S M F G · A Counter-Clockwise Trip Around The World

The Israeli stamp stigma, part 1

Nov 18th 2008

The Egyptian border, early morning

The Egyptian border, early morning

Unsurprisingly enough, it was Sinai! I’m writing this while sitting in a bedouin-like restaurant, after having what without any doubt I can define the worst cappuccino ever — see picture for a visual hint.

Getting here was not without effort, though, because having the plan that I have — more about this later — I necessarily had to avoid the infamous Israeli stamp. So here is my attempt.

My first camel, just out of the police station

My first camel, just out of the border police station

First, I checked carefully the Italian Foreign Affairs website and all the web that I could for the possibility for Italians to enter Egypt with the sole Identity Card and a couple of passport-sized pictures.

After a night trip on bus from Tel Aviv — how, oh how I miss the Turkish buses! This one didn’t have a reclining seat, let alone waiters bringing tea or snacks — without sleeping at all I arrived around 5AM at Eilat, just to discover that the first bus to the border is at 8AM! There were no other tourists going to Egypt, so I had to take a taxi by myself: me no happy. And at the border, surprise! You are asked by the Israeli government to pay a tax of over 80NIS (the bus ticket was 67NIS)! Me less than happy.

Eventually, the blue

Eventually, the blue

The good news is that the Israelis, kindly requested by me, didn’t stamp my passport. So far so good.

At the Egyptian border, all a different story: first of all, the first policeman I met didn’t accept my ID card, and I had to use the passport, but he didn’t stamp it. Then, at the metal detector control, the second policeman found my new brush-pen very attractive, and he said “this for me? Present?” and I had to give it to him. Damn baksheesh!

I managed to reach the big boss at the stamping point, and when I asked him to not have the passport stamped he put on a not-happy-face, for so to speak, and I started to sweat. Then I told him “I’m Italian, I have an ID card” and he accepted it. I gave him my picture (I left Italy with 20 passport-sized photos, ten with beard and ten without) and after filling quite a few forms I had my 14 days visa on a beautiful separated paper, with my passport still untouched. Me happy.

Relaxing on the sea shore restaurant

Relaxing on the sea shore restaurant

Of course, something spoiled a bit my happiness: after discovering that the first bus is at 9AM, I fought to get rid of the taxi drivers (like sharks) trying to get me everywhere for impossible prices. I said “too much, I can stay at the hotel two more days for that price” and started waiting for the bus. After an hour or so, a guy came out of the bus station saying that the 9AM bus was broken. True or not, I surrendered and shared the taxi with other people for 40 pounds.

The worst <em>cappuccino</em> ever. Notice the foam, probably made with fish-glue

The worst cappuccino ever. Notice the foam, probably made with fish-glue

Anyway, a good surprise always know when to show up, and mine was another tax, Egyptian this time, for entering Sinai. 63 goddam pounds. Pay and shut up, we say in Italy.

But eventually I settled in a crap camping-like hotel, and enjoyed the beach and sun!

More about Egyptian habits on next post. Be patient :-)

This post is filed under Africa, Asia, Egypt, Israel and tagged , , , , , .

21 Responses

  1. Ally says:

    whatever the language, the blog is interesting…
    I was talking about your experience and trip to some friends and they started talking about writing a book… I answered that this blog is your book, however the book idea could be a good one. Have you ever seen a couchsurfer travel book or guide?
    I’ll leave it to you.

    Here Very cold and some snow! and Gabi did a superb Tiramisu’ :-))

  2. cam says:


  3. pt says:

    Beer? Where do you think you are? In Bavaria? Why not a pork sausage with the beer? :-)

  4. cam says:


  5. Matta says:

    I was far from my PC only 4 days and the blog is changig, more people is writing in italian, if we swith in french?
    Your trip is changing too, more adventure … nasty and corrupt people, it seems to be in a yellow spy book …

  6. pt says:

    The subject is as simple as that: if you write in a language (Italian, French, or Venetian for that matter) people who know that language can read you. People who don’t cannot.

    And as of me, you can write in whatever tongue you like—including obscure and dead ones—because I am most likely to find someone who knows it :-)

  7. cam says:

    vecio quando xe che te torni casa che se bevemo un’ombra soto al portego?
    me sà che fa’so prima a vegnar mi a catarte col me ceo e a femena.

  8. mamma says:

    Mi sa che non tutti capiranno l’ultimo messaggio di Cam.
    Probabilmente era adatto al contesto sottilmente nostalgico.

  9. Ally says:

    Come back for Christmas!!!
    and then fly away again…

  10. simone.tomassini says:

    Scusa la domanda forse ingenua… ma che problema c’è ad avere un timbro Israeliano sul passaporto?

    • pt says:

      Ahimè, purtroppo problemi ci sono, eccome! Tanto per cominciare Israele è ufficialmente ancora in guerra con i suoi vicini, dato che un trattato di pace esiste solo con Giordania ed Egitto. Di conseguenza, molte nazioni arabe — con particolare riferimento a Siria e Libano, ma anche Sudan, Libia e altri — non permettono l’entrata nel loro territorio a persone di cui abbiano il sospetto che siano stati in Israele.

      Questo vale anche per passaporti timbrati nelle città di confine, come nel mio caso Taba in Egitto.

      Qui trovi un po’ di info.

      Ciao ciao, ci vediamo da qualche parte nel mondo :-)

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