OAT EGYPT

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May 17th, 2006, 05:59 AM
  #1
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OAT EGYPT

We are looking at the Overseas Adventure Travel trip to Egypt. They offer 2 options:
Option 1
3 nights aboard ship (Luxor to Aswan)
5 nights Cairo (2 Mena House &
3 Le Meridian)
3 nights New Cataract Aswan

Option 2
4 nights aboard ship (Aswan to Luxor)
4 nights Cairo ( 3 Mena House &
1 Movenpick Heliopolis
3 nights Aswan Movenpick Hotel

The remainder of the itinerary is the same for both options. I would appreciate any thoughts or suggestions about the 2 options and the accomodations used by OAT.
Thanks
CJ
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Jun 11th, 2006, 03:58 PM
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Hi CJ,
We did the option 2 trip April of 2005.
Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful.
All our fellow travelers agreed the 4 nights on the ship were a great break, providing a little needed relaxation. ( not to infer we did nothing but sit, there was day and evening touring, as well as watching life along the Nile as we cruised) Plus the accomodations were very good, very clean and good service, charming staff. The food was outstanding (we gave a standing ovation one evening)Mena House was a not to miss experience. Other accomodations also good, but Mena House was unbelieveable. Try to get reservations to the Indian restaurant. Make as soon as you can. We got lucky and got squeezed in at the last minuet. It was also excellent, Sorry I didn't answer earlier, but had problems loging on ( forgot password & favorite Movie!) We are now going with OAT to Peru/Ecuador. If you have Egypt/Jordan questions, I'll try to answer them for you. ENJOY! Laurie
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Jun 11th, 2006, 04:58 PM
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Laurie,

Thanks for the reply. This will be our first trip with OAT. We have decided on the 4 night cruise for the same reason and are really looking forward to the trip.

You will enjoy the Galapagos and Machu Picchu. The Galapagos are fantastic, great animal life totally unafraid of man Machu Picchu is spectacular.
Enjoy

CJ
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Jun 12th, 2006, 11:00 PM
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I went to Egypt in March 2002 with OAT. It was soon after "9/11" and that made for some interesting times...with OAT putting 4 groups together, not with the Egyptians. The locals were happy to see us. It was a fabulous trip.

Do you actually get to choose between the options, or is it either one or the other, depending on your departure date? This may be the case, depending on the positioning of the ship. In either case, you'll really enjoy the trip. Mena House is located next to the Pyramids...what a sight to see on your first morning in Egypt! I'd second the recommendation on the Indian restaurant there; it's supposed to be the best in Egypt and we truly enjoyed it.

You may find, as we did, that OAT might combine multiple 16-person groups, despite their small-group guarantee. You won't be the only group on the ship, I would guess. Each of our 4 groups had their own guide, so we didn't feel like it was a large tour. Also, the US Embassy in Egypt requires that American tour groups have armed escorts. They are usually unobtrusive, but are there. This is another reason for combining groups.
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Jun 26th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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We have just booked the 4 night OAT trip for March 3, 2007. Glad to hear we made the right choice and will remember the Indian Rest. Is it located at the motel?
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Sep 17th, 2006, 05:05 PM
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We did this trip in May 2006 and it's highly recommended. You won't be disappointed. Several things that really are true and you overlook in the pre-planning:

1. Be sure to get Egyptian one pound notes at every opportunity. You will need these for virtually every visit to a restroom. It's worth a trip to the bank to get them. If you don't have them, it's going to cost you US$1.00 instead of about 17 cents.

2. We took US 50 $1 bills and we ran out. (See above). But, there are many street vendors selling postcards and other souveniers for US dollars. Don't pass up the cotton shirts. We paid as little as $4.00 per shirt and they are awesome! Yes, they are Egyptian cotton and have held up beautifully in the washer and dryer. And, they don't need ironing!

3. Take Imodium (or something comparable) with you. You'll need it. 15 of 15 got sick at some point on the trip and we were are very careful about what we ate and drank.

4. Don't miss Abu Simbel. Yes it's an expensive optional tour, but it's one of the highlights of the trip. If you're going that far, see it all! My husband did the balloon trip and it was awesome. Yes, it's expensive, also. (I hate heights!) Great photos and what an experience.

If you want more info, I'll be happy to let you know our experience. This really was the trip of a lifetime. Enjoy!
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Sep 18th, 2006, 08:26 AM
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Hi trophywife...I have a couple questions for you...we leave in three weeks!
Are they any souvenirs that you bought that you are especially glad you did...or things you wish you had picked up? I'm going to be doing some of my Christmas shopping there and would like some personal recommendations other than the ones they suggest in the guidebooks.

