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Egypt 2006

Information about my trip to Egypt. I’m keeping a separate site but with some extra Egypt stuff/widgets. It’s at http://MyTripToEgypt.com/

Written By: Gary on April 26, 2006 No Comment

So today I found a small bottle of Coke for about 14 cents (yes, 14 American cents), but I had to drink it there. I wanted to take it with but I couldn’t figure out how much to pay to do that, it was a very non-tourist spot. I actually paid her about 19 cents since I didn’t have change. There were two kids there talking to us (and hassling us for money and pens) so I bought them each a soda too. I’m thinking they were kids of the shopkeeper, I made sure they actually opened them before they. I was tempted to give a few of the kids money but I didn’t think we could get out of the community without the word getting around.

Also had a carriage buggy ride that I was already paying to much for (I was almost running late and I had already haggled him down 50%) but when I got there he tried to jack the price up. I just say no, repeat the price and walk away. Oh, he tried to get me to tip the horse too and then he switched currencies to try and confuse me (about 23%). Keep in mind we’re really talking peanuts with any of these amounts.

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Written By: Gary on April 25, 2006 One Comment

It’s Tuesday and most of the group are at the other site I mentioned yesterday. But I got to sleep!!!! I think I slept for about 8 1/2 hours and then on and off for about an hour (so I got up). Had breakfast, did a nice walk to the Internet Cafe and I’ll head back in a few…

It’s a nice day out but my legs are really sore from yesterday, I might take a carriage ride back to the hotel… :)

Don’t forget I’ve got more photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/garylapointe/ which I’ve been titling slightly better and with more descriptions.

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Written By: Gary on April 25, 2006 No Comment

I got an e-mail from Kelly about some kind of bombings somewhere out this way but I don’t know anything about it.
FYI, I’m in Aswan just off the nile (about 50 feet at this moment) and about as far south as you can go.

UPDATE: It’s WAY north and to the east and it turns out the travel agency called my Mom to say I’m okay (which is funny since I hadn’t heard about it and no one asked me if I was okay)…

In case more happens, Aswan and Cairo are the major areas I’ll be in for the rest of the trip.

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Written By: Gary on April 24, 2006 No Comment

I am SO tired. I’m in bed right now. And I can’t wait to sleep in. The rest of the group is going to Abu Simbel (sp?) and I really want to see it but I knew I’d be ready to crash around this point of the trip and it’s another plan ride (yuk!), $200 more and have to leave the hotel at 5 am so it seemed like it’d make sense to skip it and save on so many levels.

We saw temples, rode boats and ate lots (as usual) then went for a walk (had to be close to 3 hours) which included visiting a mosque shopping (haggling lots with very little success) and lots of walking.

Tomorrow will be nice to sleep in, access the Internet at the hotel’s over priced rates (but at least I don’t need to carry the laptop anywhere) and eat more! (You won’t actually see this until I get on-line then…)

Written By: Gary on April 24, 2006 No Comment

I’ve had two people mention that they had problems reading this page http://mytriptoegypt.com/.

Can you please send me an e-mail if it looks bad in your web browser? Please tell me your browser, computer and if it’s old or new (the more geeky details the better).

I just made a few changes, so if you had problems and it’s now better, please let me know :)

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Written By: Gary on April 23, 2006 No Comment

So Oliver Twist comes to mind often during these my Egypt trip. I see all these kids running around trying to sell you something. They just swarm you like a group of mosquitoes. It’s hysterical on some level it’s like on some TV show when you see the little kid with little puppies jumping all over them.

Most of the time it seems like the children are very poor but I think many of them are not poor (at least not by their standards). We were at this one place and these little kids were so dirty it just tears at my heart. When we got back in the van I asked if they dirtied them up on purpose, the tour guide laughed and said they were just dirty, “they’re kids, they don’t mind”.


Generally when swarmed it seems like they are in a few groups, they all seem to go back to the same few adults for change. But it just makes me think of the groups of orphans in oliver twist. I’ve spent many dollars/pounds on many of these trinkets if I can haggle down to a dollar or less, it’s a safe bet I’ll get one (unless I already have 15!).

