#TBT Cairo

I spent six days in Cairo one summer in the early noughties, before heading off to Sharm el Sheikh on the Sinai peninsula for a further three days. I travelled with a friend, whose ginger hair, pale skin and freckles were not entirely suited to the climate of north Africa. The furnace like heat from the midday sun was, at that time, the biggest issue for western travellers.

I sat scratching my head for a few minutes, trying to work out exactly which year we went. I had a historical point of reference to help – I needed only to consult Wikipedia. I remember sitting by the pool on a very warm late afternoon when the television at the bar announced the news that Timothy McVeigh had been executed. It was big news. It was June 11th 2000.

The holiday itself was very much a luxury affair. Booked through Kuoni, it was five star hotels, full board and guided tours all the way. It was my first trip abroad to my dream destination with no expense spared. Cairo was a lot of fun. Insanely busy, chaotic, smelly, colorful, sweaty, noisy and more. It’s a sensory overload. I had my first taste of falafel there, in a McDonald’s. A McFalafel. It was revolting, but in keeping with the rest of the city’s cuisine. Generally speaking, one doesn’t visit Cairo for its culinary gifts to civilisation, but in spite of them.

Nonetheless, Cairo is the city where it was confirmed that I do indeed have a pretty solid digestive system. Cast iron innards, one might even say. I ate what I wanted and passed the test. My friend, alas, was not so fortunate. I did catch one bug there though. The travel bug. It may have been my first to exotic lands, but it wasn’t my last. For the next five years, I would cram in four or  five trips a year. Needless to say, I quickly exchanged Kuoni for budget flights, hostels and self guided tours.


6 thoughts on “#TBT Cairo

  1. I caught that bug too, but in 1978 and in ’79 I was off to the continent.. not thinking that Europe was that big I got insurance for nine countries and currencies, what a laugh!


    • Back in 78/79 I was looking forward to a big adventure. One that was both very exciting and rather nerve wracking too. Starting big boys school!

      At least these days you only need the one currency for most of Europe. At the moment anyway….


  2. norm says:

    Timothy McVeigh had been executed: Killing that mut was a mistake, he was not the kind of dog that lived well in a cage. One day, in his future that was not to be, he would have given up more information on his network. It was a mistake to give him an easy way out of his cage and keeping his missguided honor.

    Falafel tastes like sawdust, looks tasty, tastes bad.


    • The death penalty does produce rather a permanent cut off point, for prisoner, law enforcement and intelligence gathering alike. I’ve heard of cases of post sentence exonerations and also of new but unanswered questions. I’ve not yet heard of an execution brining a victim back from the dead. That a civilised society still operated such a policy is saddening. That an apparently intelligent society still does it is full on bamboozling. For the reasons you give…

      I don’t think falafel even looks particularly good. I did have some last week, in a new Greek chain that opened up nearby. It was a set meal for two – and Mrs P has the final say with the options. There was sufficient yoghurt and sauce stuff to make it taste ok. Also, it almost certainly wasn’t real falafel anyway. For a start, sawdust wasn’t listed as an ingredient….

      Do you remember where you were at the point of no return for McVeigh? Just out of interest?


      • norm says:

        The Federal Building bombing did not put up my radar as a life changing event as in the Kennedy or 9-11 killings. It stood out in that it was a group from the far right and by the large numbers of dead but to tell you where I was, no.

        I was building a deck on the back of the house when I saw the doomed plane that went down in Pennsylvania fly by twice at a very low hight. My second grade teacher, who had 35 years teaching under her belt, fell apart when the news of Kennedy’s killing came over the intercom-if the building were still standing, with its rows of chairs and desks bolted to the floor, I could take you to my seat.

        I can say, I’ve got every good hard earthquake I’ve been through filed away on my 60 year old, very leaky brain.


  3. Truth be told, I probably only remember the execution because of where I was, rather than because of the event itself.

    I remember the London bombings in 2005. I was in Milwaukee and awoken to be told “they’ve blown London up”. Those exact words. I immediately pictured a nuclear bomb with hundreds of thousands dead. When I got online, the reality was rather underwhelming.


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