Archive for December, 2007


Cairo New Year’s Eve!

December 31, 2007

Tom – We arrived in Cairo at 2am (5 hour flight).  It was about 50o – colder than we thought it would be.  Wahlid from our travel agency was there to meet us and help us through customs (0.5 hr).  It was then a long 1.5 hour drive to the west side of Cairo and the Novotel hotel in the city called 6th of October; who would name a city after a date??  Ahmed (who replaced Wahlid) and our driver were clean-cut and dressed in suits. Ahmed described some sights along the route as we drove and helped us check-in.

Helen tried to take a shower and it came apart partially flooding the bathroom.  We could have moved to another room but figured out how to get the shower back together and adjust the water flow so it would not flood.  After 37 hours without sleep, we crashed – slept for 12 hours except for times we were awakened by the muezzins calling the faithful to prayer from the minarets.

Helen’s quote while getting ready for the New Year’s Eve gala was, “Everyone is going to be really dressed up and I’m going to feel naked without my jewelry.  I left it all home except for my earrings, wedding rings, gold charm necklace, and my ironman watch…I guess I’ll just have to buy some jewelry here!”  The gala included an elegant cocktail reception (9pm), DJ, extravagant buffet, belly dancer, singer and then DJ again until 2am.  Our table companions were two young women from Korea.  One had just finished working in Philadelphia and was on her way to Dubai for another business job.  The other had studied/trained with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow for 5 years but had just started a Master’s degree in languages.  The music and entertainment were good and we had a great celebration.





December 30, 2007

Tom – We tried but didn’t sleep on the 7.5 hour flight and arrived in Amsterdam about 9am local time (3 am Ohio time).  We were, however, able to consume both dinner and breakfast on the flight!  Found a locker to store our two carry-on suitcases and took our backpacks with us on the train into downtown.  Just outside the train station we hopped on a glass enclosed tour boat for a very nice (great views and commentary in English) circular hour tour through the canals and around the city.  It was 45o – great for this time of year.

St Nicholas church was next and then two hours of walking around the city.  The houses were tall (sometimes 5 stories) and narrow (mostly 3 windows wide, though we saw many 2 and the smallest was 1 window wide); when they were built the tax was based on the width.  So how did they ever get their furniture into these houses???  Outside the house at the top of the building were huge hooks they used to pulley things up and then bring them in through the windows.  Way cool!!!  Helen felt I had to see the red light district, where the ladies display themselves in windows.  We could not find the area for the longest time and Helen felt pretty embarrassed asking for directions.  Being Sunday, most windows were not open so we went for a coffee latte and did some people watching.  We were both struck by the international flavor of the city.  Never had to exchange any money, VISA worked everywhere!  Arrived back at the airport about 4pm (10am EST) and then had a 5 hour wait for our KLM flight (9pm) to Cairo.




And We’re Off!

December 29, 2007

Introduction:  Tom and Helen Martin hail from Springfield, OH.  They have one dog, four children, two children-in-law, and one beautiful granddaughter, with another grandchild on the way.  This Blog is related to their experiences as they traveled to Sri Lanka where Tom served as a Fulbright Scholar.  It includes Amsterdam, Cairo, Nile Cruise, Sri Lanka, Agra India, Jaipur India, Beijing China and Xian China.

Tom – Dianne and Pat picked us up at high noon and drove us to the Dayton airport.  As we were saying goodbye, Dianne gave Helen a St. Christopher medal to keep us safe!  Our two large checked suitcases weighed 50 and 57 pounds (both were opened and inspected by security), our carry-on suitcases were about 30 pounds each, Helen’s backpack 10 pounds and mine 20 pounds (included laptop).  The NWA flight was suppose to leave Dayton at 3:15 but was delayed until 5:30.  Fortunately, we had a long layover scheduled for Detroit.  We got there about 6:30 and our flight left the gate for Amsterdam at 7:10pm.