TRAVEL THERE: GOOD-BYE FAIRMONT, HELLO MENA HOUSE
We visited Egypt to attend a wedding and what a wedding it was. Next we were headed to Giza for some Pyramid sight-seeing, but first we had to check out of the Fairmont and into the Mena House, after catching a few zzzz’s.
A Late Night Delivery
I stayed up very far past my bedtime celebrating the newlyweds, something that happened frequently on this vacation. When we finally got back to the room, we put away our wedding finery and gratefully fell into bed. An hour or two later, there was a knock on the door. I wasn’t sure what to expect, because of the urgency of the banging. Had a hotel guest confused our room for someone else’s? Was a wife fleeing an abusive husband? Had the newlyweds argued and needed a referee? Or was the party still going on and they’d decided to bring it to us?
Bill got up, went to the door and discovered members of the hotel staff with a cart full of food. My sister-in-law mentioned sending us some left-overs, but I’d assured her we didn’t need them. There was no microwave and while we did have a frig, it was full of refreshments the hotel wanted us to buy. We were also scheduled to be out of the hotel by noon. No time for a feast. Still, we’d ended up on the list of rooms to visit and they were going to deliver! Bill kept saying no thank you and the anonymous visitors kept bringing in trays of food.
I’m persnickety about keeping a hotel room neat, but after our late night delivery I woke up at around 8:30 to what looked like a catering disaster. There were appetizers, main dishes and desserts all over the place. I wouldn’t have been too happy about that under any circumstances, but in this case, I had to pack before the car came.
I got myself ready and shuffled the food into a corner, but Mr. Bill didn’t budge until 10:30, which at least gave me an opportunity to catch up in my travel journal. As we’d planned the trip he’d tried to convince me this would be a good day for sight-seeing. His nephew Ayman, our travel agent, kept giving us itineraries with an 8 AM pick-up time and I kept sending them back. As I sat watching him sleep off his partying I felt pretty smug.
When he did get up, we found a snack among the desserts, but the rest of the un-refrigerated food seemed like food poisoning looking for a place to happen. The packing ritual didn’t take very long and by 11:30 we were in the lobby waiting for our car.
The Luxury of Having a Driver
While I love luxury, our travel budget rarely affords us much of it. We take nice vacations, but we always have the most economical transportation available. Thankfully, the groom insisted Bill hire a driver to transport us around when we were on our own and Ayman did us the favor of scheduling one guy to be our driver the whole time – even when we traveled to Alexandria.
Izzat was a treasure. He was very proper in a sort of Egyptian way. If you’ve been there you know what I mean and if you haven’t, I can’t explain it to you. He spoke impeccable English. The car was a Hyundai, so nothing extravagant, but very clean. So off we went.
Early in the trip Izzat was a little difficult to engage in conversation, but by the time we left Egypt he had warmed up to these two crazy Americans. He never wanted to be in a picture, however, and some of that might be because of his faith. Being Christian in Egypt is not illegal, but it’s also something of a disadvantage.
On our trip to the Mena House, Izzat was polite but distant. We observed the sites on the way out to Giza. Come back next week and I’ll tell you about our new favorite hotel.