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The Second Coming: Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Via Poland and Gemany

Summer 2008Egypt : Arrival to Cairo
The flight from Cologne to Cairo


We arrived in Cairo at about 4am in the morning and…what can I say? Things haven’t change since the last time I’ve been here!

Visas are available at the border for most nationalities: you just pay the stamp at one of the banks and go through immigration control.
On our flight to Cairo The Visa stamps cost 15$... if you pay in US Dollars, if not, that’s 15€.
Although we had US dollars, the first bank refused to sell the stamp for this price, arguing that as we were coming from Europe we had to pay 15€ or…20$!
This is corruption, no more no less, and it happens at an international airport, just beside customs and police.
Maybe some people find that’s normal… So we went to the second bank and there we bought the stamp for the advertised price of 15$!
Anyone wanting to catch a plane to Baghdad? As we were waiting for our bags I went to the bathroom. An Egyptian guy was there to give me a towel after I washed my hands…and asked 10 Egyptian Pounds for that! I told him that I didn’t have any EGP and he asked me for 1€ or 2$!

Well, that’s Egypt, everybody expects a tip from you but my advice is: Never give a tip unless the service is worth, and never give too much.
This Mosque is just outside Cairo International Airport Well, it was 5 in the morning and we had booked a hotel near the airport, as we were supposed to arrive at 1 AM.
The hotel was prepaid so we decided to go and sleep for a few hours.
Well, I really can’t recommend this hotel, the Novotel Cairo Airport Hotel. Staff was quite rude (except for the manager) and the rooms were not that clean… I’m used to sleep in hotels from the Accor chain and they’re usually great, but this one is only for when you have a late arrival or an early morning departure.
Very nice bus stop to get Back In The Village after Two Minutes To Midnight Anyway, by noon we were ready to start our first day in Cairo. First step: getting to the hotel where we were going to sleep for the rest of our stay, and bargaining a cab to get there.

Oh yes! Bargaining, that’s was Egypt is about!

Most shops don’t display prices, most taxis don’t have meters, and you are expected to bargain every price you are given.
Getting to the Hotel Don’t worry, Egyptians love this game and the rules are the same for them, they all bargain the goods they’re buying.
But of course the price is not the same for them.

As a traveller you will be given a much higher price and you have to low it down for at least half of it.
Even then you are paying much more than an Egyptian would.
Sofitel Sphynx Cairo If you speak some Arabic your chances to get a lower price are increased, and if you are with Egyptian people you might be lucky enough get their price.

Our hotel in Cairo for the rest of our stay was the Sofitel Sphynx, for which I managed to get a low rate thanks to my job. Well, that’s a real good hotel from Accor, unlike the Novotel Airport Hotel.
It didn't took Ricardo so long to be dressed like an Egyptian As the name suggests, the hotel is located in Giza, not far from the Pyramids.

The rooms are really nice, the staff is helpful and the swimming pool is also great.

When you stay in this kind of hotels in a place like Egypt you’re sure to have all the comfort you might need, but the contrast to what you see outside is incredible.

Giza Street and the neighbourhoods around are dusty, dirty, and the streets pretty run-down.

The contrast with the calm and luxury that hotels like the Sofitel or Le Méridien boast is huge. Yet all the people in the street are smiling, kind, and willing to help you if you ask them something.
Hard Rock Café in Cairo, Egypt The tourist Police patrols the area regularly but be aware when a Policeman stops the traffic to let you cross the street and then asks for a baksheesh.
This is a very common practice, of course illegal, but no one seems to care.
On one occasion we gave a couple of Egyptian Pounds to a Policeman who made us cross this busy street, and he followed us for a few minutes asking for 2 dollars…

So here we are in a country where crossing streets is not free...Weird…
Hard Rock Café in Cairo, Egypt So, our first hours in Egypt were Rock n'Roll. But, that's all part of the trip and that's how I like it! It everything goes perfect then it's not a real travel.

So we decided to keep it rocking and went to eat to the Hard Rock Café Cairo on that night. Alright, that's not local, that's not Egyptian, but that's still good food and a great place to spend an evening anywhere in the world.