Written By: Gary on April 23, 2006 2 Comments

StargateSo I was on a carriage ride and saw this in the park. It was hysterical if you’ve ever seen the movie Stargate (Kurt Russel / James Spader) or the TV Series Stargate SG-1 (Richard Dean Anderson) or Atlantis. They use a Egyptian artifact like this to travel to other worlds. Worlds still under the rule of aliens posing as guides gods. Gods using names like Ra and Anubis on planets with names like Abadoes and Karnak (these are egyptian names and places).

160Px-Stargate-ColorThe shows uses quite a bit of Egyptology (mythology) and there are always ruins that they have to explore in the show. And occasionally they use some of the old Egyptology stories to figure the interaction between the god/aliens.

See a view of the actual gate from the show.

Written By: Gary on April 21, 2006 No Comment

Vallyothekings2GroupSo today we went inside the Valley of the Kings and then over to the Valley of the Queens. It was completely amazing. I just couldn’t believe it. No photos allowed inside but I’ll post some of the photos of the actually valley in the Valley of the Kings (VotK). So there are 63 discovered tombs in the VotK, anything you read will say 62 but they just recently discovered a new one.

The construction they did as they dug into these mountains and was incredible. Tunnels and the chambers were very interesting. Lots of colors still vibrant after all these years (3,000+). In side the huge chambers it felt very moving to see all this work that these people put into constructing these rooms. I bet one of them were 50 feet x 25 feet and 20 feet high and it had to be a few hundred feet into the mountain.

Just incredible. This is what I came here to see.

Written By: Gary on April 21, 2006 No Comment

NilepoolWe are on the ship M/S Royal Orchid and it’s incredible. It’ll hold 60 guests and it’s just the 15 of us! I’m on the top deck right this, I’m in a lounge chair right next to the hot tub and pool. The stars are out and there isn’t a cloud in the sky, I wish we weren’t next to this “city”. It’s just beautiful on the ship and there are so many staff here. I really wish I had taken the 4 nights on the boat instead of just 3, it’s so nice to set up the room and know I’m going to be here for a few days. We’re docked in this tiny little town that I’ll have to look up the name for called Esna.

We’re just going south down the Nile (it flows north) and making stops at different places. We had to go through some locks today to get onto the higher level of water and that was fun to watch from the inside. And I’m watching a goat cross a side-street right now. It’s 9:29pm and it’s still pretty warm out, it’s been very hot lately and it’s going to get worse as we head south towards the Sahara.

We did wander around town for a few minutes, it took us way longer for us to walk the roundabout way past the guards and back to go up the stairs than to walk down the street and back. And we spent a bit of time negotiating for a candy bar too. Here’s how it went:

Me: How much for a Galaxy Ripple
He: 10 LE (pounds egyptian)
Me: I laughed it was so high (about $1.86)
He: 7 LE
Me: Shrugged
He: 2 for 10 LE
Me: 3 for 10
He: Sold! (or something like that).
Me: Happy with my purchase of 3 dusty candy bars that I probably still paid too much for.

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Written By: Gary on April 21, 2006 No Comment

Egyptpirates1Egyptpirates2So earlier our Guide told us we’d see pirates down by the dam. Sure enough, as we slow down dozens of rowboats surround the ship. And it’s “street” vendors trying to sell us stuff.

What they do is toss it up 4 floors for us to look at and it hits the railing and falls back down into the water. He throws another and it goes over us and lands in the pool. It’s really hard to negotiate when they are down so far. A few of the ladies bought some nice table cloths, I didn’t see anything I liked enough to have him send up (and then have to send back down arguing all the way). But it was just hysterical to see, we were all laughing the whole time. It’s just so bizarre.

Then we watched them leave to lay siege on another ship…

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Written By: Gary on April 20, 2006 No Comment

In Luxor we’re staying at the Sofitel Pavilion Winter Palace it’s pretty grand (but our rooms need a refurbish) and I’ve got a great view (see photos).

