Footloose & Free in the TRNC

Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, that is.

At last, we get some sunny weather in Nicosia.

Lively Ledra Street

We get a good view from the top of the Shacolas Tower.

Looking north

An example of the sectarian jumble that is Cyprus: this is an old Greek Orthodox church that was converted to a mosque. Because it’s in Nicosia proper, it no longer serves as a mosque. (At least there’s nothing in it. We peeked.)

And north of the Green Line, we see this 13th-century Gothic church (the church of St. Catherine) that has been converted into a mosque since the Ottoman conquest. (We’ll see more of these in the north.)

Traveling between Cyprus and the soi-disant Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus involves less John le Carré-esque intrigue than we thought. Even the fact that we couldn’t find Zeno’s registration papers is not a problem. All we need is temporary auto insurance for the TRNC.

Because it’s not a real country, the poor North Cypriots don’t even get an abbreviated country code on their license plates like everyone else. It’s blank.

Citizen of nowhere

People born here are eligible for a Northern Cypriot passport. To save them from being completely un-persons, they are also issued with a Turkish passport.

One cultural trait that the North Cypriots have clearly adopted from Turkey is the love of gigantic flags.

Our first stop is the city of Kyrenia.

Kyrenia is a harbour town with an old town full of narrow lanes and a big fortress.

From the town, to the fortress

The fortress has a few museums in it.

From the fortress, to the town

Our hotel is just outside of the old town.

One day, we drive up, up, up, past a Turkish military base to St. Hilarion Castle.

There’s an apocryphal story that this castle inspired Walt Disney’s evil-queen-in-Snow-White castle.

The Queen’s Window

From up here, you get a thrilling view of Kyrenia far below.

There’s a viewing platform at the highest point. Visitors have made a habit of attaching their used COVID masks to the railings. Why this would enter the head of any sane, normal person is utterly beyond me. We are definitely back in the third world here in the TRNC.

The epitome of ‘Gross’

On the way back to town, we visit the ruins of Bellapais Abbey.

The surrounding village of Bellapais is also nice to wander in.

We see these in towns and villages throughout Cyprus: public fountains built by the British, with the initials of the ruling monarch at the time.

Elizabeth Regina 1953

I’m delighted to learn that Laurence Durrell, a now-unfashionable writer, once lived here. We track down his house.

He wrote ‘Justine‘, the first book of ‘The Alexandria Quartet‘ here.

Plaque over the door

It’s on Aci Limon street, which means ‘bitter lemons’.

Sight or Insight of the Day

One thing we really admire about both the real Cyprus and the TRNC: they both have maps aplenty!

A cornucopia of maps

They’re free, and of excellent quality.

In every other country we’ve been to so far on this trip, actual paper maps that you can hold in your hand have been difficult or impossible to find for love or money. Apparently, only old people still use them.


We spend four days in Nicosia, Cyprus’s delightful capital. Four mostly rainy days. But it’s been so long since we’ve experienced rain, it’s still a novelty.

The reason this island has an inland capital is because of the never-ending Muslim raids against its established coastal towns in the 7th and 8th century. Its main feature is the star-shaped Venetian fortifications surrounding the old town.

Nicosia from above

Or maybe its main feature is that it is divided, former Berlin-style, into a Greek zone and a Turkish zone by the Green Line.

UN observation post

As in the former Berlin, it’s no contest about who the good guys and the bad guys are. Cyprus is, well Cyprus, an EU member and modern democratic state. The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of North Cyprus only exists because of a Turkish military invasion in 1974.

These days, it’s easy to go back and forth as a visitor. People are not machine-gunned while trying to cross the border, as people were who insisted on fleeing the East German communist utopia.

But the buffer zone is now made up of decaying and abandoned buildings. When you cross from the lively and colourful Greek side into the Turkish side, things are dark, gloomy, and uninviting, for the most part.

Turkish flag and TRNC flag

(We are happy to report that there’s more to the North than this.)

The Pope visited in 2021

Our accommodation is in the heart of the Old Town. We have few photos of the city because it rains a lot.

Like most places in Cyprus, as soon as you put a shovel in the ground, you hit some ruins.

Ruins near a municipal building

In a café where we stop for coffee, we find our table is already occupied.

He soon finds a better parking spot.

