May 31, 2011

Cairo, Egypt- Travel Blog

CAIRO
I’ve decided it’d be a bit easier to split my travel blogs by cities, instead of countries- that way the post is shorter but you get the most out of my tips and information.

Honestly, this trip for me was a dream come true! Who hasn’t dreamt about seeing the Great Pyramids of Guiza, not to mention the famous Sphinx…. I know I have... eh, had! And I blame it all on the movie; The Mummy. Ever since the fearless Brandon Frasier; eh, I mean O’Connell, raised the infamous Imhotep from his grave- I knew that I’d one day have to visit this magical land filled with adventure, peril and romance. Of course, a couple years later I tragically realized that The Mummy was a phony. For starters it wasn’t even filled in Egypt; not one scene! Not to mention the story itself, although it was believable and VERY entertaining, came nowhere near the actual Egyptian legends…. I was heartbroken, I really was *tear* but that didn’t stop me from wanting to visit this country to experience true Egyptian culture and to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world.


PREPARATIONS:
My trip began with online reservations. I booked a two-week tour for my friend Theresa and I with Ramses Day Tours. They are ranked #1 tour group in tripadvisor.com, but I did do my homework before finally deciding on Ramses Tours. If you read other Travel blogs, you might have heard horror stories about Egypt. Some travel blogs stated that the majority of the online reservation tours are scams, others suggested that you just “wing it” and visit Egypt as your own tour guide. I don’t know about ya’ll, but when I visit a country I like learning about the people and their culture, and what better way than to have an actual citizen be your guide.

But, as you might imagine, I was very nervous when I finally contacted Ramses, and they wrote me back asking for a 10% deposit. I was very “ify”, but let me tell you- I followed their guideline/process for sending my payment and everything worked out perfectly. I went to a local Western Union, sent them my 10%, and the next day got a confirmation email saying my deposit was received and they couldn’t wait to meet me. So despite all the scam warnings, I’m here to tell you that Ramses Tours is a company you can trust.

climbing the Great Pyramid
With that being said, let me just mention that after my arrival at CAI (Cairo International Airport), there was no tour guide to be found. We were told that our tour guide would be holding a “Diana/Theresa” sign, but we couldn’t find him/her. As you may imagine, I was freaking out! It was actually my friend Teresa who calmed me down by reminding me that “obstacles become blessings” and right she was. Being the prepared tourist we are, we had Ramses contact info, and with help from a worker at the airport we were able to get a hold of the Ramses representative, and they sent out a driver to pick us at immediately…. Imagine our luck; we ran into an English speaking bathroom cleaner, and he let us borrow his cell to make the call…. Talk about being blessed, huh?! :) Upon being picked up we were told that as a courtesy we would be upgraded from our 3 to 5 star hotels throughout the 2 weeks. I think its safe to say that out obstacle really did become a blessing!

GREAT PYRAMIDS OF GIZA:
After a good nights rest, we got up bright and early because our first stop was the Great Pyramids of Giza. Mohammad, our tour guide, gave us a history lesson while we were there. The three main pyramids of Giza are the pyramid of Khufu (the great pyramid), Khafre, and Menkaure. The Great Pyramid is awesome and even taller and bigger in real life. You are even allowed to climb on it, just not allowed to climb to the top of it! Theresa and I bought tickets to go inside the Great Pyramid. The passageway is very steep and narrow and you have to walk it while hunched over! The passageway ends in the tomb's chamber, which in reality isn't much. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend buying tickets to go into the pyramid because it's not very exciting, just a strenuous climb, but how many people can say that they've been inside the Great Pyramid? So it's up to you, just know there's not much to see once your inside. After our visit to the Great Pyramid, I did a camel ride around the other two pyramids, Theresa was too scared :)haha!


OK, so I quickly learned that camels are not my favorite mode of transportation. First of all, camels are REALLY tall and it's a long way to fall to the ground! Secondly, by now it was midday and it was HOT. I mean, really, really HOT. Sure I enjoyed the surrounding scenery; there are three smaller pyramids towards the back, which were made for Khafu's wives, but after 10 minuets of riding in the sun, I suddenly felt really sick. Thankfully, the ride wasn’t much longer and I was able to get back to camp and drink a liter of cold water in one gulp.

