far.
Cairo Airport seen from the air
Leaving Egypt behind :[
The AVOD on Swiss is truly remarkable !
Arrival at ZRH
Terminal E is very sleek
Goodbye A340 !
I love the glass jetways!
HB-JMF took me back to ZRH from CAI
Down the escalator to the train !
Swiss International Airlines
Meal: Cheese or Ham sandwich (not pictured)
Departure time: 8:35 p.m.
Arrival time: 9:25 p.m.
Awaiting flight to LHR to depart from A63
Just crossing the Channel. For some reason on this flight there was a strange groaning noise the entire flight that constantly varied in intensity. Sometimes it was sharp and sometimes dull.
Just before landing in LHR
We got to deplane via the stairs
After arriving into LHR we cleared customs and took the Hoppa bus over to the Sheraton Heathrow for a deserved rest in order to catch our flight home to BOS the next day.
August 24, 2005
Drinking hot cocoa on a cold day in the hotel room before the flight (17C in London)
Meal: Chicken / Snack (pictured) or Ginger Beef (not pictured)
Departure time: 6:05 p.m.
Arrival time: 8:15 p.m.
The flight home left pretty much on-time despite the dreary weather in London. The pilot told us that flights earlier in the day were as much as 3 hours delayed due to the weather. We managed to leave just about on time and had some fun bumps on the way up, but nothing major. The 777 seems to take turbulence very well.
I love the MRTC !
This was the best part of the flight...
I believe it was an Air Canada 767 to Ottawa?
Watching The Anchorman (AA, you need to get more Classic Films ala Casablanca)
Descent into BOS
Thank you for reading my trip report and please leave comments! If you're thinking about going to Egypt then go! It is a very safe place to visit with tons of oppurtunities to explore and relax at the same time, all the while you're surronded by some of the oldest pieces of history left on earth and in some of the most fragile ecosystems.
“The Pyramids looked as if they would wear out the air, boring holes in it all day long” – Florence Nightingale, 1850
“The Pyramids were a quarter of a mile away; it felt odd to be living at such close quarters with anything quite so famous – it was like having the Prince of Wales at the next table in a restaurant; one kept pretending to notice, while all the time glancing furtively to see if they were still there.” – Evelyn Waugh at the Mena House Hotel, 1929