Two weeks in Egypt

Old Dec 23rd, 2022, 10:36 AM
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Two weeks in Egypt

Just returned from two weeks in Egypt with my wife and another couple. I want to suggest, explain and recommend some aspects of traveling to Egypt.

We flew Delta and Egypt Air and all flights were great. The only problem were the Egypt airports that were a nightmare. I understand security is great in Egypt but their actions make no sense.
In Luxor we had to load all of our luggage up onto a screener (we are in our 70s and this is no easy task) then unload and carry luggage to check-in. But first there was a desk at which we had to write all our passport info into a book. After check-in we again had to go thru security taking off belts jackets shoes. Removing phones, computers cameras again from our bags for the second time. Finally believing we were done, there was another desk and we had to once again enter our passport info into another similar book.

This makes no sense since nothing is or can be verified by doing this. Otherwise, I found many of the employees at the airport to be nasty and unhelpful and uncaring. This was the worst aspect of our trip.

The people of Egypt were friendly and helpful outside the airports and we never felt unsafe even walking at night.

We were very careful of eating and drinking. The food however, other than at the Cairo Marriott was mediocre.

We went on a cruise with Movenpick and it was fine except not as luxurious as many Americans would like. It was difficult finding employees who understood English even at the front desk but the rooms and cleanliness were all very acceptable
All in all it was OK except that it was on the cruise that we encountered the national animal of Egypt- the fly. Most times we could not even relax on the top deck because of the swarms o flies. They were everywhere restaurants, cars, at sights.
It was interesting to see some of the lives along the Nile's banks as we cruised.

Those of you have been there I assume noticed that speed bumps exist on every road and bridge and are so big as to impede travel by car. Every mile there are one or two bumps and they cause traffic jams and double the time of travel. Also the traffic in Cairo is terrible and the sound of horns and speeding cars is deafening and makes crossing streets dangerous in some spots.

I will admit that being a history buff I saw sights that I dreamt of visiting for years. The best was the great pyramid (I went in) never would redo it since it was claustrophobic hot and some crawling was needed. The Egyptian Museum (Tut's grave goods were unbelievable), National Museum of Egyptian Civilizations (mummy room was a highlight of the entire trip), Karnak Temple, Queen Nefertari's Tomb was the best although cost $135 per person, King Tut's tomb just to say I saw it.

There were also some sights that were not worth the effort. We saw 6 mosques in Cairo and they all appear similar except to an expert. Aswan dam was not interesting and most other temples just seemed too alike to distinguish form each. Coptic Cairo was crowded, and not that impressive and the synagogue that we wanted to see was closed and we could not ever view the exterior. This was a lost day.

Perhaps the worst was the Nubian Village. Our guide wanted us to visit a house and see how the people lived but there was a pit in which they had a crocodile for viewing and I refused to go near the building given the cruelty shown to this poor animal confined for it entire life an a little sunken hole. I argued with the guide and just walked away. The entire village is nothing more than a tourist trap.

The shopping was also poor and we are shoppers. The only major item brought home was a case of Covid even though I have had all boosters.

I know this is not very detailed but will answer any questions that I can for you.

Thanks David

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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 04:51 AM
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Excuse me, what hotel did you stay at? Thanks the information!
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 05:25 AM
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You didn't have a good time in China and Japan either. Where have you been outside Europe that you did enjoy?

I was in Egypt back in 2000, so I am sure the traffic is worse, but it is not a country in which I would expect decorous traffic or a high degree of cleanliness on the streets. I rather doubt that your cruise ship was as uncomfortable as the cargo boat I took in Chile, but I would think the sights along the Nile would be worth a little discomfort (my Nile boat was fine, but I don't look for luxury on a trip).
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 05:56 AM
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We stayed at the Marriott Cairo hotel on the Nile. It was excellent and the food at all of the restaurants was very good.

