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Night train or not to Night train? your thoughts...............

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Feb 3rd, 2012, 09:17 PM
  #1
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Night train or not to Night train? your thoughts...............

We are in the serious stages of an itinerary bending pre-Cairo, Nile Cruise and white desert trip.

We have locked in most of the 'must see' and 'must experience' (plus must do) we are, how should I say.....Discussing......... the transport from Cario to Luxor and on to Lake Nassar cruises.

Just a brief background, we are travelling with children and like independant travel - mostly. We have been in the 'will night train' frame of mind unitl recently. When a work collegue has just returned from Egypt with 'stories' from fellow travellers whilst she was touring the sights. Whilst our friend didn't 'night train it' she had heard from those who did and who said they wont go back and do it again.

Stories included the usual, watch out for your belongings (I think this is a general travel warning) to the unsanitory comments about facilities and food and general inconvenience of the train/timetable/logistics.

So please, those who have been and seen do respond....those who have had friends/family travel on the train do so also

.........and hey anyone else that wants to throw their comments into our family 'discussion' most welcome!!!
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Feb 4th, 2012, 11:14 AM
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Kidnapping of U.S. tourists is latest blow for Egypt ... of five people traveling from Saint Catherine’s monastery in central Sinai to the popular resort town of Sharm ...

http://www.theinset.com/2012/02/kidn...ts-latest-blow
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Feb 4th, 2012, 12:20 PM
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Have not been on the train, but with children - I would fly.

(Note: I lived in Egypt for 4 years with young children, starting at ages 8-9)
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Feb 4th, 2012, 01:27 PM
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The OP isn't going anywhere near Sharm or driving thru the Sinai, besides those kidnapped were quickly released. Egypt, is a large country and while incidents anywhere is of concern and can/do happen everywhere in the world, doesn't mean the rest of a country should be avoided.

As with travel anywhere these days people have to be aware.

For transit between Cairo and Aswan/Abu Simbel, especially with children, I'd fly!
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Feb 4th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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I would fly no doubt. Above post is making light of an entire country in severe trouble. To say "besides those kidnapped were quickly released" is crazy. Egypt today is different than many other frequently visited countries and the potential traveler needs to be an informed decision based on the current situation.
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Feb 4th, 2012, 04:19 PM
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We took the overnight sleeper train and loved it. It was much better for our family - had we taken a very early morning flight, one or two of them likely would have missed the flight. And we love train travel in general. That said, I wouldn't walk around barefoot, and the food was pretty bad (we brought our own).
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Feb 4th, 2012, 10:19 PM
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sf7307 - your critique of the train is right on in my opinion. I have taken it many times, and unless you are very hard to please, it's not bad. I don't even think the food is THAT bad, but it's true, you can easily visit a grocery store before catching the train and take your own if you want.
BUT - having said that - I would probably fly these days until things stabilize a bit more. Why? There are people in Middle and Upper Egypt, that seem to think sitting on the train tracks to disrupt train service is a good way to protest whatever the gripe d' jour is. This could mess up your schedule if they don't clear the tracks quickly and could be frightening as you wonder what is going on. Unfortunately, there is not a good speaker system on the train where announcements are made in English frequently, so you would be in the dark (so to speak) at this time, if it happened. To avoid this - fly this leg of the trip at this time.
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Feb 5th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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Good point, CC - you're pretty much a "sitting duck" on the train.

(As an aside, I slept like a baby on the train)
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Feb 5th, 2012, 10:19 PM
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sf - I think using the term "sitting duck" might be a "loaded term" that might frighten people. I actually don't think the people on the train are in danger - there is a chance, but more, you are in danger of having your schedule screwed up. I have not heard any stories (rumor or otherwise) of the people on the trains being robbed or anything else.
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Feb 5th, 2012, 10:22 PM
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In other words - it could be a MAJOR inconvenience and disconcerting because you probably won't know what is going on if it happens.
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Feb 6th, 2012, 01:14 PM
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The sleeper train will be a genuine Egyptian experience, the flight certainly won't be (you could have seen the inside of an Airbus or Boeing staying at home!).