SPHINX & THE EGYPTIAN MUSEUM:
Our next stop was the Sphinx. Theresa and I had our picture taken and we got a little bit of information from our tour guide. By this time I was feeling a bit woozy. Our tour guide told us that it was 38 C. Now, if I remember correctly, 38 C= approx 100 F! That's CRAZY! And let me remind you that my trip was in November.... NOVEMBER! It's supposed to be winter for crying out loud! But I guess the normal temperature rules don't apply in the middle of the Egyptian desert. After the Spinx, Mohammad quickly took us to a restaurant to grab a bit of lunch. I ate lots of pita and hummus. Food definitely helped and I felt ready for our next stop, which was the Egyptian Museum.   

This museum is just packed full of every Egyptian treasure you can imagine.  Mohammed gave us a quick basic tour of the first floor, then we were left on our own to visit exhibits such as King Tut's golden mask and tomb treasures and the mummy room, which houses eleven royal mummies. The whole second floor (or almost all of it) is dedicated to the treasures found in King Tut's tomb. Its amazing to see how much possessions he had and he was only Pharaoh for approx 10 years.... imagine if they found a closed tomb for a Pharaoh that lived his whole term; 40-50 years... they'd need 15 Egyptian museums just to display all his possessions. The Egyptian Museum is something that is well worth the entrance fee and is a must see for every tourist! But remember, there are no cameras are allowed in the museum (they store them away at the entrance of the museum) and there is no air conditioning... deodorant quickly became my best friend throughout my whole trip!

LODGING:
hummuusss!
Upon returning to our Hotel, Theresa and I had some dinner and off to bed it was.... which was surprisingly comfortable! We stayed at the Mercure Hotel and it was phenomenal. Clean, comfortable, friendly staff, awesome pool... Although lots of reviews on tripadvisor recommend staying only at known hotels (Marriot, Hilton, even Best Western), I found our stay at the Mercure to be super accommodating and I would recommend it to ANYONE looking for good, affordable hotel in Cairo near the Pyramids. 
 
SHOPPING AND NILE RIVER CRUISE:
The next day was a more relaxed, non rushed day. We spent the majority of the morning shopping for souvenirs, we visited a perfume factory and I bought myself a Lotus Flower scented oil. It smells delicious! We did make a quick stop at an Egyptian papyrus store... it was very educational. They walked us through the process in which the plant becomes the canvas or paper. Unfortunately I was running low on cash and I didn't have enough to buy one :( they were pretty expensive, but I can see why! They're hand made and BEAUTIFUL! We took a car/scenic route of Cairo (the city, not the desert) and visited a couple of Mosque's. I'll admit that I did jump the first couple of times the prayer calling came on. There are speakers ALL over the city and Egyptians take their prayer time very seriously. The calling is done 5 times a day for 20 mins (1 hour a day).
After yet another delicious, pita and hummus filled (I was addicted to that stuff) lunch, we took a private Nile River cruise. This was probably the funniest part of my afternoon. Our boat driver/navigator had this little boom-box on the boat and was blasting some Egyptian/Arabian music, which I must admit had an AWESOME beat to bit (I appreciate any kind of good music when I hear it). Once he noticed that I was tapping my foot to the rhythm of the music, he pretty much stopped our boat, and started belly dancing. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen, that boy could MOVE! Theresa and I cheered him on with some clapping, "Woo!" and "you go boy" comments, but he eventually got us dancing too. It was such a fun evening :) I definitely recommend taking a scenic river cruise.... Be on the lookout for this guy!