We’ve been to Karnak (I just posted a few more pictures some with people in it go give a sense of scale) and the Luxor Temple (shots also posted, the night shots are from here) and the temple and more. I’ve got so many more photos (and stories) but not enough time…

We did a sunset boat ride. And tomorrow we’re crossing the nile to see the sun rise. I’ve got to be up and ready to leave at 4:30 am, plus I’ve got to be packed because we go the ship right after and we’ll be on the Nile for 4 days!

I’m so excited to not have to pack again for 3 nights! And it’s the boat, so it doesn’t have to be “airplane neat” just so I can carry it all!

I’m assuming that the Internet will be sparse for a while since I was told that ATM machines probably won’t be at most of our stops (I’m assuming WiFi is more sparse than ATMs are).

As a reminder here are my flickr Egypt photos .

Written By: Gary on April 19, 2006 One Comment

Karnaktall1GarykarnakAfter we flew to Luxor we went to the Temple of Karnak. It was very hot (I finally found a hat to buy) and everyone (and there were lots of people there) were all always trying to get into the shade. They started building this complex 3,000+ years ago and it took over 1,500 years! This place supplied me with a lot of great photos (I just don’t know if I can get them uploaded).

FYI: Luxor contains 1/3 of the world’s monuments (the rest of egypt contains another 1/3), I’m not sure what exactly defines a monument.

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Written By: Gary on April 19, 2006 No Comment

Modem7200So I’ve got cheap dial-up in my room in Luxor but I’m only connecting at 7200 bps!!!! It’s pretty painful but it’s only $2 an hour and I don’t have to leave the room (I think that’s a plus as long as I time things right). I probably won’t be updating a lot of photos though…

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Written By: Gary on April 19, 2006 No Comment

So we’re on the plane on our ride to Luxor in the south. It’s either a new plane or recently refurbished, it’s very nice. It’s a huge plane for such a short ride (1 hour), it does go to Beirut after it leaves Luxor (I’m not sure how far that is). We’re off to Karnak to visit today.

I’ve got to say the thing that I like least about this is that packing and unpacking from all the moving that we have to do. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like that but I was hoping I was wrong…

I think we check into a hotel for two nights and then I think the cruise is on the nile for the next three nights. That will be nice traveling to other places but having the hotel do the traveling for me. :)

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Written By: Gary on April 18, 2006 One Comment

Mecairomuseum-1So here’s a picture of me in front of The Museum in Cairo Cairo Museum for Egyptian Antiquities..

 

Written By: Gary on April 18, 2006 No Comment

Nightpyramid2Nightpyramid1It took few attempts but I managed to get the camera set right to take this picture at night of the pyramids in Cairo, but I got a few and they look pretty good for being dark out.

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Written By: Gary on April 18, 2006 No Comment

INTERNET: The hotel I’m at only offers wired Internet in the business center (it is 24/7) they want 20 LE (egyptian pounds) which is probably about $4-5 for 15 minutes, I think it’s a little better deal if you get 30 minutes. But when it’s closed (most of the time) you have to get someone to open it. The bonus for me is I have the laptop pretty prepped for what I want to do: I’ve already written e-mails and hit send, I’ve written posts (such as this one) and saved them, I only have to hit send and I’ve organized the photos I want to upload. So 15 minutes is actually quite a bit of time since I have the laptop. Anything more and I’d probably just be screwing around. They are working on wireless in certain areas but it’s not complete enough to work (but it is complete enough to stop you from using it).

MONEY CONVERSION: I did what I usually do, I went to the ATM. I took out 1000 LE (think of it as a cursive L like the Brits show it) and when I checked my bank’s web site I see they took out $174.56 with a $1 surcharge (that’s about what I thought it should be). I should have checked the sign at the bank for their conversion…


PHONES: No one can tell me what it’ll actually cost to use the phone in the room (actually they’ll tell me but if you ask two other people you get three different answers) and they have no pay phones here. They said I can use my AT&T calling card (but I’d still pay some undefined rate), but last week when I called AT&T they told me Egypt didn’t allow foreign phone cards to be used. So I went back up to the business center and Skyped out (using Skype computer phone software). I had to pay for the computer time and a few cents through Skype but it was still pretty cheap and now my Mom knows I’m alive (she can’t check the net to see if I’m posting, which infers I’m alive).

