Have you been to Egypt?

We're taking a real family holiday in a few weeks - the first one that we have taken as an entire family in a very long time - and it is very special - Singapore then Cairo, then Frankfurt, then Zurich, then Paris, then Versailles, then Mont St Michel, then Neuschwanstein Castle.

Anyway, I'm hoping to prepare the kids for the experience that is Egypt - one is 16, one will be *just* 18.  Cairo is going to be a place that is nothing like anything they have ever experienced before.

I have found some fantastic guides, the best of which seems to be the "Spiral Guide" to Egypt.  The author obviously had an exquisite sense of honesty ... some quotes - and I swear, it really says this:

  1. Taxis are much cheaper than in Europe, but rarely use their meters.  Even if they do, the amount shown will probably bear little resemblance to the fare charged by the driver.
  2. Beejous have been nicknamed "flying coffins" as they tend to be driven fast, and recklessly. Accidents are common, especially at night.
  3. If you hit someone in the countryside, report it immediately at the nearest police station, and be aware that you may be attacked by angry villagers.
  4. Egyptian car mechanics are often masters of invention and can usually fix a breakdown - if you run into trouble, people will often gladly help you push your car to the next garage or the side of the road.
  5. Budget hotels are rarely air-conditioned, but some will have cooling fans.  A few are real gems, old art-deco buildings with high ceilings, old-fashioned furniture and unreliable plumbing.  The less said about others, the better.

So anyway, does anybody have advice for the trip to Egypt?  What would *you* advise somebody who had never been to the country before?  My most important concern is that the family as a whole respects the traditions and cultures of the country being visited, and that my (teenage) kids have a handle on what to expect when we get there, that they understand the 'what', the 'why' and the 'wherefore', and that they learn the traditional greetings and responses... and understand the importance of traditions such as baksheesh in a country where such 'tipping' is often the only source of income, but where it can also cause offence if offered inappropriately.

What do my gentle readers have to say, especially about baksheesh?

Published Sat, Sep 15 2007 19:57 by sandi
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Comments

# re: Have you been to Egypt?

Thursday, September 20, 2007 11:40 AM by Jim Tanner

We've been all the places you are going.  Cairo is probably the most "foreign" place you will ever see :-) My only suggestion is to prepare your family for complete culture shock, there is NO way to describe it other than that.  Egyptians are friendly, warm, pushy, and wonderful. They will stand VERY close to you when talking - be ready for that. Also Cairo is a DIRTY city... expect trouble breathing sometimes.  If you get off the beaten track (as we usually do), you will be assailed by children begging... your family needs to be ready for that as well.  Some of the kids are just dirt poor and some are professional pick-pockets.  Smile a lot and be ready to experience it all :-)   My only other piece of advise is to not wander too far into the City of The Dead.  We went about a block into it, but no further... it got entirely too unsafe...and I work with convicted felons.  :-)   FYI, we tacked a trip to Petra, Jordan onto our Cairo jaunt, and it was well worth the extra time and energy.  Petra is the most photogenic place I've ever been.   Also, catch Hoenschwanngau while in Fussen (it's Ludwig's 'home') and worth the walk through.     Enjoy.  If we can answer any specific questions, please don't hesitate to write.   jim@kbsolutions.com