When we arrived in Cairo from Mersa Matruh we were both quite unhappy at having lost a day, and both of us were very keen on seeing the Pyramids and learning about the history. We met Eddie Gould who came out of the follow me car and greeted us and for a little while we forgot about the heat and misery of the mid day in the warmth that Eddie exuded. After taking care of the formalities we went to General Badran’s hangar where he graciously hosted us to my favorite tea and snacks. General Badran has a hangar full of an assortment of planes that we enjoyed watching and he is also a good friend and supporter of general aviation/GASE in Egypt. Once the mid day passed, we proceeded to the city of Cairo from 6th of October. The hotel Fairmont, where Eddie had booked us, was a sprawling, lavish affair. After shower and quick change of clothes we got together with Eddie by the pool side at, now all of our, favorite spot for dinner. Everything about this hotel was impressive. Late that night we went to bed with a lot of anticipation about seeing the pyramids….. an item that has been on my bucket list for ever….
Early next morning, after a sumptuous breakfast, and of course my favorite tea, we met Eddie Gould again and left for a sight seeing tour of Cairo. Eddie gave us a historical perspective of the places we drove thru, thus making this trip truly amazing. We were in for a little bit of a shock when we found the current city of Cairo extending right up to the pyramids of Giza. Eddie took us to all the important vantage points and kept talking about this camel called Charlie Brown who apparently loves Eddie. After a historical tour of the main pyramids, we went to meet Charlie Brown. Now this was the most amazing thing we saw, that camel recognized Eddie right away and muzzled up to him and started kissing his face. I have not seen such affection coming from an animal except in the case of dogs that worship their owners. Haris and I then went on a camel back ride of the pyramids. A truly amazing perspective. The camel drivers spoke English and constantly briefed us on all the various things we saw. Upon our return from the camel ride, our next stop was the Sphinx. That also turned out to be an excellent trip, and we met these two pint sized Egyptian girls, one 9 and the other 14, who spoke pretty good English. They told us to cross a barrier where a policeman was trying to keep people out, but these two young ladies told the policeman in Arabic to stop bothering us and he did…..I was impressed. These girls then took us on a tour of the sphinx and were instructing me on how best to take Haris’s pictures and apparently I was not getting it right, so she took the camera from me and snapped up a few pictures and then turns to me and says : “that’s how you take a picture of the sphinx”. She showed me alright. By now the desert heat had started taking its toll on all three of us. We barely dragged ourselves into the waiting cab and located Abdullah, the driver, who then asked us what we wanted to do next.
Haris wanted to visit Khan Khalili, the narrow, winding market with thousands of small shops for the souvenir hunters. We found out that during the last visit Eddie had gotten arrested along with another pilot he had taken there. It was not truly an arrest but rather detention and release some distance away. The crime – taking too many pictures and not buying enough stuff from the shops. Well, we decided to do away with that reason right off the bat and went into a shop and picked up the souvenirs that Haris wanted. Eddie also kept us away from the area where we could have gotten arrested. We also went and had tea at the Al Shaway Café, one that has been owned by the same family and according to an account, has never closed for the last 250 years. Now that is impressive. I was treated to mint tea while Haris and Eddie opted for cold Kirkedee drinks.
Next up we took a driving tour of the city and also got to see Jamia Al Azher, an old University and center of teaching and learning in Islamic Jurisprudence. That evening, we decided to again meet at Eddie’s favorite haunt, the poolside café in the Fairmont Hotel. Eddie’s wife Anthea and Ahmed the magnificent also joined us. I am truly impressed with Ahmed, with his extensive knowledge of the entire world’s flight planning, routing and dispatch system. He carries an iPod with him and can whip out a flight plan across political divides in a matter of seconds. With Eddie’s extensive training and education at the school of hard knocks and Ahmeds knowledge of the airway system, it is the perfect compliment of handling and dispatch that I have ever seen. At this point, Eddie and Ahmed recommended some changes to our flight plan. Having had the recent experience with Eddie and Ahmed and their extensive knowledge of the International Air Traffic control system, we readily accepted. We reluctantly had to call it a day as the next morning we planned to depart for Aswan, load up with fuel, get our Exit stamps on the passports and depart for Al Ain, UAE…… Eddie, Ahmed and Anthea more than made up for the day we had lost at Mersa Matruh….we feel we have made awesome friends for life…. Eddie, Anthea and Ahmed….Thank you for a most memorable trip to the city of Cairo…. I will try to get my better half to accompany me on a “vacation” to really enjoy everything Cairo and Egypt has to offer…… including a cruise on the Nile !