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.

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