Friday, 23 January 2009
It's time to relax! After a busy travel from Austria over countries around the Mediterranean sea we have finally a few days without a full schedule. Aswan, formerly Assuan, is a pretty nice town. As all big cities in Egypt it is located on the Nil. Its the most southern city of Egypt close to the border of Sudan. We found a nice hostel where we enjoy the luxury comfort of a big bed and TV in the room. Also the breakfast, served on the roof terrace, is great. But after Monday this will change. We'll take the ferry to Sudan. Luckily we got tickets for the first class. There is a high demand for these tickets because there are only 24 of them. The ferry company has reported a demand for 84 tickets but no chance for the poor people on the waiting list. In second class there is only a shared couch for six people and space is limited. The travel time will be 17 hours (of course only on a perfect day).
Tomorrow we'll take a tour to Abu Simbel and the high dam. The journey starts at 4am and we'll be back at the late afternoon. Apart from this particular travel the security situation is quite interesting in Egypt. We have recognised in every big city we've been a massive police presence. They come in different forms: Tourist police, Armed forces, private guards and secret police. Even if buses go to common sunset locations they will be discreetly protected by armed police. This police and military presence is omnipresent. You always run into some kind of guards. Most of them seriously bored.
A everyday's highlight for us is to find a restaurant. As we don't want to go to tourist traps our goal is to find the best local eateries. Of course this can be sometimes very, very difficult. We take advise from our guidebook, ask people for directions but most of the time we run in circles for a good restaurant and can't find one. The food we've ate in Egypt was quite unspectacular. Common people like chicken with rice, falafel, sish kebab, meat with tomato sauce and so on. Spices are not intensive, rather mild and hot food is served warm. Most Egyptians perhaps consider Kushari, rice, lentils, and macaroni, to be the national dish. I ate stuffed pigeons twice. It's quite tasty and the fact that the pigeon is stuffed makes it a full meal. Bread is the backbone of Egyptian cuisine. Bread is consumed at almost all Egyptian meals. The local bread is a form of hearty, thick, glutenous pita bread. Every region has its own taste and has a lot of variants.