Eqypt is a weird one for me because I had a great time with my friend, and I have heard great things from people I trust, but honestly, Cairo kind of sucks. Luxor is supposed to be great, Alexandria is supposed to be meh, Port Sayed is supposed to be meh, but the Nile River cruise is supposed to be cool too. So, it sounds like it is hit and miss, and given the government’s propensity for crushing dissent, it may be best to book a tour.
Layover in Cairo (If you can see other pyramids in Cairo then consider skipping Cairo, otherwise, come on a holiday like I did. I spent 12 hours here and it was perfect)
I lucked out in that I came on a Muslim holiday, and so the roads were pretty easy to get around in, and because of the turmoil in the Middle East, a slowdown in tourism meant little to no lines anywhere.
A few observations:
- Definitely, in a desert, I was coughing the whole time, and combined with people smoking anywhere and everywhere, it’s amazing these people don’t die from lung disease at the age of 20.
- Soooooo many people. Even with it being a holiday where many were inside, it was evident that there were people everywhere. I even had to ask where people parked because I never saw parking garages, but I saw cars everywhere. (the answer is that they park on the curb and double park on the streets).
- English is widely spoken, but the second they know you speak Arabic (as my friend does), they switch to that 100%, and half of them end up berating the U.S. over Israeli policy.
- It’s insanely cheap, even the taxis, which should be immune from currency exchange because of the universal price of gas, were dirt cheap. Reason being, gas is subsidized, so a trip that should have cost $30 was $10. I think I spent $100 the whole time I was there, and that includes taxi’s everywhere, admission into the Pyramids, tips to incessant strangers, food for two meals for two people, and four souvenirs.
Pictures from the trip:
Giza pyramids and European tourists, I didn’t see/overhear any American tourists.
My buddy and I from school, right here is 50% of my graduating class in the Humanities department. He lives in Cairo and is going to school at the American University. Pretty awesome having him show me around.
Can’t see it, but there is definitely a coke can in the exposed engine, and like 15 people in the van.
Apparently you don’t have to pay taxes on property that is unfinished. So, there are huge swathes of buildings that are unfinished, but still lived in. It seemed like 2/3 of the city was unfinished buildings like this.
Driving along the Nile river, there is a ton of vegetation on either side, and apartments bordering it on either side throughout Cairo.
Apparently this wall has been painted on, and white-washed over, contstantly since the overthrow of Husni Mubarak. If the government white-washes it there is often a new mural up the next day. The two-faced character is Mubarak and the head of the army who was overthrown not too long ago.
Tahrir Square, site of the protests that overthrew the Mubarak Regime
Street market. It is kind of off the beaten path and so I was the only Westerner on the street which was nice. Everything was ridiculously cheap.
View from where we ate dinner. It was a nice dinner, with an amazing view, and by far our most expensive meal. I’m pretty sure it was $20 for the two of us. For comparison, our lunch for 2, with drinks, and at a sit down restaurant, was $8.
Inside of a Mosque.
The courtyard of a mosque.
The courtyard of a Byzantine manor.