Written by Prosperine on 05 Jan, 2011
So, you want a culinary experience when you are in Cairo, other than hotel food, American fast food or some snack you brought from the airport? There are a number of exotic restaurants from Lebanese to Syrian to Asian to Indian, so many menus will…Read More
So, you want a culinary experience when you are in Cairo, other than hotel food, American fast food or some snack you brought from the airport? There are a number of exotic restaurants from Lebanese to Syrian to Asian to Indian, so many menus will have items from these cultures as well.Here are some foods that you may come across that I have been told are truly Egyptian....Foul Mudammas - (pronounced "fool") is a vegetarian dish of mashed beans served with onion, parsley, chili powder, cumin powder and olive oil. With a consistency of hummus and babagannoush, this dish is eaten for breakfast!Falafel - a patty of ground chickpeas deep fried and coated with sesame seeds. I was told that falafel originated in EgyptShawarma - spit roasted meat usually beef, chicken or lamb served with grilled tomato and onions and a tahini sauceTahini - paste of ground sesame seedsAlbalady bread - a puffy light flat bread, slightly coated in semolina....Kebab - chunks of meat, at times boneless and ground meats grilled on skewers. In general I have found the chicken is much better than the beef in Egypt. Koshary - (vegetarian dish) a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni in a tomato salsaFateer - phyllo pie with honey or molasses drizzled on top served with a dollop of cream and powdered sugar Close
Bear in mind that a city that grew to have 21 million inhabitants may not have had the infrastructure to handle the same amount of automobile and motorcycle drivers. While I was told that the train system was safe and fast, there was nothing that…Read More
Bear in mind that a city that grew to have 21 million inhabitants may not have had the infrastructure to handle the same amount of automobile and motorcycle drivers. While I was told that the train system was safe and fast, there was nothing that could be done to curb the nightmare traffic jams that could make a 1 mile drive up the street take 45 minutes. Best advice: Plan to make an early morning of things in order to get where you need to go on time...there is always traffic, but it seems to double at 8-9am. If you aim to get to the Egyptian Museum, you may want to get there early anyway to avoid the crowds. If you are on a tour that is driving to Giza to see the pyramids, you may want to leave early before 9am.Also be aware that the smog in the city is awful. The car exhaust especially while in traffic could give you a hacking cough for days...there is not much you can do to avoid this since if you put up the windows the exhaust manages to seep in anyhow. Don't let this adversely affect your trip! Cairo is an interesting city to explore and well worth it! Close
Written by Mark Gokingco on 27 Oct, 2010
Remember that we spent the night at the Fairmont Nile City Cairo as part of the Ramses Tour package. (See my review). Our days started out late and without breakfast as you know. (See my story in Day 8) We met Mohamed at…Read More
Remember that we spent the night at the Fairmont Nile City Cairo as part of the Ramses Tour package. (See my review). Our days started out late and without breakfast as you know. (See my story in Day 8) We met Mohamed at almost 9am even though we said 7:30am for breakfast. He still waited and was not at all fazed by our tardiness. In fact, he became furious when he found out the wakeup call did not work and he was the one who initiated the conversation with the manager. He was pretty harsh at them but it is his tour company’s reputation and our valuable time wasted. Either way, it is another testament to Ramses Tours commitment to customer service. After getting back to the van, he assured us that we would still keep our itinerary and said that luckily, because we are in a private tour, hiccups like this can easily be absorbed without loss. Right before our visit to the Citadel of Saladin, he stopped at a local restaurant and gave us these breakfast falafels that were apparently vegetarian patty within pita bread. SUPER DELICIOUS and he said that it was going to be the compliment of Ramses Tours since we missed our breakfast. The beautiful Citadel built by the Saracen King Saladin during the times of the Crusade sits well preserved. The Mosque built by the Ottoman Empire some years later, is in pristine condition. A visit within the Mosque was included. Just remember that strict dress codes are enforced. No shoulders or knees showing at any time. You MUST take off your shoes before entering the Mosque so make sure you bring yourself a pair of socks in your pack if you are a bit squeamish of walking bare foot. However, don’t be too alarmed if you don’t. The interior of the Mosque is super clean, polished and