No-one gets robbed on the sleeper train, that's an urban myth - or at least, no more of a real concern that your airline bags going misisng, or your hotel room being broken into. There HAS been disruption to all forms of transport due to the current strife, but then that's Egypt at the moment, unfortunately.

Kids will love bunk beds on a train, an you'll love putting the blind up next morning and seeing the Nile Valley sliding past. No airport stress, either.

I suspect people's reactions say more about the person doing the reacting than the train. Someone who expects the whole world to be westernised Hyatts, Sheratons, MacDonalds, American Airlines, tourist buses, may not be used to the realities of Africa or Asia. Those used to 'real' travel in those continents will find the Egyptian sleeper pretty good.
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Feb 6th, 2012, 10:13 PM
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thank you for the replies, I little bit mixed though. I suppose this echos our discussions on the train as well.

we are not the 'everything needs to hyatt' style of traveller but nor are we that flexible to have our time 'diverted' by train delays.

perhaps we could try for extra time off work so we have the time therefore we will not be so 'anxious' if we miss a tour or a connecting 'pick up'.....

might sleep on this (sorry that pun wasn't intended hahaha!)
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Feb 6th, 2012, 10:59 PM
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<>

I hardly think that's the case.

(Coming from someone currently living in Angola)
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Feb 7th, 2012, 12:30 AM
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<<(you could have seen the inside of an Airbus or Boeing staying at home!>>

You clearly have not seen the new(ish) Egypt Air Express. These are a line of planes from Brazil that are fabulous. The whole thing is outfitted with decent leg room and leather seats. Not a horrible way to spend an hour moving from one end of Egypt to the other.
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Feb 7th, 2012, 03:00 AM
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@Sandi- '... Were quickly released...' !!!?? Yes- everything is relative, and even spending the night in Homs may be an interesting & survivable local experience, but KIDNAPPING is, globally, a criminal act. My Egypt experience is thin (3-4 weeks over the last 2 yrs) but I've ridden the train (for seasoned emerging market travelers, BTW, not newbies with kids) and although we're generally safe enough in Egypt, these are difficult times and you WILL NOT know you are in trouble till its too late. Counting on a 'quick release' is hardly most traveler's picture of an enjoyable/educational vacation. Egypt will be there next year too.
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Feb 7th, 2012, 03:34 PM
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I like overnight train travel and took the train last December. We had locks on the door and ate the train food. However, this train did not run smoothly. It slammed and banged all night. And the bathrooms! Ok if you are not too sensitive about smells and are tall enough to squat over the toilet. Don't know how flexible your kids are or how old, but sanitation is what it is. And, of course, the train cabins are very small and you need to pack accordingly. Large suitcases will not fit and you can't leave them out! We watched people back in and then drag the suitcase in behind them. Which means, if u need to use the bathroom, u need to drag the suitcase back out...... yikes
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Feb 9th, 2012, 12:33 AM
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Excellent, Annergizer.... perfect description of reality, and it's not for everyone!
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Apr 17th, 2012, 04:22 PM
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Thanks Casual cairo and everyone for the inside scoop on the sleeper trains. I'm booked on a tour next week that uses the overnight train to Aswan so think I will bring food, drink, flash light (just in case?) and a good book....oh and always a smile. Is there a lounge area?
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Apr 17th, 2012, 10:09 PM
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MsLizzy - The Sleeper Train has a bar car. It is the place where they allow smoking on the train so it can be pretty awful with smoke and old men sitting around drinking tea and smoking cigarettes. It might also be full of students from abroad drinking and dancing. I've seen it both ways, and it can be fun or boring.
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Apr 18th, 2012, 02:54 PM
  #20
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I took the night train (sitting, not the sleeper) and I will never, never, never, never, never do that again.

Did I mention I will never do that again?

It was the train ride from hell and if you want details please click my name for my report.
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