Great OAT Trip to Egypt

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Oct 10th, 2005, 01:20 PM
  #1
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Great OAT Trip to Egypt

I just returned to the office today after a 2-week OAT trip to Egypt. (I left September 24.) The trip was tremendously enjoyable, particularly the cruise, for which OAT is to be commended. The ship, the River Hathor, is owned by OAT and used exclusively by the company, and it's great ... both the facilities and the staff, and the food was outrageously good. This is the first guided tour I've ever taken, and I approached it with a bit of apprehension since I usually like to plan everything myself and make all my own choices. However, in a country like Egypt, where organizing things can be a hassle and where there is just so much to see, I appreciated the care with which the itinerary was constructed. I especially appreciated Rita, our energetic, thoughtful, and excellent tour guide. She went above and beyond the call of duty on several occasions.

You don't have to go to Egypt with OAT, but you should do Egypt.

I'm still catching up on work, but I'd be happy to address any specific issues you might have about Egypt ... to the extent that I can ... as well as any specific questions you might have if you're leaving on an OAT Egypt tour any time soon. And look for my "Just Back From Egypt" report soon as well.
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Oct 11th, 2005, 02:35 PM
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Eagerly awaiting...
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Oct 11th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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Ditto.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 06:18 AM
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Can't wait for your trip report, Doug. We recently returned as well -- Sept. 19th, and LOVED Egypt. Would absolutely go again.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 06:27 AM
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Looking forward to your report, and I agree, Egypt is an incredible destination, but I disagree insofar as you imply that independent travel is more difficult there than elsewhere. I have visited Egypt three times (twice on holiday and once on business) and I find the facilities, infrastructure, transport, etc. generally excellent and tourist-friendly.

But if a tour makes Egypt more attractive for some visitors, then by all means join a tour, but its also easy to visit independently.

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Oct 12th, 2005, 09:38 AM
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We leave for the OAT Jordan and Egypt trip on November 6 and look forward to experiencing the tours.

Let me ask you, Doug, one specific question. This has my husband and I (who have traveled world wide numerous times) bugged. We will be traveling with OAT for the first time, and their paperwork says "Duffle bags or softsided luggage only". Now my question is - did you have anyone on your group have wheeled luggage, but "soft" luggage - in other words, wheeled luggage but just not hardsided Samsonite luggage? We own about 18 suitcases, to cover all sorts of trips. We have softsided Tumi with wheels, but the edges and corners inside have that hard ridged plastic. I was wondering what luggage others on your trip showed up with.
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Oct 12th, 2005, 11:16 AM
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I've used my wheeled "Samsonite" soft sided luggage on 3 OAT trips, including Egypt. No problems. I think it's harder for OAT to transport hardsided luggage. Just a note--6 people out of 31 (2 groups) had their luggage lost anywhere from 3-14 days so pack accordingly.
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Oct 13th, 2005, 08:11 AM
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KP,
thanks so much. I plan on taking only carry on baggage, but was thinking a smalled wheeled duffle might be good, but now that I know the options are wider, that will help a lot.
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Oct 14th, 2005, 07:10 AM
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Everyone on our trip had wheeled luggage. The weight limits were never a problem, and I know some of the luggage grew to more than 44 pounds. I carried everything on when I went over (no one lost anything on our trip), but I checked everything on the internal flights and had no problems, nor did anyone on either of the two OAT groups. However, another friend who went over on Air France concurrently with us (but not with the OAT group) still hasn't seen his luggage from the trip over, and we've all been back home a week now.

