We were taken on a tour by a guide to the Shahinaz Perfume Palace in Cairo. Given a demonstration of perfumes and how pure they were.
Unique Suggestions: -We were conned into spending £36 on some small bottles of "perfumes of the highest grade - no oil or alcohol just pure plant extract that will not mark clothes". Now have a shirt that is ruined by the oil content of the stuff that we came away with. I'm not saying don't but from here - just be aware that you need to see your bottles filled from the demonstration bottles, not around the back as ours were.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
I am sure that it was booked...
Before leaving Saudi Arabia (our home for two years) to come and visit Egypt for the hoildays we made sure that we booked our accomodation before we left. We had carefully chosen a hotel that was affordable, close to all the ammenties and looked like a pleasant place to stay in. Well we most certainly booked the place online and got a reciept back to say we had confirmed a room etc... for x amount of nights.. fortunately we did not need to send any money but we were quite surprised that on arrival that there was no one to meet us at the airport and the hotel that we had booked obviously did not remember us. Oops where was the person to come and meet us?
Unique Suggestions: By the time we got out of customs and picked a driver out from a sea of taxi drivers(seeing there was no one in sight with that hotels name on their board), we were tired. We asked the driver to take us to the Hotel that we had booked..... but he had no knowledge of it and we had to think of something fast. We then decided to ask him to take us to a Hotel that was recommended to us so it is a good idea to have a back up name of a hotel just in case it is not a well known one such as Sheraton, Hilton etc... and pray your driver knows how to get there.
Fun Alternatives: Fortunately the Hotel that we went on to stay in was the lovely old fashioned Hotel mentioned in my other tip(Victoria Hotel). It was centrally located and the driver knew how to get there especially in the early hours of the morning. Like I have said have a back up hotel written down somewhere and do a bit of homework and check this hotel out online or from referals from friends and family. It isn't so much a trap but it was rather frustrating to find that our accomodation had written several emails to us saying yes yes and that our accomodation had been booked successfully online. We later saw the hotel in the heart of the city and were very pleased that we had not stayed there. It was not in a quiet location like they said (but then when does it get quiet in Cairo?) and it looked pretty rundown compared to the photo it showed on the website. Phew! I am surprised though that they never asked for money so I count my lucky stars that they never did.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Cafes at the Khalili Markets
You're out on your feet, and your brain is in neutral. A cool drink is inviting. The cafe spruiker breaks into his spiel, your seated , the drinks arrive,drunkand the bill arrives.No menu and the drinks are grossly overpriced.
Good Samaritans? Guess not
You might been offered a kind gesture from locals to take pictures for you, to show you how to put on the head cover (for men), etc. to find out that they seek some tips/money in exchange for their gestures.
Unique Suggestions: If you find your self caught in this condition, just pay them a thrifty 1 - 2 egyptian pound and walk past them quickly before they even noticed how much money you are actually giving them.
Prices customized for westerners
Be aware that the tour guides will take you to places and have you pay American prices. When they took us to local restaurants, they refused to give us a menu. In addition items purchased at shops they took us to ended up being more pricey than our 5 star hotel gift shop. The whole thing is a big scam and everyone gets a piece of it. (Including your tour guide).
Unique Suggestions: Refrain from purchasing anything your first day with your tour guide. Don't be affraid to say no and walk away. They practice high pressure sales in this country.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Khan El Khalili
Khan El Khalili is the ultimate tourist trap... but note that by Khan El Khalili I mean only the main street in the souq... the one where people sell you all kind of souvenirs and trinkets that you can find anywhere else, including at home
Unique Suggestions: Look but don't buy. If you find something that you really like then haggle th price down and buy it.
Fun Alternatives: if you simply like a bit, wait till you get home: you'll find it much cheaper in any market near you. Egyptian stuff is very popular all over.Related to:
- Historical Travel
We felt obliged to buy after being taken to one in a very poor area of giza - we were happy with our purchases at the time. But we got home and it had degraded and smelt awful. Really, don't bother buying. The hospitality can be interesting though.
Unique Suggestions: Drink the Hibiscus tea they offer, not bad. Not a smoker, but they may let you try out a pipe too (I gave it a go anyway)
Pretending to be gays
Khawal, metnak, 2olla are different names for describing a homosexual man. If you are one then i have to warn you from the trap.
You might find guys who pretend they are gays and will lead u to believe so till u r inside a room or so and they will start the blackmail game. They might rip you off of your money and still wont give you what you want.
Unique Suggestions: Dont show you are a gay and wait till you know what's going on around.
Fun Alternatives: Get to know the person very well before getting involved. Many murders happens around gay community in Egypt.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Gay and Lesbian
Tricky Tour Guides, and Tricky Taxi Drivers!!
The following is my account, it is long.
Well, here's the trap, in a tour group your itinerary may include a stop at one or all of the following, perfume store, jewelry store, papyrus store, carpet factory, etc... Well, as wonderful as they make it sound, they are hiking up the price up to quadruple all so the shop owner can make a bigger profit and the tour guide can get a hefty commission. If you say you saw it cheaper elsewhere, they wil tell you it is not government guaranteed and you may be fined a hefty fee upon departure at the airport, or that it is very poor quality, etc... lies!
Our LESS than wonderful tour guide did all of these shopswhich didn't really bother me, but the following camel stunt did.
Day 1, we visited the Giza Pyramids. While at the pyramids ALL of us in the group told him that we wanted to ride the camels, he said "be patient we have more days".
