Friday, July 19, 2013

Cairo, Egypt

Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to visit Egypt. More or less. We expected the protesting and violence to erupt on June 30 and saw a window to take a trip to Cairo in the middle of June. And now that the people have been heard and a new, secular government is in control, it's safe for tourists to start returning. The hotel rates are really cheap and the people are very friendly towards tourists. It's strongly advised that you hire a guide to take you around the pyramids and Cairo for a couple of reasons. (1) Driving in Cairo is insane, (2) A guide can negotiate fair prices on your behalf, (3) A guide can help shield you from over aggressive panhandlers, and (4) you'll learn a lot more about Egypt's past, present, and future.

The guide we hired was simply amazing. Walid was an Egyptologist and held a second degree in English Literature. He was so informative and spoke in a way that was entertaining. Our driver didn't speak much, but did a good job navigating through all the traffic. On our first night in Cairo, our guide took us to a laser light show at the pyramids. It was a little touristy, but was a good introduction to Egypt. On the second day we went to the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Museum, downtown Cairo, had lunch on the Nile, and did a little shopping at an art gallery and perfumery.

Now here's the nitty gritty of Cairo. It's crazy. Cars are elaborately decorated, smoking is permitted everywhere (including the airport), traffic lanes are non existent, buildings are all left unfinished in an effort to avoid paying property taxes, trash litters the streets and is pushed into the canals, and 18 million people live in a very dense area with few jobs and a scarcity of water. Cairo is chaos exemplified and we loved every minute of the adventure.

Fun Fact: Georges-Eugene Haussmann was the City Planner that redesigned Paris in the 1860's under the direction of Napoleon III and was also the City Planner that designed downtown Cairo. The similarities in street design and building architecture are astounding.


No comments:

Post a Comment