One of the beach resort towns in Egypt, Hurghada, has signs posted everywhere for the Hard Rock café. After a couple of days in the town, I got a taste for some French toast, but I was told the cafe was far away and expensive. I listened to these people; that's the reason for this story.
I hopped in a taxi – a blue and white rounded mini-van. The driver let me out in the "downtown" area, which is where I thought I would find this café of golden pancakes. No luck; there were only markets. So I went to find another taxi. "Hard Rock Café," I said. "Do you know where it is?" "Hard," he replied. "Yes, Hard Rock Café. Do you know about it?" "Hard. Hard rock? Rock," he questioned me bewilderedly. Gosh, I wanted those pancakes – desperately. I offered the only direction listed beneath the café signs, but I was getting nowhere.
A large Egyptian man walking by asked me if I wanted to go to the Hard Rock Café. When I replied yes, he told me to follow him because there was a cheaper way to get there. I found out later the cheaper way included the route to his store. We stopped in his jewelry shop where he makes everything himself and from where he supplies jewelry to other stones in town. He showed me a piece of amethyst from which he cuts stones.
"Yes," I said, "but how do I get to the café?"
"Tea, do you want some welcome tea?"
"Nooo, I really want to get to the café?"
"You must have tea. Have you tried hibiscus tea?"
I had. It's red tea and it doesn't taste good.
"There's another tea."
Before I realized what was happening, he signaled for a man across the street to bring me my welcome tea, an Egyptian tradition. I was stuck. The tea was so hot, I couldn't drink it. So we talked for a while. I found out he traveled all over – an international businessman – comes to Hurghada only for visits.
"I have perfume, too," he told me and reached for a bottle. "Egyptian kind," apparently more natural than the European kind. He insisted I try some, and suggested I put a little on the large pimple in the center of my forehead, that it would make it disappear. At that point, I responded no. I asked him how to get to the café. He gave directions to find a bus.
The bus was not a bus, but another taxi. The driver didn't know where he was going. Periodically, he asked random people on the street for directions.
Finally, he said, "Aaahh. The Hard Rock Café. That's where you want to go, right?"
"Yes," I sighed.
With a new determination, he sped off. We soon found ourselves on a highway surrounded by desert. I was getting worried. What would happen if I opened the door and rolled out? Shortly, though, I could see buildings. We stopped. The driver walked over to the military police. I got out; my driver gave me the "I know what I'm doing" look. When my driver returned, he drove me past a string of inns until I saw the The Hard Rock Café.
I walked in. The manager informed me it would open in half an hour, and only for lunch – no golden pancakes. Not a problem because I wandered towards the hotel strip and ended in a glass boat. It went out to the Red Sea, in the warm Egyptian sunshine, which was worth the $10.00 US to see the beautiful sea and colored coral. The icing on the cake was when the boat stopped in shallow water. All the passengers got out; we were allowed to play in the water. It was actually an underwater island that became deep almost immediately. I had a great time.
This started with a trip to the Hard Rock – too expensive and far – just as the guy at the accommodation place had said.