THU, 08 02 2001
Visit the meat & fish market. Totally crowded. Look for the market
restaurant. Can't make up my mind to stay there. Finally we eat at a small
place next to it. The owner is very much concerned and prepares small
fish for us. Back to the hotel. Carry our packs to Syntagma. Take Metro
to Daphni. No people in the stations. Bus to the airport. Enter the wrong
hall. I have no idea where to go. Find the Egypt air counter. It's mentioned
on the electronical board. Security staff is checking the packs. The hall
is without any window. Brano wants to go out again. I suggest that there
must be some terrace. In again we go. Pass the check. Keys, watch, coins
make the machine peep. Even the camera. The young security wants to search
my clothes. Have to take off my jacket and to put it on the conveyer belt.
Look for the terrace. No open space. All rooms closed. Must be hell in
summer. Finally the flight is announced. We get a gate. Another waiting
hall. Transfer to the plane. Take off. Greek islands. Recognize Ios and
Santorin, Sikinos, Folegandros, Anafi. Cross the Mediterranean sea. Agriculture
areas at the Nil Delta. Geometric structures. Landing in the desert. Passport
control. Have to buy a stamp for the visa. Pass the checks. Duty free
shop. Buy a box of Bolivar cigars. Leave the airport. Bus to Tahrir square.
The bus driver races into downtown, nevertheless we are only 5 passengers.
When we get out unfortunately I ask another passenger about a hotel. He
persuads me to have a look at Mahdi Hotel, which is in the area where
he lives just two or three stops by metro. We walk quite far to the metro
station. New metro. Tahrir square is a foyer of hell. Mahdi is 5 stations
far. Takes nearly half an hour. Get out there and have to wait for a friend
of our guide. Takes another 20 minutes. Then we walk quite far and finally
reach the hotel. Costs 120$ a night. Great. Phone the galerist whose tel.
number I got from a friend. Why didn't I phone him before? He tells me
the name of a reasonable hotel in the very center. Ask the guide for the
price of a taxi. Why didn't I ask about taxi fares and hotels at the information
desk in the airport? He says 70 pounds, 20$. Have to carry our packs back
to the station and take Metro to Tahrir square. There we board a taxi
together with our friend. The price is 20 pounds Mr. Muhammed tells us.
Takes us to 26 July street, Pension Roma. Pay the taxi driver 20 pounds.
Our guide also stretches out his hand for the money, but I give it to
the taxi driver. The normal fare is about 3 pounds I get to know a day
later. Pension Roma is full. We try at hotel Panorama. Awful. Our guide
argues for a price of 80 pounds. The receptionist later would have given
it to me for 50 pounds. Brano looks for another hotel. He finds Hotel.
Nittocrissi close to where we are. It's 50 pounds, wooden floors. Reasonable.
Leave our friend at the escalator. Happy to get rid of him. Leave the
hotel a little later. Walk around. Eat at a place near Hotel Central.
FRI, 09 02 2001
Heavy blankets, cold at night. The bed is a poor construction. Hotel Nitocrissi.
View down on garbage. Narrow street that has been covered by a roof. So
all the litter is on this roof. Breakfast. Just rolls and 2gr of butter
packed in alu. Take some shots down the yards inside the hotel. They look
apocalyptic disastrous. Decades old dirt covers everything. Walk up to
the roof terrace. It is surrounded by a 2m high wall, huge space. A world
of it's own. Garbage there too. Think there is no garbage disposal like
in europe. The people have to get rid of the litter anyhow anyway. Leave
the hotel. Ask for a room at Pension Roma. There is one. Take it and transfer
the luggage. Change at a bank near a heavy protected jewish temple. Peculiar
architecture. About a dozen soldiers. Later on we walk to Opera square.
A traveller from Canada, Peter, adresses Brano because of the Bolex Camera.
We walk together into a market area. Finally reach the antiquities and
jewelrys shops. There are also other tourists. Close to this part of the
suuk is a touristic area. Buses of tourist companies. We take a small
bus back to the centre. Gets totally crowded. Claustrophobia. Take shots
from the window. Have lunch at a place where Peter has eaten before. Order
a lot of dishes. Lentil soup, aubergine paste, tahin, salad, falafell.
