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Cairo-not for beginners

Another day in Cairo.

For my stay here in the hostel, the staff has been trying to convince me to go on a tour of Egypt that includes a cruise for like $405.00. I want to see Egypt but I am naturally skeptical-I don't like group tours, but I would like to see more, and I have been given the hard-sell for the 4 days I have been here.

Yesterday morning I did some research on going to Luxor myself, a major part of the cruise. I found it was easy and not expensive. So I booked a flight inpulsively for the cost of what I thought was $45.00, (I found it was $133-I had the exchange rate wrong). I tried to cancel the flight. (It was on Egyptair's website)-plus my name was wrong on the ticket. I put my last name first and first name last.

I really wanted the flight cancelled. I sent an email to Egyptair (there is no phone # on their website-and I couldn't make calls in Egypt anyway)-but the email was returned because it was a bad address. I found Egyptair had an office a few blocks away from the hostel, I went there-told the person at the desk I wanted to cancel the ticket. Her English wasn't good-but she asked me to go to the accounting office-just behind the counter, and talk to someone there. I sat next to that lady, and she tried calling three people to cancel the ticket. Nobody picked up. Finally, she gave me another email to send to request a cancellation-but she wouldn't send the email for me. I had to go back to the hostel-send the email from there (since that is where there is wifi). Of course-a minute of two sending it I heard the ping that I received a new email-so that email was returned to. I did find a online refund request form on the website-so I sent that in, and received an auto bounce back-that the email was received.

Anyway, I found I was able to book a new ticket with my name correct for only $60 (I checked this time)-so that is what I did.

After all that-it was roughly 10:00 am-I went back to the Museum to finish the guide tour-for "People in a Hurry section" at the end-which I started the day before. I was able to see some of the King Tut exhibition-including his tomb-(King Tut wasn't a significant ruler in any way-his tomb is famous because most tombs we're raided for all the valuables-his was was one of the very few left intact). I also saw famous Jewelry and other tombs. I also saw portraits of some Egyptians after they started comingling with the Romans-and how some Egyptian features we're disappearing.

After the museum-I bought another guidebook (I left my original at the Egyptair office that morning), at the bookstore from the American University which is across the square. They have a nice bookstore, I found a cheap guide which listed the Medieval quarter. I asked the bookstore young lady how to get there. She said take a cab. I asked if the Metro goes there (which I preferred), but she said a cab would go there, which should be about 15 cents. I found a cab (which wasn't marked-my mistake-which I found out). The cab driver told me it would be approximately 17 Egyptian pounds (like $1.20) to get there, which I agreed to. Once we got going-he told me it was 100 Egyptian Pounds ($8 US dollars)-I told him no-$17. He kept saying $100. After crossing a bridge and driving through interesting neighborhoods for like 20 minutes-We arrived at the walls of the ancient city-abiet a nearly deserted one. I gave him the 17 pounds. He was obviously pissed off. He got out of the cab-and then insisted if wasn't 17-it was 70 pounds. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and gave him 70 pounds. I tried to run off, but some local kids found out what was happening and figured this westerner was stiffing the driver, and one started following me. This was a piss-poor place I was at. I walked to another gate-and found out he wasn't chasing me any more. I saw this was because there was a huge police presence at this gate, where more tourists went-And the quarter was nice. Cobblestone lanes, old buildings, including Mosques, and large markets with lots of things for sail. I found a modern looking two floor market, and took a nap in an alleyway with a store in the corner. I found out the store owner took my camera (Which was out), and hit it-so nobody would steel it while i was sleeping. I tried to give him money but he wouldn't take it.

I had to get home from the old quarter. Once again, I hailed an unmarked cab (there weren't many cabs here-and once again my mistake). This guy didn't speak English (I told him I waned to go to Tahrir Square-which has the museum on one side, a Ritz Carlton on the other, and an Intercontinental hotel on the other-the revolution happened there in 2011). A taxi driver not knowing where that is is akin to a NY cab driver being unfamiliar with the location of Times Square. He didn't know. He asked me which way to go-and I told him I didn't know. He asked other cab drivers how to get there (at least 3 times). Finally, after approximately 1/2 an hour of driving, he dropped me off at a nice neighborhood, but it didn't seem like Tahrir Square. I figured this was a side I haven't seen before-but after a minute it became clear this wasn't it. I gave him the 50 Egyptian pounds I promised (like $3.50), and wandered down a hill. I found a city bus, and got on-hoping that it would at least take me to the Metro where I can go back. After 10 minutes of riding-I was hoping someone would speak English-I said "Metro" to a lady besides me", she repeated it back-and pointed to the side of the bus-it turns out the bus was on a street that was paralleling the Metro tracks. So I got off the bus at the next stop, next to the station-and took the Metro back (While I wish the cab driver knew where he was going-taking the bus and the metro set me back only about 30 cents).

I finally reached Tahrir square which was near the hostel. I took a walk to the tour of Cairo-which was across the bridge, and went to the top (it was about a 45 minute walk-the tower was only about 30 stories tall), looked at the view,had dinner, and came back to the hostel.

Posted by DavidPearlman 21:56 Archived in Egypt

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