We visit some superb museums. The Cyprus Museum is probably the country’s best. Among the more memorable exhibits are these terra cotta figures from Agia Irini, This is only half of them. The other half are in a museum in Sweden.

In fact, most of the museums we’ve seen here have been superb, even the smaller ones.

Other notable museums we drop in on to get out of the rain:

And a few others. Eventually, the sun makes an appearance and we spend an afternoon in North Nicosia.

Sight or Insight of the Day

While visiting the excellent CVAR, we recognize the subject of a painting done in the early twentieth century.

Paphos Gate, then

We saw the Paphos Gate in the town walls earlier the same day. This is what it looks like these days.

Paphos Gate, now

It’s hard to see, but the middle horizontal strip is now a concrete bunker (complete with gun slits), because it faces the Turkish side across the street.

Mountains & Rain

A patch of wet weather sets in. We backtrack a bit to the the town of Episkopi. One place we visit is the Cyprus Wine Museum, where we get tips on possible wineries to visit on our trip.

We also visit the the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates.

‘I will remember and not be unmindful of Apollo who shoots afar…’ – Homeric hymn to Apollo

This was part of the ancient city of Kourion. We’re sure Apollo would be tickled to learn about the space program named after him.

Another place we visit is the Kourion Museum. It’s in the former house of George McFadden, an American archeologist who did a lot work in ancient Kourion. In fact, when we arrive, the very friendly woman in the ticket office is chatting with an elderly woman who knew Mr. McFadden personally.

Probably the most touching exhibit is that of some skeletons found in the ‘earthquake house’ in Kourion. The remains are those of a 25-year-old male and a 20-year-old female who is cradling an 18-month-old infant. The protective position speaks volumes about the last moments of these three souls.

‘And No More Shall We Part…’

We also stop at Paleopaphos, which means ‘old Paphos’.

(There are four Paphoses: this is ‘old Paphos’. (Which is in a town with the modern name of Kouklia.) The ancient ruins we visit in Paphos are Neopaphos, or ‘new Paphos’. The beachy part of town we stay in is called Kato Paphos, or ‘lower Paphos’. The actual centre of the modern town of Paphos is called ‘Ktima’. Go figure.)

Anyway, since time immemorial, this place has been famous for the worship of Aphrodite.

The oldest part of the sanctuary

A medieval building on the site displays some of the objects found here.

Former sugar factory

In this museum is an interesting sarcophagus decorated with a scene of Odysseus escaping from the Cyclops’s cave.

The Great Escape

From Paphos we drive inland to the Troodos Mountains. This is where a lot of the country’s wineries are located.

I already have some favourite local grape varietals: Maratheftiko and Opthalmo. I know I won’t find these in Canada, so I’m enjoying generous amounts while we’re here.

These mountains are in the middle of the island. It’s cold up here. We drive through Prodromos, the highest town in Cyprus.

Almost looks like Canada

Omodos is in the middle of wine country. There are few tourists at this time of year.

Omodos taverna

So the local sights are uncrowded.

Μοναστήρι του Τιμίου Σταυρού, or ‘Holy Cross Monastery’

Our lodging for the night is in the small village of Vasa.

View of Vasa from our accommodation

There must be a thousand villages like this in Cyprus. They’re unbelievably quaint. And half deserted.

Tiny church

The only problem is driving through them. Some passages are so narrow, we dread meeting another vehicle coming the other way.

Thankfully, this is not for cars

In Cyprus wine country, you see these giant ceramic containers everywhere. They remind us of Georgian qvevri.

Vats Amore

Sight or Insight of the Day

What is it with cats and the Internet? According to Wikipedia:

ThoughtCatalog has described cats as the “unofficial mascot of the Internet.”‘

We certainly see our share of adorable kitties and can’t resist a feline photo-op. This guy was snoozing on a seat in an Omodos café. He didn’t bat an eye while we ordered coffee and cake, consumed it, and left.

‘I’m Only Sleeping…’

‘Something from Cyprus, as I may divine….’

So says Cassio in Othello.

We are really enjoying our time in Cyprus. The people, the food, the history, the weather. We’ve always had a bias towards small countries. We like their lack of inflated big-country bumptiousness.

One of our first stops on the road is Choirokoitia, a neolithic settlement.

Funny story: to get there, we drive to the quaint village of Agios Iakovos Persis, then walk a few kilometres along a trail to the site itself.

