Cairo Travel Blog

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The recent introduction of Egyptair to the world’s biggest aviation alliance was reason for the Dutch part of Star Alliance to organize its annual study trip to Egypt. With a group of 120 travel agents we flew to Egypt’s capital Cairo to see what this country has to offer for both the leisure and business market. The group was divided on flights of the Star Alliance members Lufthansa, BMI, Egyptair, Austrian, Swiss and Turkish Airlines.

I was selected to fly with Lufthansa’s early morning flight to Frankfurt, with a connecting flight to Cairo. After spending the night at Schiphol Amsterdam airport, I proceeded to the check-in counter where I met my colleagues on this trip, and boarded the airplane. Frankfurt’s newly renovated airport gave us a fast and convenient transfer, so at about 4.

00 PM we safely reached Cairo International Airport. The transfer to the Semiramis Intercontinental hotel (5*) gave me my first impression of this capital, dirty and chaotic, with seemingly no traffic laws, as nobody appeared to worry about traffic signs or markings on the road.

Our hotel was situated directly on the Nile shore, giving a nice view from the bar where we had our welcome drink. My room was at the 16th floor, overlooking the city center and a small part of the Nile. After we had time for some refreshments in the hotel room our dinner was served in one of the restaurants inside the hotel.

The next morning we went to Giza to see the famous pyramids.

The three pyramids are only a short drive from Cairo, and are considered to be part of the Eight Wonders of the World. After some photo shoots we continued to the neighboring Sun Boat Museum, followed by a quick photo stop at the Sphinx. From there we drove back to the Nile, where we embarked a river cruise to consume our lunch.

After this lunch our tour went on to the city center itself. The city is more than any other city I have been to made by its people. Like Amsterdam is known for its canals, Singapore made by its modern architecture, Cairo has is character thanks to the local population. Everywhere you look you see street vendors selling there goods. One of the best locations to experience this is the Khan Al-Khalili market in Cairo. While the entire world is currently thinking of how to spend their own money during the current economical crisis, the only thing they seem to worry about is how they can spend your money.

You have to be careful, because with smooth words and techniques they manage to transfer any situation into selling their products to you. The main rule you should remember before you enter the small streets in the area is “Don’t pay more than half of the first offer”. Negotiating is what you have to do, and although it might sometimes be difficult, real bargains can be found here.

After wandering around the small streets of the Khan Al-Khalili market for two hours we went back to the hotel. The entire day we were already accompanied by an Egyptian TV crew, and a local newspaper published an article of the Dutch travel agents exploring Cairo. That night’s dinner was furthermore attended by the Dutch Ambassador, and several local representatives of Egyptair. The entire evening was transformed into a fancy show with performances of a famous ballet group and an on-stage music performance.

While the rest of the group went to the Egyptian Museum I decided to spend some more time in the city itself. After a short walk from the hotel I already got rid of all the tourist shops and found the real population, living their lives on the street. In every street I found friendly people to have a short talk with, and willing to be photographed. Walking there felt like being in a completely different world, people seemed to be more relaxed and more enjoying the simple things in life. I passed by several small bars with old men sitting outside, overlooking the street with everyone passing by.

Two hours later I arrived back at the hotel for the lunch. After the lunch we checked-out from our rooms and were transfered back to the airport.

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384 km (239 miles) traveled
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photo by: vulindlela