Cairo based mostly journey blogger Dee Nowak, shares her insider tips about journey to Cairo, Egypt slowly. This gradual journey information takes you away from the chaos and ordinary whirlwind excursions taken by vacationers.
We had been given strict directions earlier than getting off the tour bus: “Meet again within the parking zone entrance if we get misplaced, and drink loads of water. Do not make offers with the camel handlers – they are going to actually take you for an extended journey than you’ve got bargained for. Higher not even make eye contact.”
Our tour group filed off the bus and we spent the subsequent few hours on a whirlwind tour of the Giza pyramid advanced, with an Egyptian information bravely enduring the warmth and shouting out bits of historical historical past.
I even bought some pictures with just a few individuals within the background to photoshop out.
It was 2009 and the vacationer crowds had been thick. That evening, after collapsing in my resort room for a quick nap, we toured the outdated souk of Khan el-Khalili.
That was my first journey to Egypt.
It wasn’t till a number of years later, after I might been dwelling in Cairo for some time as an expat, that I spotted I had hardly skilled the pyramids in any respect on that day.
This epiphany came visiting chilly beers on the Marriott Mena Home lounge bar. A view of the pyramids was proper in my face, identical to it had been for your complete day I might spent gazing out at them from my resort balcony.
I used to be awe-struck at their sheer dimension and energy, after which extra difficult questions got here.
How lonely and terrifying did the deserts appear to historical Egyptians whose line of imaginative and prescient was continually damaged up by these royal tombs? Had been the pyramids meant as a continuing reminder of the kings’ may?
There hadn’t been time for a lot thought on my first go to after I was principally occupied with dodging memento distributors.
And although I can not say I remorse that first journey (it gave me that first style of Egypt – and it was low-cost), I’m very glad my travels within the nation did not finish there.
The Sluggish Information to Cairo
Now think about this: Egypt is in your bucket checklist like it’s for hundreds of individuals, and you’ve got been saving and planning to take that once-in-a-lifetime journey. You have researched the monuments and battled with worries about whether or not Egypt is secure.
Now you are possible tempted to pack as a lot into your itinerary as doable.
However if you happen to actually desire a once-in-a-lifetime expertise whereas doing justice to the unbelievable sights you may see, then put high quality time over amount and an exhausting must-see checklist.
Chances are you’ll not cross off all the town’s spiritual websites, mosques, and monuments throughout your keep, however the locations you will notice are going to supply richer and extra memorable experiences.
So the place do you begin in a metropolis this overwhelming?
A metropolis infamous for site visitors jams, with a inhabitants of a minimum of 9 million, full of honking vehicles, tuk-tuks and shouting avenue distributors?
In the event you solely have a number of days in Cairo, I might suggest a minimum of a day on the pyramids, and one other day for the outdated souk of Khan el Khalili and a felucca sail down the Nile River in downtown.
This will provide you with an excellent perspective of the town and its historical past, with out leaving you exhausted.
The Giza Pyramid Advanced
It is autumn, there is a chill within the air, and the vacationer crowds are rising however nonetheless skinny sufficient. It is the right time to go to Cairo, and the pyramids needs to be on the high of your itinerary. Nonetheless touristy they could get with the dressed-up camels and plastic souvenirs, they’re nonetheless nicely value a day journey into Giza.
Keep away from Taxis take an Uber or Careem
Get an Uber or Careem to keep away from the widespread vacationer’s story of heated haggling with a taxi driver over worth fare. And ensure to get a tour information who will not simply rush you from level A to B (I might suggest: Asmaa from Stroll Like An Egyptian, who actually understands gradual journey).
Keep the Evening
The pyramids are beautiful once they’re lit up at evening, and I might suggest staying for dinner in Giza or spending the evening at a beautiful resort with a view.
Loads of Airbnbs have additionally cropped up close by providing lower cost choices and vantage factors to absorb these magnificent views over an Egyptian breakfast of fava beans and falafel.
And whereas it might be tempting to choose up a number of souvenirs from the distributors contained in the advanced, I might suggest buying on the shops within the surrounding streets the place shopkeepers are typically extra laid again and the place most issues are labeled with worth tags.
