Freitag, 27. Februar 2009

I'm going to leave Cairo tomorrow, probably around evening to take the nightbus to Nuveiba and from there the ferry to Aqaba in Jordan on Sunday around noon. There I'll first go to Wadi Rum on Monday and afterwards for 2 days to Petra (Wadi Musa).

Mittwoch, 25. Februar 2009

Yeah!! - finally some good news: after fights with the main post office in Cairo, several advise-sessions from the German embassy and a final talk to one boss at the main post office I got my passport back - and the Syrian visa is inside!! I really don't know what they planned to do with my passport because they kept it at the post office since four days now and didn't even send it to the National Security Service - but whatever, I'll probably never get to know what this whole chaos was about... So I'm free now to finally continue my trip and I decided to leave Cairo probably on Saturday. After almost three weeks here (and more than four in total) there are some people here I have to see before leaving - and now I'm much more relaxed because I can leave whenever I want.

Montag, 23. Februar 2009

Now I'm really in a big shit: the Egyptian authorities confiscated my passport from the post. It's at the National Security Service now and they want to check it - and they said it will take two months to get it back!!!
Tomorrow I'll go to the German embassy, hope they can help me to leave this f*** country - I feel like the Egyptian authorities should better solve their problems with terrorists than bother harmless German tourists who only want to leave this country!!
Does anybody of you have connections to the Egyptian National Security Service????

Sonntag, 22. Februar 2009

I just heard about the explosion at Khan al-Khalili here in Cairo - I'm okay, though shocked because two days ago Rachid, Zoltan and me spent the whole day in this area because Rachid bought souvenirs - and almost everyday somebody I know from the hostel goes there. So now it's all about leaving this city...
I'm still still still in Cairo, still waiting for my passport. But until yesterday it was ok, just now things starte to change because first Rachid left and yesterday Zoltan, a guy from Berlin, with whom I spent a lot of time - now I feel like I should really leave as well.
But as you can see on the pictures I uploaded there are still things to do and to discover here - we visited some mosques, the citadell here in Cairo and one day I went with Zoltan out of Cairo into a semi-oasis called Fayum (about 80 km from Cairo). We had a nice day there, visited an old temple and just got out of the city for one day.
Not much more to tell this time, I just wanted to give a sign that I'm still alive.
Everybody in Koeln: Please drink and dance for me these Karneval-days!!
The roof-terrace of the hostel in Cairo where I stay now for the fourth time this trip (already since two weeks now)

Muhammad Ali Mosque inside the Citadell in Cairo

Inside the Muhammad Ali Mosque - just wow!!

Muhammad Ali Mosque

Inside the Citadell in Cairo, the oldest mosque in there from the 13th century

Sun goes down in Islamic Cairo

The courtyard of the Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo

Inside the Ibn Tulun Mosque

in "garbage town"