The general store in Agios Iakovos

When we get there, we have to jump a fence in order to get in. We then walk down to the ticket office and sheepishly buy two tickets. We are busted by the attendants, but they admire our athleticism more than they condemn our skirting of the rules. Lucky us.

There are many of these sites in Cyprus. Early on – over 10,000 years ago – people from the Near East daring the Mediterranean in small boats bumped into Cyprus and decided to stay.

Driving further along the south coast, we visit another ancient town, Amathus.

Which is like a warm-up to prepare us for our next stop, the seaside ruins of Kourion.

View from Kourion

On our way to Paphos, we drive though the British Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri. These areas exist because of local political complications (there are few political phenomenon in this part of the world that are not complicated.) The base housing looks like it belongs more in Leicestershire than in Cyprus.

‘Photography is Prohibited!’

Paphos is so enjoyable, we extend our stay to five days. This is the view out of our hotel window.

Maria swims in this bay every day

Paphos, of course, has its own extensive ruins.

In the ‘House of Dionysos’

This is a mosaic of Theseus and the Minotaur. Very clever, the labyrinth-like concentric circles.

A-mazing mosaic

(This house belonged to the Proconsul of Cyprus – that is, the Roman governor.)

Like most places, there are many cats here. Mostly very friendly, like this one.

We like to imagine the thousands of people that thronged these streets two millennia ago.

In the footsteps of the ancients

Another Paphos attraction are the so-called ‘Tombs of the Kings‘. (No actual kings were buried here.)

I’ve always liked cyclamen blossoms. They remind me of flaming comets.

Cyclamen growing out of a tomb

For Maria’s birthday, by special request we spend the day beach-hopping.

At Coral Bay Beach

The beaches are wonderfully uncrowded at this time of year.

At White River Beach

As usual, I read while Maria swims. The beach is covered with stone towers that people make. What cultic purpose they serve is unknown.

On the beach

Sight or Insight of the Day

There are a lot of Russians here in Cyprus.

There were a lot in Egypt, as well. It’s no surprise that a brutal dictatorship would have no bones about admitting the citizens of a fellow brutal dictatorship for some fun in the sun. Cyprus, however, is an EU member and a liberal Western democracy. It doesn’t look good to be so welcoming to Russians and their blood money these days.

But Cyprus has hitched its star to the Putin regime. Unlike Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the Czech Republic, who have barred Russians from the country, the place is still heaving with Ruskies.

Welcome to Cyprus

New year, new country. We fly EgyptAir from Sharm el Sheikh to Cairo to Larnaca in Cyprus.

It’s a relief to be in a non-Muslim country for the first time in months. There’s a palpable sense of freedom to do, be, or say absolutely anything you can imagine. In other places, there is always the oppressive sense of having to rein yourself in.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Larnaca is the perfect place to arrive. It’s a small city, easy to get around. We undergo culture shock at the cleanness and orderliness of the place, the absence of trash and crumbling infrastructure. Every alleyway in the area we stay in seems to lead to the sea.

We find a street with an auspicious name.

‘Ak Deniz’ is Turkish for ‘Mediterranean’

Larnaca started life as Kition in the 13th century BC. These are the first of many ruins we see.

Ancient Kition

Here’s the Church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca. Apparently, Lazarus ended up in Cyprus after being raised from the dead by Jesus. He eventually died here.

This time, he stayed dead

In town, we visit the small but excellent Pierides Museum. We learn that the replica historic ceramics in their shop are made locally. We drop in at the Studio Ceramics gallery.

License to kiln

On the way to Limassol, we stop by the sea in several places. These white rocks are near a place called Governor’s Beach.

I would name them the ‘Moby Dick Rocks’.

Sight or Insight of the Day

We plan on driving ourselves around Cyprus. To that end, we acquire our latest rental car, a peppy Ford Fiesta.

Zeno in front of Panagia Odigitria church

He’s named after one of Cyprus’s eminent citizens, the Stoic philosopher Zeno.

Winding Down in Dahab

Winding down in both senses: as in, ten days of doing nothing in one spot over the holidays, and also counting down our remaining time in Egypt.

Dahab is a good place to spend Christmas and New Year. It’s very touristy. Which means lots of harrassing merchants and haranguing tour vendors. But also lots of restaurants and cafés.