Also, were you able to get Egyptian one pound notes before you arrived (at airport currency exchange) or did you find you could only get them once you got to Egypt?
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Sep 18th, 2006, 11:33 AM
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Your OAT guide will take you to lots of places that you can shop. They have certain stores with which they have agreements and from which the guides get rebates. That's not necessarily a bad thing...it's easy to overpay and your guide will "raise Cain" with any vendor they feel has ripped off one of their travelers. I even saw them get a refund for one of our ladies when the "gold" she purchased wasn't as advertised. You'll still get to wander around some of the markets and shop as you wish.
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Sep 18th, 2006, 03:36 PM
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I don't know what you're looking for but here's my favorites:

1. Shirts. Everyone sells them. Plan on spending $4-5 US each. They are awesome. Skip the ladies'. The men's are comfortable and wash and wear. Once I bought one and started wearing it, the vendor's sales went way up. The are cool and comfortable. Also, available in many colors.

2. If you need to buy for children, the leather camels are really cute. When you go to lunch at a place that roasts your chicken, there is a vendor that charges $1 US each. Ask your guide. I paid slightly more but still a good deal.

3. Postcards are available at each place you visit. They cost $1 US per "book" which is about 12 pics of the site. Well worth the price.

4. You'll go to a place where they make cartouches to your specifications. It's the papyrus factory. The art is beautiful. For an 11" by 14" (approx), we paid $18 US.

5. When you get to the boat, there is a money exchange right across the street that will give you plenty of one pound notes. It seems that they are scare in Egypt unless you are a restroom attendant! Banks are reluctant to give you many when you change your US money to Egyptian pounds. Stock up at every chance.

6. I think the boat will probably dock in the same place. There is a shop (many!) about 1 block away. (When you get off the boat, turn left) I bought an embroidered T-shirt for $5 and my husband bought basalt statues of Tut, pyramids, etc. The prices weren't negotible, but reasonable. "One price to all." I do remember that the owner was Christian so he wasn't open on Sunday.

7. Be careful in the spice market. We got hosed. Your guide will give you the details on how to make a good deal, and trust him/her. It's true.

What did I miss? More shirts! And, don't wait until the end of the trip to buy your souveniers. Aswan was probably the best place. However, the Botanical Gardens was another great place to buy things - especially the shirts and scarves. The vendors literally pull their boat up next to your faluca. Let's make a deal!

8. The Egyptian rugs are awesome. You'll probably go to the Sultan Carpet Company. My friend bought one but forgot to negotiate the price. They are beautiful but pricey! She bought a silk 2' by 4' rug for $800 US.

We bought small things based on the size of our luggage and the fact that we lost our home in New Orleans due to Katrina. We don't need alot of things in our little apartment in the Atlanta area.

I hope this info helps. This truly was a trip of a lifetime, and I am encouraging all of my friends/family to put Egypt on their list of things to do B4 they die. It was that great. OAT did a beautiful job. Please let me know who you enjoyed the trip. I'm excited for you!

We didn't try to get the pound notes B4 we left. We used many $1 bills at the Cairo airport. Yes, in the airport you have to pay to use the toilet - go before the plane lands! Nor did we try to exchange money at the airport. We waited until we got to the hotel, and they didn't have any "little money." It requires a trip to the bank to get one pound notes.

If you need more info, please let me know. It's a real treat to be able to share this with someone getting ready for the same trip.

Melissa G., AKA Trophy Wife
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Sep 18th, 2006, 04:21 PM
  #10
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Hi Melissa G.

Thank you for all the valuable information. We have booked our February trip to Egypt (Cairo and the Nile) and pre extension to Alexandria with OAT. This is our first trip with OAT and we are really looking forward to it. Our previous travels have been independent including safari in East Africa. Your comments about OAT are most reassuring. We will be sure to get the 1 pound notes, hopefully at JFK or the first Egyptian bank we see.
Our local bank wants a $30 fee to get any foreign currency, not exactly a good deal.

Did you get a visa in advance? I understand that they can be obtained at the Cairo airport but OAT seems to suggest we need to get them in advance.

Thanks,
cj
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Sep 18th, 2006, 05:26 PM
  #11
 
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The 'bank' at the hotel we were at would exchange larger notes for Egyptian 1 pounds..but rarely had any..they had a lot of the 50 cent equivalent. We just went to the bank desk at the hotel several times as they limited the numbers you could get.
But, after all, these people really need the money. As 'well off' Americans who can afford to travel, give the same or even half of the amount you would tip in the US and dollars will be fine.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why we (and I include myself) don't feel the need to tip appropriately. If we would pay $3 to $5 for a bellboy in the US, why do we need to pay a tenth of that in Egypt?
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Sep 18th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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PS We never had any stomach upsets and I am very prone to them.
No-one on our Nile cruise did, but I was specific about what boat I wanted and obviously we did not go with a US tour group.
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Sep 18th, 2006, 08:32 PM
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PhilBill - as I'm sure you know, tipping rules and expectations vary throughout the world. Tipping in Egypt is common (shoot - it's part of the culture), but you have to keep in mind the difference in salary structure.

If you tip someone $3 or $5 dollars to carry your bags....that could be the equivalent of a couple of hours salary. I paid my housekeeper (who I had for 4 year) about $2 an hour and she was well-paid. That high a tip is just out of proportion for Egypt.

Also, if you do that....word will get around and you will have everyone (and their brothers and cousins) hovering around to help you.