SAT, 10 02 2001
The blankets of Pension Roma are as good as blankets for horses. Even
mosquitos at night. Very small ones. Was nearly asleep when I heard the
sound of one of these bastards. Take a shower. The gas bottle for the
instant water heater is in the bathroom too. Just heats the water a minute
then it collapses. Try it again. No chance. The toilet doesn't work properly
either. The water is running permanently. Breakfast as yesterday. Rolls
and a homöopatic quantity of butter. Meet an old man there. He is
from France, but mixes several different languages. He is a fragile, tiny,
white bearded gnome. Jumps from one subject to another. Napoleon Bonaparte
St. Helena scotish guards wolves at high tatra second world war Norman
Mailer oasis of siwa good luck bolsheviki third reich napoleon close to
Leave to look for a hotel. Visit Hotel Richmond, 5th floor at Sherif Street,
Hotel Minerva, Hotel Grand, 26 July/Talaat Harb Street and Hotel Claridge.
Choose a room there. Transfer the luggage. Eat at a restaurant parallel
street to 26 July St. Have a tea at Haret Saray el Azbaheya. Walk towards
the railway station. Ramses Square is hell. Extremly deadly traffic. Countless
busses, minibusses, taxis. Scores of people selling things, cooking on
small carts. Finally we reach the station. Ask at the information. Tickets
are sold on platform 11. Far off. Two halls. Many counters. Get sent from
on counter to another and back and to the other hall. Ticket to Aswan
is 70,00 pounds, 20$, first class. Brano hasn't changed money. Actually
he has no egyptian money. Have to find out where we can change. It means
to cross Ramses square again. All the way back. Disastrous. Change at
an office called Forex. Back to the station through all this crowd. Have
a rest at the station Café. Quite expensive there. Walk over the
pedestrian bridge. Shoot from there. Gets dark. Young people adress us.
Very interested and friendly. Walk back to 26 July Street. Pass hardware
retailers. Check for welding glasses. Finally find some but don't buy
them. Why? Reach parallel street of 26 july Street. Pedestrian area. When
we look for the restaurant we have eaten yesterday we have to learn, that
the owner has died today. The restaurant is closed.
Eat at a restaurant with very bright light and a huge billboard, air brush
technique. Brano gets in contact with an old man. He is 80 years old,
english, lives in Portugal and is a traveller. Walk towards Talaat Harb.
There is a Falafel take-away. Crowded. Finally succeed to get some.
Talk to a young man. He works as a barman in Sharm el Sheikh at Hilton
Hotel. Originally from Kuwait, he had to leave the country during the
invasion some ten years ago.
He works for 250,00 Pounds a month, 70$, 5 days a week up to 12 hours
a day. Shows how corporated money gets more and more and more and how
he will never be able to buy anything of western consumer goods. Marriage
is not possible as he can't afford it. Women have to be virgins in this
country. He is already using alcohol and stopped praying, he says. Take
a walk to the metro station together. Have to check where we have to go
tomorrow morning. Visit a small fruit market and return to the hotel.
No bed sheets, no towels. Have to argue for the sheets. The receptionist
says there are no. It's the fault of the manager and that man is not there
anymore. He just earns 250,00 pounds a month.
SUN, 11 FEB 2001
Rather quiet around the Hotel at this time. Walk around to the Metrostation
SADAT. Two stops to Ramses square. There it is already like hell. Taxis,
Buses, rushing people. Have to carry our packbags. Concert of horns. Luckily
we can make it to the station. Wait at platform 8. Too early of course.
Have to wait half an hour for the train. First class is reasonable. Not
crowded, Air conditioned. Second class looks similar. First class is with
a few cockroaches. Unfortunately all the windows are of this poor First
World standard: they can't be opened, designed for not to be opened. We
take shots from an open door. An elder man is in charge of the waggon,
carrying luggage, advising to seats. Some other men are or seem to be
chiefs. He opens the door for us. When the chiefs see it, there are several,
he has to close the doors. We offer a small bakshish and he opens again.
This game goes on for hours. Gets normal by the way. Train is very fast.
Too fast. Next to the waggon is the restaurant car. Waiters are sweating
and heading through the train, serving tea and meals. The train is shaking
a lot. Flat landscape, palm trees, fields, geometric design. A channel
is following the railway tracks. Villages, towns. The banks of the channel
always covered with litter. Woman washing clothes, carpets, dishes, metal
tins, cooking pots. Beside them litter, litter and litter. Dead dog treibt
im Wasser. Dead calf lying on the Böschung. Dead calf im Wasser treibend.