PENS: I couldn’t find the pen they supplied with the room so I went to the desk and asked for another one, you’d think I had gone and asked for a second television set. A call to housekeeping and hassling a maid I did finally get a new pen.

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Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

I guess I should mention I’m staying at the Mena House Oberoi . Their site says:

“This palatial hotel in the shadow of the Great Pyramids in Cairo has enchanted guests since 1869. Located in forty acres of jasmine scented gardens, Mena House Oberoi has played host to kings and emperors, Heads of State and celebrities. Its royal history is reflected in luxurious interiors that are embellished with exquisite antiques, handcrafted furniture and rich textiles.”

It’s listed here as a five star, the complex is great but the room is the same as any other room somewhere else (actually it needs a little fixing up). But I thought you might want to know…

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Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

I do have a few more photos my Flickr feed from Egypt, click to see my flickr Egypt photos (hopefully I’ll work on the descriptions later) you should be able to get some idea if you click on the photo and read the “tags”. If you haven’t seen them yet you can view a slideshow.

Internet access isn’t as easy as I hoped so we’ll see have the rest of the trip goes…

Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

So I forgot what people said it was going to be like here:

  • People trying to get you to buy things.
  • Trying to take you to the pyramids or a camel ride.
  • Trying to be your taxi
  • The incessant honking on the roads (there are so many honks you don’t know who it’s aimed at).

    When I say “what people said”, I mean people and books and web sites and TV shows and the tour guide.

  • Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

    My first pyramidPoolpyramidHere’s two photos of the pyramids to hold you off until I get better/closer shots.

    The one on the let was my first view on the way over (you have to look through the windshield), the second is the view from the pool at the hotel!

    Click any of them to enlarge for a better view!


    This one is my outside porch at the hotel.Egyptporch

    Written By: Gary on April 17, 2006 No Comment

    So the EgyptAir flight from JFK to Cairo took off way late, we sat in line on the tarmac for a long time (about an hour?). The really cool part is the had a camera up from and they pumped the picture to the TVs in the plane so you could watch the take off as if you were up front. Not too bad so far but I’m about ready for a nap. Dinner was salmon (bleh!) they were out of beef :(

    I’ve got a few movies and TV shows I brought along so I’ve been catching up on those. Plus, I finished the new Alex Rider novel Ark Angel which Target accidentally put on the shelves a few days early so I was excited to buy that for the trip the night before I left.

    It was a really long flight and I couldn’t sleep at all, I finally got about 90 minutes sleep and woke up with about 90 minutes until we land. But when combine this with the fact I’ve been on the go for about 24 hours and only had about 4 hours sleep to start I’m really thankful for the 90 minutes sleep…

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    Written By: Gary on April 16, 2006 One Comment

    So we’re waiting in line for security and the person watching the x-ray machine has called up two other people. I’m talking to the other people in line and our general consensus was if you need that many opinions then pull it. Of course it was my tray that they were inspecting. I’m still glad they checked, if there is confusion clear it up and make me and the others feel safe.

    It turns out it was my neck pillow, now I’ve never had one before but it’s a lot of air time I’m doing on this trip so I decided to get one. I got the one with the foam balls inside but Target had one clearance that had a little vibrating massager in it. It did actually cross my mind that it might cause a problem but I forgot. Why the problem? It’s a pillow with a button and some wires that run to a battery that them run to a motor. I can totally see why they stopped me for it.


    The odd part is in my carry on I have all this electronics stuff: digital camera, video camera, spare batteries, cables, chargers, power cords (w/extensions), iPod and all sorts of wires and wireless gizmos for the trip. It’s a really nice bag but I wish it had room to fit my new SLR digital camera (it’s too fat for the bad).

    They checked every thing I had in that tray (but not my other trays). So at the next security point I’ll put the pillow in it’s own little tray so thaty don’t have to spend time inspecting my cell phone, camera (w/charger and stuff) and my bad with water, books, bananas and whatever else I travel with. He didn’t say that was the rule but it was implied in our conversation.

