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13 Things I learned in Cairo

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Iowa
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79 posts
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13 Things I learned in Cairo

1- Tipping wasn’t a big deal just be sensible and you’ll get along just fine. Don't forget your guide and driver. Getting small bills for tips (1 or 5 LE notes) is as easy as buying a bottle of water with a 20 LE note.

2- The market is insane and full of cheap stuff. You’ll need to look hard to find something uniquely Egyptian to bring home. Ask the local experts before you go. They live there after all they'll know where to find what you're looking for.

3- As mentioned by others take baby wipes/tissues/sanitizing wipes everywhere. They come in handy in any number of ways. Slide a travel pack of wipes in a zip lock and it will usually fit your pocket. Most bathroom attendants offer two maybe three squares for all your needs so take your own.

4- In general Cairo felt very safe there was a visible police presence every where we went.

5- Beware apparently it’s common practice to spray insecticide in the cabin of the aircraft prior to departure from Egypt. If you’re pregnant or have breathing difficulties you may want to pack an activated carbon mask for you flight out.

5- Before you go sign up for a Skype account. Most hotels have an internet café close by. The one by our hotel, the flamenco, already had head sets for use by it’s patrons but you may want to pack one just in case. We called our son every night and it cost us 2.1 cents a minute (yes two point one cents) plus 6 LE per hour for the use of the computer, less than $5 for a week of calling through Skype. The connection was better than in our home in Iowa. It’s cheap and very easy to use. I have a Sandisk Cruzer with U3, a type of thumb drive. It allows you to load and run programs from the thumb drive. There is a Skype version for U3 drives. It allows you to run Skype from your drive on any Internet connected computer. So if you hit a café that doesn’t already have Skype loaded on the computers it’s not a problem. Pop your Cruzer in, fire up Skype and start chatting.

6- Foods: I tried to stick to local foods. The Kabob and kafta were ok. What I really liked was the bread, tahina, eggplant and fava bean dips. And let’s not forget the Egyptian pancake house.

7- Beware the Papyrus scam. Our hosts in the country filled us in. There is a rumor perpetuated by many guides that there is fake papyrus in the market made from banana leaves. We were told that is completely untrue. You cannot make paper from banana leaves. So many guides take unsuspecting tourists to the government run papyrus institutes and tell them the ‘paintings’ are one of a kind works of art. They are in fact not hand panted and are grossly over priced. The guide often gets 30-50% of the cost as a kick back.

8- Sunscreen Sunscreen Sunscreen…. We used ours everyday and everyday we passed some poor guy who “doesn’t burn but only tans” that was about the color of a Coke can. Most have never been exposed to sun this intense before and it’ll fry 20 years of tanned leathery hide right off the most over exposed farmer. Don’t ruin your trip, grease up every morning.

9- Cairo is a very modern city. If you forget to pack something you’ll most likely be able to find it or a good substitute in cairo.

10- Under pack. Getting laundry done is easy and cheap. In our hotel laundering a days worth of cloths (shirt, pants, socks and undies) cost about $4. A lightly packed bag going means more room for souvenirs coming home. Oh and pack or double pack all your liquids in zip lock bags. You don't want to start you trip in cloths saturated with sunscreen. Zip lock bags come in handy in so many ways.

11- Dress appropriately, you’ll attract less attention. No short shorts, tank tops or low cut blouses. It’s a conservative Islamic country and you are just visiting, be respectful. You'll amazed at who it improves your reception in any number of places.

12- Read this forum often and ask all your silly questions before you go. There are some very well seasoned travelers who frequent this corner of the net. Not to mention the local experts who live and work in Cairo. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

13- get you Visa when you arrive. It's easy as pie. The places to get your Visa are directly in front of you when you enter the terminal. Could have been easier.

Oh and just one more thing I agree with everything on this list. tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294201-i9404-k184… Nice work putting this together iamaphisig.

Durham, United...
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90 posts
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1. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Clay, I found your post very informative. I always overpack, so your comment on having laundry done whilst there has encouraged me to be ruthless this year! Thanks,

Dubathin

Iowa
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79 posts
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2. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Funny thing is that advice come from a habitual over packer.

I have the worst habit if packing for every eventuality, and then some. In Cairo it was a breeze to have laundry done so I was very comfy with my limited wardrobe.

Stanford-Le-Hope...
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3,257 posts
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3. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Super tips Clay well done.

We use sykpe and it dose'nt cost a lot for hubby to call me on my laptop or homephone when he is abroad, also for us we have web cams so our daughter can see her daddy, so we will be using it to ring home mum, family etc when we are away.

Zip lock bags are so handy we keep our baby wipes in them it keeps them moist, i like to wipe off tables or evan the age of my daughter now and adults when you have had a drink or ice cream etc they are handy if you cant get to wash your hand, not forgetting the anti bac hand gel aswell.

Good advice. :-)

Julie xx

San Juan, Puerto...
4 posts
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4. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Wow..great advise. I'm planning to visit Cairo during this year (hopefully). It's my dream trip!! Where did you stay? Could you recommend it? I'm still reading hotel reviews but not sure yet about which one to choose!.

Iowa
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79 posts
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5. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Oops just noticed tip 13 ... should read couldn't have been easier.

Iowa
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79 posts
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6. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

dynelige

We stayed in the Golden Flamenco. I submitted a review but to summarize. Think 20 year old run down motel 6. They are renovating the hotel and there is construction on some floors. The reviews are really hit and miss. Get a new room and it's very nice get an old room and it's a place to sleep. It was OK.

I couldn't agree more with the advice offered by iamaphisig

"The location of your hotel is more important than the “quality” of the hotel.

This was one we lucked out on, our hotel is a mid-range hotel (Husa Pyramids in Giza) and we weren’t thrilled with it when we first arrived, but we’ve come to appreciate its location. Being in Giza keeps us close to the action, being able to get quickly to many of our scheduled activities- Light and Sound Show, Pyramids/Sphinx, Egyptian Museum, Saqqara, Memphis, Dahshiur, etc. We only spent a small amount of time in Cairo (tomorrow for Islamic and Coptic Cairo) and for the Nile River Dinner Cruise. Rasha said we were lucky to be on a big street (I think it’s called Pyramid Street, it leads right to the Pyramids) because many times it takes her and her driver almost an hour to get from the main street to pick up clients and get back out to the main street with the crazy traffic."

Omaha, Nebraska
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156 posts
28 reviews
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7. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Great tips and thanks again for taking time to answer a lot of my questions. It's really great to see someone give back to the board after there trip. Too often people ask a lot of questions and then never report back. Kudos Clay!

Sydney
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872 posts
26 reviews
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8. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

My advice - ANYWHERE - is to pick up a business card or brochure from the place you are staying when you first arrive. That way you only have to show a taxi driver or anyone else the written address - and not your own stumbling version of it.

Durham, United...
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90 posts
7 reviews
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9. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Studioworks you have answered something I was just thinking about today - how to get back to my hotel! Thanks for the tip!

Dubs

Liverpool, United...
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10. Re: 13 Things I learned in Cairo

Hello ClayH,

Really liked this posting - only saw it today, as you know before I was off the net for almost 2 weeks !

Lots of good points here.

Well done.

Regards

Wendy