dustless. The reason is that it is a strict rule of Islam that the floors of all Mosques must be clean so that during prayer time, all Muslims can kneel and touch their foreheads on the ground without getting it dirty. In fact, if the floor is dirty during prayer, the prayer itself is null and void and will not be accepted as one of 5 prayers a good Muslim must do during the day.The more I learn about the Muslim religion, culture and the people of Islam, the more I am impressed. The religion of Islam is not based on beliefs most Westerners fear. In fact, if you really look into the true believers of Islam, you will find many of their core beliefs are the same to all good religions. Don’t steal, don’t kill, love your brothers and sisters, protect the innocent and so on. All these must sound familiar does it not?Our next visit was one of the most anticipated… the National Archeological Museum in Cairo where over 200,000 pieces of Ancient Egyptian artifacts are stored on display. The entire collection of Tutankhamen including the golden mask, his tomb and ornate sarcophagus are all there lying to be seen as well as other most interesting artifacts. I warn you that this Museum gets VERY busy so get there as early as possible and be patient because there will be hundreds of people there. One thing that was a disappointment was that you cannot take photos in the Museum itself. In fact, they force you to check your cameras in while you enter through a metal detector so this is why there are no photos attached.Our next stop was the small town of Sakkara where one of the first pyramids like tomb was first created. It wasn’t a true pyramid but more like step like platforms in increasingly shrinking area until it is a point at the top. The actual pyramid use to be surrounding by a menacing 30 feet protective wall surrounded by many falls doors. Of course, most of the walls have since disappeared but a piece of the wall surrounding the entrance still stands.Afterwards, we saw the fairly intact, giant statue of Ramses II lying on its back. The statue was enormous. The matching pair (still fully intact) is actually standing today in the Giza Plateau where a new museum will be built around it. They expect completion of the new museum in about 3 or 4 years though our guide though that was a bit optimistic given the economy.Our final stop was lunch which was a restaurant picked by Mohammed right outside the pyramid of Saqqara. Grilled chicken and some grilled meatballs were oh so delicious. Even a better meal than the day before.The drive back to the ship was uneventful and even though traffic was bad, we got back to the ship at exactly 6pm. Ramses Tours was all they said they are. The tours were private, the guide was knowledgeable and the itinerary was spectacular and best of all, on-time. Close
Written by frangliz on 16 Jul, 2010
TOP 10 CAIRO & THE NILE(DK Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides)by Andrew Humphreys'Top 10 Cairo & the Nile' opens with the ten unmissable highlights including the pyramids of Giza, the mosque of Al-Azhar, the temple of Philae and the Valley of the Kings. Carrying on…Read More
TOP 10 CAIRO & THE NILE(DK Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guides)by Andrew Humphreys'Top 10 Cairo & the Nile' opens with the ten unmissable highlights including the pyramids of Giza, the mosque of Al-Azhar, the temple of Philae and the Valley of the Kings. Carrying on from there, other top tens featured in the guide are temples, Islamic architecture, museums, souvenirs, restaurants and children's attractions. There is something for everyone, whether the interest is Egyptology, mosques, or contemporary culture. You can find out about festivals, whether religious or secular, and discover the ten most typical Egyptian dishes, including koshari and molokhiya.The next section of the book gives top tens according to area: central Cairo, old Cairo, beyond Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan and Lake Nasser. There is a fair amount of information here on monuments, museums, restaurants, places to shop, outdoor activities and cultural venues. Coptic Cairo is featured as well as Pharaonic and Islamic monuments. The Top 10 Unmissable Experiences is a fascinating list that includes a variety of suggestions for tasting Egyptian life. These range from drifting in a felucca (sailing boat) to visiting a belly-dancing club.The final section of the book is entitled Streetsmart and opens with practical information such as how to get to Egypt, how to travel around once you are there, and where to find information. There is even a page listing ten things to avoid, from getting drunk to public displays of affection. There are nine pages on accommodation, from luxury to budget hotels in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel, plus several in Alexandria and Port Said – the top ten of each are listed. The index to the guide covers six pages