Knowledgeable Procuring Ideas:
Low-cost, made in China souvenirs have infiltrated all main vacationer factors within the nation, nevertheless it’s nonetheless doable to seek out classic postcards, pyramids made domestically from alabaster and dense fragrance oils on the native retailers.
Grocery shops are additionally underrated, hidden treasures if you happen to’re trying to check out some native meals, or load up on spices, halva, hibiscus or sweets to take again house.
Khan el Khalili
Cairo’s well-known souk is an intricate internet of winding alleys and backstreets full of retailers, centuries-old mosques, and workshops the place artisans nonetheless observe conventional crafts.
And whereas some tour teams are likely to descend on this iconic bazaar district at evening, when the normal metallic lanterns are lit up and when the historic Moez Avenue is illuminated in colourful lights, I really like visiting throughout the day and wandering down the aspect streets to discover.
Get there early
After I visited Khan el Khalili final month with a good friend, we headed out at 6 am simply as the primary distributors had been establishing. I beloved the few hours of quiet once we had the streets almost to ourselves.
Get an early begin and you may marvel on the Islamic structure and go exploring down sidestreets with out having to battle your method by way of crowds.
I really like beginning off with sturdy espresso at El Fishawy, a beautiful cafe nestled in a decent alley that legendary Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz reportedly frequented.
In the event you’re a bookworm, then studying a Mahfouz novel like Midaq Alley (set in Khan el Khalili) will provide you with a style of the souk’s each day life and environment.
There are dozens of mosques, madrasas, sabils, and gates you may discover on this a part of the town and I positively suggest a tour information for getting round.
Try These Cairo Excursions
Although you positively should not miss Al-Azhar Mosque – an enormous, open-roofed construction established in 972 whose minarets have lately been restored.
Close by is the Abdel Zaher Bookshop, a favourite hang-out of mine the place you’ll be able to choose up beautiful leather-based notebooks and have them engraved along with your title or any particular message in English or Arabic.
Moez Avenue is the gem of this neighborhood: a kilometre-long avenue closed off to vehicles that is filled with architectural treasures and sometimes referred to as an open-air museum. At least a number of hours needs to be put aside to discover the treasures alongside this route.
My favourite is Bayt Al-Suhaymi, an outdated Ottoman-era home museum the place you’ll be able to see gorgeous picket furnishings and marble work, and catch a glimpse of each day lifetime of centuries previous.
I additionally love Al-Hakim Mosque, constructed by the controversial determine its named after who’s been referred to as both a divine ruler or an insane tyrant, relying on the supply.
The inside courtyard is surrounded by placing tall arches framed with flowing curtains, whereas the construction is topped with some very distinctive minarets.
You probably have time, the close by Azhar Park is a good place to sit down within the grass and relaxation your toes whereas being surrounded by views of the outdated metropolis and its minarets.
Whereas tall, fashionable house homes threaten to overhaul these views, it’s nonetheless a peaceable spot to observe the sundown.
A Felucca Sail in Downtown
There’s extra to Cairo than its historical Egyptian and medieval previous. It is a multilayered metropolis of contrasts the place you’ll be able to each smoke a shisha in a standard ahwa or sip a latte at Starbucks, typically on the exact same avenue. To get a well-rounded thought of the town, you should not miss its downtown.
A sail in a felucca, a standard picket sailboat, is an ideal technique to finish the day. You’ll be able to rent a ship for an hour or two from the few stands arrange close to Qasr El Nil Bridge (heading within the course of Backyard Metropolis), and you may deliver meals on board for a meal as you soak up views of the lodges and skyscrapers alongside the corniche.
It is at all times a number of levels cooler on the water, and the noise of the site visitors shortly disappears as you sail down the Nile River.
For all its hectic tempo, Cairo is usually finest loved at a slower tempo.
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Did you take pleasure in this gradual to information Cairo, Egypt? In the event you’ve been to the town, depart some ideas within the feedback under and share your finest recommendation for visiting Cairo.
Writer Bio: Dee Nowak
Dee is a Cairo-based journey blogger who loves gradual journey and exploring native cultures. Born in Poland, she grew up in Arizona and has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the U.S. and Egypt. Dee loves exploring lesser-known locations and getting off the crushed path.
Follower her at weblog at VanillaPapersBlog and on Social on FACEBOOK: TWITTER: INSTAGRAM: PINTEREST
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