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    Written By: Gary on April 12, 2006 One Comment

    Egypt map from wikipediaIt’s about four times the size of Michigan with about eight times the number of people. Although I think Michigan is about 40% water and Egypt is less than 1%. Click the map for a detailed view of the country (I’ll be traveling from Cairo to Aswan and spots in-between).
    Total area: 1,001,450 sq km = 386,559.7 sq miles
    Land only: 995,450 sq km = 383,857.7 sq miles
    Water only: 6,000 sq km = 2,316 sq miles
    Border countries: Gaza Strip, Israel, Libya and Sudan
    Population: 78,887,00

    More info at the CIA World Factbook Egypt page and at Wikipedia.

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    Written By: Gary on April 9, 2006 2 Comments

    So I got my Canon Digital Rebel XT 8MP Digital SLR Camera (with an 18-55mm Lens) and I really like it! I’ve wanted it for a while but it’s the upcomming Egypt trip that inspired me to finally purchase it. (This was also one of the items on my 101 in 1001 items list so you can read a little more about the purchase itself in it’s completed entry over there.) So I got it with the 2GB card (and a spare 512MB) and the last few days I picked up a mini memory reader, a case, a filter (mostly to protect the lens) and one of those things with the rubber band around the lens to hang onto the lens cap so you don’t leave it anywhere.


    I really like the fact when you “click” the button it instantly takes the picture. And I like the control it gives me over the pictures. RebeldialI dislike the fact that the knob has confusing symbols and letters on it (I think I’ve got most of them figured out now). It’s got an LCD screen on the back, would it be so hard to have a mini manual built into the camera for review when you’re not so sure? I think any device should have this: iPod, camera, mp3 player, DVD player or anything with a display (it can’t take that much effort).

    Written By: Gary on April 8, 2006 One Comment

    So on my local news tonight they were talking about this Jet Lag Calculator (needs pop-ups turned off). It asks you a half-dozen questions and gives you recommendations on when you should expose yourself to light (bright lights help) and when to avoid it (dark sunglasses help to avoid light). Kinda interesting, I may give it a try…

    For more tips go to the British Airways Jet Lag information pages.


    For my trip to Egypt (when I arrive there) they suggested:

    Day 1
    Avoid light between 9:00 am to 11:30 am
    Seek light between 11:30 am to 14:00 pm
    Day 2
    Avoid light between 5:00 am to 7:30 am
    Seek light between 7:30 am to 10:00 am

    Hmmm… I should check the time difference now with the changes last week.

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    Written By: Gary on April 5, 2006 No Comment

    So I’ve complained before about my long route to JFK airport in NY from Detroit (via Atlanta). So today I took a trip out to the airport (DTW) to see what Delta could do for me. Janine was very helpful, I find they are way more helpful in person than on the phone (plus they print you out your ticketing information, which I like). We had pretty much narrowed my best options down to going to NY the day before and spending the night (which is an option I would have considered). So we canceled the tickets and then realized that my tickets were bought in a way that she couldn’t substitute them (actually I think she could have but it would have been only $12 credit). But then she had a problem rebooking the original flight. So we (she) called somewhere else, three somewhere else’s actually, but she finally got someone to answer and they fixed me right up! I failed that mission but it was worth a drive on a nice day (and $5 for parking). I’ll bug the travel group once more (maybe twice) and see if I can get someone there to fly me in the day before.


    Plus I ran into a guy from high school, I actually recognized him but had to read the name tag to be sure. I think he graduated two ears before me it took us a few, but we figured out that we knew each other from yearbook. So I got to chat with him for a few minutes while waiting for Janine.

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    Written By: Gary on March 23, 2006 2 Comments

    So I’ve got this podcast with the enhanced images working!

    Two kinds of podcasts:
    this is the “better” enhanced AAC podcast (for iTunes, iPods and Quicktime).
    this is the mp3 podcast (for everything else).

    The enhanced file is a AAC/MP4 (m4a) file so you probably need an iPod or iTunes (or Quicktime) to see the images. The MP3 will just be on it’s own for any software/hardware player.