and seems to be pretty comprehensive. The Phrase Book, however, consists of a mere two pages and is therefore very limited. It includes sections on emergencies, eating out, hotels, shopping, numbers and days of the week as well as generally useful words. If your knowledge of Arabic is extremely limited and you are staying any length of time, you will need a more comprehensive phrase book than this.There are maps of Cairo and the Nile and Cairo North inside the fold-out front cover, while the back flap also gives plans of Cairo South as well as Alexandria, Aswan and Luxor, Karnak and Thebes. There is in addition a pull-out map and guide giving sixty ideas on how to spend a day. There are a few other maps dotted throughout the book, but some of these are very small.'Top 10 Cairo & the Nile' is a light-weight guide whose small format makes it perfect for carrying around. Many of the photographs are quite tiny, but they are all in colour and make for an attractive guide. The amount of information will likely be enough for tourist spending a week or two in the areas featured, but anyone intending to live in Cairo or make an extended stay in Egypt will probably need a more detailed guide book.Paperback, 144 pagesDK Publishing, 2009ISBN 97814055343343 Close
Written by frangliz on 16 Jan, 2010
Having lived in Egypt for over twenty years, I thought I would like to write a review of Egyptian cuisine. For the first few years I lived with my in-laws, and it wasn't exactly a typical household as my mother-in-law was a French Jewess, but…Read More
Having lived in Egypt for over twenty years, I thought I would like to write a review of Egyptian cuisine. For the first few years I lived with my in-laws, and it wasn't exactly a typical household as my mother-in-law was a French Jewess, but I believe she had begun life in Turkey and moved to Cairo at the age of about three. She did not work and her kitchen was her palace.My husband loved his mother's cooking: he wanted me to eat traditional Egyptian food from the start and eventually learn to cook it myself. I resented somewhat his refusal to try any of my favourite recipes, but I wasn't averse to learning new ones.One noticeable difference between Egyptian and British cuisine is the way vegetables are cooked. Green beans, the ubiquitous courgettes, or possibly peas with carrots would first be sauteed. Something called samn, similar to ghee, would normally be used, but we switched to oil as a healthier option. Tomato puree and just a small amount of water would be added, the vegetables then being left to simmer gently until tender. Sometimes small pieces of beef, or mince in the case of peas and carrots, would be added at the start as well as a grated onion. (How many buckets of tears did I cry over grating those onions?)Artichoke hearts were available fresh or frozen. Again they would be sauteed with some mince and a little flour, but this time lemon juice would be added with a limited amount of water for simmering. I soon learned to cook these successfully and remember the day when my other half said my artichokes were better than his mother's. Her reply was 'il baraka fil 'usta' - congratulations go to the master (who taught me).Stuffed vegetables are of course very popular - courgettes, or a thin white variety of aubergine, or green peppers. Stuffed vine leaves are usually the favourite. I had had these at a Greek restaurant in Manchester's Oxford Road in my student days, but I remember how large they were. The Egyptian ones must be as slender as a finger: a time-consuming process that is often carried out the previous evening. I remember once serving meat with stuffed vegetables and being told that anything stuffed counted as rice; I should therefore have cooked a separate vegetable as well. Considering how long I had spent preparing the meal, I thought that was a tall order.A version of lasagne using penne rather than sheets of lasagne is one of the most filling dishes. Like most main courses, it would be served with a salad of lettuce, cucumber and tomato, perhaps grated carrot or sliced onion, to provide vitamins. Those wealthy enough to buy meat might serve it as an accompaniment, probably as escalope fried in egg and breadcrumbs.One of my favourite winter starters was lentil soup, the lentils being boiled first in a pressure cooker. Then the usual grated onion was sauteed in oil and the lentils added. It was served with ground cumin. I think I miss this dish more than any other since returning to England.In the summer we had a soup-like dish that I believe is considered as a vegetable: moloukhia. It is a green leaf that has to be finely chopped and then cooked in chicken stock. A separate, cooked tomato sauce can be added upon serving: that may sound unusual but I found it to be a delicious combination. Bread is served as well. The idea of a hot, soupy vegetable in the height of summer may not seem appealing, but there was