I left Perth on the 22nd of April and arrived in Cairo (via Heathrow & Athens) in the early hours of the 24th, 45 hours door to door. Why this convoluted route, blame the Russians and their visa processing times, long story, I was meant to be riding across Russia this year. Now postponed to next year.
Due to the 90 day Schengen visa rule I had to find somewhere else to be outside of the EU, first stop Cairo.
You need a visa to enter Egypt. It is basically a stamp that costs USD$25 and you can buy it from any one of the many banks and money changers before you get to the Immigration counter at the airport. There is also an ATM in this area.
Hand in the stamp and your passport to the Immigration officer and he will stick the stamp in your passport, collect your baggage and off you go. Taxi fare to Tahrir Square should be around 75 Egyptian Pounds or USD$10
Big city, population 17 million, crowded, dusty, noisy, chaotic and the largest metropolitan area in Africa.
The main reason to come here would be to visit the Pyramids, quite amazing. The dedication, technological and organisational skills that were required to build these structures have obviously been lost somewhere along the way.
There are two subway lines, they are clean and functional but crowded, cost one Egyptian pound a ride which is less than 20 cents. I only rode the subway once, the rest of the time I walked or hired a car and driver for the day, cost USD$33 per day.
One of the first things I did was get a local SIM card for my phone. Vodafone, total cost was LE 81 (USD$11) out of which I got LE 25 credit for talk and SMS plus 1.25 GB data, very cheap. I did not have to show ID or do anything other than hand over the cash. After you get the SIM card its best to have an Arabic speaker, possibly someone from your hotel, help you set it up because its all in Arabic.
The journey from Perth to Cairo
The Egyptian Museum (entry LE 75) has a huge collection from the time of the Pharaohs but it is poorly displayed, dark, dusty and the place is falling to bits, no photos, still a must see.
Giza Pyramids (entry LE 100), you will be offered a tour on a horse, camel or in a carriage, the best way to see this place is on foot. You can also go into the pyramids, narrow, low, dark passages I did not go into any of them.
Saqqara (entry LE 80), this is an area south of Cairo where an earlier stepped pyramid (Djoser’s) is located.
Memphis (entry LE 40), the ancient capital of Egypt has a huge statue of Ramses II
Alexandria, I hired a car and driver for this trip USD$90, 2.5 hours and 220 km, you leave at 0630 in the morning and return 12 hours later.
First stop Catacombs but they said no electricity come back after 3-4 hours so we drove to Pompey’s Pillar (entry LE 30) next to the Roman Theatre (entry LE 30), next Qaitbay Fort, the woman at the ticket counter very rudely said “no change” so I took some pictures from the outside and left, next the Library, they said not open until 1200 so I took some pictures and left, back to the Catacombs (entry LE 40) which had found some electricity, I gave the woman at the ticket counter 2 x 20’s and she gave me a ticket then as I was walking away she tried to say I had only given her 25, I said no I gave you 2 x 20’s and she said OK, this trick has been tried on me before hahaha.
Cairo Tower (entry LE70), gives you a good view of the air you breathe in this city.
Coptic Cairo consists of a cemetery, Church of Virgin Mary, Church of St.George and a Museum (entry LE 60)
The Citadel (entry LE60) is a huge fort, the main attraction is the Military Museum and it was closed for renovation, there is also a very small Police museum and a big Mosque.
Islamic Cairo has a couple of old Mosques (entry LE 40) and the Khan el-Khalili market