As for my experience with the traffic it was maddening. As a person with little patience waiting for minutes to enter a rotary was difficult. I also found that the use of traffic bumps was excessive with no logic.
Overall cars drove down the center of the road never staying in one's lane, never signaling, constantly using their horns, and cutting each other off totally disregarding every courtesy or rule. Yeah, the traffic was terrible and I di not care for it at all. I live in Boston and our traffic is terrible but there is some courtesy and some respect for the rules. Not so in Cairo where the only rule is anything goes!

As for the cruise, we are in our seventies and like luxury. We paid a high price for what we thought would be a better cruise. But do not criticize me for wanting it. You may enjoy travelling in a different style and that is your right. But seeing the Nile and the riverbanks does not totally make up for the poor food, flies on the top deck, lack of English by some of the crew and lack of any other amenities that we endured.

As for not liking Egypt, I saw the highlights of our trip and enjoyed that aspect but not everything appealed to me. In China and Japan I also found issues just as I do with very place I have been. I just focus on what I want to see and ignore the rest. However, I still travel and have visited many other locations such as Peru, Guatemala Mexico Kenya Tanzania Ethiopia Thailand Cambodia that I enjoyed more. Again people should not be castigated for what we like or do not like. It is our personal experiences and only we can make judgments on those.

David J
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 06:33 AM
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My trip reports have never been noted for uniformly positive comments. However, in a country like Egypt I expect terrible traffic, noise, dirt and flies, although I'm a bit surprised that you encountered so many on a cruise ship. You might want to skip India.
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 08:46 AM
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We also just returned from 2+ weeks in Egypt as well as a 9 day stay in Jordan. We, too, were fascinated by the history, though it sounds like you were disappointed in many aspects of the trip. For us, it was one of the most amazing trips we've ever taken! I can't begin to express the excitement of having seen so many of the amazing sights of Egypt -- truly, I kept repeating, over and over, "amazing" throughout our trip. We had an agent in each country to arrange private tours, and worked with them to develop itineraries to suit us. And, even though the traffic in Cairo and Giza was awful (and it is), the flies were often bad (in Jordan, too), the security in the airport and on the road was very present, these annoyances paled compared to the overwhelming thrill of being in this ancient land, far surpassing the occasional frustrations.

What, for us, was one of the many standouts, was the trip on the Nile on a dahabiya, a traditional boat. This is not a luxury cruise, but it is a luxurious experience, with a small group of people (there were 11 passengers) and a crew of 5 who took care of us -- and very well. We loved it -- most of the time is spent on the long wooden deck, where we ate (meals were excellent), hung out and read. We did 2 tours daily, visiting some of the ancient sites as well as 2 villages. We did visit a Nubian village, but it was not the commercial experience you describe. I'll be honest, I have mixed feelings of visiting villages as it often feels like we are turning people into objects, creating an awkward relationship. However, the 2 villages that we did visit were not at all commercial experiences.

I so agree that the Egyptian museum and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization were excellent, though we enjoyed visiting the Coptic Quarter and seeing the Coptic Museum (an excellent museum, too). And I also agree that the people we met were some of the warmest and most welcoming, an important part of traveling, too!

There are many aspects to a trip to this region that can be challenging, but it's also one of those trips that will remain with us.


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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 08:51 AM
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@progol - I envy you the dahabiya, I was on a regular tourist boat. I also agree about village visits, although it sounds like yours went well. I admit I wasn't as impressed by the Giza pyramids as I expected but I saw plenty of other wonderful sights. I think the Temple of Isis was my favorite. It had a wonderful atmosphere.
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd
@progol - I envy you the dahabiya, I was on a regular tourist boat. I also agree about village visits, although it sounds like yours went well. I admit I wasn't as impressed by the Giza pyramids as I expected but I saw plenty of other wonderful sights. I think the Temple of Isis was my favorite. It had a wonderful atmosphere.
thursdaysd
One way we prepared for the trip was to watch a series on Wondrium (formerly The Great Courses) on Ancient Egypt. My husband is particularly interested in the history, but it really helped us both to understand the development of the pyramids. So seeing the Great Pyramid, and then seeing the earlier ones, was truly thrilling. I never expected to feel so moved, but I was especially excited to see the Step Pyramid. This is IT - the first real attempt at creating a pyramid! And Im not a big history buff, so my excitement was, for me, completely unexpected!
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 09:35 AM
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@progol - Nice to see another Wondrium subscriber. I'm currently finishing up the course on Turning Points in Middle East history, before moving on the the History of Eastern Europe. Did a great deal of western European history in school (in England), but precious little eastern.
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Old Dec 24th, 2022, 09:52 AM
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Nothing wrong about writing from one's own perspective. I have noticed that many older travelers don't pack lightly enough for their current capabilities, especially when there are no porters (eg airports). I also have become increasing intolerant of crowds, noise and traffic. It is getting harder to find "bucket list" places which aren't overwhelmed by mobs and Instagrammers.

