2 days in Cairo

May 1st, 2003, 05:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
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2 days in Cairo

I'm interested in planning a brief stop-over to Cairo in late August (I know -- it will be hot). I'm going to be travelling from Athens to Istanbul, and thought I might go via EgyptAir and stop in Cairo for a day or two to see the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum. Is this feasible in 1-2 days? Also, I'll be travelling alone, is it safe? Can anyone recommend a tour company that specializes in quick escorted day tours?

iumba is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 03:39 AM
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The safety issue in Cairo is not one of street crime - statistically risk is very low but traffic and scams. Traffic is the most terrifying thing I have ever seen - crossing the street is an adventure. As far as scams, this will be more of a concern - you can't just rely on picking a cab or tour guide and trust you will end up where you expect at the cost you negotiated. If you adopt a light attitude about it, it can be quite hilarious, but does not lend itself for trouble-free visiting of sites.

Sorry, don't know 1-2 day tour company. But Pyramids and Museum are certainly doable in 2 days - you will even have time to see a little more if you want. Get to Pyramids very early in AM (our tour got there at 6 AM) since they sell very limited number of "inside the pyramid" tickets per day and these are usually gone very early. It is worth it to enter the pyramid, walk the passage, and, if you are not claustrophobic, climb/crawl up to the burial chamber.
gail is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 05:15 AM
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We went to Cairo independently for 3 days last year.
Stayed at the Sheraton directly next to the Egyptian Museum. I would recommend it because of its location. Rooms well warn, but comfortable - we paid something like $15 extra to have a room with balcony on the Nile. Even if its too hot to sit on balcony, its interesting to look out the sliding balcony door and watch all the river traffic.

We simply asked at the hotel front desk for a tour guide to the pyramids. The price was agreed upon, they came and picked us up. I agree fully with Gail to go early because of fewer crowds and the HEAT.

Also, check the web for Egyptian Museum hours - they are closed one day of the week, and there are several holidays and sometimes strikes.

One last thing, we did also enlist the services of a taxi driver guide - he took us to the bazaar and the citadel - we had him for about 4 hours for $10! He was so good, we gave him $20.
You must hagle for everything - it gets to be fun after a while - a sport.

Enjoy! Cairo is a great city.
Queenie is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for the info. I'll definitely check out the Sheraton, it sounds like a great location. When you arranged for the guide at the hotel, was this on a group or just with yourselves? Do you remember how much you paid? How far in advance did you have to arrange this? Thanks
iumba is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 07:25 PM
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I was in Cairo a few years ago, also in the hot season. I recall a taxi driver who gave me a large chunk of ice to hold to my forehead. You can make arrangements once you are there for a good driver/guide. I agree with queenie, ask a good hotel for recommendations for guides and they will tell you what the cost should be. A good guide will keep the ever-present guys hawking statues away from you while you're trying to photograph the pyramids.

The Egyptain Museum is unlike any other - the art covers every inch of the walls to the ceiling. The guards there will ask you for cigarettes. Have a glass of mish-mish, it's apricot juice and very refreshing.
Clematis is offline  
May 2nd, 2003, 10:56 PM
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In regard to our pyramid tour, we arrived in Cairo in the evening and asked at the front desk immediately after we checked in. It was all arranged to begin early the next morning. I would imagine you would have no problem arranging this the day before as the tourist numbers will probably be low that time of year.

Anyway, I think we paid about $50 or $60 (for both) for the guide and transportation. It was just my husband and I. We were with the guide from about 7 am till about noon. That was enough for us.

The great thing about a guide is that he can keep the trinket hawkers away. This is worth the price alone. He also knew the 'best camel' for me to get my picture taken on. Hokey as can be, but a great memory.

You will also be submitted to going to his friends trinket shop. That was OK, we bought nothing but had a enlightening discussion over the Islamic religion with the guide and shop owner over apple tea - I think we all enjoyed it.

Two other thoughts: we ate at a restaurant called Arabesque which is 1 or 2 blocks behind the Sheraton. Fabulous food, service and decor. Very non-touristy. Recommended by our guide. The hotel desk can direct you - we just walked. I never felt unsafe there.

Also ate at the new Le Meridien which is about 1 mile from the Sheraton. Great mezzas. You sit directly next to the Nile - can practically stick your hand out the window and touch the water.

Finally, the Sheraton we stayed at was NOT the Ramses high rise. The Ramses is newer, I think, but is isolated in the midst of a traffic snarl and you cannot walk anywhere from there easily.

Have fun. Wish I were going back.
Queenie is offline  
May 3rd, 2003, 12:47 AM
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Do get your photo taken on a camel. But be prepared to offer several tips to camel owner. We paid a camel guy to let my 10 year old daughter sit on a camel. Then we tipped him when the camel stood up. Then we tipped him when he turned the camel to show his "good side". As I stowed my camera back in its bag, he started to walk the camel off into the desert. Then I tipped him to give my daughter back to me.

