Sunday, June 15, 2008

Egypt Trip: The Journey Home - Cairo to Heathrow to Manchester (Day 8)

04:20 hrs Room clock alarm went off at 04:20. Both woke up gasping for breath - shock. My watch alarm went off at 04:25. Travel alarm went off at 04:30. By this time Mary had showered and I had rung the girls - who were up.

Paced up and down in an unstable but controlled (only just!) manner, as per Status, until Mary had finished showering. My turn now - Oooo Dear, I have a feeling today is going to be a bit of a trial - enough said.

Downstairs in lobby by 04:55. No need for breakfast as Mary had ordered 4 breakfast boxes to be delivered at 04:45 (plus baksheesh). Checked out having paid for last night's meal in cash LE230 approx. Tip porter and on our way to Cairo airport for the last time. Hardly any traffic so no need to slow down much at the red lights, and not a great deal of need for the hooter. Arrived safely at Airport Departures.

Cairo Airport

Herein was a frenzy of baksheesh, much like sharks feeding off a carcass. 1st the boy who lifted our baggage from the mini-bus onto the trolley, then the driver, then, after we had unloaded from the trolley to the ground in front of the metal detector, for the man who lifted our luggage onto the conveyor to pass through the detector, the lad on the other side who reloaded our luggage onto the trolley (oops - think that was a tenner by mistake) and finally the man who loaded our luggage onto the weighing scales at the flight desk! God Grief - and it all took about 2 minutes tops!

Tickets and boarding passes sorted, so just the forms to fill in - to get past passport control. Whilst I was doing this, Mary was removing from the breakfast boxes - which must have been at least 8 inches square - just the stuff we really wanted - yoghurts, pastries, fruit and drinks, leaving the hardboiled eggs, bread rolls with cheese, bread rolls with salami etc. Little man sweeping the floors was hovering industriously, so Mary asked him to 'dispose' of the rest - which he did with efficiency and big pockets. (Later Mary said that the cleaners could be seen passing round all manner of goods from similar boxes all over the departure lounges!).

Through passport control and into the departure lounge. Ladies worked out what 'Daddy Bank' was getting in Duty Free shops. I found the toilets by the 1st class lounge and, over the next hour or so, gave regular baksheesh to the attendant.

Saw the 4 Canadians, the Belgian couple and several others all going for their respective flights.

Eventually called for our flight - last minute 'baksheesh' for me and on board. This time we had 4 middle seats together. Lots of dozing. Film 'Ride with the Devil' plus some news and sport. Sat still because I was in control (just) as per Status.

Heathrow Airport

Arrived at Heathrow Terminal 4 after about 4 hours flight - 9C - freezing. Made our way to bus and eventually ended up at Terminal 1. Mary's hand luggage was searched by a good natured customs lady. Customs man was taking the Mick because he did 3 (smaller) bags in the time it took her to go through Mary's. Ended up in Gate 5 waiting area watching the start of the British Grand Prix on the TV screen.

No baksheesh required in the toilets here, BUT . . . the auto sensor cuts in to flush the toilet if you lean back a little too far in (justifiable under the circumstances) relief - now that came as a mild surprise.

45 minutes wait and on board the flight to Manchester. Again a bit of a laugh as a) stewardess gets the giggles as the French steward was announcing the safety instructions with some strangled pronunciations and b) as the journey is only 35 minutes long and the cabin crew must be strapped in for take-off and landing, throwing the drinks at us and collecting empties is a bit frenetic! (Gosh is it only a week since I wrote that on the reverse journey??) On the trip the Captain said that those on the left could probably see Silverstone, where the British Grand Prix was being run.

Manchester Airport

Arrived at Manchester Airport where it was sunny and temperature of 22C - balmy for us. Safely negotiated the pick up of luggage and went to where Gresford Taxis had told us to wait. ("Yes I am sure this is where he said to wait . . . Yes, you can look over there if you really want to!" - she did). After 10 minutes of waiting, I decided to return (casually) inside and use 'the facilities'. 5 minutes later the taxi turned up. Loaded and on our way home.

Home at last

All unloaded and into the house by 4ish. Exhausted - everyone opened their post, I checked the plumbing several times. I went to bed about 5ish for a little snooze - feeling 'drained' - well you would wouldn't you? Mary apparently joined me at about 6pm, Lucy also had a lie down at the same time. Katie, having made all the necessary phone calls and got up-to-date sending and receiving emails, had a snack and a little rest. She went out with Megan to the pub quiz at about 8ish. I woke up at about 9:30pm and came downstairs for a little snack. I wasn't properly tired any more so I sat and watched TV. Katie came home at 10:30ish and went to bed. I was finishing watching a film around midnight when Mary appeared at the lounge door wrapped in a towel, half an eyelid away from sleepwalking. "I thought you were in bed next to me" she managed to croak, went and got a drink and then back to bed. This disturbed Lucy who got up, closed her curtains, got undressed and went to bed. Reckon she had over 14 hours sleep!

Next morning no-one stirred (except parts of my alimentary canal) until 10am(ish). Tesco shopping and luggage emptied into piles for washing - holiday is definitely over!!


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