We definitely noticed the difference in New Zealand recently, between the popular tourist trail and other regions. I can't even imagine what it will be like when the Chinese are able to get back in.

It's been three years since many of us did a "big trip" and maybe we don't all realize what we can tolerate after being in semi-isolation for so long.

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 24th, 2022 at 09:56 AM.
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Old Dec 25th, 2022, 06:52 AM
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Two weeks in Egypt

I just want to mention that the Nubian Village we visited was basically one main dirt street lined with dozens of souvenir shops and sellers pushing items in your face. Perhaps there were other more authentic villages but our guide chose this one for us to my disgust. I wanted to see how these people actually lived but was not given the option. I think that our guides only wanted additional pay to get us there.

Also, I did like the Luxor Museum as well and I want to emphasize that anyone going to Egypt the tomb of Nefertari is a must despite the high cost.

David J
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Old Dec 25th, 2022, 10:43 AM
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It seems to me that what you saw was exactly “how these people actually” live, putting up with a bunch of whining tourists as they try to feed their families. What you want, I suspect, is the fantasy of happy natives without the inconvenience of learning how tough things are in their world. Next time maybe pay more for the fantasy because as you learned you’ll pay one way or another.

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Old Dec 25th, 2022, 05:19 PM
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We merged your two threads
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 04:57 AM
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Hi David, thanks for your report. We will take into account some of your comments as we prepare for our trip in a month's time.
Could I know the name of the Nubian Village you visited? Was it Gharb Soheil? I have been reading some papers on the impact of cultural tourism on the identity of such villages. It is a very interesting topic and not always as simple as it may seem. It would be interesting to visit more than one perhaps.
Another question: was the Egyptian Museum in Cairo still up and running with most of the exhibits on view? I am getting the impression that many rooms are closed and stuff packed away for the "imminent" move. Any updates on this?
Thanks!
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 05:06 AM
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<<Another question: was the Egyptian Museum in Cairo still up and running with most of the exhibits on view? I am getting the impression that many rooms are closed and stuff packed away for the "imminent" move. Any updates on this?
Thanks!>>

When we were there in mid-November, there was still so much to see that we were able to spend a good 4 hours there. Some amazing pieces are there and we were bowled over. Yes, it’s a dated museum, but so much still there.
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Old Dec 26th, 2022, 11:18 AM
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The new Grand Egyptian Museum will not open until 2023 but the current museum still contains great displays including the items from King Tuts tomb and the tomb of King Psusenes in the Tanis room.

David J
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Old Dec 29th, 2022, 03:20 PM
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We were in Egypt and Jordan in January 2020 and were thrilled with the experience we had. We expected many of the things that are complained about in this thread. But a huge surprise for us was the fabulous food we enjoyed no matter we were. The chicken in particular was the best weve ever eaten. And their version of falafel
was different from what I had eaten previously and so delicious.
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Old Feb 17th, 2023, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by davidjac
The new Grand Egyptian Museum will not open until 2023 but the current museum still contains great displays including the items from King Tuts tomb and the tomb of King Psusenes in the Tanis room.

David J
I too thank you for your TR. You gave us some ideas about what to expect though having been to India 8 times the traffic, hawkers and noise may not effect us as much though I can see why you felt the way you did.

We all see things differently.

Thank again for the account of your experiences.



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