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Specific Safety Questions-Cairo

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Jan 7th, 2013, 07:33 PM
  #1
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Specific Safety Questions-Cairo

We have friends that work at the American University in Cairo and have for over 10 years. They say and Casual Cairo say Cairo is safe for tourists. Is that just in the residential areas or in the tourist areas as well?

If we wanted to go to Israel, Petra, and Cairo does it matter what order we see them and what is the best mode of transportation between these places?

Thank you
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Jan 7th, 2013, 07:39 PM
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Your final question is the easiest to answer. You must fly between Egypt and Israel unless you wan to take a cruise that stops in all these places (and there are such cruises if you are interested). But in my opinion, the most interesting stuff in Egypt is not in Cairo but further south, so what I'd suggest is a touchdown in Cairo to see the pyramids and then a short cruise that will show you the rest of the highlights. So 4 or 5 days total. Then as many days as you want in Israel. You'll need at least 2 nights for Petra since that requires a long drive from anywhere.

Now regarding safety. I don't have any more information that anyone else, Debbie from Casual Cairo lives in Cairo and is very familiar with the territory and safety issues. She'd never recommend you come and say that safety isn't a major issue if it were. I'd say the same about your friends. The only tourist area that has in any way been impacted by the demonstrations is Tahrir Square (and the Egyptian Museum). If you are concerned, give that a miss The main reason you'll be going to Cairo is to see the Pyramids, and there are hotels in Giza so you never need go into Central Cairo if you don't want to.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 08:13 PM
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Thank you.

When we travel we like to see the cities and the usual travel sights. I assume we would stay at a hotel near our friends or where the university might have deals. Of course, we want to see the pyramids as well but it seems there are a number of things to see in and around Tahrir Square.
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Jan 7th, 2013, 10:13 PM
  #4
MD
 
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Keep in mind -
-The occasional "unpleasantness" is the locals disagreeing with their government. This is not some protest against a stupid video or something - it is not aimed at the West or Americans. They are protesting their president.

-Most action happens in and around the government offices. A few are near Tahrir Square, many are a long way from anything touristy - like the presidential palace near Heliopolis.

-The typical tourist sites are a LONG LONG way from where any protests happen. They are typically fenced off for several reasons, and guarded by armed "tourism police". Mainly because when things are difficult, some people may sneak in and try to dig up ancient artifacts to sell. Or unlicensed vendors sneak in to hawk cheap souvenirs to tourists - the police are mainly there to keep things quiet. Giza, the pyramids, is many miles from downtown.

-the only place to be worried is the museum; however, this is another reason to take a tour group or hire a guide - they will know if it is a safe time to go. During the major demonstrations, often it is safe to simply enter the museum from the side entrance, I was told.

DO not wander a rowdy crowd during a demonstration. This is good advice in the USA, and it is good advice in Egypt. You don't know the language, you don't know what people are saying, you don't know when it is time to run, and in a situation like that there are no police if someone decides you are a rich target worth robbing while the crowd is looking elsewhere. Crime is low in Egypt, but people do occasionally get robbed.

Similarly, if you want to see the "flavour of the city" do it with someone who knows the city and is fluent in the language. Most big cities can be charming, and often too have some places you should not go.

You can visit Coptic Cairo and the bazaar, all 1000 years or more old... but Egypt is history. The Museum by Tahrir Square has the famous gold King Tut mask, surely one of the most amazing wonders of the ancient world... plus a vast selection of other treasures, including much of what was in Tut's tomb. In Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, the greatest surviving wonder of the Ancient World, pyramids almost 500 feet high, each block carved and placed by hand. Further out of Cairo, the Step Pyramid, the first stone pyramid; and many others.

But yes, go to Luxor or further south, to see the temples of the New Kingdm, 3,000 years old; and the Valley of the Kings, 3300 year old tombs where the paint still looks fresh.

As others said, the best way beetween Egypt and Israel is by air. I think those flights stop in Amman anyway, so that's the best route to get to Petra. It's about a 3-hour drive from Amman.

One alternative, I recall there were coaches that left Israel in the early morning, drove to Petra, and then drove back again after the tour of Petra. Supposedly this works, although one forum I read said unless you are on one of those type of busses, you could take a whole day trying to get across the land border between Israel/Palestine and Jordan.
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Jan 8th, 2013, 01:02 AM
  #5
 
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Thanks for making it clear that "normal" people that work at AUC also say it is safe. It isn't just us in the tourist industry that have no regard for the safety of our clients that will lure you into Egypt while you are taking your life in your hands for our own personal gain! (That was a sarcastic remark to all those that repeatedly claim I am wrong and only want your money when I say it is safe.)

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
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Jan 8th, 2013, 01:31 AM
  #6
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Thank you all for your comments.
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Jan 8th, 2013, 09:05 PM
  #7
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Thank you for the advice. All our lives we have shunned tours except for a day tour in rain forests and jungles. But we will probably join a tour to Petra and a guide for day trips around Cairo and trip down the Nile.

I am more adverturous than my wife, but I would not want to ruin her trip with worry.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 06:07 AM
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I would worry a great deal when the taxi hits 60 mph heading over the bridge to the museum. You'll feel at home.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 06:36 AM
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I would worry a great deal when the taxi hits 60 mph heading over the bridge to the museum. You'll feel at home.
_____
I live in NYC and many of the cab drivers are Muslim, maybe I will get an Episcopalian in Cairo.
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Jan 9th, 2013, 08:02 AM
  #10
MD
 
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We had always shunned tours too. Until Egypt....Had the best trip ever. No worries, everything was taken care of for us.
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