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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 7: 1 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysOutside, the army, consisting of thin and petrified teenagers, waits in trucks. But there seems to be no trouble. Indeed, some supporters produce prayer mats and fall to their knees as soon as they leave the ground.

On the way back from the match, traffic is so solid along a half-finished eight-lane super-highway that we are passed by an old woman in black on a donkey, leading a herd of goats up the side of the motorway. A red, rather unhealthily flushed sun descends slowly behind a hazy city skyline. Last night it was the crimson swallows; tonight, more menacingly, sunset brings the kites, flapping lazily around the eucalyptus trees.

I check in to the Hotel Windsor, which, like everything else in Cairo, is remarkable. It's run by two brothers called Doss. The Doss Bros have resisted any pressure to convert this unprepossessing pile into a characterless modern hotel, much to Passepartout's dismay.

I rather like its surreal atmosphere. The stairs and the stickily hot hallway are decorated with old Swissair posters of the Alps, so as you climb, perspiring, upwards you pass red, chubby-cheeked German children smiling in St Moritz and Alpine walkers in Zermatt with thick legs protruding from bulky lederhosen. The hotel was once under Swiss ownership and there are reindeer antlers and hunting trophies on the walls of the bar.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 7
  • Date: 1 October
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Cairo
  • Book page no: 39

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