You can skip this part if you don't feel like reading the whole story about how I f*cked up :)
If you do, enjoy!
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Rule #1. Expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. And I’m definitely a testament to that. No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, miss your bus, get food poisoning... But the list of travel disasters on my way to Egypt seemed never-ending.
Long story short, holding a Belarusian passport comes with its surprises. As a rule, if you are traveling to Egypt as a tourist you can get a visa when you arrive at the airport. But I got refused entrance 2 times.
First I was denied boarding in Warsaw, as it turned out I was supposed to obtain a visa from an Egyptian Embassy prior to departure. I cried my eyes out as I gradually began to realize I was going to wave my friends goodbye at the airport and go back home. But I didn't. And this is the part of the story where I say thank you to the people I'm proud to call my friends, for not letting me suffer alone and for missing the flight all together :) The next step was to to calm down. We had to rationally figure out an alternative plan, put smiles on our faces and think of how this will make a great story one day.
We ran to the Egyptian embassy in Warsaw, understanding it was almost impossible to get a visa on Friday afternoon, but still hoping for the best. And surprisingly we got things sorted out. I was lucky to get a chance to talk to the Ambassador and explain how important it was for me to go to my best friend's wedding. And he kindly agreed to help me get a visa within a couple of hours! We still had to buy new tickets, stay in Poland for 2 extra nights, which resulted in spending more than we expected (see Rule #1), and instead of going from Warsaw to Cairo, as planned, we had to fly from Katowice to Hurghada. Fun fact: we also got abandoned by the bus driver on our way from Warsaw to Katowice.
But the only thing that really mattered was that 2 days late we finally landed in Egypt, thinking the worst was behind us. 'Nothing to worry about', I was thinking to myself, 'I have my visa, I see my friends passing the passport control and waving me from the other side. Everything's good, right?' ... - Wrong.
I almost got banned from entering the country. Again. As the airport was getting empty from the lines of tourists, I was told that I could only be traveling with a travel company, whose representative had to meet me at the airport. I also had to have a tour/hotel booked, so visiting a friend wasn't an option. I spent about an hour sitting all by myself, with neither further instructions or explanations given, nor internet connection to contact my friends. I ended up paying a guy to help me get through the customs.
well that was fun
The point here is: if you want to avoid hassle and the risk of being denied boarding and loosing money, double check everything! Especially if you're a happy holder of a Belarusian passport. Praemonitus, praemunitus, kids.
That's being said, let's move on to the happy part, where I finally set my foot on the land filled with religion, architecture, monuments, and visual and spiritual richness - Egypt.
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