We have a rooftop room in a small hotel in a quiet part of town. (I wouldn’t quite call it a penthouse.) One side faces the mountains.

Good pizza place across the street

The other side faces the Gulf of Aqaba. You can see Saudi Arabia across the water.

Chilly when the wind blows

The days turn into a satisfying routine. We get croissants for breakfast from the German bakery down the street. Maria goes swimming. I sit in the sun and read. We go out for dinner. Rinse and repeat.

We break up this idyll of idleness with a couple of day trips. One is a snorkeling excursion.

It’s not very pleasant. It’s disorganized. (Chaotic, actually.) All of the equipment is unsafe and falling apart. We are pushed from one site to the other with no explanations. There’s usually trash everywhere.

Boat full of non-swimming Egyptians and no life jackets

When we get to do any actual snorkeling, it’s great – the Blue Hole and Ras Abu Galum are rich in corals and fish. But I had visions of tranquilly floating around on our own. Nope – we’re supposed to follow a ‘guide’.

Thankfully, Maria had a good time.

Truck transport with jagged metal projections in the overcrowded bed

I enjoyed our second excursion much more. For one thing, it is entirely self-organized. We want to go to St. Catherine’s Monastery. We are not interested in departing in the middle of the night to ‘see the sunrise over Mt. Sinai’ – why anyone would want to do such a thing is beyond me. We just need a drive there and back.

By great good fortune, Maria makes the acquaintance of Ahmed, a Dahab taxi driver who’s happy to drive us there and back – a round trip of 256 kilometres – for around $70 USD. (Half the price of organized-tour transport.)

Maria and the unflappable Ahmed

Ahmed picks us up at our hotel. The drive through the early morning desert is very scenic.

Sinai highway

This is the third thing I can cross off my list of must-see places in Egypt.

St. Catherine’s Monastery

The area within the walls has a lot of character. The monastery is manned by bearded and be-skirted Greek Orthodox monks.

The Basilica is the visible hub of the monastery.

Basilica bell-tower

The interior is a jumble of mosaics and icons. No photos allowed.

Basilica, interior

Our favourite part is the collection of icons and manuscripts. They are now in a space designed, built, and paid for by Western donors – and it shows.

Pump Up the Volumes

This is a direct descendant of the burning bush mentioned in Exodus 3:1-17.

Sure. Pull the other one.

And this is a direct descendant of the goats mentioned in Leviticus 16:7-11. (OK, I just made that up.)

Carrots are for sharing

The time comes to pack up our things and go. It’s been a relaxing ten days.

We arrange for Ahmed to pick us up and drive us to the airport in Sharm el Sheikh, 100 kilometres away through the desert.

In the distance, a lone white camel

Our flight doesn’t leave until 4:00 AM. We plan to leave our baggage at the airport, the go into town to kill time until later in the evening.

Cairo for Pedestrians

One morning, we set out on foot for a Nile-side stroll. Like Alexandria, central Cairo has lots of Italian/French-style apartment buildings in various states of dilapidation.

Along the way, we stop for an excellent coffee in this place. The staff are very friendly and the coffee is superb, with some added exotic spices.

We pass this office, wondering if it’s a serious government department. Elections here exist only to confirm that whoever happens to be president stays in office until Hell freezes over.

Is this some kind of sick joke?

We walk to the southern tip of Rhoda Island.

Narrow channel of the Nile

We’ve come to see the Nilometer on the southern tip of the island..

Nilometer, bottom

The pillar dates from the ninth century, I think . The decoration up top is nice, too.

Nilometer, top

Next door is an exhibit on the life of Umm Kulthum, an Egyptian singer of mythic fame in the Arab world. Even young Egyptians hold her in high regard. Personally, I think her habit of hobnobbing with Egypt’s dictators detracts from the ‘woman of the people’ schtick.

Zamalek is a ritzy neighbourhood on Gezira Island where we go in search of a Fair Trade gift shop.

Modern Cairo from the 15th May Bridge

On the long walk home, the riverside promenade is full of rollerbladers.

Helmets are for sissies

Next day, we visit the Mosque of Ibn Tulun. According to wikipedia:

‘It was designed by the prominent Egyptian architect, Saiid Ibn Kateb Al-Farghany, who was an Orthodox Christian, the same engineer who designed the Nilometer. The mosque’s original inscription slab identifies the date of completion as AH 265 (878/879 AD).’

