Cairo based mostly journey blogger Dee Nowak, shares her insider recommendations on the best way to journey to Cairo, Egypt slowly. This gradual journey information takes you away from the chaos and normal 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 trip than you have bargained for. Higher not even make eye contact.”
Our tour group filed off the bus and we spent the following few hours on a whirlwind tour of the Giza pyramid complicated, with an Egyptian information bravely enduring the warmth and shouting out bits of historical historical past.
I even acquired some photographs with just a few folks within the background to photoshop out.
It was 2009 and the vacationer crowds have been thick. That night time, after collapsing in my resort room for a short nap, we toured the outdated souk of Khan el-Khalili.
That was my first journey to Egypt.
It wasn’t till just a few 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 the 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 sophisticated questions got here.
How lonely and terrifying did the deserts appear to historical Egyptians whose line of imaginative and prescient was always damaged up by these royal tombs? Had been the pyramids meant as a continuing reminder of the kings’ would possibly?
There hadn’t been time for a lot thought on my first go to once I was largely occupied with dodging memento distributors.
And although I am unable to 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 Gradual Information to Cairo
Now think about this: Egypt is in your bucket checklist like it’s for hundreds of individuals, and you have 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 doubtless tempted to pack as a lot into your itinerary as attainable.
However in the event you actually need a once-in-a-lifetime expertise whereas doing justice to the unimaginable sights you may see, then put high quality time over amount and an exhausting must-see checklist.
You could not cross off all the town’s non secular 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 visitors jams, with a inhabitants of no less than 9 million, stuffed with honking automobiles, tuk-tuks and shouting avenue distributors?
If you happen to solely have just a few days in Cairo, I might advocate no less than 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 offers you a great 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 ought to be on the prime of your itinerary. Nonetheless touristy they might 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 frequent vacationer’s story of heated haggling with a taxi driver over value fare. And ensure to get a tour information who will not simply rush you from level A to B (I might advocate: Asmaa from Stroll Like An Egyptian, who actually understands gradual journey).
Keep the Night time
The pyramids are beautiful once they’re lit up at night time, and I might advocate staying for dinner in Giza or spending the night time 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 could be tempting to choose up just a few souvenirs from the distributors contained in the complicated, I might advocate procuring on the shops within the surrounding streets the place shopkeepers are usually extra laid again and the place most issues are labeled with value tags.
Skilled Purchasing Suggestions:
Low cost, made in China souvenirs have infiltrated all main vacationer factors within the nation, however it’s nonetheless attainable to search out classic postcards, pyramids made domestically from alabaster and dense fragrance oils on the native retailers.
Grocery shops are additionally underrated, hidden treasures in the event you’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 net of winding alleys and backstreets stuffed with retailers, centuries-old mosques, and workshops the place artisans nonetheless apply conventional crafts.
And whereas some tour teams are inclined to descend on this iconic bazaar district at night time, when the normal metallic lanterns are lit up and when the historic Moez Road 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 have been organising. I liked the few hours of quiet once we had the streets practically to ourselves.
Get an early begin and you’ll marvel on the Islamic structure and go exploring down sidestreets with out having to combat your manner by crowds.
I really like beginning off with sturdy espresso at El Fishawy, a beautiful cafe nestled in a good alley that legendary Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz reportedly frequented.
If you happen to’re a bookworm, then studying a Mahfouz novel like Midaq Alley (set in Khan el Khalili) offers you a style of the souk’s day by 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 undoubtedly advocate a tour information for getting round.
Try These Cairo Excursions
Although you undoubtedly 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 possibly can decide up beautiful leather-based notebooks and have them engraved together with your title or any particular message in English or Arabic.
Moez Road is the gem of this neighborhood: a kilometre-long avenue closed off to automobiles that is filled with architectural treasures and infrequently known as an open-air museum. At least just a few hours ought 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 possibly can see gorgeous wood furnishings and marble work, and catch a glimpse of day by day lifetime of centuries previous.
I additionally love Al-Hakim Mosque, constructed by the controversial determine its named after who’s been known as both a divine ruler or an insane tyrant, relying on the supply.
The inside courtyard is surrounded by hanging tall arches framed with flowing curtains, whereas the construction is topped with some very distinctive minarets.
In case you have time, the close by Azhar Park is a good place to take a seat within the grass and relaxation your toes whereas being surrounded by views of the outdated metropolis and its minarets.
Whereas tall, fashionable condo homes threaten to overhaul these views, it’s nonetheless a peaceable spot to look at 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 possibly can each smoke a shisha in a conventional ahwa or sip a latte at Starbucks, generally on the exact same avenue. To get a well-rounded concept of the town, you should not miss its downtown.
A sail in a felucca, a conventional wood sailboat, is an ideal method to finish the day. You may rent a ship for an hour or two from the few stands arrange close to Qasr El Nil Bridge (heading within the path of Backyard Metropolis), and you’ll 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 just a few levels cooler on the water, and the noise of the 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? If you happen to’ve been to the town, depart some suggestions within the feedback beneath 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 overwhelmed path.
Follower her at weblog at VanillaPapersBlog and on Social on FACEBOOK: TWITTER: INSTAGRAM: PINTEREST
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