My trip to Egypt was a truly memorable one. Not that it was perfect; in fact, far from it. But it was was unforgettable and had its own mystique and charm.
If you visit, beware that you may have to ease up on your expectations. We booked our room at what was represented to be the best hotel in Cairo and when we arrived and the carpet was dusty (although there is no shortage of sand there, there’s a difference between sand and dust). You also have to pass through a metal detector before you enter the lobby. Okay … hmmm. In additon, the sheets had a weird smell, and the bathroom sink had rust on the fixtures. We had pre-ordered a town car to pick us up at the airport and what arrived was a 6 year-old Honda Civic. To top it all off, we tipped the driver 30%, only to have him angrily demand more. And he worked for the five-star hotel. So that was the inauspicious beginning of our Egyptian getaway..
Why I take all this – and offer it back to you – with a grain of salt (or sand) is that with all of the inconveniences considered, Cairo and Egypt turned out to be one of the most amazing adventures I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking. And what I learned, and what I can pass on to you, is that many of the shortcomings I experienced could have been avoided had I simply bought a group tour package.
My biggest mistake on the trip was I decided to book everything myself, as in the past it’s always been a way to save money. Halfway through the trip, we joined an organized tour group who arranged everything for us and everything thereafter was flawless. We were taught how to deal with locals, how to haggle with merchants and we didn’t have to deal with shady cab and limo drivers. It was all handled for us.
The visuals were stunning, and I finally got to see some of the grandest sights on Earth; what we all call “the Cradle of Civilization.” And it was pretty civilized – after we joined the group tour.
Enjoy new highlights of travel photographer Edwin Santiago’s journeys each week.
Last modified: July 27, 2017