Freitag, 13. Februar 2009

Since I spent last week in Siwa, an oasis where internet is still quite expensive, and this week in Cairo only on trying to organise my visa for Syria, I wasn't able to post news about the last approx. two weeks. But I'll try to do that now in a short rush...
After Assuan we spent three days in Luxor to visit the Valley of the Kings and Karnak Temple. I visited both of these sites already six years ago but Karnak Temple was so impressing that I really wanted to see it again - and also the Valley of the Kings, because it's possible to go there several times and visit just different tombs, so it's everytime new and interesting. Inside the Karnak Temple at Luxor especially the column hall is absolutly impressing - but difficult to show the measures in a picture. In the Valley of the Kings we saw three tombs, specially the one of Tuthmosis III was interesting because it's more hidden - so less tourists go there - and its paintings are very well preserved. Getting away from Luxor was then quite complicated because Egyptian holidays had just started and all the trains to Cairo were booked out. But finally we got a ticket for a train called "Nefertati train" (never use it if you go to Egypt). The tickets were expensive, and although we had 1. class tickets the train was incredibly dirty and everything else but comfortable. Well, we survived and stayed one night in Cairo in our second home Dahab Hotel to leave the next day with a bus to Marsa Matruh at the Mediteranean cost close to the Libyan border. There we spent one night under extremists (I've never seen in my whole life so many long beards, we felt more like being in Afghanistan), feeling very uncomfortable and were insulted as infidels. The evening we spent in our hotel and I tried to learn wearing the headscarf (see the picture) and the next day I wore it until we arrived in Siwa.
Arriving in Siwa was just magical - I was already curious to see it because somebody told me before that it is a wonderful place - and he didn't exaggerate. Siwa has an old part of its town, that's called Shali, where all houses are built from mud like for example in Djenne in Mali (a place also full of magic, with a special atmosphere). These mud-houses together with the rest of this mostly very calm oasis, all the palm trees, the mountains around, big saltlakes with small islands, sanddunes... I loved it! We stayed in a hotel with a decent palm tree garden and met quite a lot of people there - some of them we already met before like Brendan or Derek from Mount Sinai, so it was also fun spending evenings with these people playing cards (deine Karten werden sehr sehr oft genutzt, Juli, danke danke!) or trying to organise "moonshine" spirit, which tasted disgusting, so it was more fun to organise than to drink it (alcohol is forbidden in the oasis). One day we climbed the highest mountain next to Siwa (I think it's not really higher than 200m), Gebel Dakrour. From there you have a perfect view on the whole oasis, the other mountains and the desert around. The evening we spent on an island in a saltlake in a beach bar (no alcohol served). As there were Egyptian holidays, lots of Egyptian tourists spent some time in the oasis, specially some school classes. One of these classes also spent the evening on the island and the guys (aged around 17) started to dance to some bellydance music. I was shocked shocked shocked, completely embarrassed but couldn't stop staring at these guys who were performing the gayest show I've seen in my whole life - and just because they could only dance with themselves, not with girls. So usually one of the guys took over the part of a girl, danced very very sexy, attracting the other one - it was really really crazy. I would like to sell them as partyact at the wednesday gay party at Neuschwanstein in Koeln - it would be a big success. Most interesting was my own reaction because although this country seems so conservative these guys could perform an enourmously sexy show on a stage in a public bar - and I was completely embarrassed because I felt this to be much too sexy to be shown in public... strange strange strange!
The next days we spent with all the others we met, discovering the oasis, climbing through the old town, rented bikes and drove to an old temple, the sanddunes and springs. I spent a very very relaxing time there, in the nature, with fresh air, no cars only donkeys around - for me it was without doubt the best place in Egypt! Thursday the 5th february we left Siwa with the night bus to Alexandria together with Brendan, the Canadian. Alexandria is also a very beautiful city, different from Cairo because it resembles much more a city on the mediteranean cost in France or Spain. Also the inhabitants seem to be incredibly friendly - we were for example walking down the streets in the evening, heard music and stoppped in a small side road, where people were celebrating a wedding. They invited us to stay and so we saw about three hours an Egyptian wedding, which was very interesting. I posted a video of this wedding today where the band plays a song which is incredibly popular here in Egypt at times. The next day, saturday the 7th, we took a train to Cairo, this time again the normal train, which is perfect, even in the second class. We specially went back that day to see again the Sufi dance show in Cairo (I'll post a picture later and maybe a video Rachid filmed). Again the show was wonderful and I had the opportunity to speak German with a Hungarian living in Germany I met in our hotel - after at least two weeks talking constantly English or French I enjoyed it a lot!
From the 8th on I started to get my visa for Syria here in Cairo to leave with Brendan to Jordan on the 12th. I woke up early every morning, went to the German or the Syrian embassy, tried to find out how to get the visa, went to Egyptian authorities to get a temporary residence with working permit... and so on. With these nice occupations I spent four full days - just to finally understand that it is impossible to get the visa here. After doing another time-killing research on what is cheaper: flying myself to Berlin to ask for the visa there or send my passport with DHL or FedEx or UPS there (don't laugh, the difference isn't really big between only sending a passport or a whole person in a plane from Egypt to Germany - at least regarding the price). Finally I decided to send the passport with FedEx to my mother who sends it to the embassy and tries now to find the cheapest and fastest way to get it back. So the only thing I do now is waiting and hoping (at least my mum called some minutes ago to tell me that the passport arrived savely at her place. one station done!). Yesterday I went to a museum with Impressionistic Art here in Cairo because we are through with most of the regular sites - but the museum wasn't a waste of time and I enjoyed the silence in there and seeing some western European landscapes and still lifes. Good contrast sometimes to the oriental life here...
So if everything works out perfect, I'll leave Cairo next weekend to go to Jordan for some days.

Marriage in Alexandria, bad quality because filmed with my mobile phone, but still an impression

Sonntag, 8. Februar 2009

in Alexandria

sunset at a saltlake in Siwa


just before sunset

the sunset crew: Derek (Can, standing, we met first on Mount Sinai), Dee (Can, the girl, met in Siwa and afterwards in Cairo again), Brendan (the Canadian who is also going to Istanbul) and in the back Rachid
Shali, the old town in Siwa, completely built from mud

surrounding of the oasis

sunset in Siwa

view on the sanddunes

one of the villages in the oasis

The old town Shali in the oasis Siwa

egyptian school-vacation, lots of egyptian tourists in Siwa

a mountain we climbed to have a phenomenal view over the whole oasis

in Marsa Matruh, evening in our hotel - don't want to go on the street anymore without a headscarf, people there are much too religious and insulted us by calling us infidels

view over the Nile from the east bank in Luxor, mountain range in the background are the mountains, where the Valley of the Kings lies

Luxor, Temple of Karnak

inside the temple

the big column-hall, I was very happy to see that again after 6 years, so impressing!

still inside Karnak

the big columns

Donnerstag, 5. Februar 2009

We are leaving Siwa, the oasis, tonight after almost one relaxing week, heading to Alexandria next. It seems like I'll stay there only one night to start organising my visa for Syria in Cairo. I'll try to post news then in Cairo.
Kisses to all of you!