We spent a quiet last day in Muscat. We walked about 10 kms to a discount sports store looking for some waterproof shoes and rain pants for Israel and Europe. We did not find anything that we liked so took a taxi back to the condo. At 4 PM we all piled into the car and went to Elena’s Christmas concert. It was the first time that the hotel venue had been used so it was a bit confusing. However, the kids did great and even though it was a French school concert, we got to hear some carols in English as well. After the concert, Lionel and Martina took us out to a Lebanese restaurant for our last meal together. Back at the house, we read the last story to the children before putting them to bed, had our last drink with Lio and Martina, said our final goodbyes and headed to bed ourselves. We had about three hours to sleep before we had to get up for our flight to Cairo.
The 4:30 AM flight took off about 15 minutes late and even though Richard and I rarely are able to sleep on the plane, we both were able to get a couple of hours sleep in flight. When I woke up, the sun was shining and the vista below was pure sand. It was amazing!! As far as I could see, only desert. At first, it was rippling sand, then more pronounced dunes until I was actually able to see a pyramid in the distance. Another “pinch me” moment. Are we really here?
We were met at the airport by a porter who fast tracked us through the immigration process. Once we got our bags, he turned us over to a driver who then took us off to our hotel. While we were in Muscat we had a hard time getting a sense of all the history there because even though it is a very old city, everything has been rebuilt and everything is new. This is not the case in Cairo. Where Muscat is bright, clean and new, Cairo is dull, drab and old. Muscat shows its wealth with opulent mosques, extravagant apartment complexes, shopping malls and spacious roadways. Cairo is a city of apartment buildings and store fronts. Most along the route to the hotel are old, poorly maintained and shabby. Even so, here, you can still get a feel for the history. Steeples of churches poke out from behind the apartment buildings. The pyramids show themselves in the distance. Old brick walls line the streets. The Nile river runs through the middle of it all. Who doesn’t think of the pharaohs and Cleopatra when you imagine Egypt? All I know is that we are super excited to be here and can’t wait for our tour to start tomorrow.
The Christmas concert. That is one thing for sure that I did not think we would be attending, especially in a State run Muslim country. However, the country of Oman is very tolerant and the people are very free to follow their own customs and traditions. As a whole they are following the lead of the Sultan who is very progressive, much loved and respected.
I hope we did not come to the wrong hotel in Cairo. Notice the name of the Restaurant above the Lobby. Hmmmmmm……