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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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This article was updated on 2020/03/14 15:54:18