Egypt Stories and Tips

Tips for Egypt

On the filthy streets of Cairo Photo, Egypt, Africa

The first tip would be: Don't drive in Egypt. As our wonderful Tour Director pointed out to us, the lanes marked on the highways and streets are mere suggestions. No one follows them. If there are 3 lanes marked, there are at least 4 lanes of traffic. And what traffic! We had cause to be in taxis a few times and it is hair-raising, to say the least. Cars race each other, weaving in and out, racing and then slamming on brakes, and during all this, there are people crossing the roads! Taking their lives in their hands! I had to sit back and close my eyes.

Shopping in Egypt is not comfortable. At all the markets you will be approached and offered items; as you walk away, the price will drop precipitously. Don't make eye contact if you don't want to be approached and led into a shop. Saying "No" didn't seem to help, although saying "Nein" did seem a bit effective; perhaps Germans are known not to buy anything!

A lot of the stuff is not real - the "papyrus" bookmarks and other items are usually not really papyrus. There are shops were the papyrus is made - your guide will probably take you to one - and there the stuff is real. Much of the alabaster, too, is fake; again, there are legitimate shops for this.

Be very careful, if you do go on your own, about a camel ride. There are legitimate people who do this and there are others who will tell you a price, and then take you out to the desert and demand a lot more to bring you back.

Cairo itself is filthy and unattractive. The dust from the desert swirls in and covers everything. And garbage is left on the streets. Our guide insisted that because people were brought up with it this way they would miss it if it were cleared up.

Another problem is the lack of building codes. Where we live in Nice, one must have the same color awnings and shutters as the rest of the building. In Cairo it seems that anything goes. There are windows of different shapes and materials on the same building; there are different tiles or paints on the outer walls; there are satellite dishes and air conditioners sticking out everywhere. This lack of consistency makes for a chaotic appearance; not attractive at all.

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