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When you pay the entry fee at the entrance - you have just finished paying. Please remember that. The staff are trying very hard to either make you forget - or regret. Never, and I mean NEVER, pay anyone inside for anything. There is no charge for toilet paper, washing your hands or using the toilet in general. In fact, pack some wet wipes before you go. A lot of the staff have their hands out. I just shook those outstretched hands, spoke gibberish, and smiled.
Try not to get mad, but if it helps, go for it.
Updated Aug 21, 2012
After the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum is probably the next must-see destination in Cairo. It is the main repository of Egypt's ancient relics and antiquities - about 120,000 all in all - housed in a psychedelic pink neoclassical building. Such is the amount of priceless artifacts that the visitors are confronted with, that fully absorbing everything in one visit is impossible. Doing so would likely result in the visitor experiencing a serious case of 'pharaonic' fatigue.
Symptoms: (1) nausea from crowded galleries, having to move around through so many rooms within a short span of time, and from reading poorly done labels; (2) difficulty in breathing induced by dust gathering on some of the most priceless artifacts in the world; (3) time-zone maladies akin to jetlag from hearing so many languages spoken at the same time, in the same room; and (4) nightmares from face-to-face encounters with gory mummies dating back thousands of years.
Remedies: (1) visit the museum at least twice, tackling one floor at a time - this may be more expensive, but definitely worth it - everything here is priceless; (2) wear anti-dust protective masks (remember those SARS days?) which seem to be in vogue, at least among Japanese tourists; (3) bring your ipod and listen to your favorite music - or more suitably the Bangles' 80's hit Walk Like an Egyptian; and (4) conquer your fear of mummies by visiting the Royal Mummy Room, which will set you back by an additional EGP 100 (~USD 18) - but well worth it.
For a full recovery, tourists are encouraged to proceed to Alexandria after visiting Cairo.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
When we were in Egypt, of course we visited the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Although we were informed that it was forbidden to take pictures inside of the tombs, it was allowed to take your camera with you and our tour guide told us, that we could take some sneaky pictures when the servants were not looking, but NOT to use the flash.
Tourists as we are…we were taking pictures but there was one huge German tourist who was flashing around with his camera. This drew the attention of one of the servants but in stead of going to the German, he turned to me. I had to hand over my camera and I protested by saying “No, no, it wasn’t me, I did not take any pictures, it was him” Of course the servant was not stupid. He knew exactly how my camera worked and showed all the pictures I took inside, on the display of my camera. He did not want to return my camera and I was really afraid that he would delete all my pictures. He even threatened to call the police. My husband talked to him and offered him some money in return for the camera. Finally he agreed to give back the camera on our way out.
Pffff…..I was really scared but it was my own stupid fault. At the end, almost all pictures I took inside were of bad quality as it was simply too dark inside
Updated Jun 29, 2010
I have to admit I knew nothing about this area before we visited. It is an ancient area of Cairo dating back to the 6th century BC. We notice that the area is heavily guarded. We see armed police as we enter, with spiked chains ready to stop any intruding vehicle. As we walk the main street we also see guards behind heavy artillery shields
These are grim reminders of Egypt's ongoing battle against terrorism and remind us to stay alert
Written Apr 8, 2010
My husband and I were asked for proof that we were married in Luxor, even though we were both in our 60s and my passport is in my married name. It was becoming a big issue until I remembered I did have a much folded photocopy of our certificate. The mere fact I produced it was enough. They didn't even read it.This was in a 5 star hotel.
I now make sure I always have a copy. For unmarried couples or couples of mixed race, especially where one of the couple looks Egyptian, there could be problems, so it would probably be better if you avoid big hotels.
Written Apr 8, 2010
If you're trying to navigate your way about Cairo with the aid of a map you need to be both wary and imaginative. Apart from the fact that the street could very well have been renamed since you map was compiled and that streets are by no means always signed, there is the problem of transliteration. There is no generally accepted convention for transliteration between the Roman and Arabic scripts, so there is likely to be some discrepancy here, and as the photo shows there is not even any consistency from one street sign to the next. Add a map and a guide book to the equation and the confusion multiplies. And that's without even trying to make out the Arabic script. (Note the quasi-legible treatment of the word sharia (street) in the older of the two signs)
Updated Jan 15, 2010
Walking can be a hazard for the elderly, but people of all ages need to be careful walking in Cairo. There are few good pavements , and stepping off the kerb can be difficult as many are quite high. The surfaces are uneven, potholed, covered in rubble, and even when tiled areas can be sunken, raised or removed. High heels are hazardous too.
It is often easier to walk on the road itself, but the same hazards can be found in addition to water and garbage.
Written Oct 21, 2009
With the global danger of avian flu, Egypt took drastic measures by destroying millions of pounds of poultry, and making small poultry keepers move their birds indoors. In spite of this there have been deaths, mainly women who have hidden their birds inside their houses.
Chicken has disappeared from many restaurant menus, and from the shops.
In the Shooting Club , the cages of peacocks, parrots, guinea fowl etc are empty. The birds have been removed.
But in the public parks no one can stop the crows from enjoying their freedom, eating the remains of family picnics
Until an all clear is given , it is safer to avoid eating chicken or duck in cafes or restayrants, or buying chicken, stock cubes or other poultry based goods.
In 2009 when the swine flu was announced, the Egyptians slaughtered all pigs. At the airport , on arrival all passengers were made to have their temperature taken, and something shone into their eyes. A card with address and phone number had to be completed and given to the health authorities whose representatives were dressed in white with face masks.
Updated Oct 20, 2009
Its really not the dangers of Cairo that I want to to write about, more like a scam.. but I couldn't find a better subject line.
Well first off , its about the perfume factory. In most local sight seeing packages, a visit to the perfume factory will be included. Once in the factory, there will be a sales pitch about the centuries old perfume -making tradition, bla bla. .. and it will end with the long list of available payment options. A person from the shop will help you sample the perfumes. The stuff is outrageously priced, and most people will not use that kind of fragrance. So if you have a choice, and you are not addicted to exotic perfumes, ask the tour operator to skip this.
The same goes for carpet factories. Egyptian carpets are really not that great.
About the cruise with belly dancing and dinner . The quality of the food is mediocre, as is the quality of the belly dancer. The one we saw actually had a nice round belly !! The cruise typically starts late evening, and its soon too dark to see anything outside on the Nile. So for my money, do a day cruise and see the belly dance elsewhere . Another thing, the price of the meal is included in the cruise, but drinks are not. The waiter will ask you if you want a glass of wine. Say NO ! Its USD 15/- and tastes horrible.
Updated Sep 7, 2009
Be very careful even though everything between the two of you may be on the up-and-up, but you never know who may be watching. Some of the time if you are staying in a resort hotel you might be able to get away with staying in the same room or flat. Staying in a flat alone in Egypt is safe. (My girlfriend goes to Egypt all the time and stays alone). The problem is that on the surface Egypt may not look like a conservative country but it is. My husband and I were married and they would not allow us to stay in the same hotel room simply because we did not have our marriage stamp from the embassy! Occasionally even if a local man were to visit you in your flat that may arouse some suspicion. It is not out of the norm for someone who lives or frequents that building to ask for a little "Baksheesh" (tip) to look the other way. If you decide to room together just be careful. Just know that under the circumstances of a "tourist" and a local you may be being watched.
Written Jan 2, 2009
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