Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yes or No to Cairo?

A view on the Nile
During my stay in the Netherlands early April, Arthur got a job offer from his company in Cairo!
Although my first reaction was: NO! , I gave it some thought and decided that it would be fair to go there and have a look before turning the offer down. Quickly a trip was booked and a program made.
As there are no direct flights from Izmir to Cairo, we had a stopover in Istanbul. We travelled light and no luggage to give during customs.
At arrival we would be picked up by a taxi from our hotel... Unfortunately there was no sign with Arthur's name or the company name, and after having waited for half an hour we decided to take a taxi. Not a good start.... We negotiated a price of 22 US dollars for a drive to 6th of October city, a newly developed suburb of Cairo.

Emailed to us was the hotel "Hilton Dreams", but there was no hotel with such name ! There was a Sheraton Dreams yes, but we could not imagine Hilton and Sheraton would be mixed up.
We decided to get out of the car at the Hilton, but there was no reservation on Arthurs or the companies name ! I had forgotten to print out the reservation confirmation, so I asked if I could check my emails and look up the confirmation. Meanwhile the guy at the reception had found several bookings, all in different company names but not THE ONE.

With my confirmation and a booking of someone from "Exxon Mobile" we finally understood: we had a confirmation on paper BUT in the computer Arthur's company name AkzoNobel was mistakenly typed as EXXON MOBILE. We now understood that there must have been a taxi driver waiting at the airport with a sign of this latter company.
I was quite upset with all this and filed a complaint with the manager; we got an upgrade to a junior suite as apology, but our first impression of Egypt was a bit dissapointing.
The view from our room was very impressive though: a large green golf area surrounding the hotel.
The next morning Arthur went to the factory for meetings; I had a long breakfast with Femke, we took a stroll to the swimmingpool, enjoyed the terrace but ended on the balcony of our hotel room as that was the best place for Femke to walk and play and for me to make some notes.
In the afternoon we went with a a real estate agent to see a few compounds in 6th of October city. A house in this suburb would mean that Arthur has only a 10 minute drive to work, compared to 1,5 hours from the city. Although we saw some beautiful compounds, nice houses with swimmingpool etc., I thought that I would be bored to death if I'd had to stay here!!! There is literally nothing if you leave the compound, a road, many cars, offices and factories and the dessert. No nice walking paths, no trees. Emptiness.

That evening we stayed at the Sofitel El Gaza hotel, directly located on the Nile, perfect room, good food, and a beautiful terrace which reminded my of 'Konak Pier' in Izmir.

The next morning we went again with real estate agents to visit properties. This time the suburb Maadi was on the program. A green wealthy area where many foreigners live.

Downside is there are mainly apartment buildings. The ones we visited were huge and quiete good, but the 2 groundfloor places with garden immediately caught our attention.
Yes I could be happy for 2-3 years in a place like this! A ground floor apartment with garden!

Later this afternoon we made a walk into the centre. On foot you have the best impression of the people, the atmosphere, the temperature...

It reminded me of a mixture of places we had seen before: Cuba, Malaysia, Little India in Singapore...

My conclusion: after 6,5 years in Izmir we do wanted a new adventure! We are fortunate to get this job offer in these difficult economic times. Although I am not very enthusiastic about Cairo, I feel I can and will make the best out of it. A city with 50.000 expats, all services available (think of day care for Femke, sports, activities), an interesting country to explore...

Negative points remain: our next house will be much smaller, with a smaller garden, and less privacy, Egypt is more islamic than Turkey which means more women wear headscarfs which gives a strange view in streets, did I already mention I will miss Izmir/Turkey/my house/my garden?