Egypt was Bandita’s dream trip since her childhood days and she has been dreaming to visit the Land of Pharaohs ever since. I am so happy that we did this trip together and witnessed the magic & elegance of this country together! We had planned our Honeymoon to Egypt in 2011 but unfortunately the January 2011 Arab Spring protests ruined all our plans. The country has been volatile ever since but I was determined to visit in spite of all the mishaps & threats!
I booked our flight tickets in August 2015 and then tall the planning began. I contacted Memphis Tours for planning this trip and the ever-so-helpful Ahmed Shalapy was our Tour Consultant. We exchanged many e-mails before finalizing the itinerary and then the wait began. As you know, we have travelled to Greece, Turkey and India trips since then; it has been quite hectic for us and we love being so busy in travelling! This was going to be the first trip of 2016 for us and we were understandably very excited to finally visit this country full of history.
There have been lots of bomb attacks in Egypt lately thanks to all the crazy bullshit happening in this region for the last 5 years now plus there was a Russian plane crash too. And then the silly “hijack” took place just few days before we were to fly which made matters worse. Bandita was quite wary of going to Egypt, somehow I convinced her and thankfully that “hijack” wasn’t a real one but a mad man’s crazy adventure!
Finally we were ready to rock & roll for our next family vacation with our bags packed and all our energy & enthusiasm ready for the upcoming 7 days.
Day 1 | Friday | 1st April 2016 | Kuwait – Cairo
For a change we had a very comfortable flight departure time if 12 Noon which was superb as we could wake up late and still leave on time. We were ready with our packed bags & plenty of excitement at 10 AM. Our friend Abhishek Tripathi and his wife Sameekshya dropped us at the airport.
This was the first time Abhay had a full seat for himself and he was pleasantly surprised when we tied the seat belt! He kept on fiddling with it and had his meal also on his seat. This also meant we paid for his full ticket (well, almost) for the first time and this would be a regular from now on.
We landed safe & sound in Cairo at 2 PM through the Kuwait Airways Flight Number KU 542 where our Tour Manager, Eslam Mohammed welcomed us. We bought Orange SIM Cards after clearing immigration and collecting our bags. They were dirt cheap (just 140 EGP for 2 SIM Cards with 5 GB data each) and came in very handy throughout our trip.
Our next 1 hour was quite exciting and unnerving at the same time! This was the first time we were staying at a Le Meridien Hotel and their chain of hotels is known for unmatched luxury and comfort. While we were checking into the Le Meridien Cairo Airport Hotel, I went to submit my credit card details and Bandita was lounging in the reception area, Abhay coolly vanished! He was playing with me moments back but when I came to Bandita after finishing the formalities he was nowhere to be seen. We panicked and immediately checked the nearby areas but could not find him. The reception staff soon realized something was amiss and came to us to check the situation. Their team got immediately active and started to look at the live CCTV feed but could not locate Abhay. One guests was passing by and he told us that he had seen a kid in a green t-shirt on the 3rd floor so Bandita went with a staff member to the 3rd floor and located Abhay in a corner where no camera could spot him. She came down holding him in the arms and all of us were so relieved while Abhay was visibly shaken as he got panicked and had started to cry!
I just can’t describe those 15 minutes of panic in words as it was the first time such a mishap happened as Abhay never goes outside our line of sight and he is very particular about it. The most surprising part was that there was no way he could have taken an elevator (they were only accessible through the Hotel Room key) and the escalators didn’t reach the 3rd floor anyway! The staff was also unable to unravel this mystery. The only way he could have reached the 3rd floor where the guest rooms were to have got into a lift with another guest who was going there and that guest was moronic enough not to find that strange and inform the staff about a 2 years old kid without an accompanying adult in an elevator.
As they say “all is well that ends well” and this incident ended pretty well! I was not in an extreme panic mode as I knew he was inside the hotel and under no circumstances would have got out of the hotel building. It could have gotten worse if he would have entered an open room and locked himself out then it would have been very difficult to spot him. The Hotel Staff was very helpful and prompt in activating their security mechanisms and it was very assuring. No wonder the Meridien hotels are always rated so highly.
After going through some unnerving moments, we finally got into our room ready for our next agenda item of the day. We freshened up, relaxed for a bit, had hot coffee and then got ready to leave for the City Stars Mall which is the biggest mall in Egypt to enjoy some weekend fun! Our cab came at 6:30 PM and we reached the mall which was full of weekenders enjoying after a tough workweek. There were lots of mini events happening and the entire mall was buzzing with noise!
We took a Cab Cart for Abhay to ensure he stayed close to us amidst the mayhem! He enjoyed his time being wheeled around in the mall while we did some window shopping. I spotted some real funny brand names on some of the shops and duly clicked them. We roamed around for nearly 2 hours before going towards our dinner venue – an Egyptian Restaurant named Abou El Sid; obviously we had to begin our Egyptian journey with a speciality Egyptian cuisine restaurant! We have had a meal at one of their branches here in Kuwait but the best food is served in the original country of any restaurant or the cuisine’s origin so we were ready for a fun dinner. One new thing we noticed was couple of “ATM Centers” in the Mall which basically was an enclosed area with multiple ATMs of different banks which I found very convenient for customers as they can get all the machines at one single place! Hope this concept catches on in Kuwait and India too.
It was quite a journey to reach the restaurant location as the mall is huge and it was very tough to check people considering the language barrier! Somehow we reached and were wowed by the beautiful décor & ambiance of the place, we were warmly welcomed by the staff and ordered from the extensive menu. We ordered Kobeba stuffed with Pine Nuts & Mint served with Baba Ghanoug Dip, Yogurt Cucumber & Mint dip and Molokheya served with Rabbit & White Rice. Molokheya is often considered the National Dish of Egypt and there was no way we would have missed enjoying this special dish!
The food was super delicious and even though the service was quite lousy, the taste and the ambiance made up for it. We left with full and satisfied tummies and reached the hotel through a Memphis Cab. The weather outside had got very chilly and we were not adequately dressed for such cold weather so while we waited outside the mall for our cab to arrive, we enjoyed some fun & chilled out moments.
We reached our hotel at 10:30 PM and quickly went to sleep as we had to wake up the next morning at 4 AM to catch our flight for Luxor before having our breakfast at the hotel.
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…