Towards the tail end of last year a few of us began looking at an early season coaster trip to Habtoorland in Lebanon. The prime motivation was scoring a ride on the Twister, arguably the most scenic spinning coaster anywhere on this planet. Unfortunately, on contacting the park we were advised that the rides had been closed for some time, and making a special visit to Beirut under such circumstances did not seem like a good use of time and money. It is worth noting at this point that Martin made that mistake some years ago, booking a two night stay in Estonia just so he could look at a closed amusement park from outside its gate. Enthusiasts are unlikely to ever let him forget this one!
In the end we settled on Egypt as a suitable fall back option. The original routing took us to all seven known coaster parks, as well as the only surviving wonder of the ancient world, the Great Pyramid of Giza. Amidst the planning we discovered quite by accident that we'd managed to book a hotel attached to a shopping mall with a previously unknown coaster in it. As it turned out, this wasn't to be the only bonus credit, though that's for a later trip report.
My flight to Cairo was my first experience of Egyptair. The flight was comfortable and the service good, other than the catering, which was bad even by airline standards. During the flight a crew member spotted me reading my nerd magazine and immediately launched into a speculative conversation about the Turkish Airlines crash in Amsterdam earlier in the week. One might argue that this isn't the most suitable at thirty thousand feet, but fortunately there was nobody else in immediate earshot. Landing in Cairo was quite a shock, with the airport being every bit as chaotic as the movies suggest. Despite having prearranged a visa I was left standing in a queue for almost half an hour while passport formalities were dealt with. On the plus side, this meant that my bag was already out by the time I cleared it, allowing me to run the gauntlet of taxi drivers. A word to the wise; it is important to negotiate your fare before entering a cab, refusing the first two offers (at least). Martin managed to reduce his fare from fifty Egyptian pounds all the way down to ten.