Saturday, October 28

Three Continents in One Day:
Heathrow to Gatwick, off to Tel Aviv, then to Cairo

Eventually I landed at Heathrow on a cold Saturday morning. On my inter-airport bus ride to Gatwick, I observed the rolling hills of Sussex, stereotypically blanketed in a thick layer of English fog.

Gatwick was an hour or so away from Heathrow. I found the meeting point lounge fairly quickly, and Susanne was sitting there reading a book, having arrived directly at Gatwick about 90 minutes before. We hugged and said our hellos, having not seen each other in about six months, and we wondered off for some orange juice at an airport cafe. We then decided to call London for a hotel, using Let's Go as our guide. We'd be back in England on November 11, and two weeks seemed like ample time to make a reservation. Well, at least 6 calls and about eight shillings later, we were able to find a B&B with vacancies, so we booked a room in Westminster near the Paddington tube stop.

Security at Gatwick wasn't too bad. We were asked questions about our luggage, searched, and then searched again by metal detector and frisking. Some bloke with an automatic rifle patrolled our secured gate while we waited to board the plane.

We then boarded the 737 for the four hour flight, which passed by quickly as we chatted away, dozed a bit, and made up for lost time. Our flight plan took us over the former Yugoslavia and Greece, past Crete, and then into Israel. The sun was setting as we arrived in Tel Aviv around 5pm local time, yet we were informed by the flight crew that taking pictures of the dusk sky over Israel was prohibited for national defense reasons.

Security at Ben Gurion Airport was tight as expected. In the end, we sat for about four hours before catching our plane to Cairo. We boarded the Air Sinai jet and took off around 9:30pm. In Cairo, security was surprisingly lax - but at the time, little did we know how lax Egypt is in general.

After being harassed by a man with an unlicensed taxi, we found a legit black and white city taxi and got in. The driver soon pulled the car over and picked up a friend, a policeman with a rifle. As we sat back absorbing the scenes and smells of nighttime Cairo, they chain-smoked and laughed a lot while the driver swerved us in and out of the city's notorious traffic mayhem. The driver kept his hand strategically situated by the horn, which he honked incessantly, as did the rest of Cairo's drivers. By 11:30 pm, we checked into the Fontana Hotel off of Midan Ramsis (Rameses Square), and promptly passed out.

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