I arrived in Cairo at about four in the morning and being as I was pretty nervous to begin with, arriving that early in the morning didn't help. The first person I made contact with at the airport greeted me the same way as Sala greeted Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. "My friend, welcome to Cairo," he said. That warm welcoming smile eased my tension. The residents in Cairo are friendly and very curious. At any moment someone will strike a conversation with you which can last for hours. I felt safe walking the streets of Cairo but you want to keep your wits about you. There are three things you want to be weary of when in Cairo. The first thing is to be weary of cheap travelers. Everything is cheap in Cairo. Every US dollar is equal to about six or seven Egyptian pounds. For ten Egyptian pounds you can buy a pack of smokes, two bottles of water and a pack of chips. I came across a few travelers who wouldn't tip or would start a fuse over paying an extra two or three pounds. Three pounds comes out to about ten cents. I wanted to kick those people. The second thing is that shopkeepers and vendors are very aggressive. They can sell ice to the Eskimos. Bargain as much as you can and never hesitate to walk off. Finally, do not swim in the Nile River. I met a few people who went for a dip and ended up close to their death bed.
When in Cairo, you should see make time to see Giza and everything else. Also make time for a cab ride during rush hour. Rush hour lasts from about 9pm to 11pm and if you think the Romans are crazy drivers, the Egyptians make them look like go-cart drivers. At first you'll be scared shitless but after a while you'll notice the science of their driving. I didn't see a single accident or a fight while I was there. Throughout the day you will also hear periodic chanting ringing in the air. It sounds like it's from a loud speaker but it's actually thousands of Muslims praying at the same time. It's spooky but very griping to hear. By far, Egypt was the best place I visited.
From Cairo, I took a bus to Taba, which is a border town next to Israel. The drive gave me a clear understanding of what being in bum fucked Egypt means. I was in the middle of nowhere. The bus stopped just once during the entire five hour ride, stopping only at a rest stop with a single stall bathroom. I looked ten times worse than the train station bathroom in Trainspotting. I've been kicking myself for not spending anytime in Taba. Looking out the window from the bus, Taba looked like heaven on earth with sandy beaches as far as the eye can see and not a single person in sight. At the passport checkpoint, I was faced with another long wait. This time it took less than two hours, but I wasn't tired or anything. I'd love to spend five hours on a bus and then an extra two waiting.
After crossing the border, I was in Elat, Israel. The women were stunning and the water was blue and warm. There is nothing to do in Elat but swim with the fishes, eat great seafood and watch sunbathers. Elat is the perfect recipe for relaxing.