On a different note, I would also like to say something about getting sick on the trip. All but 3 people in our group had intestinal bugs sometime during the trip. We all went over laden with antibiotics from home, but Egyptian pharmacists can prescribe drugs, which are incredibly cheap (and carry major-label names). If you take something at the first sign of diarrhea, you'll feel better within 2 or 3 hours and will be totally back to normal in 2 days. The key is acting immediately and not waiting around to see if you will feel better without drugs. My friend made that mistake and had to take almost 2 full days off to recuperate because of dehydration.
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Oct 14th, 2005, 07:44 AM
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Doug, please don't be offended by this question, but did you or Fodor's pay for the trip, or was it provided free by OAT?
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Oct 14th, 2005, 07:53 AM
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Doug,
Thanks so much for answering the luggage question! That is a huge help. Re getting sick on the trip, of course we have the Cipro as usual, but I was reading last night that one should drink a minimum of 3 liters of water daily. That won't be a problem for me as I usually drink a gallon a day at home, and more when I travel...but I know I am going to be shoving water bottles at my husband constantly.
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Oct 14th, 2005, 09:02 AM
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Now I'm confused about the luggage. You only took a carryon size for the whole trip? I was not planning on anything huge, but I can't imagine getting it in just a carryon.
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Oct 16th, 2005, 04:54 PM
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Let me first clarify about the luggage. I took a 20-inch wheeled suitcase and a small backpack. My suitcase expands, and that took care of all the stuff I bought. I have to say that I travel very light, so my style of packing isn't going to suit everyone, so I don't expect that everyone else will pack the same way. In fact, most people on the tour didn't pack nearly as light as I did.

thit_cho asked whether I paid for this trip or if Fodor's paid. It was my vacation, so I paid. I wish Fodor's would pay for my vacations, but the truth is that they pay for very little of our travel, just occasional trips that might be taken only for work reasons.

