Monday, November 16, 2009

Modern city meets the desert

Dubai it is. ToadMama guessed it right, but I think I had already hinted to her that I was thinking about coming here.

So I don't know what exactly prompted my decision to skip my other plans in Egypt. Luxor and Aswan were starting to look more expensive than what my budget could handle because those are places that are really a lot easier to do with a tour (there's too much to see and it's too spread out to really do on your own). Even after talking to Kharboush, my travel agent friend of a friend, it was going to be about $100/day, not including site entrance fees. The most expensive entrance fees are only about $12 USD, but those add up, too, if you see 4 or 5 sites a day.

As an aside, regarding my budget for those of you who may be wondering: My budget varies depending on the city I'm in since some places are more expensive than others. My daily budget for most of Europe was about 36 euros, or 54 dollars. This, I have to say, is ridiculously low for Europe. Most of the other longer term travelers I met were spending double this and people who were just on a short term trip were spending about 100 euros per day. But, honestly, there have been a lot of days I spent less than budgeted so it's been working for me. When you're working with a budget like this, you have to pick and choose a bit. Are you more interested in sight seeing or is nightlife more important? I also briefly considered a safari in Kenya, but that was even more of a budget buster than Luxor and Aswan.

So. I weighed my options and decided to move on. It was indeed a very last minute change of plans as I booked the ticket to Dubai on Friday night for Saturday night/Sunday morning at 2:35a (my flight back to Cairo had already been booked). I left Sharm on Saturday for my short flight to Cairo. I spent a couple of hours in Cairo trying to decide between a bus or a train to Alexandria, and then deciding when I'd leave. The train to Alexandria was about 3 hours and when I arrived, I met up with Islam (another friend of a friend who met me at the station) for a whirlwind night time tour of Alex. Then it was to the airport for the flight (which somehow managed to leave a half hour early!) and I arrived in Dubai at 7:15am on Sunday.

I really need to talk more about two experiences I had on my last day of Egypt, but I'm going to save them for another post on my overall impressions of my first trip to an Arab country. Hint: It may (or may not) be what you'd expect, depending on your perspective. :-)

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