    I now have both a Enhanced RSS Feed and a MP3 RSS Feed set up.

    (If you get goofy characters you’ll need to save it to the computer first, sorry. This should be fixed, but you never know…)

    I apologize to those using feed software, this (and the feed from the next podcast or two) will be goofy as revise and work out the bugs…

    Written By: Gary on March 22, 2006 One Comment

    Dtw atl jfk flightSo while I don’t have the tickets I now have my flight arrangements. To put it mildly the first day of my trip is going to suck. I’ve got a direct flight from New York to Egypt (5800 miles) but I have to get to New York (JFK) from Detroit (just under 500 miles). Here’s the sucky part, to get to JFK from Detroit they are flying me via Atlanta, GA so I’m going 1350+ miles instead of 500 miles, plus it’s probably an extra half traveling to do all the connections. Now I’m not a travel expert (or a geography expert) but it just seems odd (see the picture) that there isn’t some better way to route me less than 750 miles out of the way. Next time I’m make that part of the reservations myself and pay the extra for two different airlines one way or something.


    Part of the annoyance was when I called to see what they could do to help they said, “that’s because you’re flying on Sunday and they only have one flight from Detroit to JFK, if you went on some other day it wouldn’t be a problem”, well I’m not the one who scheduled the tour on a Sunday, they did, I picked the tour company, they picked the day not me! And it’s true there is only one direct flight from from Detroit to JFK to get me there in time for the Egypt flight, it’d be nice to have some other options. I’d have paid extra for another airline or if they told me it was going to stink I’d have made my own reservations or I’d pay extra to get a direct flight the day before and spend the night in NY…

    Written By: Gary on March 20, 2006 No Comment

    So I got an envelope from the travel agency today. This is the one that’s supposed to have the tickets for my flights in it. Did you see that, I said supposed to? Yes, there were no tickets in my envelope. Nor was there a receipt for an eTicket of any sort in there either. How annoying was that?!? And of course I didn’t see it until after they closed for the day. I see this as being one of those crisises that make me crazy until a few days before the trip leaves.

    Of course they’ll tell me this is normal that they don’t have them yet, but the confusion is easy enough to solve: just don’t include the memo that says they are in the envelope! At least include my flight info (I see that’s on-line, but that’s another story). I didn’t see a name badge in there either which is listed as mailed (but it might have been mixed in with the luggage tags, although they weren’t pre-printed, I’d assume the name badge would be).

    And in the envelope there was this carrying case for your ticket (but no ticket) that just screamed “I’m a tourist”, I don’t know if I’ll actually use it. They sent me some other little gift thing like that before (I want to say some kind of wallet). Send me something useful, like a plastic power adaptor and a list of WiFi hot spots!


    The did have a list of all the hotels and web addresses (when available), so I will be able to find out more information about them (and if they have internet access). They sent me a more detailed itinerary but I kinda thought by this point it’d have the dates listed and not just “Day 5”, etc…

    Written By: Gary on March 20, 2006 No Comment

    So I’m traveling with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) on the EG3 Egypt tour. There a part of Grand Circle Tours. We will go to Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and a Nile Cruise.

    (I hadn’t mentioned those specifics before).

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    Written By: Gary on March 19, 2006 No Comment

    So in Cairo they’ve set up a The PyramidCam. You can see the three large pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure from a camera set up in a hotel in Giza. Be sure to check out the compare page to see how they differ form other man-made objects in the world.

    Remember it’s seven hours later there than it is here, it’s not as impressive when it’s dark.

    Written By: Gary on March 9, 2006 One Comment

    So I’m listening to the Egyptian Arabic Pimsleur Language CD in preparation for my trip. It’s hard!! I have no aptitude for language but they say it doesn’t matter (I say it does). I’m only on the first lesson. It’s kinda hear what the guy says so I can’t always repeat it, I’ll probably go over that and sounnd like the woman on the tape.

    Most of the reviews on Amazon are favorable (except for the person who said there wasn’t enough info on grammer and more in the four hour course) so maybe it’s just me, we’ll see how I feel after a few more hours…

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