It was one of the funniest scenes of our trip.

We flew 6 flights on EgyptAir - it is a fine airline. I also wish I was going back.
gail is offline  
May 3rd, 2003, 05:44 AM
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This is great info. Now I'm more comfortable about going, and even more excited -- less than four months!
iumba is offline  
May 8th, 2003, 12:50 PM
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People seem to be getting mixed up between Sheratons and Hiltons. Next to Museum is Nile Hilton, Ramses is also Hilton. Nile Hilton is a little dated feel but a favourite amongst businessmen who are regular Cairo visiters - food is rated very highly there. Pool complex is very pleasant. Ramses is the pits of a location surrounded by motorways. Hideous hotel. Rooms are OKish but an associate who has to stay there every month says the food is crap.
Le Meridien is now the Royal Nile, with Meridien management being chucked out. Really nice hotel for room and lobby quality - only completed last year. Rooms much better than Marriott where I have also stayed (but have a drink there - really lovely gardens) Royal Nile has great pool opened in April and excellent health club facilities. Old Meridien tower still being renovated, but no noise, and shops very limited as new mall still to be completed. I paid about $95 in March (incl taxes) - definitely recommend. But food is a bit patchy (Indian restaurant very good) and service also a little patchy.
You can get guides from Amex - I was quoted $40 each person for private tour - bit over priced and I got my business associate's driver instead who paid a couple of dollars to each on site guide. For shopping, go to Arcadia for best shopping mall in Cairo (where middle classes go) near Conrad Hilton. Markets can be fun, but haggling can also be a hassle and if you go to Arcadia first, just to check out ball park figures and quality, so you know what you are haggling for. Restaurant - go to Abou el Sid, near Marriott. Hard to find entrance - just ask. Very popular with locals and expats.
Travelnick is offline  
May 8th, 2003, 05:50 PM
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We stayed at the Marriott and loved it. Great pool, excellent food, well-dressed Egyptians going to the casino and leaving the NEXT MORNING while we had breakfast!! The hotel will get you a guide and car, no problem. You will love Cairo!
Elainee is offline  
Jul 25th, 2003, 09:53 PM
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Cairo is really safe for women - but the HASSLE is huge and unrelenting in the heat. I recommend spend the money on a big city hotel with aircon, (Helnan Shepherd was lovely) they have certified tax drivers and our had a souped up car with aircon and a fridge in the boot!! he was great. Book ther car for the day, and have him drive you where you want to go... and wait at each site. 2 days is plenty for the pyramids and and museum. see the pyramids early - plan to be there at 7ish to get ticket into cheops, else be satisfied to just go in kefren... youll be out of there by 10ish - especially in august heat!! Egyptian museum aircon is unreliable and was stifling even in september... make that late arvo- id go in the arvo of second day - take a torch and camera - flash photos not allowed. ... perhaps midday go to the abdeen palace (BEST AIRCON IN CAIRO and free english speaking guides...) this is near khan el khalili (grand bazaar) must go to Fishawis for mint tea and a relax - its great!! Theres a great view from the top of the Nile Hilton that has to be seen to be believed - a coffee here at sunset is a must.
Second day maybe coptic cairo in the morning (hanging church and st george church and nunnery) and go to the mosques in the citadel - an oasis of calm in chaos of cairo. it will be VERY hot. carry heaps of drinks. evening the second day - after museum walk down through talaat harb along shopping precinct and soak up the atmosphere of cairo at night - very busy and alive and HAVE to visit the night souks. Eat from one of the many streetside outlets... its fantastic. wash any fruit in purified water before eating and take plenty of weater purifying tablets with you...

SAFEST if you wear long skirt and long sleeved shirt with head scarf as woman. not required, but prevents some hassle from men and also keeps smog out of hair and off your skin as well as protecting from sunburn.
PerthGirl is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 07:51 PM
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Perthgirl-very interesting. Great reading all this fantastic information.
pattysuericia is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 10:02 PM
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thanks patty
happy to give further advice info - just email me: [email protected]
PerthGirl is offline  
Aug 7th, 2003, 01:40 AM
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hi jumba, i think a day or 2 r not enough 2 enjoy all the beautiful places in cairo, but at least u will leave wishing 2 come back 2 egypt very soon
egy_prince is offline  
Aug 13th, 2003, 10:12 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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well said egy-prince!!
I spent 10 out of 21 and am nagging my partner to take a posting there for a year so i have some chance of getting to know this wonderful beautiful city and its people...
PerthGirl is offline  

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