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day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

Walla Walla...
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day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

My wife and I are doing the Gate1 15 day with Red Sea trip in September. We are spending an extra day in Cairo at the end of the trip, and are wondering if a day trip to Alexandria would be worth it. I would welcome any advice from forum members on pros and cons of a day trip. —also, is it worth hiring a private guide or private transportation for the trip from Cairo. Thanks in advance.

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london
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1. Re: day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

It depends whether you have already seen plenty in Cairo. If you have spent a few days there, then a trip to Alexandria would be interesting. But if not, it sounds rather tiring for your last day. It is about a 3 hour drive each way, and the sights are Graeco-Roman rather than Ancient Egyptian.

If you do decide to go, you can get a train, but I would get a guide and car, as time is short and you want to make the most of it. I am doing this in October. We are often quite happy to do things ourselves, but in this case it sounds as if the extra cost would be worth it.

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2. Re: day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

Smalltown,

Below is an excerpt from a trip report I wrote upon returning from a tour through Egypt this past February. My daughter, Renee, and I had a private tour by minivan. The cost was $40.00 each, which included transportation from Cairo, tour guide (Adel)and lunch. Entry fees to exhibits were not included.

A visit to Alexandria is very debatable on this forum. It is a personal choice. Although I was a little disappointed in the lack of historical structures (Cleopatra and Caesar left nothing:-), I am glad that I left Egypt not regretting that I hadn't visited.

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As we approached the city of Alexandria, the sky became overcast, and it began to rain. Luckily, we had rain proof jackets with hoods. I was surprised at all the traffic here also. Our first stop was the Catacombs of KOM El-Shokafa. Like the previous day, i had to shell out the money to Adel to purchase our tickets. Renee was able to get the student rate.

Cameras were not allowed here. This was a most interesting exhibit. There was a circular stairway that we had to walk down deep into the catacombs. There were many narrow passageways once we were in. Because of the recent rain, the ground was covered with water in many places, so thin wooden platforms were placed on top of stone for tourists to pass. Quite a challenge with several tour groups attempting to pass each other. I had visited the catacombs of Rome a few years ago, and liked those better. However, this visit was quite enjoyable... the only one of the day I was soon to discover.

Next, we took a short ride to Pompeii's Pillar. Alexandria is enveloped with much Greek-Roman influence, and this exhibit was one more example. There was construction going on at the site. We went up to a Pillar that was a monument to someone named Pompeii, whose remains were not known. The Pillar was visible from the street, so I'm not sure why I had to dole out 25LE to visit??

I then became suspicious that Alexandria was attempting to increase its' tourism base, therefore charging visitors for whatever archeological dig that became available. I informed Adel that I did not wish to waste more money. He assured me that the Roman Amphitheater was worthwhile.

Following another episode of bumper to bumper traffic, we arrived at the gated amphitheater. There were several large tour buses parked or arriving. Adel pointed to a tour bus that had just arrived. he informed me they were Americans. I asked how did he know, and he just smiled.

The Amphitheater was so-so. Obviously, the ones in Italy were much better. However , this was a first for Renee. The display also included photographs of artifacts that were found in the Mediterranean.

We accosted some of the Americans, and I began chatting with them. This was my first encounter with homeys since arriving to Egypt.

Next lunch. We were hungry and our (included) meal was to be fish. I also couldn't wait to see the Mediterranean, as none of the exhibits thus far were by the Sea. I don't recall the name of the restaurant, however, it was directly across the sea from the waterfront, and on the second level. We were the first persons to arrive, so had frst choice of the table closest to the window. The meal consisted of 2 types of fried whole fish with many bones, some prawns and fried calimari. There were different veggies and salads. I found the meal to be quite tasty, however Renee does not do well with boned fish.

The next scheduled stop was Fort Qait Bey, however, I was wary of viewing more exhibits of little interest. He asked if we wanted to just hang around the Sea walk area, and we agreed. Groups of school children were about. By now the sun had come out, and it brought out the deep blueness of the sea. It also had become quite warm. The vendors were out with their wares, and we just watched the strong waves crash against the rock. The time spent here was priceless. I really was not interested in paying for any other exhibits, including the garden at the Royal Palace (the palace was closed to the public), nor entrance into the new library.

We chose to drive by the library to see the modern, solar design. Again, more traffic jam to drive around the Sea area to the library . It was quite busy, and a University was directly across the street. Although we did not go inside, we walked around. I asked adel if students had to pay to use the library, and he nodded yes.

We decided to head back to Giza, where the train station is.

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3. Re: day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

Just because Alex has no Ancient Egyptian ruins is no reason to write it off - it has more to offer than that! Just a chance to see a modern Egyptian Seaside city, is something that makes it stand out from other places. There is plenty to see - and if you don't want to see ruins or museums - there is a fantastic corniche stroll along the seafront and a chance for a seafood meal that few other places in Egypt can offer.

It takes a little over 2 hours on the train and the train ride is quite interesting passing through the rural delta region. Organised tours from Cairo - tend to rush you to 3 specific places and then rush you off for a seafood meal - which makes it feel like a marathon event. The road trip can be a bit of a hazardous event too if you have never traveled on Egyptian highways before - and usually takes just under 3 hours from central Cairo.

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4. Re: day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

I agree with EgyptianGoddess. The area around the seaside is beautiful. If I had to do over again, I would have taken the train in, gotten a hotel room for a night, and just toured on my own....definitely taking advantage of the delicious seafood.

Walla Walla...
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5. Re: day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

Thanks for the great advice. I guess we will have to decide if we have seen what we wanted to see in Cairo at the front end of the trip. From what I read though, Alexandria is worth the trip.

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6. Re: day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

Samlltown -

Not sure when you are on your Egypt trip but if you are back I'd love to know whether or not you decided to include the day trip to Alexandria and if so how you felt about it. Like you I'm sure we'll decide at the last minute but my "must see" list for Cairo is pretty long and Gate 1 doesn't go to all of them. Six hours in a bus for a not very rewarding destination is not how we want to spend our time.

Thanks much, Linda B8

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7. Re: day trip to Alexandria from Cairo

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