16.12.2017 Qena Today we visited the Temple of Dendera! Got a taxi there from downtown Qena but our poor taxi driver got interrogated by the police at the temple. This was again frustrating for us but after we finally got into the site we could sit down and enjoy some peace and quiet for a change. There were hardly any tourists here and we could visit the site (almost) on our own.
15.12.2017 Sohag – Qena (150km by taxi) We decided to take a train or bus from Sohag to Qena because the enjoyment of cycling in Egypt and interacting with the people was lost when the police started accompanying us… even though the police themselves have been mostly nice. Since then we have been racing between towns. As the next trains only left at 3pm, we cycled to the bus station where we could get a long distance taxi.
13.12.2017 Asuit – Sohag (99.3 km) Police escorts today were a little bit more annoying. The first escort almost had a heart attack when we tried to make a stop for coffee. He told us we are not allowed to stop and we have to carry on cycling, which was ironic as they had just stopped 5 minutes before to buy food for themselves. During the commotion the main officer put his hand on his gun twice. We told him to ‘take a hike’ and pushed our bikes to the coffee shop anyway…. they ended up parking the police car right in front of our table and even followed Simon to the toilet!
12.12.2017 Asuit – Dayrout (71 km cycling) Dayrout – Sohag (60km car) Left the hotel this morning to find a police car with four policemen waiting to escort us out of the city. The hotel staff must have told them what time we were having breakfast. We obliged but not without some entertainment on the way. First, though, as we were cycling out of the city, a very angry man threw a large stick at another man… It missed its intended target and instead bounced off Simon’s pannier and whacked Tanya hard on the leg.
11.12.2017 El Minya (Rest Day) Ate too much for lunch and had a Koshary coma afterwards.. a stroll down the Nile was needed. Was a bit more relaxing there and enjoyed some more Egyptian coffee.. can’t get enough of this stuff. It was the first good view of the Nile we have had… usually if we cross a bridge we’re concentrating on staying alive between all the traffic and donkeys.
10.12.2017 Beni Suef – El Minya (132 km) West Side of Nile We left Beni Suef at 7 am. The next hotel was over 130 km away in El Minya with no formal accommodation in between. Our plan was to see how the day goes and if we can do the stretch in one day, we will push for it, otherwise we would try to ask people or a mosque in between. If that didn’t work out we would ask a truck to take us to El Minya (or a train if nothing else worked).
09.12.2017 El Saff – Beni Suef (73 km) After a comfortable sleep, we said goodbye to Fox and his family and gave them a small parting gift to say thank you. Walking through the streets of the town the ‘unfinished’ houses along the river now made sense. We were told that the houses in Egypt are mainly family homes, where parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and their immediate families own one of the levels. If anyone wants to, they can add a new floor… so the buildings are constantly under construction.
08.12.2017 Cairo – El Saff (70 km) T.I.A. This is Africa. Things work differently here and our first day of cycling has already been an adventure. The first thing we had to decide was which route to take… the Red Sea or the Nile. This question was flipping around in our minds for a while. We switched between the two options with ever changing information given to us and we finally decided to take the Red Sea. We cycled out of Cairo (an adventure in itself) on Friday morning – the traffic is low at this time, like Sunday mornings in Europe, and the streets of Cairo were almost enjoyable!
We arrived at the airport and the haggling immediately began. It was very easy to find a taxi big enough to fit our bikes and we had a smooth ride to our hotel. Once we had hit the Cairo traffic, we were VERY happy that we decided to take a taxi instead of cycle. It was night time and the traffic is just crazy here! Walking in Cairo is dangerous, let alone cycling in Cairo. Somehow it works, though, don’t ask how. Organised chaos.