When we started planning the multistop trip we took back in 2011, Egypt was on the tentative itinerary. Until, that is, the democratic process started getting rowdy enough for advisories against all nonessential travel to the country were issued by nearly all western governments. In the years since, Egypt has managed to stay pretty far down on our list for safety concerns. Egypt pops onto our news intermittently with riots, killings, terrorism, etc… the sort of stuff that generally dissuades westerners from taking a holiday there. I can’t say what clicked for us that bumped Egypt to the top again… articles like this, recent blogs that describe uneventful trips, and loads of tripadvisor reviews certainly helped to bring us around. This is a place that has an infrastructure for a lot of tourism. Right now, they’re just missing the tourists.
So far for us, it’s looking as advertised. Everyone has been very friendly and accommodating and we haven’t gotten any sense of danger other than the usual varieties of shady opportunistic touts. Even that has been pretty mild here. Granted, there are certainly hints that security is a concern, such as the bomb sniffing dog at our hotel gate and the airport style metal detector and baggage x-ray at the entrance to a 5-star hotel. We’re staying at the Mena House Hotel (formerly Mena House Oberoi), which is absolutely as close as you can get to the pyramids. There is lots of history to this place, huge palace suites named after foreign dignitaries that have stayed here over the last century or so. It’s lovely…. and charming… and it’s a complete ghost town. The tourist hotel in North Korea was packed by comparison. It turns out we arrived just as the new president has been inaugurated, which makes our timing either excellent or really, really terrible. They had some fireworks going off around dinnertime outside our hotel compound celebrating the occasion. Really though, they were actual fireworks, I saw them. Not like “fireworks” at the DMZ. Anyhow, we’ll try to pack in the highlights around Cairo as quickly as possible, because things can change quickly.
We’ve got a full day tomorrow visiting the pyramids and the national museum in Cairo. We’ll try to update as we’re able. Internet access and electricity have been a tad finicky.