something refreshing about it to me.Chicken was usually a weekend dish in our family. Chickens in Egyptian are usually boiled until the goodness must have gone out of them - the equivalent of what we do with our vegetables. But the stock is always used to make soup, with the addition of rice. My mother-in-law always cooked potatoes in a certain way to go with chicken, but I have a feeling this is a Jewish rather than an Egyptian dish. (I'd be interested to hear from anyone who knows.) The potatoes are cut into as thin chip-shapes as possible and are then deep fried until light golden brown. Just before serving, they are immersed in a small amount of chicken stock which they readily absorb. Unusual, but very enjoyable.Fish is plentiful in Egypt, especially in Alexandria. It is one of the few foods that can be enjoyed from traditional takeaway shops (as opposed to Macdonalds) in Cairo. It is often fried or grilled, but sometimes baked in the oven with onions, peppers and tomatoes. We usually had rice and tahina as an accompaniment.Not many Egyptians seem to be vegetarians by choice, but of course many people simply cannot afford to buy meat. You may have come across coshary, which consists of rice with lentils, some short macaroni, a rich, cooked tomato sauce and a topping of crisp fried onions. An inexpensive, very filling meal that provides some protein and vitamins. It is now easy to find felafel in UK supermarkets - Egyptians call it taamiya, and it is a popular breakfast dish eaten with flat bread. I never took a liking to foul, perhaps because I used to see my mother-in-law picking over the beans to see if there were any bugs in them! But foul is an excellent source of second class protein (especially if a few bugs have been missed).Desserts don't seem to be a big feature of Egyptian meals, perhaps because of the plentiful supply of fruit. Cake shops are common, and birthday cakes are usually enormous affairs. Then at the end of Ramadan homemade 'cahk' are traditionally served, which are biscuity petits fours. During Ramadan (at night of course), baklava and conafa are very common. It sometimes seemed that people were almost eating more during Ramadan than the rest of the year, although I admired the way many people went about their daily lives without so much as a drop of water passing their lips.Egyptian Christians also observe very strict periods of fasting when they eat no fat or meat of any kind. Olive sandwiches seem to be the norm for weeks on end. I can't imagine many of us being so strict about our food.There is a wide variety then, and I haven't even mentioned kebabs and kofta, perhaps because we are now so familiar with them. I didn't actually eat them very often while I was in Egypt. On the whole I would say I prefer Indian food to Egyptian, but many women put a great deal of time and effort into their cooking with excellent results. I haven't visited the country for several years now, and I do wonder if ready meals have reached the supermarkets yet or whether tradition still prevails. Close
Written by nofootprint on 28 Dec, 2009
Coptic Cairo 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…Read More
Coptic Cairo 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 Our first stop is the Fortress of Babylon built here by the Romans. The plaque outside is written in both Arabic and the Cryptic language.At one time as many as twenty churches were built in this small one square mile area. Today only 5 remain.Next we stop by the famed "Hanging Church" (Saint Virgin Mary’s Church) . It turns out to be just that; it literally hangs between two towers. Built in the 3rd century AD ,it is quite and amazing structure and the ceiling is built to represent Noah’s Arc. We stop to see the many relics of saints and martyr all whose fate too horrific to even write about. They died as they lived for their faith.For the most part the church is quite rustic , which is understandable considering its age. The heavy doors are inlaid with ebony and ivory and the huge pillars are of marble. There are 13 pillars designed to represent the 12 apostles and Christ. The floors have escape hatches, which were used through the ages to save the lives of the priests and their followers during attacks.Next we descend (filthy steps) to the original streets of the city to pay a visit to Saints Sergius and Bacchus Church. Dating back to the 6th century BC this church is built upon the Holy Crypt where Joseph Mary and Jesus are said to have taken refuge for three months during their flight into Egypt fleeing Herod. The Church itself is quite a simple structure and thankfully nothing like other religious sites we have seen, like Lordes in France which is wildly ornate and "built for the tourist dollar’. We aren’t permitted to take pictures of the crypt however, I’m not really sure why. Maybe it is to boost the postcard sales. Really there’s not much to photograph anyway as its just a sort of