Today, on this rather wet Sunday, I have resolved to write about my trip to Egypt. Actually, I did begin to write the events as they occurred in a diary that I purchased expressly for the purpose, but never found the time to write every day as the trip was quite exhausting and left us with few opportunities to sit at a desk and write. Even so, I will, over the next several posts, begin to describe whatever happened over the 11 days that we were in that lovely country. By we, I mean my family, of course, and by the "11 days", I mean from 6th of June to the 16th of June, 2010.
To start at the very beginning, I started planning for the trip about 3 months before we actually undertook the trip. I wanted to do thorough background research so that we would not only do this trip with the least possible costs, but also individualise the trip with the travel agent so that nothing important was missed. This was important as I am quite sure I won't be able to visit this country again during this lifetime. I began with a search for a good Egypt travel guide, and discovered, rather unhappily, that the Egypt -specific guide was not available in Mumbai. The one that was available had the entire Middle East region in it, and its cost was over Rs. 1300. I would have loved to get my hands on the book that is featured alongside.
In the circumstances, I began a search for a soft copy on various file sites, and came upon the ME book available for FREE DOWNLOAD at one of the locations. Dutifully, and with glee, I downloaded the entire book, and then printed out the Egypt pages off my clinic printer. The second image alongside, I presume, is the book that I downloaded, as there was no cover page.
When I had all the required pages with me, I took them to a shop that does spiral binding of books, and voila! I had my handy guide.
The next thing I did was to go to www.egyptair.com and also www.makemytrip.com and look for the best flight deals. Eventually, and with some problems to boot, I managed to book 4 return tickets, Mumbai to Cairo and back on Egypt Air at a little over Rs. 21000/= per ticket. There was a way to book the exact seats too, and it gave me great comfort to book a pair each of window and center seats one behind the other somewhere in the mid-section of the aircraft, reasonably near to the mid-section emergency exits.
I also began to ask people about which travel agent to go with, and visited the biggies, namely, SOTC, Cox and Kings, and so on. Subair, my cousin and neighbour, recommended that I go with Creative Holidays (office just behind Metro Adlabs above Mayrose Restaurant) or Akbar Travels. He also provided me with the names of the persons to contact. I began the process of contacting both the travel agents. A Poorti Mulye was the person I saw at Akbar Travels, while Ms. Medha Deshmukh was the lady in charge of the ME section of Creative Holidays. Up until a month before the actual holiday, I was unable to decide which company would finally plan my trip, but, in the end, I chose to go with Creative as their offers were not only dramatically less expensive, but also, their itinerary was better planned.
There was one more item on the agenda: convincing the rest of my family to agree on Egypt on this, our first overseas holiday. For me, it was Egypt all the way since the history of Egypt attracted me greatly; besides, trips to other, more exotic locations were also costly. I also considered that travelling through Egypt would involve stretches of walking and climbing (for example, on the Pyramids), and I, sure as the sun rises in the East, wasn't going to get younger as time passed. Inas was the first to agree, then Hannah, and finally, Nishrin, as she realised that she had no option.
Did I have enough money to go abroad? Well, I managed it quite well, actually, and the entire trip cost us about 350,000 INR in all.
That's it, for now.