AfricaEgyptCairo

Day One: Salam Alaykum Cairo

Cairo Travel Blog

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Cairo International Airport

Our arrival into Egypt was pretty peaceful. The Emirates flight was on time and smooth, no hassles. What shocked me was on arrival to Cairo International Airport - the place is such a mess! There I was talking about how disorganised Indian airports are but they pale in comparison to the mess that is this airport.  The other surprising thing is that travel coordinators and people that work in the travel industry can actually cross the immigration counter and walk up to the gate to receive tourists! That's where we met our Travco rep, and he walked us through Customs/Immigration and then baggage claim.

We had a Travco car waiting for us outside. We were then whisked off to our hotel where we would spend one night before moving on to Luxor.

view of Cairo
Cairo is a big city. I was surprised, shocked, amazed, all at the same time. Before leaving the US, my Lonely Planet book kept banging on about the 'dire economic straits' the country is in, that I was surprised seeing so many BMWs and Mercs on the street. The other thing about Cairo is, like a majority of Indian cities, traffic is very disorganised. The streets seemed dusty and hot and everything looked like a ratrace. Having said that, for the huge population the city supports, it was quite clean compared to a lot of African and Asian cities that I've travelled to or seen. Although trust me, that's not saying much!

The first thing our travel coordinator Mohammed told us was - "Everyone in Egypt expects tips". We thought that was a plain disclaimer, but this was sthg I realised is more a tradition in Egypt than an exception.

Sabaya Lebanese Rsnt
The hotel we arrived in was plush. Like, really plush! The SEMIRAMIS INTERCONTINENTAL (see below for review). It was about 1pm and the room wasn't ready. So they said we could freshen up. I was a bit daring and willing to try out some of the local eateries in downtown Cairo, but my parents were a bit tired, especially my father and hence we decided to try out the Sabaya.

The Sabaya is lovely! I love how it looks like anything but a rsnt. It's got these comfy low level sofas with big cushions and big pillows. The ambience is so dark and cool, in contrast to an outside sunny, dry, arid Cairo. The staff is courtesy personified and the food is impeccable. I normally don't take pictures of the food I eat, but I couldn't resist here. The Egyptian bread aish was so well done and fluffy, and the hummus is one of the best I've tasted in years.

Aish, Babaghanoush and Hummus Beiruti
Lunch was a simple yet filling affair - I normally don't eat non-vegetarian but I dabbled with a bit of fish whilst my mum and dad had aubergine moussaka. They loved it as well. 

We finished lunch at 2pm which was right in time to checkin to our room. Our room was on the 39th floor and it was magnificent. Even though we didn't get a room facing the Nile, the room was excellent. Very clean and very comfortable beds. I'm very happy. So far at least!

We took a nap in the afternoon and woke up around sunset. My absolute aim for the day was to visit Felfella, one of Cairo's most hyped rsnts and a tourist mecca. The good part was that it was walking distance from our hotel. Walking through sunset in the city centre was a nice experience. We saw tons of Egyptians all gathered around the square chatting, just hanging around.

Cairo Tranmission Tower, view from our hotel room
Was a very nice experience. Egyptians look friendly and also very peaceful people.

Felfella rsnt is GOOD. And it's actually not that easy to locate. You would think a rsnt that's constantly flogged in almost all Egypt travel books would be a bit more flashy and discernible but NOT REALLY! It's in one of the bylanes of Cairo city centre, and you actually had to ask around for directions. However, once we entered the rsnt, we could see why it's so popular with both tourists and locals. The rsnt's ambience is amazing. It's very tropical, everything's made of wood and we were surprised at attention to detail - even the table legs look like wooden branches!

The food is very cheap, and of great quality. We tried out more Egyptian vegetarian delicacies such as Tamaiyya (pinto beans based curry) and stuffed vegetables (green pepper, etc) with spicy rice.

River Nile and Cairo commercial centre, view from our room
We skipped dessert. We had a nice walk back to the hotel, the weather was a lot cooler and so we sat in the city centre for a few minutes just taking Cairo in. We headed back to the hotel around 9pm and slept shortly after. We had to be ready for an airport pickup at 6am the next day!

Click on Next Entries on the Left to view the Luxor and Karnak Temples

jenniferhibbard says:
You reminded me of the traffic! Chaotic...
Posted on: Sep 22, 2012
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Cairo International Airport
Cairo International Airport
view of Cairo
view of Cairo
Sabaya Lebanese Rsnt
Sabaya Lebanese Rsnt
Aish, Babaghanoush and Hummus Beir…
Aish, Babaghanoush and Hummus Bei…
Cairo Tranmission Tower, view from…
Cairo Tranmission Tower, view fro…
River Nile and Cairo commercial ce…
River Nile and Cairo commercial c…
Felfela Rsnt
Felfela Rsnt
Felfella rsnt
Felfella rsnt
our dinner that night - hummus, fa…
our dinner that night - hummus, f…
Cairo Hotels & Accommodations review
4 star hotel, 5 star comfort! And great restaurants as well!
This is one of the 4 star hotels located in the city centre. It has over 30+ floors and is home to the two poshest restaurants in town - The Thai Bird… read entire review
Cairo
photo by: vulindlela