We woke up in the morning planning to arrive at noon to Aqaba (130km), the largest Jordan port in Red Sea. We meant to go to Egypt.
Following the King’s Highway we drove through a deserted but beautiful route with fantastic view and little germination. 40km later the road met the Desert Highway (the desert’s road) and they both guided to Aqaba. From there and then the road condition was good, it was broader, but with lots of tracks and bumps (fortunately with warning signs).
About 10km before Aqaba we met the signs to “Ports” which were a little bit confusing at first, but then by following a small sign to “Ferry Station” we finally arrived to the port - frontier post. The passenger station and the waiting hall were really crowded… Some lay on the floor, other were sleeping, some were having lunch. Children were wandering all around. Black dressed women with covered faces (you could only see their eyes) were gathered in small groups. In the inside, cars were parked. It was really impressive how much landed with stuff they were!
We asked for information as far as the procedure was concerned which was:
- On the 1st floor we had our ticket with the local coasting lines which cost 84€/motorcycle & driver. We didn’t need to have exchange as there was a bank (branch office).
- On the ground floor we paid the Tax Departure 5 Dinars/person and 5 Dinars/person extra, for a stamp needed.
- On the 1st floor we had the passports checked and stamped (using the stamp we had bought).
- On the ground floor we had the πολύπτυχο stamped. In Jordan don’t cut the pages as they do in other countries.
When we finished with the procedure, we sat in the waiting hall to wait for the ship’s departure… but without knowing the departure time! It was scheduled for 3p.m but of course no one believed we would leave on time! While we were waiting some children who were playing beside us, found great joy with our helmets. They wore them and were wandering all around the hall with them on their head!!!
Time passed by and the ship didn’t appeared anywhere… it was already 6p.m and no one knew anything about it! We went outside just for a change! We met there Towati (pharmacist) and Sammi, two Libyans who were returning from the vacation in Syria. We tried talking with any English we knew. They were really friendly and sympathetic. We talked about travelling, our countries, their relationships and the time passed by really pleasant.
At about 7.30p.m there was an announcement - in Arabian - and there was a bustle. The gates opened and - finally - the embarking started. Some time later and without any particular check we were in the ship’s saloon. It was really crowded. Everyone was trying to find a seat. Some irritation was inevitable. Egyptians seemed the most “loud-mouthed” from any other nation we had met on our trip. We had to fill a card with our data and Egyptian Custom Employees stamped our passports. We had been provided a visa from Greece (31,5€/person).
We met again Towati and Sammi. They treated us juices. We thanked them for their kindness. We had the chance to take information for a potential trip to Libya. They were very pleased hearing about it! At 11p.m we arrived at Nuweiba. We faced once more the waiting and irritation that caused in many passengers. 40 minutes later we were on Egyptian ground… at last!!!
From that point we faced the Egyptian bureaucracy. If someone wants to have in Egypt a vehicle (with no Egyptian number plate) he has to take out one! Sure thing is that he won’t do it on his own because no one speaks English and nowhere the procedure is referred. The only solution is the Tourist Police of the port…
So when we arrived, we looked for the Tourist Police office. Finally a policeman found us - he was notified - and he took over helping us on the papers arrangement. The whole procedure cost 120€ for each motorcycle!!! As it was expected we didn’t understand which amount was for payment and which for procurement… With the friendly and sympathetic police officer going from office to office and us following behind, we finished in record time… 2 hours later!
We put the yellow Egyptian number plate on our motorcycle and we moved to the Custom Office exit. Time was getting to 2a.m in the morning. It was really late to travel to Saint Catherine and much more dangerous. Egyptians didn’t use lights on their vehicles at night!!! Sounds crazy, but its true!
So we chose the Nebetone Hotel (15$/double room) which was near the port exit. It was maybe the worst place we had chosen so far in our trip. We couldn’t do anything because tiredness didn’t leave us any choice.