Journal: Wednesday 17 November 2004
It’s a year since I was last in Egypt and I’m delighted to say I’m here again with my good friend Sam after flying into Cairo last night at 9.00pm. We left home in the predawn hours yesterday morning, travelling along mist-bound autumnal roads for the long drive from Cornwall to Heathrow and the waiting around. Our Egypt Air flight was an hour late departing but still managed to arrive in Cairo on time. By the time we reached our hotel, the Victoria on Sharia el-Gumhariya, we were both fit for nothing but an early night.
This morning the sun is shining and stepping out into the mild November air felt wonderful, even with the stinky Cairo ochre fug. It’s great to be back. Sam and I began the day with a trip to the SCA offices at Abbassiya where we had arranged to meet our contact for our usual antiquities permissions. This year we want to visit as many sites as possible in Middle Egypt, though we found that we could no longer get permission to visit selected sites, but only for the region in general. With the business of our permits concluded we thankfully escaped the gloomy concrete office block and took another taxi back into the city centre to Tahrir Square.
Our first destination was as usual the American University bookshop, where I bought several small books but Sam bought many more, including the massive (and heavy) tome by Schwaller de Lubitz, ‘Temple of Man’ which was an irrisistable bargain she just had to have. Having spent as usual too much money there we retired to the Nile Hilton for coffee and a leisurely lunch that lasted around three hours. We also dropped into one of our favourite stores in the Hilton, Nomad, where I bought a pretty scarf and Sam bought a large brass lamp – another dead weight for her to carry home.
But home at the moment is the Victoria Hotel and the journey back to England was as far from our thoughts as it could possibly be. Dinner this evening was at our local favourite restaurant Hatay – very basic and inexpensive, but the food is superb. Here we met up with Abdul who would once more be our driver and Mr fixit on this trip. With him was his brother Mahmoud and his nephew Dia who were visiting Cairo from their home in Luxor.