Cairo is an exotic city based in ancient Egyptian culture, a city I pictured full of sand and mystery with the famous Nile river winding through it. For some reason I thought there would be ancient buildings and Egyptian statues scattered throughout the city, every corner a reminder of history past. Unfortunately I was completely wrong. Cairo has been a place of upset in the past years, and I could see evidence of that often. The city was crowded with some of the busiest roads I had ever seen. It took us 45 minutes to go five miles. There were men with machine guns on every block, which gave us some comfort but also reminded us of the instability of the place we were in. The streets were filthy! Trash was littered in piles along the streets, and I saw rats running throughout. We went to one schwarma place at the recommendation of our tour guide and it was delicious, although I would definitely be careful about just eating random street food in Egypt since it didn’t look too sanitary in general. There were urinals next to the food preparation areas…
What to Wear:
You can pretty much wear whatever you want in the confines of the hotel, although when venturing out I would stick to something more conservative. A shirt covering your shoulders and pants is best. This is a Muslim country with the majority of local tourists wearing abayas and head scarves. We stuck out as tourists so much already, I was glad I wore something more on the modest side!
Where We Stayed:
Cairo was not a place we really wanted to venture out much beyond the Egyptian museum. We mainly stuck to our 5 star hotel: The Intercontinental Semiramis. The security was good with an iron fence surrounding it, along with bomb sniffing dogs and a metal detector. Our room left something to be desired… our non smoking room smelled of cigarette smoke and it was also pretty small. Not really up to par with other countries versions of “5 star” but it was alright! It was conveniently located next to the American embassy which was a key when we selected it as we were a little weary. The rest of the hotel was fabulous! The breakfast had a very nice variety and selection of western foods as well as Egyptian: an omelette station, pita bread, hummus, fresh fruit, waffles, bagels, pastries, etc. Both restaurants that we tried there including the Italian and the Thai restaurants were amazing. It was definitely the best food we had in Egypt. There was also a casino which was pleasant surprise!
The Egyptian Museum
The number one thing to do in Cairo is go the Egyptian museum. This museum is so expansive you can spend all day looking at it. We had a tour guide through Your Egypt Tours which I would recommend. There is so much to see and not much explanation at each exhibit, so it is nice to have a guide explain things to you.
Nile River Cruise
This was a highlight of our short trip! This was a dinner cruise leaving at 7:30 and took you back and forth the nice part of the Nile River. The food was great although alcohol is not included. Our families had a blast with the entertainment: a belly dancer and a band.
A small pocket of Cairo was actually historically Christian. It is here that there are some beautiful churches. The churches were cool and different from the others we had seen in Europe, but EXTREMELY crowded and not really worth it. The security didn’t seem to be as extensive as some of the other attractions we had been to. There weren’t any metal detectors and anyone could walk in. The traffic was also terrible to and from here. It took us 45 minutes to get back to our hotel from here.
Our husbands went here and had fun finding some souvenirs. However they said they were so glad we didn’t come with the rest of the family! They said it was filthy and crowded.