This dove finds a perfect place for a nest in a mosque lamp.

‘Allāh guides to His light whom He wills.’ – Koran 24:35

The mosque has an unusual spiral minaret. For a nominal fee, an attendant lets us climb to the top.

Cairo from on high

Our next stop is the Museum of Islamic Art. Our route takes us through some picturesque neighbourhoods.

The basket-and-broom man
Inner city transport

The imposing Cairo Citadel. We give it a wide berth because the army still uses it, so we’re told.

Around the corner from the museum, we admire this street dog that has found a good place for a snooze.

Let sleeping dogs lie

The Museum of Islamic Art has a well-curated and well-displayed collection of Islamic goodies.

Our last full day in Cairo. We start with the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, which opened in 2021.

An apropos temporary exhibit features Tintin and Snowy in an entertaining Orientalist fantasy.

The most impressive exhibit (for me) were the tastefully arrayed 22 royal mummies, including such powerhouses as Ramses II and Hatshepsut (no photos allowed.) It’s fascinating to see the actual frail, shrunken remains of these rulers that constructed colossal edifices – some of which we’ve seen – and loom so large in Egyptian history.

The rest of the museum is thankfully sparse in quantity but very good in quality.

Besides having a pleasant restaurant, the museum also has nice grounds to enjoy.

View of Cairo from the NMEC

From the New to the Old. Our last visit of the day is back to the Medieval part of town. We take an Uber to the Bab al-Nasr for a last wander around the Khan el-Khalili market.

The Gate of Victory

Sight or Insight of the Day

While having lunch in the chic restaurant of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, the party at the next table catch my attention. There is a very debonair-looking Australasian gentleman who looks familiar. He’s well-dressed, clear-spoken, and confident. He wears an Akubra hat at a jaunty angle. His entourage is well-behaved. They get up to leave.

It’s uncharacteristic of me, but I just have to ask, otherwise I’ll never know. ‘Excuse me. Are you Sam Neill?’

photo courtesy of wikipedia

No, I’m afraid not‘, he replies.

I’ll bet you get asked that a lot‘ I say.

Actually, no‘ he deadpans ‘I’m usually mistaken for George Clooney or Brad Pitt.

On Our Own Again in Cairo

After our nine-day group tour, we have five days to spend in Cairo before flying to Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula.

As mentioned, Cairo is a city of ten million closely-packed residents. It’s pretty chaotic.

Just another day in Cairo

Our hotel is on Talaat Harb street, just a few minutes walk from a Metro station and the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.

Tahrir Square

This is the venerable old Egyptian Museum, a Cairo landmark for over a century.

Egyptian Museum, exterior

We spend a few hours at the Egyptian Museum with our tour group. Now, we dedicate an entire day exploring it.

Egyptian Museum, interior

Egypt is building another mega-museum, the Grand Egyptian Museum. When it will actually open its doors is anybody’s guess.

Finds from the tomb of Tutankhamen are a big draw. There were over 5,000 objects placed there. We’ll limit ourselves to a single item.

Tutankhamen’s lawn chair?

The detail and workmanship is amazing. The footstool is covered with conquered enemies. (Considering he died at the age of 19, I don’t think Tutankhamen led any great hosts in pitched battles.)

 ‘…I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.‘ – Psalm 110

The support struts are ducks (or geese) holding the bottom rollers in their beaks.

OK, we said we’d limit ourselves to one Tutankhamen item. Just one more – another richly-decorated chair.

Tutankhamun and his wife, Ankhesenamun

The museum is full of praiseworthy stuff. This is a statue of Djoser, the pharaoh responsible for that step pyramid we visited a few entries ago, in front of some beautiful sea-green tiles from the same pyramid.

Also, the oldest known life-sized Egyptian statue

Here’s the Palette of Narmer. It’s world-famous – at least among history fans.

We see this depicted a lot in Egyptian art – a leader dominating a defeated rival while firmly grasping his man-bun.

What’s on the B-side?

Both of us really liked the possessions from a tomb of the royal couple, Yuya and Thuya. We’ve never heard of them before. After examining their belongings, it felt like they were old friends.

And just at random, an exquisite mummy mask.