cellar. Greek Chapel of St GeorgeThere is a lot of reconstruction still going on here ,so we took only a quick stop. Inside the majority of the church is strewn with rubble. The highlight is a chamber featuring a chain that was used to hang St George. The faithful take there turn kissing the chain and receiving the blessing.Our guide encouraged us to take the short walk to the old graveyard. Here, behind the church we see a mixture of old and relatively new tombs .It’s a rough trek to get there through a disgusting entrance of trash and rubble to reach the run down site . A quick look was enough for us.The Jewish SynagogueAfter the fall of Jerusalem in around 70 AD, the area saw an influx of Jews, and it's here where Egypt's oldest synagogue, Ben Ezra is located. No pictures allowed here and the security protested when I took a pictures of the outside.Leaving the narrow and ancient streets of Coptic Cairo behind we head for the Old Cairo Market called Khan el-Khalili Bazaar. This has been high on my list since we first arrived so I was filled with excitement and anticipation.Built in the 14th century this market is still a vibrant and exciting place to shop. The tiny shops are filled with copper, silver, Egyptian robes, scarves, spices , souvenirs and more. Bargaining is both expected and necessary. Prices often start 3 or 4 times the going price. Its difficult to browse as the sellers start a hard sales pitch the minute you just glance at an item. With that aside we felt safe and welcome here. The venders though persistent were friendly and fun. One thing to note here is to watch where you are going as it would be easy to get lost. The little streets seem to wind in and out without much pattern. We met our guide in an ancient coffee shop called al-Fishawi. This is Egypt's most famous, and most place where shoppers still gather to smoke the shisha ( water pipe) as they have for hundreds of years. Our time here flew by and we could have used more. I was happy with my purchase of a lovely silver necklace with tiny stones and earring to match. I don’t know if I overpaid but I was happy with the $72.00 that I paid and it is stamped with the silver 925 numbers. Close
Written by nofootprint on 27 Nov, 2009
Our first view of the Cheops (also called the Pyramid of Khufu ) was from our restaurant window at lunch, as it simply towers over Giza. It’s surreal to sit eating pita and hummus while gazing at one of the top wonders of the…Read More
Our first view of the Cheops (also called the Pyramid of Khufu ) was from our restaurant window at lunch, as it simply towers over Giza. It’s surreal to sit eating pita and hummus while gazing at one of the top wonders of the world. We wonder what took us so long in making this trip. After lunch we’re anxious to get a closer look!!I think this is one time when the word "Amazing" is appropriate. Just to see the guards on camels in the shade of the massive Pyramid is unbelievable. Before we take any more pictures we walk together to touch the ancient Pyramid wall and congratulate ourselves for finally being able to scratch this off our life goal list!I thought the whole place would be mobbed with visitors but there were far fewer than I imagined. Maybe Sept is somewhat off-season.Cheops Pyramid is the oldest and largest of the three in Giza. Built around 2500 BC it took 20 years to construct and is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still intact. No one knows for sure how the Great Pyramids were built . Some say by slaves and others think peasants built them as a "make work" project during floods. The rising waters would have aided in the movement of stones. It’s hard to believe there are actually 120 Pyramids scattered about, that we know of!We also have time to see the mortuary temple in honor of Khufu, three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives. We thought it was nice of him to build them but of course they were much smaller!. We also saw the slightly smaller Pyramid of Kaffre builder of the Great Sphinx. A few hundred meters away the much smaller Pyramid of Menkaure, Khafre's . These explain why all the venders sell the souvineer sets of Pyramids in three. Pyramid building continued until the Middle Kingdom but sadly suceeding Dynesties robbed all of them to build new monuments. Last but not least on our visit the this complex,was the Great Sphinx. What trip to Egypt would be complete without a stop at the Sphinx! The Sphinx is the guard of the Royal buriel chambers and the Temple of Cheops. Our guide tells a huge mound of granite was infront of the Pyramid Complex and the King thought it spoiled the view.Thus the Sphinx was cleverly carved in its place.Each evening there is a Sound & Light Show near the Pyramids. Although I hear it is a good show ,we chose to keep our $100.00 (price for two with transportation) and enjoy the Pyramids as they were before technology.Security is toght all around the Pyramids. We see lots of guards with kalishmikob rifles and tourist police on horseback, camel, and in heavy armoured vehicles. . This is in an effort to secure tourists from terrorist attacks. It gives us a feeling of unease and is a grime reminder of troubles in the past.Alas, the day is not over before a visit to the "Perfume Factory" where as expected everything is hugely overpriced. This is at the urging of our guide who I’m sure is hopeful we will buy so he can get some commission!With our shopping trip aside, this was an incrediable day. We are exhausted now however and are happy to kick back with a casual dinner and a drink poolside at our hotel. Close
