Cairo

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    Jan 10, 2010 1:04 PM GMT
    I'll be traveling to Cairo next month for 5 days (as part of a bigger trip) and am hoping to get some advice on the city. Besides the big sites (Pyramids, Egyptian Museum, sailing on the Nile), does anyone have recommendations on other things to see/do? I could also use information on good places to eat and maybe get a drink.

    Thanks!
  • zakariahzol

    Posts: 2241

    Jan 10, 2010 1:48 PM GMT
    How about those famed belly dancing girls. BTW, I am envious of you. Somebody try to organize the trip last year, but it was cancel
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    Jan 10, 2010 3:18 PM GMT
    You might also want to visit Coptic Cairo, which is quite interesting.
  • owen19832006

    Posts: 1035

    Jan 10, 2010 4:21 PM GMT
    Bellydancers are a must!
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    Jan 10, 2010 4:28 PM GMT
    Don't keep anything valuable in your pockets and avoid the street urchins. DO NOT GIVE THEM ANYTHING or they will swarm you every time you leave your hotel. I'd try getting a money belt you can keep up around or just below your chest, and a wrist strap for spending money. Anything you want to keep should be kept in your front pockets. In your hotel, keep ALL of your valuables in the hotel safe. iPod, camera, wallet, AND YOUR PASSPORT!!!

    Don't wear fancy clothes. Old and beat up are good, and don't wear sneakers. Try and blend in some, if you can. Keep a slim camera with you that you can sort of hide a little or entirely.

    Finally, if you go to any of the markets, most of the stuff is junk, and absolutely don't be afraid to haggle. It's expected, and negotiate tough. Don't be afraid to walk away from a vendor, and if you aren't interested, don't make eye contact with any of them. Just keep walking. The kids that will be all around you are generally thieves and pick-pockets, so just keep that in mind. If you go to market, keep some money in your front pocket or in a wrist strap or something where you'll clearly notice someone trying to pick-pocket you.

    The middle east in general is a very, very different culture. Be sensitive to that, don't make waves, and don't stand out. Do not under any circumstances get drunk. Remember, Egypt is largely Islamic, and alcohol is a big no-one culturally, although it is available. Your hotel is probably the best place to drink.

    And have fun.
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    Jan 10, 2010 4:40 PM GMT
    These are daytime only

    Khan El Khalili bazaar, you may hear it referred to as “the Khan”
    City of the Dead
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    Jan 10, 2010 5:13 PM GMT
    jimbobthedevil saidDon't keep anything valuable in your pockets and avoid the street urchins. DO NOT GIVE THEM ANYTHING or they will swarm you every time you leave your hotel. I'd try getting a money belt you can keep up around or just below your chest, and a wrist strap for spending money. Anything you want to keep should be kept in your front pockets. In your hotel, keep ALL of your valuables in the hotel safe. iPod, camera, wallet, AND YOUR PASSPORT!!!

    Don't wear fancy clothes. Old and beat up are good, and don't wear sneakers. Try and blend in some, if you can. Keep a slim camera with you that you can sort of hide a little or entirely.

    Finally, if you go to any of the markets, most of the stuff is junk, and absolutely don't be afraid to haggle. It's expected, and negotiate tough. Don't be afraid to walk away from a vendor, and if you aren't interested, don't make eye contact with any of them. Just keep walking. The kids that will be all around you are generally thieves and pick-pockets, so just keep that in mind. If you go to market, keep some money in your front pocket or in a wrist strap or something where you'll clearly notice someone trying to pick-pocket you.

    The middle east in general is a very, very different culture. Be sensitive to that, don't make waves, and don't stand out. Do not under any circumstances get drunk. Remember, Egypt is largely Islamic, and alcohol is a big no-one culturally, although it is available. Your hotel is probably the best place to drink.

    And have fun.

