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Have you ever dreamed about visiting the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum and see all these wonders in person? Who doesn’t?! Thousands of people visit Cairo every year, normally as a part of tour including a cruise down to Luxor, visits to the Red Sea, the Sinai Desert and so on.
Some others, like me, do not join any cruise and, in my case, I visited the Red Sean only at the Israeli and Jordanian side.
So, if we focus in Cairo, what is really the attraction of this city?. Of course, the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum are a must. Saqqara is also a place you have to visit. People also like to visit the Coptic quarter and, even some others, real sadomasochistic fellows enjoy being tortured at the Khan-El Khalili market. Why tortured?. Because a possible great experience turns into a continuous headache. In this city, once the foreigner sets one feet outside the hotel suffers a metamorphosis. For their eyes only, sure, but a metamorphosis in any case.
In contrast to the Kafka book, foreigners here do not convert themselves into a beetle but into a walking wallet. You cannot even walk 5 meters without being harassed by people of all kind. They all want to be best friends with you, they all love your country (wherever you come from), they are all best supporters of your football team. How come? Are we really facing the most friendly people on earth? Are they the middle-east version of the Teletubbies?
Of course not. They do not see a friend. They do not care where you come from (well, I guess they do appreciate and have a preference for wealthy visitors from wealthy countries, sure) and, they do not mind which team you support back home. They see a wallet. They will try to sell you anything: from tea to rugs, from ridiculous papyrus to miraculous perfums and magic scents that will drive women crazy about you. “No, I don’t want anything” is something they just do not understand. And it is everywhere. Believe me: everywhere.
For those still interested in visiting this place, I am just going to place three tips, trying to help to make your trip more comfortable than it was mine:
• Avoid Cairo in summer. It is really hot. And dirty. And dusty too. Temperature rises up to 45º or 50ºC. You will sweat like never before. You will feel weak. And remember you will need all your strength to say “No, I don’t want anything” every ten seconds.
• Avoid Cairo during Ramadan. Sure, if you are not a Muslim. Almost everything is closed during the day and, at night, it will be almost impossible to find a table. You will need to go to the Hilton for a beer. Anywhere else, you will be forced to choose from a wide selection of drinks like mango juice, mineral water or Mirinda. Yes, Mirinda…
• Avoid Cairo, for God sake!