Written by nofootprint on 25 Nov, 2009
Once we figured out we were an hour early ( didn’t know there was an hour time change) we were on our way with our guide for the Cairo area with Saed and our driver Tony. Saed is a walking history book ----he’s quite a…Read More
Once we figured out we were an hour early ( didn’t know there was an hour time change) we were on our way with our guide for the Cairo area with Saed and our driver Tony. Saed is a walking history book ----he’s quite a serious man but we learn to appreciate his amazing knowledge of Egyptian history. Our first stop to day is Memphis. This city was built by Pharaoh King Menes . Once the capitol in 3500BC and due to heavy trades, the city flourished . In ancient times Memphis had many fine palaces, large Temples and beautiful gardens. With the arrival of the Greeks the Egyptian Capital was moved from Memphis to Alexandria and Memphis suffered considerably. This was the beginning of the end. It is now mostly in ruins with shabby buildings and very poor residents. Once we check through the security post we are in the open air museum of Memphis. We see many monuments of Ramses 11 and many more treasures left behind by the early inhabitants. Saed tells us a farmer discovered the huge granite monuments when he was tilling his field found the site…quite a harvest !! King Ramses II was the Greatest Pharaoh King of Ancient Egypt belonging to the19th Dynasty. He was had a strong build and was taller than average at about 5 feet 9 inches tall. Most Egyptians were at least 5 inches shorter than this. He also lived to be 96 years (although at that time average Egyptian lived up to around 45 years of age). He had 200 wives, 60 sons and more than 100 daughters.The massive Colossus of Ramses inside the Museum is the grand finale. It is an enormous statue carved in limestone about 10m (33.8 ft) long. Some of the original colors are still partly preserved.. The fallen colossus was found near the south gate of the temple of Ptah . Because of its enormous size where it lies is where it will remain. It was once offered to France as a gift but moving it proved to be to difficult.Our next stop on this exciting first day of Egypt is to see the famous Step Pyramid. The Step Pyramis is located in Sqqara not far from Cairo. We are so excited to see our first Pyramid and it is appropriate as this one is the oldest of the120 or so Pyramids. It was constructed around 2600BC and was built in stages. The original structure was an underground burial chamber . Today most of the outer casings are gone and though it is an incredible sight one can only imagine what it once looked like .The whole experience with the guards on the camel on the desert hills, the towering Pyramid and all the mystery in holds and the beating Egytian sun reminds us of why we love to explore new lands. We spend almost and hour taking pictures from every angle.The Burial ChamberInside the Burial Chamber pictures are not allowed in an effort to preserve the ancient works for generations to come. Here we see clearly ancient pictures depicting people living as they once did at about 2600BC. Giant squid and fish that are now extinct are carved into the stone . We see Nile crocodile and hippos that have long since disappeared from this area as well as the fishermen that harvested them with spears. We see tables laden with food and farmers fields with crops waiting to be harvested. Its all here for us to see so many thousands of years later. We wonder with all our technology what record of our lives will stand the test of time to tell our story. Close
Written by LAFRAGIA on 22 Nov, 2008
In February 2008, we journeyed to Egypt and had the opportunity to visit Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel and take a cruise down the Nile River. This land takes your breath away! I myself became teary eyed. For the thought…Read More
