Egypt According to Nokia Maps & GPS

Sadat Station on Nokia Maps

You’re looking at Sadat Subway station, the major landmark closest to the hotel where I stayed in Cairo. It’s a screen grab courtesy of Nokia Maps and my Bluetooth GPS unit, which I did indeed use to navigate my way through Egypt, despite the fact that the there’s no visible GPS signal showing in the bottom right corner of the screen — ahem…

It was the first time I’ve ever used GPS in my travels, and I have to admit that the jury is out as to whether I really needed it or not.

Crocodile Island on Nokia Maps

Here’s what Nokia makes of Luxor — note that Crocodile Island is a landmark I added myself (it’s where our hotel there was). As you can see, there’s not too much in the way of detail. I kept my GPS unit running on the overnight train all the way back to Cairo, and the maps from my E61i’s built-in database were similarly sparse right up until we got back into the city proper.

Le Meridien Pyramids on Nokia Maps

Part of the blame should be pointed at whomever collates the maps for Nokia. Here’s my hotel in Giza, and the Great Pyramids — probably occupying that empty space to the left — are nowhere to be found!

But perhaps I had unrealistic expectations for GPS. It’s certainly comforting to have a general sense of where you’re at, but I maintain that the best way to get acclimatized to foreign surroundings is to walk in progressively larger concentric circles around your hotel. It’s worked for me everywhere I’ve visited with the possible exception of Lima, Peru.

Video Egypt: Abdul Aziz Mobile Phone Souk

I know what you’re thinking: “Come on, Currie… Another video from Egypt?!”

This one is actually a good lead-in for my next post… It was captured in Cairo’s famous mobile phone Souk — I was hipped to it by our tour guide in Luxor.

Note that like your typical stupid tourist I completely butchered the name of the store mentioned in the video, despite roaming on their very network with my Nokia. It is not “Eltistadt” or whatever the hell I said, but in fact Etisalat… My bad.

BTW, despite their claims of having the only 3.75G network in Egypt, I could only get 3G on my E61i. 😉

Video Egypt: Call to Prayer

If you’ve never been to a Muslim country then you’ll never have heard the call to prayer that rings out from minarets up to five times a day. Devout Muslims supposedly drop whatever they’re doing and heed the call, but Ray and I saw no evidence of this in the bustling metropolises of Giza and Cairo — or even in downtown Luxor, where this particular video was taken.

I heard my first publicly broadcast calls to prayer in Kampala, Uganda back in 2005 and find them very soothing, akin to hearing church bells in the distance. I wish I had remembered to grab another Muslim souvenir, a photo of the arrow painted on the ceiling of our hotel room in Giza, pointing in the direction of Mecca.

Video Egypt: Ringing in 2008 at the Pyramids

Okay, I know you’re all getting tired of hearing about Egypt so I’ll dump my last two videos over the weekend then get back to the tech stuff you nerds crave so much… 😉

Despite taking place in the shadow of the Great Pyramids, greeting 2008 was a decidedly more subdued affair than rolling over into 2007 in Seoul, Korea. But I won’t forget for a second how fortunate I was to be there in the first place!

Video Egypt: Pyramids Approach

Now that you’ve suffered through my Flickr photos it’s time to marvel at the cheap 30-second videos captured by my Canon S70 — actually this one got cut off at 7 seconds for some reason, so you can watch it four times!

Your typical Giza Plateau camel tour brings you to the Pyramids from the opposite side of the front gate, Lawrence of Arabia style — that was pretty cool, but to get there Ray and I had to ride our camels through some pretty dodgy slums, and despite my free and easy grin seen here in Ray’s backward-facing photo it added about an extra half hour of travel time both ways.

Since camels have been trained to kneel they’re far easier to mount and dismount than horses. But once the beasts are at full height there are no stirrups in which to plant your feet, so if the camel breaks into a trot one’s ball sack can lift a full six inches off the saddle then coming crashing down with each step.

Thus, Ray and I took it very slow on our ride to the Pyramids and back…