My introduction to The Middle East begins when I board Delta Flight 84 from JFK to Cairo.
I am assigned a window seat on a pretty full flight and after a chicken dinner with Middle Eastern flavor, thanks to Tylenol PM I sleep about 6 to 7 hours. This part of my plan to hit the ground running well rested once we arrive in Cairo.
First stop The Egyptian Museum!
Prior to landing, the friendly flight crew provides myself and a few other passengers some "snacks" and “beverages” for the road.
Tourist Visa ($15) can be purchased prior to clearing Immigration and Customs. An ATM is available nearby.
Taxi fare to the city is about 40-50LE compared to 2LE for a local bus which I think will be a much better experience.
I am having a difficult time finding it until I make a few inquires and discover I need to find bus “707” in Arabic.
About an hour or so ride into town picking up many locals along the way most of them wearing "Levi's" which made me feel right at home.
Most taxi rides around the city should be no more than 10LE.
Hotel Longchamps located in multi-floor building with other hotels comes highly recommended and I am not disappointed.
Like dining in a castle, Abou El Sid offers a great atmosphere and local cuisine with a friendly English speaking staff. When in Egypt do as the Egyptians do, start with a cold draft “Stella” beer and “Foul” a delicious fava bean, green peppers & onions mix.
A group of singing teenagers passes by and although I don’t know what they were signing I clap and join. So far, I feel right at home in Egypt.
Entrance to Museum 60LE with a nice ticket stub as a souvenir. Be sure to check your camera to the left of where you purchase your ticket before you enter the Museum.
Since I do not want to spend 9 months in the Museum (The time it would take if you spent just one minute at each display), I opted for a highlighted self-guided tour.
Tour guides are available and range from 50-100LE. I chose to tour Room 32,37,42 - Ground Floor then Room 2,3,7,8 - First Floor. To stand in the midst of exhibits from 2-3000BC was awesome!
TUTANKHAMUN (Room 8) was breathtaking and by far my favorite exhibit.
To the insanity of Cairo driving with horns bleeping and frequent misses with people, I hop a taxi 10LE (after some bargaining .. most start at 20LE for tourist) to Khan Al- Khalili.
How about an ongoing auction for clothes where the auctioneer just tosses the clothes to the winning bidder. Even kids 5-8 years hawking merchandise, in plain English, like the best salesman you have ever come across.
The tea I handled pretty well but it took a little help and a few laughs from the locals to get the "Seesha" going. An experience.
Another taxi ride to Midan Rameses (Train Station), one of the only places you can purchase tickets for the sleeper train to Luxor. Unfortunately, my “Seesha” experience gets me there too late and I will have to wait until morning.
Along the way, I pass by many Egyptian late night cafes with tea and "Seesha". This time, I resist the temptation.
So far, in my experience, Egypt is a safe place to visit for solo travelers. There is a police presence in most public places but it is more comforting than imposing.
Freelance tour guides are easily available thru your hotel ($40US/Per 8 Hrs) or at tourist sites. Most taxi cab drivers will also give you their cellphone numbers, I guess a cool thing for them to do.