Of course, all of these priceless treasures of world heritage are just a single Islamic revolution away from total destruction. It’s a good thing there’s still a lot of the original discoveries safe in Western museums.

Another place we revisit is the Khan el-Khalili bazaar in the historic centre of Cairo.

Maria and I succumb to the lure of all this unbridled capitalism: she buys a pair of scarlet camel-hide slippers and I purchase a lapis-lazuli ring.

Some of the architecture dates back centuries.

Sight or Insight of the Day

Getting around in Cairo is not for the faint-hearted. There is a Metro, which is a good way to get around. We take it one day to visit the Coptic Museum.

Somebody call the copts

But the areas of interest you can get to by Metro are limited. They have Uber here, but often the places we visit are so jam-packed with pullulating humanity, there is no easy pickup-point.

‘We’ll be standing on the corner…’

And taking a taxi here always involves the unpleasant feeling of being skinned alive (financially) by the taxi drivers.

So we often walk to places. Where sidewalks exist, they are usually overrun with impromptu markets.

Market for junked car parts

Or, in areas where there are government buildings, ‘for security reasons’ ordinary people are diverted off of the sidewalk and onto the death-defying streets packed with crazed Cairo motorists.

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Aswan, continued…

Oh dear, we’re falling woefully behind on our blog entries. Once again, I blame the suboptimal internet service in Egypt.

Our cruise down the Nile goes on at a leisurely pace. We stop in Luxor for the night.

The good ship ‘Nile Jewel’

As the sun goes down, we go to the mighty Karnak Temple.

Karnak, hypostyle hall

This is a scarab statue near Karnak’s Sacred Lake. Tourist lore says that if you circle it x-amount of times, you will be granted a wish.

The Kheper Scarab at Karnak Temple

Back in town, we stop at the centrally-located Temple of Luxor.

The early sunset makes for dramatic night-time visits to these places.

First thing next morning, we visit the temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

Temple of Hatshepsut

(We see the mummy of the woman herself in Cairo.)

Our guide, Ash, takes a group photo

There was a serious terrorist attack here in 1997. Of course, there is no mention of it during our visit.

Nearby is the Valley of the Kings.

Valley of the Kings

Considering the great number of tourists that visit here year-round, it’s still an amazing experience to visit these tombs. Collectively, they are man-made creations of near-perfect artistry at a time when most people on the planet were still primitive hunter-gatherers.

Needless to say, modern Egypt is slightly less rich in ‘creations of near-perfect artistry’.

We pay extra to visit the tomb of Tutankhamen. This happens to be the centenary year of its discovery.

This really created a splash at the time, as Tutmania swept the globe..

The tomb’s trove of stupendous artifacts now reside in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

In fact, the only object remaing in the tomb is the modestly-draped mummy of the Pharaoh himself.

Tut’s remains
Tut’s remains, close-up

We visit four tombs. I’d love to come back at a future date and explore more of them. I believe this is the tomb of Merneptah. It’s over 3,000 years old.

Several tombs have ceilings that represent the stars of the night sky. We’ve noticed this in other sites in Egypt.

Starry, starry night

Here’s the tomb of…dang, I forget. They’re all pretty cool.

The tomb of King What’s-his-name III

On the ceiling, looks like some god holding up the sky.

The search goes on for new finds, even after centuries of unearthed tombs. Local workers still dig in the old-fashioned ways.

Take your pick

Back on the tour. We stop for lunch at a restaurant on the other side of the Nile.

Nile ferry

We hear about the winter conditions back home. Difficult to imagine from our current surroundings.

The Canadian contingent

The next stage is a five-hour bus ride to the coastal town of Hurghada.

Typical Egyptian scenery

We spend two nights at this all-inclusive resort. My plan is to lounge by the pool sipping mojitos. Maria is more ambitious and goes off on a snorkeling expedition with some others.

The Red Sea
John, Maria, Graham, and Annie

We plan to do more snorkeling in Dahab – that’s my excuse for staying behind.

Swimsuit edition

Sight or Insight of the Day

We leave early the next morning for the long drive back to Cairo.

Eventually, the empty desert becomes more populated. Many buildings in Egypt seem to be the same tawny colour as the sandy surroundings.

Cairo outskirts

Cairo is a city of ten million people. It’s, um, interesting to spend time there. More in our next entry.