    I met a really nice local guy who escorted me shopping when I went to Khan el Khalili. He was able to help me find all the really good quality items at the best prices and he kept me from getting totally swindled because I was 23 and still am terrible at bartering. He took me through the bazaar all day for $5 US dollars (over 10 years ago)... I ended up giving him $20 because I was so happy to have had his help. He also kept me from getting what I'm sure would have been abducted when I was being forcibly ushered by a group of men out of public. Integrity and honor were really big deals for Islamic men when I was there, there were a few occasions that I was literally stunned by the kindnesses extended to me... but then again there were some really shiesty freaks too... the above advice is golden. Be careful.
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    Jan 10, 2010 5:24 PM GMT
    ... and if you make any day trips better to go with small groups. Stay away from large tour bus setting where you are with a gaggle of tourists. The tour buses scream "target" for people who want to take advantage of you as well as for fundamentalists. It's safer than it was in the 90s but not totally so. There was a horrible massacre the day after my friends and I were visiting the temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_1997_Luxor_massacre
    We rented a car and driver to get us to Luxor from where we floated up the Nile, we were driving among the large tour buses and could hear sniper fire as we drove. Be mindful and I'm sure you'll be fine just be aware that it can be dangerous... I would go back in a heartbeat, Egypt is fabulous!
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    Jan 10, 2010 5:39 PM GMT
    There are plenty of places to drink and go clubbing in Egypt, you just have to know where to look.

    This link should is handy: http://www.yallabina.com/Outing/OutingSearchResult.aspx?CHID=0&CHN=&AID=0&Vname==&FID=0&Typ=4&AN=Select&FN=Select&CityId=1

    It has all the food & drink spots (and nightlife clubbing) spots you might be interested in and you can search by different location and different categories like whether they serve alcohol, have live music, outdoor areas, require formal dress, etc.

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    Jan 10, 2010 11:42 PM GMT
    Thanks for the advice, guys. I've visited Turkey and Morocco and have seen belly dancing. I don't plan on shopping (can't think of what I'd want anyway), but am generally good at bargaining.

    Any thoughts on local travel? Are taxis really the best means of getting around?
  • tbalsamo

    Posts: 11

    Jan 10, 2010 11:49 PM GMT
    Having been to Cairo twice for a 3 weeks each time-- the touristy stuff is generally a waste of time. Some of the mosques are interesting, and the pyramids are worth seeing, but odds are, if you *think* you are seeing something authentic, you likely aren't.

    Alexandria makes a fun day trip though (very historic city), you can skip Sharm though.

    Taxis are definitely the only way to get around; don't even think about taking buses.

    If you need a great restaurant-- try La Bodega in Zamalek, Tabouleh in Garden City, or any of the restaurants in the Semiramis Intercontinental or the new Four Seasons. Prices are very reasonable.

    Have a great trip!
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    Jan 15, 2010 5:02 AM GMT
    I'm spending 3 days there in March --- would be curious to see how things go?
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    Jan 16, 2010 5:31 PM GMT
    Drop me a line before you go and I'll tell you about my trip.
  • Parthenope

    Posts: 6

    Jan 20, 2010 7:17 AM GMT
    I was there in 2004, and one of my biggest recommendations is to dress conservatively (pants-not shorts, long-sleeve shirts-or at least not tank-tops or anything that exposes the shoulders). For one, you will not stand out as much, but it is also more respectful (and in some cases required) for certain areas (like mosques).

    Taxis are the way to go if you are not being escorted by a tour (I was lucky enough to have a private guide, car, and driver in Cairo).

    Everyone else's advice is pretty sound. Be as cautious there as in any other metropolitan city (as in America, Europe, Asia, or Africa), but not necessarily moreso. I actually had more problems with thieves in Rome, Italy than in Egypt. Just remember that Cairo is a huge city with a very dense population!

    Oh yes, and get used to constant "security checks" like at the airports (usually in the form of metal detectors/quick baggage check) -- most of the high end hotels require them at the front door for all people entering. Once you get used to that, it really is not that bad and it goes rather quickly.

    Hope that helps! I loved Egypt. icon_biggrin.gif