The Magic of Cairo!
Hey everyone! I went to Cairo in 2006 and could not believe how cheap it all was. Also I hope you fly in on a night flight because the view as you descend is spectacular - with the vast deserts and tiny towns, and the pyramids all lit up in cheesy disco lights...I nearly cried, it was all a bit emotional! ;) So here are a few prices to give you an idea of what to expect to pay out there (all in gbp): 2L bottle of water - 20 to 50p; coffee in a cafe 30p; nice jeans probably around 4gbp (though I personally didn't get a chance to see if there were any clothes shops around); silver jewellery usually is a fixed price according to weight so not as cheap as you may like but I got a lovely pair of dangly earrings for around 12gbp - any other goods such as leather etc can be haggled for, always offer them about a quarter to a third of their original asking price and stick to your guns (politely) and you should pick up some amazing bargains; 1 week's grocery shopping probably about 5gbp (totally affordable anyway and I had my first pomegranate out there, sooo delicious! They have the best fruit out there); meals out in restaurants with alcohol are also really cheap and generally very good food - but go for a restaurant that looks clean and more expensive from the outside, it will still only cost you about 7gbp for a three course meal and not much more for drinks, but this way you're less likely to get the dreaded funny tummy. DO NOT touch salads in any form, no matter how well presented they are, I slipped up once and had one and became VERY sick (it went on for six months and I lost a lot of weight). Also don't accept drinks with icecubes in them and be careful not to put your fingers in your mouth, even/especially after washing them in running water. One of the best investments you can make is a bottle of hand sanitiser from Wilkos or a supermarket (don't buy one from a camping outlet such as Millets as they will charge you 7gbp instead of paying about 2gbp) and a cheap pashmina (to cover up when you feel exposed in less touristy areas and acts as a comfortable layer if the evening feels cooler - I didn't leave the hotel without mine). Be warned, I went in late September and the temperature was 41C most days, almost unbearable, so be prepared. Finally - Cairo is generally dirty, smelly, full of culture and life, filled with interesting people always ready for a joke, and completely different to anything you're used to if it's your first time in a muslim country. It's utterly amazing, just soak it up and don't expect anything and you'll fall in love with it! Let me know if you have any other queries esp. re the museum, pyramids, travelling around etc and I'll do my best to help! Take care & enjoy your holiday - Jen :) P.s one of the most helpful things I was told was to learn the words for 'no, thanks' in Arabic - as they will not leave you alone in many places, so you'll say this a lot - it's pronounced 'leh (no) shokran (thanks)' The crazy souks, the amazingly friendly and generous people, the cheeky sense of humour and the fact that they don't take things too seriously out there; I loved the sense of history and awe in being around the pyramids and articles in the beautifully kept museum. The madness of the traffic and the smells and sounds that were so different to anything I've ever been used to. It was a complete adventure and I'll not forget it!
During our stay in Cairo, we were very cheeky & used to sneak in to the Nile Hilton on hot days and go for a swim in their pool.
This all worked very well, until one time we were asked if we would like to order drinks, so we did, then they asked for our room number, so we came clean and told the truth.
The waiters thought it was quite amusing, but we did not have the nerve to go back for a swim again.
So the moral of the story is........................Do not order a drink
Visiting local Medical Doctor
I got insect bites when I was in Cairo, a couple of days before I returned home. I had no choice but to see the local doctor. A pharmacist told me how I could find a local clinic. There was no English sign outside, but I managed to ask people on the street to get to this clinic which is located on the second floor. Outside the clinic there is a sign, Prof, XXX's hospital. It sounds serious, but it seems it is just a local clinic. The facilities inside the doctor's room is quite primitive and not clean in western standard. The consultation fee was 150 EGP (about US$28), quite expensive. Medication are extra and to be purchased in the local pharmacy.
I purchased the travel insurance which covers the medical expenses incurred from the trip. I am glad to find out the insurance policy serves its purpose as claims were fully received. It is really a memory to be in a "hospital".
Check out the pyramids at the Giza plateau.
Check out the pyramids at the Giza plateau. Down to the right of this photo you can see the city of Cairo. Soon the city will surround the pyramids completely... Here: The Chefren Pyramid. On it's top you can still see some marble. Once upon a time the whole pyramids was covered by marble.
Supply and demand economics
Bargaining. Us Anglo's just don't get it, do we? In England about the only time we enter into any negotiation over price is when we buy a car or a house. Here' it's different. A love of the deal is part of the Levantine culture. You have to understand, and go along with it.
Price is always flexible. In practise everyday items are more or less fixed price, prices are marked (it really helps to know Arabic arabic numerals. Life is too short to haggle over a kilo of oranges. Generally people are very honest. Buying a pastry you'll tender a LE1 note and simply be handed your 50 piastres change.
Here' how it works:
1 - Who made the approach? If they approach you, you can get away. I know they're persistent, but if they speak to you first, you can terminate the transaction. Just say No. LA SHUKRAN (no thanks).
The same applies if the shopkeeper has detected some slight glimmer of interest in the wares on display. Just smile, shake you head, walk away. If you do not want it, it's worth nothing to you.
2 - So you really do want to buy something. You must have a vague idea of what the thing is worth. So look in fixed price shops such as those in hotels (probably expensive). At least you'll have a ceiling.
3 - Until you've reached a figure, you are under no obligation. Once you've reached a figure it's a done deal. A gentleman's word is his bond. Never offer a sum you are not prepared to pay.
4 - Lots of shopkeepers just like to talk. I've been invited in for shai by men selling ladies shoes or electrical goods. They knew I didn't want a fridge or a pair of fluffy pink slippers. Have an amiable discussion about international politics. It can even be the same with those in shops clearly selling tourist goods if trade is slack.