Tafa's note: This is the journal I kept during my trip to Egypt, all photos were taken by myself and Vivek, if you have any questions about Travelling to Egypt, or anything else please feel free to drop me a note at the following address: worldwidedread@aol.com

Update: People have been asking me if I think it is safe to travel to Egypt in light of the events of 9-11 and afterwards. From my experience Egypt is one of the safest countries for travelling. There are special police just to protect the tourists because of past incidents. Of course you should always keep in mind and respect local customs as you should when travelling to any country.

* U.S. Citizens should check the State Department's Egypt travel advisory.

V also says: drop me a line too if you like @ vivekc71@hotmail.com. Check out V's website for some of his travel photos from his trips to Spain, India, Australia & elsewhere.

Click on a photo for a larger version - click the larger photo to close it

Love at First Sight
CairoWe approach the city of Cairo from the air and the first thing we see is the river Nile, Cairo is huge. I am lucky enough to be on the left of the plane, the pilot shows us the Pyramids of Giza, they are right outside of the city and they are larger than life, we circle and then land. It's been over 12 hours since I got on this bird back in the West, I am ready to come back to earth.

First signs of chaos
The airport is more like a market as vendors pitch transportation, hotels, toilet paper, etc. with the lonely planet as our guide we decide to take the bus into the city for £2 L.E. (Egyptian pounds) the 356 departing from terminal 2. We exit the airport and enter into the desert heat.

Es Salam Amalekum
While waiting for our bus we observe our first Islamic prayer, as the faithful Muslim men remove their shoes and join the prayer on a special prayer rug inside the airport. Public prayer...it's a different world.

1st lesson in Arabic
After waiting for approximately an hour for the 356 that never comes, quickly learning the price of Egypt's most valuable commodity (£2 L.E. for bottled water) we realize that the numbers on the buses Streets of Cairoare in Arabic, and that the 356 has in fact come and gone several times. Thanks to the quick Arabic reference at the back of the lonely planet guidebook we figure out that 356 looks like 707 with one of the 7's (6 in arabic) being backwards. We are now on bus 356 heading towards the city of Cairo.

The locals are curious to see us on the bus; the average tourist takes a cab into the city (for 10 times as much as our bus fare). We look on the map to figure out where we are. It has been a long day and we have been traveling for the past 17 hours (from Miami), the bus reaches its destination in downtown Cairo at the Midan Ramses1. We ask the driver to show us where we were on the map, but he does not know, and he does not speak English, so he calls someone over who does.

1midan is the arabic word for a city square or major intersection

We tell our impromptu guide that we are looking for the Lotus Hotel as we have reserved a room in advance, however he tries to take us to 'much better hotel' as we walk (he wants to receive a commission) we finally arrive at the building which houses the Lotus and he tells us it is closed, as it appears to be. At closer glance it is not closed and we check in. Welcome to Alaska.2

Cairo at night from a bridge over the River NileA quick stroll down to the Nile, Muslim women flirt with their eyes speaking Arabic and you wish you understood. Crossing the streets in Cairo is a game, an adventure that pedestrians of all ages play, the horns constantly blaring creating rhythms of their own, the sounds of Cairo, music to a travelers ears.

2"welcome to alaska" an Egytian welcome to tourists sarcastically reffering to the local heat

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