The Desert Highway
I managed to leave Alexandria for 7 am on the Desert Highway. It was packed solid for the first 20 kilometres heading out (although the hard shoulder was clear appart from pedastrians hailing the minibus taxis and the occasional donkey cart).
Once I got to the main gate with 'Alexandria' written in Greek the traffic died down, the desert road opened up before me (and my minidisc random select kicked into 'Ride of the Valkryes'!)
Although a 3 lane motorway all the way to Cairo, the traffic died down to a trickle that would not have taxed a 2 lane 'A' road in the UK.
About 11 am I had had covered the first 70 km and the sun was comming up fast. The heat was bearable as I carry about 4.5 litres with me, refilling from service stations and small cafes along the way, but even a makeshift kepe and sun factor 50 does not provide impunity to the sun so I sheltered in a roadside cafe for a few hours.
The Egyptians do hospitality and friendliness in spades, a few buying me drinks and asking me to photograph them (they don't lne up for things though, cutting each other to pieces in trafic lanes and barging past you in the train station ticket office or market stall).
I got back on the road about 16:00 and mad it to the midpoint hotel (the slumiest dive I've ever been in, charging 4 times the going rate, either because I was a 'rich westerner' or being a service station in the middle of nowhere. But at 13 UK pounds for a soft bed after the road I just went with it.
Day 2 was easier, as I got towards Cairo there was reasonable cloud cover so I could just keep going without needing to stop, finially seing the pyramids about 15:00.
I decided to load my bike onto a taxi and head back into central Cairo where all teh backpacker hotels are (and I have a better chance of finding an opticians to get some reliable new sunglasses, rather than enless tourist junk shops).
Needless to say, it's been a long day and I'm tired (hence a lack of anything especially descriptive about the route).
I've found it hard to relax since I arrived in Egypt with all the technicalities and worries about translating the theory of cycling the river Nile into actualy doing it. The whole concept has completely blown away every Egyptian who enquired about it (making me wonder if they knew somthing I didn't!)
The Egyptians are lovely, but strike me as quite conservative, and to be fair, even my very modest fnding would be out of most peoples reach. The ride to Luxor should take 3 days (perhaps four if I have to spend a lot of time sun dodging, but I am feeling confident now.
I'm a day ahead of schedule so I'll take tomorrow in Cairo to do some sight seeing (and replace those glasses)