Just before I describe our adventures in Egypt, I will share with you some advices we have read in Lonely Planet guide and we have experienced personally. I am not saying that everybody behaves like that, but unfortunately those situations (listed below) are happening in bigger cities and at the tourist attraction’ spots more and more often
So, BEWARE of
- · Bogus guides who use their ingenuity to direct you to the place they want to…
- · Scams: off-duty guides who just want to help you and chat a bit as they only want to improve their English
- · Some people insists that some museums or other attractions are closed due to conference or whatever, but they can show you a good place, which is open (very often it would be a shop or market)
- · If you are driving on your own, you will be told that you can go there as you need a permit, which is difficult to get and very expensive (so you need to use their mode of transport)
- · For women and girls: unwanted attention – unfortunately, the more covered by cloths I was the more attractive I was for local men …
Cairo is one of the most densely populated capital cities in the world. The crowds in these city footpaths make Manhattan look like a ghost town…Lot of people everywhere. We were hounded by papyrus or different souvenir sellers at every turn. Negations with local people became something normal. Even though we were bewared of dishonest and annoying people we still managed to get deceived. We got cheated in classical way at the gate to the National Museum. We got told by some guy that Museum and the main entrance was closed because of Public Holiday or something like that, but we might got lucky and we could try go round to the second “back “gate, where small market with souvenirs was located. We knew that we should not believe in everything what Egyptians are saying, but somehow we did exactly what the guy said and we were insolently misled. Anyway, we came back to the main entrance and we got in, and finally we never argued with the bogus guide as I guess we were too tired for that.
National Museum – We paid 30 Egyptian Pounds (around 4 USD) /person using our International Student ID. The Museum is like treasury. Lots, lots of interesting valuable exhibits, sculptures, monuments sometimes covered by dust and often giving an impression of being in Indiana Jones movie. On the other hand, the museum is old, chaotic, label-less and lack-lustrate in its display of treasures, which caused that after an hour of exploring the visit was getting boring and tiring. Air-con was available only in two or three rooms. Even if we found many drawbacks of Egyptian Museum I guess it was worthy to go. In our opinion the most spectacular exhibit was the magnificent golden treasures of Tutankhamen’s Tomb. Note: you are not allowed taking photos inside!!! Actually, you even CANNOT take camera with you – you need to deposit your equipment at the deposit box at the entrance!
We didn’t want to spend lots of time in Cairo as it was too hot for us, but we managed to discover that the city suffers from high levels of pollutions and traffic. We saw plenty of crushed cars, we attended in many traffic jams,– we even managed to have little car incident with a donkey(!). Poor little thing didn’t want to stand in a massive traffic jam and decided to bump into our Rusty.
A short video of driving in Cairo
We also passed through Tahrir Square – the focal point of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, and we saw burnt and abandoned TV building.
We also had opportunity to see Cairo Metro – one of only two metros on African continent. (As a curiosity: ladies have separate metro carriages – no men allowed!) Instead of unnecessary description, see video below🙂
As a lovely way to enjoy Cairo we took a ride on felucca (traditional Nile Sailing vessel). It was seriously worth it – We paid for 2 of us about 60 Egyptian Pounds and we had amazing and peaceful about two hours on the Nile River.
Short video of our cruise:P
With reference to food – When we finally entered Egypt, the Ramadan just started (Ramadan: it is a month of fasting from dawn until sunset; Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids including water and smoking). Due to fasting time, we didn’t want to eat in front of starving all day people. Half of the shops and restaurants were open, but it was so weird to eat among people who were not allowed to. When we were eating or drinking we were trying to hide somewhere, however once we were so exhausted that about one hour before sunset we went to PAPA JONES for a pizza. Of course the place was empty, no customers, only two people behind the counter. The waitress asked us to choose a table and after about 20 minutes she brought us fresh, crispy and delicious pizza! (Still remember that taste). It was a nice treat – freshly made pizza just for us. When we were about to leave, we noticed that sun was going down and we saw plenty of people coming and… coming inside the PAPA JONES restaurant. Finally, they could eat after long, extremely hot day.
In terms accommodation – Well, we mostly slept on the streets – We looking for some bays and we were parking there. It was loud, but no one really cared about us. We were feeling almost like invisible.
This is not the last info from us about Cairo – we will be mentioning about the city in other posts as well as we were passing Cairo at least 4 times 🙂🙂