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Pole to Pole

Day 55: Cairo to Luxor

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleCairo, hard up against thirty-one degrees East, is the only point at which our Pole to Pole course coincides with my 80 Days route. This time we stay only long enough for a day and a half of rest and recuperation. Not that anywhere beyond the confines of my hotel room can be described as restful, but if you can endure the demanding pace Cairo is a city of all sorts of hidden delights. Before we leave for the station I take a walk out onto the Nile Bridge and a long look at the river with which our destinies are to be linked for days and weeks ahead.

Late afternoon, stuck in traffic on the way to Rameses Station. At busy intersections everyone drives through red lights until they have to stop, which is usually when the light turns green. Nobody can then move until it becomes red again.

At the station, all the destination boards are in Arabic, and I have to ask a porter the platform for Luxor.

'Nine,' he assures me with confidence.

'No, no!' another man shakes his head with equal confidence, 'eight.'

I appeal to a sensible-looking man with glasses, 'Is it eight or nine for Luxor?'

'Luxor? . . . Eleven.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 55
  • Country/sea: Egypt
  • Place: Cairo
  • Book page no: 120

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