In my post ‘My Ultimate Travel Bucket List‘, I mentioned that I was jetting off to Egypt for a week. Since I have returned I thought it would be cool to give some insight into what it’s like to go on holiday to Egypt. There are a few things I cannot give recommendations on: hotels, tour groups and restaurants as I stayed with a friend (Mariam) when I went. I wanted to give an honest account of my travels all the way from Manchester to Cairo and back. Without further ado…
We flew with the Greek airline, Aegean Airlines. Honestly the flights were really straightforward and I was concerned they weren’t going to be as they required a stop off. I’d never flown anywhere that required a stop off before so it was nerve wracking but it all worked out in the end. If you fly with Aegean, I’d recommend taking your own food from duty free as – this is the case with most airlines – the food was mediocre. Flying back with EgyptAir was fine but don’t expect the flight attendants to grant you many smiles if you fly with them… They are few and far between. But for a two hour journey, I didn’t need the best service in the world anyway. Aegean Airlines were about 15 minutes late with the departure of the flight back from Athens to Manchester but the flight went smoothly so no complaints from me here. Plus, the staff on Aegean Airlines flights are very friendly and willing to help should you need it.
I did heavy research before coming to Egypt about what to expect at the airport. It was easy to navigate around all 3 airports (Manchester, Athens and Cairo). Cairo International Airport is nothing to be afraid of and buying a visa is incredibly simple. You fill out a boarding pass on the flight, take that and your passport to a bank kiosk in the airport and buy your visa stamp. The current cost for the visa is $25 but you can pay in other currencies. There are card machines opposite the bank kiosks should you need to get money out but I recommend taking it with you. Security was easy to get through on arrival. The only thing I will say is don’t speak to any random Egyptian who talks to you in the airport. Bottomline, they want your money so ignore them or you’ll end up surrounded by them all and giving endless tips.
Don’t expect too much from Manchester Airport…
Just a heads up, Manchester airport is terrible. At least my experience coming back into Manchester airport was and the lack of communication from staff was ridiculous. I travelled back alone from Cairo to Manchester as my friend was staying for an extra week. I, and many others, had to wait 25 minutes for our luggage to arrive due to a ‘technical fault’ that we only found out about as the luggage was starting to appear on the carousel. Not to mention that they close duty free in the departure lounge early on a Saturday evening so your only option is a Boots meal deal. I’m not one to complain about things on my blog like this but it was an absolute farce.
The Trip Itinerary
For the first few days (Sunday – Tuesday) we stopped off in Alexandria to stay with Mariam’s parents and moved onto Cairo for the last part of my trip (Wednesday – Saturday). Mariam stayed an extra week so I travelled home alone on the 16th. If you’re planning a trip to Egypt, there are some things you need to be aware of.
This one might be a given but it is HOT, like scorching, 29+ degrees every day. To put it politely, I’ve never sweat so much before in my life. Come prepared with factor 50 suncream as anything less will not protect your skin adequately enough. Don’t bring jeans – you need light, ‘floaty’ cotton clothing. I obviously can’t give hotel or tour group recommendations but they’re easy to find with a search on google. Remember to read reviews for everything. Don’t buy a service just because it’s cheap.
Yes, there are multiple culture shocks when coming to Egypt from England. The driving was the main one for me, it was absolutely crazy and I was scared at first getting in the car from the airport and realising seatbelt’s weren’t a necessity. In fact, the belt itself was there but the clippy in bit (so technical – I know) wasn’t. I highly recommend you do not drive yourself around anywhere in Egypt – you need an experienced Egyptian driver to drive you around places. No matter how good a driver you are, the roads in Egypt are lethal. As my friend liked to say – ‘traffic laws don’t exist here’. Expect to hear a lot of horns going off because drivers in Egypt seem to honk at others for banter more than anything else.
Food is very different, Egyptian cuisine can probably be likened to marmite. There were a lot of the foods that I loved and some that weren’t to my tastes. I tried everything that was given to me though as I like a challenge. My favourite being the food in the picture which is loosely related to a crepe with a lot of thin layers. The most buttery and sugary goodness you could find. I wish I could remember the name of it!
Finally, you will not be left alone when you walk past shops in the streets. You are a tourist and they are desperate for you to buy their goods. One woman went as far as to repeatedly tap me on the arm until she was politely told to go away. I’ll be honest that did make me feel uncomfortable. It’s not behaviour that I’m necessarily used to. In the UK, you get asked once if you need help and then you’re left alone… Forgot about that in Egypt. Also, tipping is a big thing so try avoiding anyone’s help unless it’s from a trusted tour guide. Nothing is free in Egypt, it’s that simple.
Overall, I recommend visiting Egypt as it really is beautiful. It was a truly humbling trip and the experiences I had I will treasure forever. I have the utmost gratitude and respect for those who made my trip as amazing as it could be. I feel like I may have sounded a bit negative in this post, but I have a lot of love for Egypt and some of its people. Don’t judge Egypt based on its sketchy Media past, it has so much to offer and its time its tourism industry got to flourish again. There will be more posts coming of day to day excursions we went on if you’d like to see them. Would you like to go to Egypt?
Until Next Time,