Rated 5.0 of 5
Holidays in Egypt
January Holiday to Egypt
My wife and I have just returned from Egypt - landed Heathrow 11.15pm 31st January.
We commenced our holiday 14 days earlier in a tranquil manner with a comfortable flight from Heathrow with British Midland to Cairo and then onwards to Luxor with Egyptair to pick up our Nile cruise boat MS Sherry. We then proceeded to have a delightful river trip enhanced by numerous historical tours of temples and tombs at Karnack, Aswan and Luxor also visiting the Aswan and High Dam, accompanied by Ahmed our exceptionally knowledgeable Egyptologist. On return to Luxor we spent four days at the superb Hotel Sonesta before returning to Cairo for our final three days to see the Pyramids. ALL aspects of our holiday had, to this point, been carried out in a very efficient and professional manner by Excel Travel, The Holiday Place representatives in Egypt.
On our return to Cairo our holiday was suddenly thrown into chaos and at this point Excel Travel changed from excellent to EXCEPTIONAL.
On leaving the airport to transfer to our Pyramid view hotel, what should have been a 50 minute or so drive round the ring road became a 2 hour plus ordeal through the City centre, the ring road was closed by the police and in order to reach our Giza hotel we had to cross the Nile, each route our very cool headed driver took was barred by thousands of protesters and police, not to mention tear gas all around us and traffic chaos as vehicles did u-turns, at times driving straight at us in order to avoid problems ahead of them. Through all of this our Excel Travel representative, Ahmed Gabr remained calm and assuring as he pointed out that the protesters were peaceful and would wish us no harm as visitors to their country.
On arrival at the hotel we were allocated superb rooms on the ground floor of a newly constructed wing and enjoyed a good meal in the Medi restaurant before retiring early after our long arduous day, unfortunately within an hour we were awakened by gunfire in the street directly behind our hotel room and this continued for each of the next two evenings. In the morning we were informed that all tours were off including the Pyramids, which we could see only a few hundred yards away.That afternoon, Saturday, the first curfew was announced from 4.00 pm through to 8.00 am Sunday morning. We were also advised for our own security not to leave the premises even outrside of curfew. We were visited again on Saturday by Ahmed Gabr who again assured us of our security pointing out that the army had now mobilised and a large unit with four tanks and numerous armoured vehicles were now deployed outside of our hotel entrance. Ahmed also advised that he would pick us up on Monday 12.00 noon in order to transfer us to the airport for our 5.20 flight home.
Following further gunshots on Sunday evening and TV reports of chaos at the airport I phonrd Ahmed at 8.00 am and he confirmed our noon pick up time, we then breakfasted and returned to our room to finish our packing, at this point a call from Ahmed advised all plans had changed and he was on his way to pick us up and stressed speed was of the utmost importance, within 40 minutes we were on a bus with other travellers and on our way to the airport. Apparently our plane had left Heathrow 3 hours early with no passengers outbound, in order to become an evacuation flight. On arrival at the airport we were advised of the turmoil we would witness inside, however we were once again assured that we would be absolutely fine as Excel had representatves with permits to operate in the terminal and we would be placed in their hands for safe passage to the check in desks. This was achieved in conjunction with liaising with FCO officials and two Egyptian airport officials, who between them forced a passage for us through huge crowds and utter chaos in order to reach our check in desks, the Excel representative stayed with us until our cases had been checked and our boarding cards issued - exceptional service.
A mention now for two crews from British Midland who gave excellent service and care whilst we endured some 11 hours sitting on the plane. Firstly we were held on the tarmac almost 3 hours at Cairo waiting for permission to take off, water was continually served during this time and tea, coffee and crisps served immediatly after take off, we then had to fly to Beirut in Lebanon in order to refuel and change crews, the first crew being out of flying hours following a 6.00 am start from Heathrow. Landing, changing crews, refuelling and taking off was achieved in around 90 minutes and food served immediatley after take off once again. A full speed policy saw us back to Heathrow by 11.15pm.
Please pass on our thanks to all persons and Companies mentioned, we cannot express our relief on returning home so quickly and our thoughts go out to others who have not been so fortunate.
yours very sincerely
Ray & Brenda Peacock
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