Aug 10, 2016
I imagine that in the past, my trip today would have been an arduous undertaking. With the help of the staff at the hostel, I booked my bus to Hurghada in the early afternoon so I spent the morning relaxing at the garden rooftop Dahab Hostel – a little piece of relaxing calm in the middle of chaotic downtown Cairo, having lunch at Cafe Riche – apparently the oldest restaurant in Cairo with old wooden panelled walls and red checkered tablecloths in a classy historical French bistro style and where the old boys club still comes to enjoy a coffee and the manager looks like he might have been around when the restaurant opened, and enjoying a double apple flavoured shisha and sweet black tea at a classic Cairo cafe with plastic chairs tucked in a small alley with colourful flags zigzaging above as remnants of celebrating the end of Ramadan.
It was a bit of culture shock after Ethiopia to book and pay for a bus ticket online…and then find that the cheapest economy class was similar in level to a Canadian Greyhound bus line with reclining seats and pumping out chilly air-conditioning as we headed out to cross the endless sand of the Sahara Desert. Smooth pavement cut a stark black path through the barren landscape of tan rock and sand, though sand encroached on the highway’s edges and the bus was temporarily blinded with gusts of sand at times. Looking out the window, it looked like I was on the moon or something. The dry, barren, empty landscape looked so different from my recent experiences in rainy season – planting season Ethiopia.
Culture shock is getting to a rest stop in the middle of the desert, a modern, neon-light oasis. There was a decorative pond in the front with a single Canadian goose standing in it. Inside the rest stop was an ultra modern food court complete with a White Castle burger stand and a Seattle’s Best coffee shop. However, this is Egypt so along side tall cappochinos served in large paper take-away cups, you could also get a tall seisha to puff on, lounging on the outside couches for the 30 minute rest stop. The bus left in exactly 30 minutes, on the dot, after a toot of the horn.