In February 2008, we journeyed to Egypt and had the opportunity to visit Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel and take a cruise down the Nile River. This land takes your breath away! I myself became teary eyed. For the thought I am standing in the mist of structures, lands, and monuments that were created and spoken of during biblical times. I thought to myself, I am touching a stone of the Pyramids Of Giza. The pyramids, that to this day- the world still wonders how such a thing was built. So many people want to make the journey I have just taken. Here I am, able to enjoy such a beautiful sight and take photos throughout the land. We stayed in Egypt for a week. We were fully escorted throughout Egypt by personnel from NOGA tours. Which I must add was an exception to all the rules. They had the best prices ever! The prices booked through NOGA tours were so less expensive than any other tour and yet they did everything that the other tour companies charged hundreds of dollars more for. They were waiting for us at the airport as promised, they had our hotels booked, and our transportation and future air travel from Cairo to Luxor arranged. On day three we boarded our cruise ship for the next 3 nights. Our guides were very professional, well groomed, spoke English fluently, and translated whenever we needed something. The guides took us around Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Even at the last minute we wanted to go to Abu Simbel and they made it happen. Our Abu Simbel excursion was even much cheaper than any other rate we were quoted while still planning the trip back in the United States. Unlike most tour companies, we did not pay one cent until we arrived in Cairo. They did request all monies paid in full (USD) upon arrival at the hotel, yes, with some hesitation we wondered, but I read a previous review, they also stated being required the same thing. The review I read prior to my own travels also gave kudos to NOGA tours. We traveled in February so the weather was quite cool. The transportation vehicle accommodated air condition and heat. Each vehicle had a driver and a guide. The only thing that was not included in our tour was one dinner on our arrival, any beverages outside of tea or water, and entrance fees into the monuments (which may have totaled $60 for the entire week.) Like most tours, you leave a tip for the guide. This is where it was tricky because I did not do my research on tipping in this area prior to my travel and did not know what a "normal tip" was. Yep! We ended up over tipping, but the tip I gave I felt they deserved, so no harm there. They recommended additional tours while there, like the Felucca ride to the banana islands and the hot air balloon ride in Luxor. I double agree on the hot air balloon ride. That was an absolute must to sail over Luxor and watch the sunrise from the sky! It was so peaceful up there. Then to look down at the Valleys of the Kings and Queen and the Colossus of Memnon, and some other monuments and temples we didn’t even get the chance to see. I could go on and on and on about our tour. I will recommend NOGA Tours to anyone. I plan to visit this country again. When I come back I will bring my children and we will book through NOGA Tours and maybe do a three day extension to the Red Sea. I was very impressed! Close
Written by jim on 06 Jul, 2004
On the way to see the State Pyramids at Sakurra, we stopped at a carpet factory at Ensultan. It was a short stop, but one of my favorite sites. You get a tour of the back rooms where the actual carpets are made.…Read More
On the way to see the State Pyramids at Sakurra, we stopped at a carpet factory at Ensultan. It was a short stop, but one of my favorite sites. You get a tour of the back rooms where the actual carpets are made. Then you get to go in front to the display room, where you can actually buy a carpet to have shipped home.
There are many different levels of carpet weaver and many different types of carpet. The more experienced the carpet weaver, the more expensive and sophisticated the carpet. Amazingly, little kids at the age of seven were in the back rooms weaving carpets. Of course, there were also much older workers doing the more difficult jobs. Unfortunately, the little kids oftentimes have to work instead of going to school. They aren’t paid very much and this isn’t the most highly regarded trade, but the carpets are absolutely beautiful.
The display room itself was overwhelming but quite a treat. You are taken to your own area of the room. Then you are shown all kinds of rugs in an attempt to get you to buy one. I had no idea how to judge the quality or the value, but I was told (by my guide) that this is where some of the fiercest haggling in Egypt occurs. I saw hundreds of rugs I wanted to take home, but the nicer ones are still quite expensive (several hundred to several thousand dollars apiece). I decided a purchase of that magnitude was best left to a joint decision, so I used the absence of my girlfriend as my excuse for not purchasing (which was true, but not much solace for the merchant).
If you plan to purchase a rug, do some research and bring a decent amount of money (or a high credit card limit). You will definitely be tempted, and this is one of the nicest things you can buy during your trip to Egypt.