Thoughts on Egypt

## Summary

I traveled to Egypt for four days this March. This was my first trip to Egypt. The trip was fantastic. I took a ton of pictures and hung out with a ton of Egyptians. The people are warm and friendly. The country struggles to stay above water and not slide into an economic nightmare. The entire nation still hopes for a better future.

## Impressions

As travel progressed, I jotted down notes to myself about various aspects of Egypt as I encountered them. Here are the raw notes:

### Egypt Air
– basic airplane
– older seats
– all male staff

### Cairo Airport
– deserted
– clearly arranged to streamline tourists, if only there were some
– $15 for an entry visa, fanciest visa in my passport so far
– arabic and english everywhere

### Driving in Cairo
– cars everywhere
– not so much driving as it is swimming through traffic
– lines, directions, signage mostly a suggestion, not a hard set of rules
– three lane highways turned into 5 lanes (the lane, the lines between lanes, the next lane, the breakdown lanes)
– passing at will, anyway possible
– police checkpoints along the sides of the roads, no clear reason for stopping some over others
– carts pulled by donkeys, scooters, motorcycles, generally small cars, massive trucks all swimming together
– pedestrians play Frogger to cross the street, at any point, any where

### Upper class culture
– very american
– very corporate-driven
– shopping, shopping, and more shopping
– citystars as an example
– still Egyptian culture seeps through; very family oriented; building with extra space so your offspring can move in near you; warm, inviting people; lots of food offers;

### The Wedding
– huge, 800 people invited
– 300+ showed up
– extravagant
– loud
– tons of food, flowers, snacks
– dancing, dancing, and more dancing
– realtime video feed of the wedding, streamed to the wedding itself
– fun times for all

### The city of Cairo

#### Egyptian Museum
– priceless artifacts everywhere
– not so curated, mostly grouped by Kingdom (Old, Middle, New, Greco-Roman)
– infrequent placards (typed, some arabic, french, and english, some just arabic and english)

#### Tahir Square & Downtown
– tanks, apcs, riot police
– people walking everywhere
– cars swimming through traffic everywhere
– some parts look just like downtown NYC, except with more arabic

### The Pyramids at Giza
– 2h to get there due to traffic
– nice chat with tour guide the whole time
– aggressive vendors
– tiny handful of tourists around
– went inside a pyramid to the burial chamber
– saw the ship buried with Cheops
– did a camel ride

# Closing thoughts

Cairo is a great place. Egypt is desperate for tourists. It’s clear most of the infrastructure is setup for tourism, but without tourists, it’s a hulking expense to maintain. At our own hotel, there were lots of staff hanging around with little to do. They went through the motions, but after a few years of turmoil, the tourists just aren’t returning. The result is Egypt is a bargain right now. I’d like to return and see Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan. I’d like to do a cruise on the River Nile. I’d like to again hang out with the Egyptians I met and with which I shared meals over the few days of this trip.

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