TIPS AND SUGGESTIONS:
Practice saying Shukran (pronounced show-kran), which means Thanks or thank you. Everyone and their moms expect you to give them a tip.... they all have this misconception that tourists are just loaded with money to hand out. Expect to give anyone who helps you a tip. Egyptian people are very friendly, don't be afraid to start a conversation... that is, if they speak English, which majority of the folks at the touristy spots do. You don't know how many people I befriended just by talking about soccer, or futbol. They couldn't believe that I was a soccer player (very rare in Egypt for a women to lay a "mans" sport). They where blown away when I started commenting on the 2010 World Cup and certain games/players. Also, make sure and exchange your money for Egyptian pounds. It makes it less of a hassle when your trying to bargain- which is something you should ALWAYS do! Never settle for the original price, they will bring it down, TRUST ME! When I was there 5 EP = $1 US. You can use my favorite exchange site to calculate the current value; http://www.xe.com/


Well guys, as far as Cairo, that is all I have to tell. The next day we got on a train towards Aswan, but I'll be doing that city (and many others) in separate blog spots. There's just so much to share about Egypt... Gosh, I hope this wasn't to boring for you y'all.  Let me know if you would like me to add details of a certain aspect of my trip or if you have any questions. Here are a couple more pictures of my visit to Cairo- enjoy :)

in front of the Egyptian Museum
educational demonstration on papyrus
Nile Cruise
giving the Sphinx a little farewell kiss...
Planning a trip to Cairo in the near future... have questions I didn't answer in my travel post? Please, dont hisitate to ask eithe rin the comments below or by email; lovelygetaway @ gmail.com
I'm here to help :)

70 comments :

  1. I'm glad for you!
    I was in Egypt for two weeks in March and I absolutely loved it!!!
    I was also visiting Cairo - it was so different from other places I visited in Egypt.
    Hopefully you enjoyed the rest of your trip!
    I'd lover to go back there!

    inga from http://www.ingasilbergbooks.com/

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  2. WOW, I LOVED this blog post! I've wanted to go to Egypt for a long time but I'll admit I chickened out after all the horror stories. We'll make it there eventually. My husband and I love to travel together! I've officially become a stalker of your blog! ~ Jen @ A Book and a Latte

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  3. Yay! I'm so glad you didn't get scammed! Awesome pictures, though I'm so jealous that you got to kiss a sphinx.

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  4. So cool! I like the pic of you on the camel.
    And omgosh, the pyramids are huge!! I never really had anything to compare. Really makes you wonder how they built them!

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  5. Oh. Em. Gee. Diana, this looks AMAZING. I am so jealous! But also happy you had such a good time. :)

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  6. I really liked your blog. Woow! I want to go to Egypt too. Loved the pictures :) - Em Book Angel

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  7. You just look so happy! I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip - I'm not a big traveler, but I love seeing photos of travels.

    And YAY for not being scammed!!!

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  8. You make me jealous! Grrr lol I've always had a special place in my heart for Egypt and you got to ride a camel!?!? *gawks* And how exciting to see those pyramids?! Crazy exciting... I'm so glad you had a great time, you look like you fit right in there! I love your posts becuase they take me there as well, thanks for letting me get to know a bit of Egypt!
    P.S. Lucky Sphinx!

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  9. I'm so jealous! This is somewhere I have wanted to go for years.

    I'm a new follower! :) I've been reading some of your reviews and they are good.

    Jules

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  10. New follower here and I have to say, I ADORE your blog!

    Thanks for sharing your trip with us, the photos are awesome and I just love all the tips you give along the way.

    Can't wait to come back and read more! :P

    Safe travels!

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  11. Girl - I am super jealous of you and super pumped for you that you are out there in the world!!! Favorite pic so far is you kissing the sphinx! LOVE IT!
    Be safe and keep us updated.

    And ps... you as the new Katniss? I SAY YES!

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  12. OH MY GOSH!!! *JEALOUS*

    Scared to fly... ;)

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  13. omg i'm so jealous it seems awesome :D

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  14. I never had such exciting travels ^^

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  15. This is a freakin AMAZING post! I loved all the pictures... I wish I had the $$ right now to go one such awesome travels. One day... one day...

