We’ve just left the comfort of our hotel and are headed towards the Giza railway station to board the Sleeping Train. The journey costs a mere EP30, but if you were to believe the tourist guide books, be prepared to shell out anything upwards of EP90. It is only a 20 minute ride without traffic, but it takes us about 55 minutes door to door. We are relieved at having made it to the railway station, but we are also sad to leave the wonderful city of Cairo. Nevertheless, we will be back to spend a wonderful final day in Cairo after the Nile cruise. Right now it is already 7:30PM and we just have to make a dash for the train scheduled at 8PM.
The station seems familiar – we were here just yesterday to book the tickets, but the sleeping train counter was closed. There is some hustle bustle at the windows and the ambiance reminds me of railway stations in India. There are porters willing to help you with the luggage – of course for a fee – people are sprawled along the platforms, some lights are broken and we can tell they haven’t been fixed in years, there is a small restaurant that is overflowing with people – possibly fellow travelers on the sleeping train. They decided to come in early and grab a bite, and the prime seats. The rest of the people are happy to be sitting on our luggage carefully stretched out on the platforms. We wiggle our way through the maze of suitcases and find a spot to stand.
As I look around, it is just impossible to spot anything written in English – all signs are in Arabic. After 4 days in Cairo this is not surprising – with so many tourists, the city authorities desperately need to get their act together and post signs in English. Oh, but we spot the ubiquitous tourism police. In Egypt, there is a separate police force for everything for example:
- Tourism police
Police for guarding celebrities
Airport police etc.
Since there are no signs that I can read, I walk up to the cop and enquire about the train – the rumbling metal is about 40 minutes behind schedule. We settle in and talk to a fellow travelers. 3 local trains come and go and we are getting anxious. I make another trip to the cop and he assures me that he will let us know when it is our train. Sure enough, he waves his green flag to us when he spots our train coming. It is a mad scramble to find the coach. there is a ticket inspector right outside and he immediately takes it upon himself to put everyone at ease. We are escorted to our cabin – it is about 8 feet by 5 feet wide – 2 beds are stacked one on top of the other – it is fitted with quite a few amenities – there is a basin to wash our hands and faces, and there is a small closet to hang our coats etc. we settle in and the train starts its journey – we are served food and it is time for bed – we arrive at Luxor at 7AM.