Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Travel Tuesday : Goodbye, Egypt, hello Spain? And home...

On our last full day in Egypt we packed everything and ordered a taxi for the next morning -- which consisted of having the bellman call a taxi from outside, who drove in and negotiated with us. (Same old story -- there's an accepted price, but the driver started high and only came down when we argued a bit). He gave us his card and told us to call him. We told him to be there at 6am. There was some back and forth about this, but we thought we'd got it sorted.

In the morning we checked out (I knew we'd get dinged for that minibar stuff we didn't let them replace on that first morning -- but we disputed it and didn't end up paying) and had a quick breakfast at the buffet. Then we went out front to leave.

5:58 - no taxi 5:59 - we ask the front desk to call the taxi. They call, twice -- no answer. 6:00 - we storm down the driveway and re-negotiate with the first driver we find. grrr. 6:15 - we arrive at Luxor Airport

We go inside the terminal where three guards were standing next to a metal detector and x-ray machine, both of which were turned off. A fourth man, behind the glass, who in theory would monitor the x-ray machine was sleeping, smooshed against the glass.

One said, "Do you have a ticket?" When I said yes, he said "I want to see it." So I dug out the e-mail (it's not like I had a hard ticket), which he glanced at, and then waived us through. Since the scanner was turned off, we hesitated, and started to wheel my bag through the metal detector. The guards said, "No, no, through the machine." I wasn't about to step through the gate without my bag going first, so I pointed out that everything was turned off. So they shouted at the sleeping guard, who slowly woke up, and turned on the machine. We stood there, waiting, wondering how exactly this was secure. But eventually we were able to load the bags onto the x-ray and step through the metal detector.

Then to check-in, where there seemed to be a lot of typing -- and the clerk was a hunt-and-peck typist. But we weren't in a hurry and he did give us the Egypt exit forms to fill out. Then to the next security checkpoint, which again was switched off. The belt wasn't moving, but the guy wanted us to walk through and didn't understand why we hesitated. Awesome! Finally that came online, and we could go through. Then into the domestic departure lounge, which didn't have many shops but at least was priced in Egyptian pounds.

Eventually our gate opened and we got on a bus to take us to the plane. We had exit row seats to Cairo -- nice -- but I don't think EgyptAir bothered with a safety demonstration.

Cairo airport was nothing special; had to go through the emigration process which took an absurdly long time and had highlights like the officer sending and receiving text messages while processing forms. Cool! Very little Egyptian stuff in the airport shops, which surprised me. But they did have food, at least.

Flight to Barcelona was tedious; already feeling tired of travel.

Arrived at the schmancy new T1 and found the spot where the hotel busses go. At first glance, the Hotel Tryp was a dud, sitting in an older industrial park next to a Volkswagen office. But it was beautiful and very stylish inside. The shuttles were really useful too -- running every 20 minutes to the train station and airport, which meant we could check in, dump our stuff, and head back into town. A nice lady at the Renfe train station showed us that you could save money by getting a T-10 ticket rather than two round-trip tickets. Nice!

Spent the late afternoon/ early evening wandering around Barcelona looking at buildings in L'Eixample and trying to find a grocery store. Found one, eventually, but couldn't find what we were looking for. Again, we have completely failed to buy anything for anyone. Oops. Not that we bought much for ourselves, mind you. We bought nothing in Egypt that we didn't eat or drink -- in large part because I was tired of the constant hassle.

Walking around Barcelona we kept thinking how lovely it was not to be harassed at every street corner, every time we stopped, etc. And how clean it all was. And did I mention we brushed our teeth with tap water?

Back to the hotel at sunset, and then we just hung out, drank cheap Sidre, and snacked on cheese, tomatoes, potato "tortilla", and crackers.

Set alarms for 3:30 to make sure we caught the 4:00 shuttle; we were out of the room at 3:58 and right on time. Sadness: the lovely shops at the airport were still shut -- one downside of an early morning flight! But time passed and we're now halfway through our flight to Amsterdam. Happy to be homeward bound!

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