Pause 6
Cairo 2000-05-19

London Stanstead-To say that this Airport is actually in (or anywhere near) London is a gross overstatement, however it is defintely one of the best looking airports that I have ever seen.
The security for El Al was quite tight, as warned. Police (British Police!) guarded the area with machine guns, and everyone was subjected to an interview. I won the prize for longest interview, because a young security official asked me all sorts of silly questions. He wasn't so thrilled with how short a time my trip was planned in. The beautiful woman who was chief of security (26 tops) then asked me all the same questions, plus some more, and was very apologectic about the whole ordeal, saying that they were just making sure no one had put a bomb in my bag.
I was wondering why they didn't bother to look in my bags, but they were saving that part for the last hour. The orginal security man plus another twenty-year old then unpacked everything. This was all done in a private room with a x-ray machine, but I just sat there with my complimentary Coke and watched them go through , my wallet, clothes and every stick of deodorant and such. The officials were then nice enough to repack everything for me, and they did a better job than I did, so I was thankful for that. Maybe next time I will just bring all my things in some garbage bags and have them sort it out.

Jerusalem- The Arabs in the Old City were striking to protest their treatment by the Israelis. This meant that tourists were allowed to roam the incredible alleys with minimal harrasment.

The children were still in the tourist game. One chubby kid saw that I was a little confused in the Arab Quarter labrynth, and directed me towards the Wailing Wall. I smiled, thanked him, and was on my way. He followed twenty metres and repeated his directions. Thanks again, and I continued on my way. By now he realised that I wasn't speaking proper tourist so he said "Now you give me money." He was happy to take two shekelim from the pile of change I drew out of my pocket.

Tel Aviv- A very American looking beach town, but with incredible bauhaus architecture. Not what I expected, but it is certainly the most amiable part of Israel so far. Security is also limited so it makes a more relaxed atmospher. They only ever inspect your bags when you go to the mall or supermarket, and even then it isn't clear what the guard is looking for.

Cairo- Saw a 'real' desert for the first time on the way here. Then I saw the lush grean region along the Suez, and finally I saw the smog of Cairo. Our bus had a military escort for pretty much the entire journey. The soldiers hopped out to guard the bus even while the little Nissan pick up they were in was refueling.

In the city, there is a solider on every block, and metal detectors at every hotel, so the authorities are quite clear in their efforts to make the city safe for tourists. The biggest annoyance so far has been the touts who try to lead you to their shops and the constant barrage of taxi drivers offering their services (I have never seen so many Ladas before in my life.)