    Thanks,
    Sarah from Inklings Read

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  17. I enjoyed a lot during my trip in Egypt i love pyramids looks very nice
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  18. Ooh, so jealous! Gorgeous pics, and I love the pyramids! I'd love to go to Egypt, and I'm glad you had so much fun! (:

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  19. You need to tell me what year you went! I was in Cairo, Egypt in 2005 for a few days on a tour. It was AMAZING - I'll have to dig up some old travel posts at some point and resurrect them. I didn't do much blogging then, just journal writing. You have amazing pictures!

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  20. Happy you enjoyed the trip! I visited Cairo a few years ago and I liked it a lot! ;)

    Nice blog! I'm a new follower! :)

    Silvia
    http://darkestsins.blogspot.com/

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  21. Did I not comment?? I totally read this post! Ack. sorry! I came on here to see if you did an IMM vlog, and decided to check and see if I actually commented. I guess not. :/

    You're so cute. I love all of the pictures.

    I bet it was scary hiring tour guides and not being 100% sure that they were even going to show up. I'm so glad they did! I bet you learn so much more having someone to show you around.

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  22. A huge tourism project .. Are now equipped to be finished in 2010, and has already begun a propaganda campaign in every country in the world
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  25. I think you enjoyed the visit to Egypt very much. Good and thanks for sharing your visit for us. You are looking so beautiful in these pics. Can you share some more pics of you? flights for pakistan

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  27. You Didn't try para sailing in Egypt for more fun plz
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  29. This is a pretty cool blog and nice photos! This inspires me to get a reservation for a holidays to Egypt very soon.

    Lovely post! :)

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  35. Egyptians, the pyramids stand and large today, thousands of years later.
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    Egypt is a country that is reminiscent of vast deserts and huge pyramids towering. Located in the northeastern part of the African continent, this country was inhabited by advanced societies and cultures for thousands of years and is still a place of mystery and intrigue to this day. Of all the topics surrounding this part of the world, ancient pyramids in Egypt must be the most interesting and documented. These pyramids were built by a large company in history.
    The pitch period of Egypt would have started around the year 3500 BC, and is said to have completed around 30 BC, when the Roman Empire in Egypt. During these three thousand years more, many leaders, or pharaohs, oversaw the country by different dynasties. Most pharaohs decided to have pyramids built so they would last places where opulent rest must be buried.
    The shape of the pyramids in Egypt is said to have been derived from the primordial mound Egyptians believed that the primitive Earth was created from. It is also important for the form is that the pyramids were built as burial chambers, and the Egyptians are thought to have believed that this form would help "launch" the deceased in the afterlife ( in a tunnel at the highest pyramid - it shows in the Great Pyramid of Giza). Pyramids were also originally covered with a coating of white limestone, to give them a brilliant appearance when viewed from a distance. It was because of the third reason for the shape of the pyramid - an echo of the sun.
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  37. In Egypt there are various attractive places to see, but Great Pyramids of Guiza are one of the attractive pyramids in the Egypt for all visitors. You explain about these places in a mannered way which is enough to get attracted towards these historical places. For luxury trip in Egypt visit with us: Egypt Holidays

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  38. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, I like your blog and your selected photo. Cairo is the most popular city for traveling. I am travel operator in Egypt. My online portal name is travelegyptholidays.com; you can find all the required information here.

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  45. Hi, I always thought of going to Egypt someday. Thanks for the info!

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  46. Wooow, what amazing holiday to Egypt. I hope to be with you in the next time to see another ancient cities of egypt

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  48. These are really great pictures. It looks like you had a fun time. I'm heading there soon with http://isram.com/isram/category/egypt/ Can't wait to go! Thank you again for sharing your travel journey

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  49. Your all trips seems stupendous and all pics are amazing. You enjoyed lot. I have been there couple of time and I really enjoyed ocean diving and soaking sun with nile yacht egypt.

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  51. Cairo is such a lovely city. I want to visit the country again...hope it is safe to do so now!
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  59. Enjoy the lovely tours from cairo airport with let's explore Egypt

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