We always tipped generously - but within reasonable boundaries.

KIBOKO - I would just wait and get your visa at the aiport. It only takes a few minutes and is very easy.

Trophy Wife - so sorry about your house in New Orleans. My parents were very, very fortunate and I am so thankful for that.
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Sep 19th, 2006, 07:00 AM
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Melissa G- I second my condolences for your loss from the hurricane. New Orleans is one of our favorite cities. Do you plan to return, or is Atlanta going to be your new home town?

Thank you for your suggestions about souvenirs and money. By any chance did you buy one of the necklaces you can have made with cartouches on it? I am curious about the price and the quality. And when you were in the market, did you happen to see anything that would pass for a Christmas ornament? I have a collection of ornaments from every place we go on vacation. I know I can probably buy a camel or a pyramid and make it into an ornament, but I was curious if they had them.
How did you get hosed at the spice market? Can you bring spices back to the states?
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Sep 19th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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Cartouches - you should have plenty of time in Cairo to have a cartouche made. You can get them in gold or silver, but I would recommend the silver. They aren't very expensive. Don't know the current price (I bought several for gifts 4 years ago and they were about $12 each).

Christmas Ornaments - you could probably find all sort of things to use as Xmas ornaments, but there are a couple of shops in the Khan that specialize in blown glass ornaments. I will try to look up the name of the shop or the little alley it's on.
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Sep 19th, 2006, 08:17 AM
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Grcxx3- Thanks for the info about the cartouches. Seems like a nice little gift for someone, or are they?

The Christmas ornaments are something I love to look for every place we go. We were in Paris earlier this year, and I ended up just buying a small Eiffel tower and putting a ribbon through the top for the tree. It's a real stroll down memory lane as I unwrap each one to put on the tree. If you can find the name of the shop that would be wonderful! I seem to remember you live there (or used to), or am I thinking about someone else?
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Sep 19th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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Cartouches are great gifts.....still rather unusual (altho I think you can also get them thru the Smithsonian Catalog - but for more $$$)!!!! If you don't have time, I think I have the email address/webpage for a jewelry shop that can send them to the US.

I need to find my little map of the Khan and get the name of the blown glass shop or the little alley. They have all sorts of neat glass things - glasses, decanters, plus a whole section of ornaments upstairs (but there is a steep circular staircase to get up to the [email protected]).

As for other gifts, there was a thread here a few months ago about gifts to bring back from Egypt. Try typing in Egypt+ souvenirs....or something.

I did live in Cairo for 4 years and loved it. I loved shopping in the Khan and really miss it. You're going to have a great trip!
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Sep 19th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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try this thread.....I was on a roll and had lots of gift ideas!

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4
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Sep 19th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Oh - I give up....I am SOOOO technology-challenged today. Here is what I posted on the thread I tried to link to above....(note - the original poster was asking for gifts for grandkids, but some things would work for adults as well).


There are LOTS of things....here are some things I got for various kids over the years.

Gallabeyas are cute and you can get the headpieces too (turban-type things for the boys and beaded "hats" for the girls)

Papyrus with their names in heiroglyphics (can usually be done in 1 day, maybe 2) - or there are Papyrus coloring books with outlines of Nefertari, King Tut, etc (okay - not real papyrus....but for the kids it's fun)

You may be able to find miniature sarcophogus items - with King Tut or some of the other gods.....outer sarcophogus all decorated and inside is usually a mummy.

Quick and easy - "papyrus" bookmarks with Egyptian themed designs or sticker sheets with heiroglyphs.

Brass or stone miniature pyramids (be careful - some of them have VERY sharp edges) and be sure to get a set of 3 to represent the Giza pyramids

Asfour Crystal makes some beautiful crystal pyramids, obelisks, etc, and some have engraved images on the inside (king tut, sphynx, etc)

Egyptian themed beach towels (okay - bulky to bring back, but fun)

There are a few shops in the Khan that have interesting glass Christmas ornaments.

For the girls - get silver cartouches with their names in heiroglyphics. A little young for them now, but a real neat thing for in a few year.

Small stuffed camels, dolls, and small woven rugs with camel or pyramid designs are common in the bazaars.

The older boys might like the mother of pearl chess boards (some are small and fold up like a box with alabaster or onyx pieces inside).

The girls might like the mother of pearl boxes - nice little thing to keep jewelry or treasures in.

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Sep 19th, 2006, 10:24 AM
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Thanks Grcxx3- I actually saw that thread and printed it out to take with me! It was a great help. Don't have many kids to buy for, mostly adults and older teenagers. But it still gave me some good ideas in general.

We have three days in Cairo at the beginning of the trip and a day at the end, will that give me enough time to have the cartouches made? If you can find your map and the info about the glass shop, that would be great. If not no problem. We leave three weeks from today.

The gallebeyas are the long tunics, am I correct? I believe they have a night on the cruise where everyone is suppsed to wear them. Should we buy those in Cairo? I'm assuming they will be more expensive either on the ship or one of the cities on the Nile (Esna or Edfu)...Or are they so inexpensive that it really doesn't matter?
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