The water didn't present any problems to us. Our driver always had bottles of water in a cooler in the bus, and we'd buy 2 bottles for $1. I drank more water on this trip than I've ever drank in such a short amount of time, and that's very important. Even when it's not terribly hot, it is really dry, and you get dehydrated then even though you're not sweating very much. One of our group took those little things of Crystal Lite, and she put that in her water to encourage herself to drink more. That's not a bad idea either. Or you could take those little packages of powdered Gator Aid if you don't like the chemical taste of Crystal Lite.
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Oct 20th, 2005, 07:52 AM
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Doug, We're going to Egypt with OAT at the end of December. Supposedly, we have 1.5 free days in Cairo. I have a connection with the Egyptian Dept. of Antiquities, so I'm hoping to do something unusual during part of that "free" time, as well as seeing some of the Cairo sights. We're not going to do Spiritual Cairo with our guide; we want to move around differently. Did you actually have free time in Cairo, and, if so, how much? Did you use your free time before the Egyptian museum visit and before the home-hosted meal? Any suggestions. Thanks.
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Oct 21st, 2005, 05:24 AM
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Dear Doug, Yes it's me I found that it's a great opportunity to thank you for your nice words about me, my country and about your trip with OAT .It's true that it was a great trip. Now allow me to highlight some points to the travelers. It's true that you can visit Egypt on your own but through an organized trip will be much better as you can find some difficulties in booking especially during the high season.
As a 17 years experience trip leader & free lance which means that I work with many different agencies , But in this trip we don't waste a chance to make you discover the real Egypt through our eyes, specially that our groups are no more than 16 pax.
The other advice I would like to give the travelers is when you come don't expect a copy of your home, open your eyes the word is beautiful, thanks for all who chose Egypt as a destination you will love it. Thank you Doug hope to see you all again.
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Oct 24th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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Let me answer NDesco's question about the free time in Cairo. If you don't take the optional Spiritual Cairo tour, you will have an entirely free day, and you can use that as you please (everyone in our group took the optional tour, so I can't give you any feedback on what you might be able to do). You'd have the entire day, and there's plenty to see in Cairo, so I'm sure you won't have trouble filling your time. Since you're staying at the Mena House, that does limit your options a bit because of the distance into Cairo (my only slight problem with the Mena House, which was otherwise lovely). We didn't really have much free time either before the home-hosted visit or before the Egyptian Museum, so don't count on that---in any case, it's not enough time to get out of the hotel because it's an hour into Cairo from the Mena House no matter how you look at it. Traffic in Cairo is, to put it mildly, frantic; it always seems to be rush hour. We left pretty early (about 9:30 am) for the Egyptian Museum visit, but that might have been because there was an event near the airport that snarled traffic all over Cairo that day. You do have a few free hours in Cairo after you return from Luxor, but you're then at the Movenpick Heliopolis, which is equally distant from the city. A lot of people from our group went to a nearby upscale mall and enjoyed the visit.
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Oct 24th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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Do you know how prices were in the upscale mall as compared to an upscale mall in the US?
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Oct 24th, 2005, 03:37 PM
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We also enjoyed the OAT tour of Egypt with extension to Jordan last spring. I can speak to the free time issue because my husband and I took time off from the tour to do our own thing. On the day of the optional spiritual tour, we chose to have Debbie Senters (Casualcairodetours.pyramids.net) take us on the train to Alexandria for the day, which we enjoyed immensely. We had to miss the home-hosted dinner due to getting home too late. Then, on the afternoon of our return from the upper Nile, we hired a driver from the Heliopolis Movenpick to take us to the Mohammed Ali Mosque in the Citadel, the Ibn Toulin Mosque and nearby Gayer-Anderson House, and the Hassan Mosque. From there we went on to Coptic Cairo to see the Hanging Church and the church where the Holy Family stayed as well as other Christian and Jewish sights. On the following day before our flight to Jordan, we had another driver take us to Khan Al-Khalili Baazar for shopping on our own and tea and sheesa pipe at Fishawis. Each driver spoke English,was informative, and went out of his way to make sure we got where we wanted to go. With a driver and car waiting outside to take us to the next place, we were able to cover a lot of ground. These excursions with just the two of us gave us a different experience than we would have had with the group, though we saw the same places as in the optional tour plus a few more. It was an opportunity to interact with Egyptians as individuals rather than as part of a group. It was Friday and the Citadel and mosques were crowded with Egyptians--we saw no tour groups and few Westerners. At one point, I felt like the Pied Piper being followed by giggling children wanting to practice English. Several Egyptian families came up to us and wanted their picture taken with us(?!) Another thing: riding around Cairo in a car (vs a minibus) is a little hair-raising, but not-to-be-missed! Note: If you don't take the Jordan Extension, it would be possible to do the Khan Al-Khalili on the same day as the mosques and Coptic Cairo if you just went to the Mohammed Ali Mosque and the Citadel and skipped the other two.
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Oct 26th, 2005, 12:02 PM
  #19
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Bravo, MariaL. I think sounds like a great way to maximize your experiences without making too many compromises. It's a shame you missed the home-hosted dinner, but I think you got to interact a lot more with Egyptians than we did at just one dinner.

About the mall, reports were that you don't really get a break on imported luxury goods in Egypt, so if you're looking for a Coach bag, you won't find a huge discount. Prices were not so much different than at home. But many things are still cheap by our standards.
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Oct 26th, 2005, 04:39 PM
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I too had been on the OAT trip and enjoyed it. I agree that you may not want to go with OAT but you should go. Egypt is just an amazingly beautiful country and anyone who is considering and having second thoughts about going should really give it a shot... I was completely blown away. One of the highlight for me is the Nile cruise, those who are going on OAT this is your "vacation within the vacation" as the pace in the beginning can get hectic but when you get on the ship you will get that break you want. Those who are doing it on their own, a cruise in the Nile is not to be missed. I could go on and on but I think pictures are worth more words than I can describe so I am sharing my collection of Egypt still and scenery pictures (on webshots.com) so you can see how beautiful Egypt really is. Note that there are 7 folders on Egypt from the Album List. For those travelling on OAT you will see some photos of the hotels and also the cruise ship too.. Here's the link and enjoy: http://community.webshots.com/album/476659084UCYudV
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