i'm flying from bangkok to cyprus with a stop in egypt. a short stop. i arrive the morning of sunday june 4th at about 6:30 and leave for cyprus that same day at about 6 at night. i figure it is worth it to buy the $15 visa. this may be the one day of my life i spend in egypt. i hope not but you never know.
i know this is tough but can anyone make some suggestions as to the best way to spend these hours. i'd like to get some good (but cheap!) egyptian food at a place that is good for people watching. i would also like to get maybe one attraction in. this could be a museum or a walk through an old and interesting part of the city. i haven't done much looking around online yet since i just got my tickets. i'd love to hear your suggestions.
It is definately woth the $15 to buy a visa for the day. If I were you I would jump in a taxi as soon as you arrive & head for the Pyramids you should be there nice & early before the bulk of the tourist buses arrive. Next head for the Egyptian Museum for the remaining time or to the Khan el Khalili (sp?) market. The Cornich next to the Nile Hilton was a place I used to go to people watch & see the sunset on an evening, but I can't recommend any good restaurants though, sorry.
Hope this helps, have a great day what ever you decided to do.
I agree with NicolaJ's recommendation of getting a visa for a day. I was in Egypt a month ago and I loved it. Considering you have a little less than 12 hours, head straight to Giza to see the pyramids. You might want to leave your luggage at the airport, and head straight there. The cab driver will offer to drive you around all day. DO NOT take the offer. You only need a cab to get there from the airport. Once you are there, you can be on your own. Now, as far as getting back to the city, take a cab to the Giza metro station and head towards downtown. The station you want to get off at is called Sadat. This is in the heart of downtown Cairo. As far as eating good, cheap local food. Here are your options in downtown:
a) El-Tahrir - this is a Koshary-only joint. Koshary is an Egyptian dish. It is an odd combination of ingredients but it tastes awesome!! It is located on Sharia Talat Harb (The word "Sharia" means "street") - within walking distance from Sadat station.
b) Felfela - DON'T eat at the main restaurant. Eat at the take-out joint. This is also on Sharia Talat Harb. It is on the pricier side. The take-out joint is excellent. You can eat there too. Has a fast-food-joint-like atmosphere.
If you want specifics with regard to any of these places, feel free to contact me. Hope this helps.
I would strawl around in Islamic Cairo all day and smoke the waterpipe and be fascinated by the marvellous islamic architecture!!! Islamic Cairo is supposed to be the real Egypt!!
Thanks so much for all your suggestions. I'm really excited about this one day. I hadn't realized that the pyramids were a realistic option. I think I will definately head there first thing. Can you give me an extimate on how much the cab ride should cost? Are they metered or do you arrange the price?
Again thanks for your help. I've still got a while before my twelve hours begin. If you think of anything else let me know.
I am not too sure how much the cab ride from the airport to the Pyramids will be. It is not a metered deal. You need to fix the price as soon as you get into the taxi. I will try and find out how much the ride will cost you. When you get to the pyramids, there are street vendors and camel guys that will try and sell you stuff. Stay AWAY from them. There are guys that will come up to you, give you stuff, and put stuff in your hand saying it is a gift. Refuse to take it and say "no thanks". They won't bother you after that. Hope this helps.
Give yourself enough time to get back to the aiport. Cairo chokes with traffic during peak hours. Downtown is not connected to the airport by metro yet so you have no choice but to take a cab or the AC bus number 356 to the airport (I don't know what the frequency of this bus is).
Hope this helps.
Having just been in Cairo I have an advice for you - don't try to cram too much into your day. Going to the pyramids are is fine, but I'm not sure you should plan to do anything else.
Traffic can be horrible in Cairo and if you get lost because your taxi driver misunderstood where you wanted to go, you can be really screwed.
Coming back from the Pyramids, I wanted "Moniem Square", but the taxi driver understood "Moniem bus station". So when I got off it was natural that I couldn't find my hostel. Since this was my first day in Cairo, took me a while to figure out that I wasn't where I thought I was.
I had left my hostel at Talaat Harb at 5 o clock, was at the Pyramids at 6, left there around noon and spent the rest of the day trying to get back to the hostel at Talaat Harb using service taxis and buses (no more taxi for me!). I was very lucky that I had nowhere to be that day.
So go to the pyramids, but
1. make sure you leave through the same entrance you came in (if I had, I might have noticed that I was going the wrong way)
2. make sure your taxi driver speaks English
3. plan for Cairo rush-hour traffic
4. remember that boarding times and departure times are two different things
And if you absolutely must cram in another sight, spent an hour or so around Khan El-Khalili. If you know any muslims or students of Arabic, they'll love you forever if you pick up some books on Al-Azhar street near Khan El-Khalili. Prices there for muslim theological literature or Arabic dictionaries are a fraction of what they are in Europe or the US. The "Wehr Standard Arabic Dictionary" for example goes for 300 Euros in bookshops in Germany, but you can get it for 30 Euros in Cairo.
wow great tip about the books! thanks so much! i've actually studied arabic myself and could never afford one of those great dictionaries. i hope i've got time to look for one.