Train passes several villages, towns. Infact many. The whole Nile valley
is somehow urban region. Gets dark at ?. Last three four hours journey
in darkness. At arrival in Aswan a man adresses us and leads us to his?
Hotel. It's close to the station. Small balcony. Roof terrace. Very new.
Splendid matraces. We stay. He informs us about the boat to Wadi Halfa.
It Leaves tomorrow at 14:00 or 15:00. Ticket office is in town etc. Later
on he takes us to a Take-away fallafel place. Informs us about prices.
There is a tourist price for tea 1,00 Pound. Normal price is 0,50 Pounds.
For fallafel is the same. Wonder how it is for hotel rooms. Infact, a
little later when I want to pay the waiter asks for the tourist price.
Split. Walk along the Nile and go to sleep.
MON, 12 FEB 2001
Well sleep. Good matrace at new hotel QUEEN. Look for the ticket office.
Second class is 88,00 pounds. Look for a bank. The damned change money
business. Of course the nearest bank is far off. Crowds of customers in
the bank. Try to use the money machine. Doesn't accept my card. No connection
to the card issuing institute? Meet Said, the self entitled hotel manager
at the Café we have been yesterday. He hasn't slept whole night,
he says. At 5:00 he looked at a bus, but no tourists. Tells me a story:
his son is ill and needs an operation. What kind of disease, asks I. Some
water under the heart. Kid is 5 years old. Operation will cost a thousand
pounds. Later the story continues. The boy has fallen down from second
floor and is in hospital now. We split. Pass the train station, buy a
ticket to high dam and get the luggage at the hotel. Any passing taxi
driver is pushing the horn when seeing us. The train to the high dam is
3rd class and very slow. Exciting landscape. Desert. Stones, and rocks.
The harbor is very close. Buy the ticket. Pass a gate. Passport control.
Next control is X-Ray. Brano has to unpack his camera. We ask about the
influence of the apparatus on films. The answer is, they don't know. I
start to unpack my bag searching the DV cassettes. Then the official says,
I shall take the luggage and just pass off the X-ray apparatus. Put the
bags next to the wall and walk through the X-Ray arch. Peep, peep. Take
the bags and leave. The soldier wants to stop me but I just tell him that
the other official has told me to do likewise. He for sure doesn't speak
english but agrees and let me leave. The next check is at a gate where
a huge crowd is gathered accompanied by piles of consumer goods, bags,
whatever. We use a gate next to it. An official welcomes us, checks our
passports and sends us to a hall, 50 meters far. Huge hall, tables, peoples
showing the contents of bags, officials searching in peoples bags. The
official who adresses us, just asks what is inside the bags or not even
that and sends us to another counter. A lady passes a form, we fill it
and show it at another counter. The official asks from where we are, checks
the visa, puts another stamp on it, tears off a part and then shows the
door out to the boat. The lake is down the stairs, a cruiser to the left,
loading activities at a small boat. Again a stop. Small hut, one man.
Police. 2,00 Pounds. What for? Police. But what for? Yes! Police. Walk
to the boat. Chaotic loading activities. Packs, bags, packed and wrapped
goods, plastic chairs, boxes, loose things. Small trucks arriving. Another
check. Tickets are taken out of the cover and thrown in a box. The cover
thrown away. Great. Ask for the ticket for to show it my company. Official
takes one of the covers and passes it over. We enter the boat. Passport
control. Official takes out the remaining form we had to fill out in the
hall. Another man takes the three small pages given to us together with
the ticket. Throws it into a box or nylon bag and hands over a small piece
of paper. This is for a meal on board. We enter the boat. It's about 14:00.
Get aquaintance to Graham and Lukas from Australia and a lady from Belgium.
Graham is travelling since two years. All over Asia. Later I meet Bob.
He is from Hong Kong. He lives on an island, 30min far of the city. No
cars there or just a few. Loading activities until evening. Shouting,
new loads of goods arriving. The upper deck at least totally filled up
with boxes, loose customer goods and people laying in between. Shoot from
the roof of the captain bridge. The horn nearly deafens me. Tea is totally
sweat. No lemons even no orange. But the boat is full of boxes with oranges.
Didn't take any water, terrible thirsty.