Day 2, we visited the Sakkara Pyramids, and again we ALL made the same request and he replied exactly the same.
Day 3, at the end of the day he announced that we were finally going to the camel ride, he took us to a STREET (NOT the desert, and certainly NOT at the pyramids), where the camel owner was waiting for us. When I complained, he said, "Don't worry, you will be able to see the pyramids and take pictures". YES, PLEASE SEE PICTURE ABOVE FOR OUR PHOTO OP, WITH THE PYRAMIDS IN THE DISTANCE, thanks to that opening in the wall. See, we did not SPECIFICALLY ask to ride AT the pyramids.
Also taxi drivers do this, once they pick you up, they ask what you are searching for, then they will suggest where to go. On the 4th day I mentioned to a taxi driver that later in the day I planned to go ride a camel at the pyramids so he suggested where to take us, and guess what! He was taking us to the same man! One of the families in our group ended up at the same place thanks to another taxi driver. That same driver, when I said I wanted to buy souvenirs, drove me to the same essence store our guide had taken us to.
Thanks for allowing me to vent!
Unique Suggestions: If you are in a taxi you can just be firm and say No, of course you may have to say it more than once. But it will work.
If in a tour group, like it happened in ours, we were just 10 people, we all decided we didn't want to waste our time going to the jewelry shop so we flat out told him. Again he will insist but if you insist right back it will also work.
Fun Alternatives: For souvenirs, go to the market. Or if you don't want to deal with the crowds, go to any store of YOUR choice, and bargain. The taxi driver will sometimes offer to wait for you for a drive back. That's fine but be warned that if he enters the store, he will immediately let them know he wants a commission.
Aside from that, Everything else was wonderful!!! Really!!!!
Give me 5, you r in Egypt
It is very common that you will find Egyptians giving fives (your hand clapping on a friend's hand). They do this when you or them says something that sounds funny or looks funny. So expect that through out your conversation with an Egyptian he will give you five and another five and another five.
So dont think he is crazy. and ladies, dont think he is trying to hit on you and hold your hand but rather he is showing appreciation to a funny thing you said.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Men Kissing in the streets
A man kissing another man on the cheeks in the street is common cause this is the way Egyptian men greet each others. The strange thing is a man kissing a lady hi or goodbye. Some of my foreign friends asked me weather i am a gay and i was completly surprised cause i am not, they told me why do you keep kissing your men friends.
Dont fall into this trap.
Unique Suggestions: As a man , expect that if you meet with another man and had a conversation and met again, he might kiss you . so dont panic as this is the way he is expressing frienship and kindness. But dont get used to this habit cause it gets irritating especially when it is hot.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Gay and Lesbian
Cafes in Midan El Hussein
These cafes charge 3 to 5 times the normal price for drinks as they are frequented by Italian and Spanish tour groups, waitstaff invent prices based on what appears to be customers ability to pay and the fact you are in Midan El Hussein.
Fun Alternatives: Check out any of the numerous other cafes just 50 meters away. Fishawys is always fun.
Going inside the pyramids
Firstly, it is not worth going into the pyramids at all. You see NOTHING. It is dark, cramped, smelly and dirty. You have to bend down to walk.
Secondly, you have to wait in a huge queue to get in to the stupid pyramid, and for what? To crouch in an empty dark tunnel??
And finally, the worst part of it all, you actually have to pay to go inside, see nothing, put up with the smell etc. It is such a waste of time, effort and money. You'll be glad to get out of the pyramid.
Unique Suggestions: Just look at the pyramid from the outside, marvel at it, gawp at it. Walk around it. You will enjoy this much more and you do not have to pay for it.
Fun Alternatives: As I said before, taking a walk around the pyramid(s) especially in the morning, before it gets too hot or crowded is extremely pleasant. You can admire the pyramids and the desert landscape and take some good photos.Related to:
- Family Travel
Patience, please, patience, my friends:)
So you finally arrived at sacred pyramids!You hop off the bus and........you want to get back to the bus at once as you step on the dirty ground and feel how camels can stink and how local inhabitants can accost to you.
Everyone is curious to get inside of the pyramid. As I had been worn out by that time, I preferred to stay in the bus, but those who came back told me that I hadn't lost anth special except maybe stuffyness that almost made faint my friend:)
Unique Suggestions: At least you are here! Enjoy a precious piece of history:) I don't think I'd like to get back there if I 'd have an opportunity, but there's no doubt I don't regret a bit, inspite of those CAMELS:D
TELL el-AMARNATell el-Amarna,...
Tell el-Amarna, site of the ancient Egyptian city Akhenaton, on the Nile River, north of the modern city of Asyût. Akhenaton was built during the reign of Amenhotep IV, better known as Akhenaton, sometime between 1350 and 1334 BC; the city served as the Egyptian capital until Akhenaton's death. The period during which Akhenaton was important is known in Egyptian history as the Amarna period.
In 1887, a peasant at Tell el-Amarna found about 400 tablets inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform. The tablets formed part of the correspondence, later known as the Amarna letters, of Akhenaton and his predecessor, Amenhotep III, with the governors in Palestine and Syria and the kings of Babylonia, Assyria, and Mitanni. These tablets and other archaeological remains serve as valuable sources of information about the Amarna period.
SUGGESTED READING: AKHENATEN - KING OF EGYPT ; by
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