Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Egypt: To drive or not to drive?

I am in holiday planning mode and the destination is Egypt.
Obviously the pyramids and sphinx will need to be visited, as will some amazing museums in Cairo. 
After a week of sightseeing we are hoping to retire to Sharm el Sheikh to while away the hours on the beach, scuba diving and relaxing.

It sounds very pleasant doesn't it? No real adventure there.

That was until I goggled “Driving in Egypt.”
The more I read on the dangers of driving in this north African country the more I want to do it! 
If I survived Casablanca – this cant be too bad can it?

“Cairo is one of the biggest and busiest cities in the world with more than 25 million inhabitants. Roads in the centre of the city can have up to 8 lanes, although the lack of actual marked lanes is what makes driving here quite difficult," explain Rhino Car Hire.

Traffic in Cairo  http://erinsjourney.blogspot.co.uk
Ah the old 'lack of marked lane' issue. I drive on an 'unmarked' country road in Ireland most days – would that experience help?

“Not only do you have to deal with unruly cars but you can often see livestock and donkeys in the middle of the road.” - Ah so my country driving will come in handy. Livestock pouring onto the road will be no challenge. That is of course unless the said livestock is also combating the eight 'marked lanes' in the city ...

It is obviously a bit of an Arch de Triumph roundabout situation – so just push ahead I say. The speeding limit is 90kmph (about 59 mph) in Egypt so once we have out seat belts on we should be safe as ...
By law you must wear a seat belt at all times, front and back. Hardly any of the local cars in Egypt have working seat belts so it would be extremely unfair if police were to punish you for not wearing yours.” 
-Great. Really reassuring.

A different kind of traffic (c) fifiheavey
And just in case, I dared think that out of the city we were motoring happily: “Due to the heat, water should be carried with you at all times. You should also have anti-dehydration medication. If you get stuck in the sand don't spin the wheels as this will make a car sink deeper. You should avoid driving at night at all costs as there are many hazards in the form of pedestrians and carts.”

Also parking is next to impossible. And driving is one the right hand side. 

On the positive side we would get to cross the historic Suez canal, get a taste of the open road, get to see things off the beaten track, stop and go where we please.

And it would be strange of me to take a big holiday that does not hold any risks, no concerns for loved ones to worry bout back home Though maybe the unstable political tensions might take care of that one. 

Should we hit the open road?? (c) fifiheavey
So do I take a boring flight or risk my life?
Any positive Egypt driving experiences out there?

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The passage of time

I got my reward the other night for sticking with a hard book to read.
(No not 50 Shades of Grey shite)
For the past few months I have been struggling through Virgina Woolf's To The Lighthouse.
The draw to the book was not the title or the cover but the strange and mysterious author.
Now To The Lighthouse is not a difficult read, it is a small book. But the story line is certainly not gripping and so I find it difficult to lay aside time to dedicate to it.

But I was rewarded last night – the chapters entitled 'Time Passes' were jewels you do not find in contemporary books. Beautifully, lyrically, written it has been swirling around in my head all day. And it has me pondering on the general subject of time.

This weekend I will unite with a best friend who I have been separated from for over 18months as a result of her emigration. A lot has happened over the year and a half.
I started to think about how those changes have affected me and in turn our friendship.

Also what do you pick to talk about and what do you throw away. Do we keep the conversation positive, talk about the things that make us smile and laugh or do we tackle the things that make us cry?
Do we take the recap chronologically? Event based? Maybe go along with a theme – love/ loss/ embarrassing moments?!

Or do we just forget the catch up and live in the present?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

For the love of music

I am still a bit groggy, continuing to find spots of mud on my body and unable to shake off that stale smell of muck, alcohol and urine.
But the music is still buzzing, my feet can't stay still and every few minutes I get the urge to throw my hands up in the air.

Phoenix Park Concert (c) fifiheavey
I am in post- festival mode.

Despite the rain, and mud (did I mention there was mud), the tiresome walk, and the crowds and queues the Snow Patrol/ Florence and the Machine concert in the Phoenix Park was a huge success.

Stuck in the mud (c) fifiheavey
Do you know why?
Because of the music.

I feel the need to explain why you go to a concert, because I am sick of the complaints, the moaning and the down right stupidity.
I cannot fathom why people turned up to the Phoenix Park in Dublin on Sunday in runners, flip flops and general silly footwear following two previous days of concerts, rain and muck. You may no longer watch the nine o clock news religiously but how on earth had the weather and geography of the land escaped you.

The queues: Ok lets start at the beginning – 50,000 approx people crowded into a field, many were drinking alcohol. So it would follow that a lot of people would need to use the portaloos. 
Tip – don't leave it until you are going to piss yourself to start queueing.

Anti-social behaviour:  If you go out on a Saturday night do you ever see someone acting unsociable? Now multiply that by 50,000. There will be some fights, some ejectile vomit and some falling, shouting abuse etc. **

The price of food: Shut up, you could have brought a packed lunch.
The price to drink: Ditto, loads of people smuggled in alcohol, you are just bitter you forgot to or drank it all really quickly!

The long walk: Number one - you are in Dublin – public transport is a joke in the normal 9-5 run of the day. The concert was in Phoenix Park – it has an 11km perimeter and over 700 hectares of land. There is no subway, no train or indeed inner city bus link to the concert. Yes the Luas had to be cancelled from Heuston Station - but walking is good for you, ya know!

Now ask yourself one question – did you enjoy the music?
You did not go to an outdoor concert for fine dining, for the comfortable facilities, for a relaxing stroll, or for VIP treatment.

Florence from Florence and the Machine at Phoenix Park, Dublin
(c) fifiheavey
If you had such a terrible time, just put it down to experience. Never ever put your head up for an outdoor concert again and stick to seated venues or just sit at home and grow old!

** Complaints about stabbings are legit – and I agree these are inexcusable.