Friday, May 31, 2013

Day 4: Train to Alexandria

It is often said that trains are usually late in Egypt.  Ours was no exception.  We were to leave at 9:00 a.m., but that locomotive pulled out of the station at 10:40 a.m.  However, once we left the station, we had a nice ride to Alexandria, Egypt, which is in the north along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The previous night in our hostel was hot, to say the least.  But we were quick to check out and make our way to a taxi which took us to the train station and dropping us off after doing a special u-turn.  Feeling good about being early, we decided to get some orange juice at a juice man as well as pick up some rice pudding from a vendor outside of the train station.  The man with the rice pudding had each puddin' pre-made in glass bowls.  On top was some type of home made shredded wheat-like topping.  Yum!  The price: only 4 EGP each!

The interior of the Cairo train station.
We then headed back to the train station after being asked if we wanted a taxi a few hundred times.  This was probably due to the fact that we had our backpacks on and looked like we had just arrived.  But we had not.  Instead, we would soon be leaving to Alexandria.  Or that's what we thought.

Farmland in the Nile river delta.
View from our room in Alexandria.
The corniche in Alexandria.
But the train was late!  We walked in and saw that train 909 to Alexandria would be leaving at 10:00 a.m. instead of the originally scheduled 9:00 a.m.
departure time.  So, we sat ourselves down and we waited an hour and forty minutes until that train pulled up.  Once it did we got on and found our seats, and rode north to Alexandria.

Upon arriving in Alexandria we made our way to our hotel, which is called the Transit hotel.  It's along the corniche in Alexandria, and very close to the water.  We checked in and got our room.  I will review the room later, but I will say that we are very happy with it.  The price is higher than other accommodations in Egypt, but that is because Alexandria is pretty popular right now, as it usually is in the summer.  That is because it is somewhat cooler here, with sea breezes and options for swimming and diving.  There are many ruins out at sea, including the old lighthouse of Alexandria, which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Streets of Alexandria.

After we checked in we got some lunch at a small restaurant a few blocks away called Mohammed Ahmed. The restaurant has many vegetarian options and we ordered a lot of good food for a great price.  We ordered falafel with tahina, beets and salads, and foul with tahina, lentil soup, pita bread, and creme caramel. When we were presented with the bill we almost fell over dead!  It was only 24 EGP, about $3.50!  For a meal that expanded our bellies and made us feel crazy full.  Not only that, but afterwards we went swimming in sugar cane juice at a local juicery.

We decided to break the day into two, as it's very hot out now and the traffic is something else.  Therefore, we will be going out this evening and walking along the sea as the city lights up.  I will perhaps do a short entry on that.  But for now, that has been our day so far.


After awakening we took a stroll on the corniche, which was quite busy with people.  There were vendors selling all sorts of food, such as grilled corn on the cob (2 EGP), some type of beans in a bag (2 EGP), ice cream, tea, and other things.

After walking along the water, we went back towards our hotel and got some more juice and some fried dough balls with chocolate and powdered sugar on top (9 EGP).

The weather is much better here, as there is a sea breeze.  Overall, we are liking it a lot here so far.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 3: The Giza Zoo and Ferry Across the Nile

With the sun coming up so early here, we rarely sleep in.  In fact, it's pretty usual for us to wake up around 5:30, even though it's pretty late when we finally go to bed.  With that being said, we figured that we would get an early start, as we were planning on going to Alexandria via train today.  Plans and reality, however, are two completely different things.

We packed our bags and made our way down to the street where we would flag a taxi.  We took the taxi to the Ramses train station and waited in line to purchase a ticket to Alexandria.  Even though it was around 7 AM when we got to the station, it was pretty crazy.  There are stalls with items for sale everywhere.  I was feeling quite dehydrated, but wanted to get tickets for the train ASAP as I hear they sell out fast in the summer.  Well, the reality was that they were sold out until the next day.  So, we had to find a place to stay.

We walked around the train station and checked in with two hotels nearby.  One was called the Big Ben hotel and the other was was New Cicil or something like that.  Anyway, they both were full. We then made our way back to our hostel and rechecked in.  We decided that we would go out and get some breakfast and maybe walk down to the Nile river and relax.

We went to the Tahrir square bus area, and upon crossing the street, met a very nice young man who helped us cross.  He told us that we had to "walk like an Egyptian" in order to cross.  We found that to be quite humorous, as Beverly was thinking the same thing.  Anyway, he asked us about our trip and if we had visited the Cairo museum yet.  We said no, as we were waiting to see the Valley of the Kings in Luxor first.  We heard that it's best to see the museum after seeing the sites to get a better appreciation for the artifacts within.  He bade us farewell and we made our way to get some falafel at a small cooking area set up outside with many locals congregating.

We then took our food to the Nile, crossing another very busy street.  We thought we would get some peace and quiet along the Nile's corniche, but with motorcycles driving on the sidewalk and the busy street next to it, it was not as quiet as we had hoped for.  However, we were in the shade and that was nice.  We ate our breakfast and then decided that we would go back to the hostel, as we had already had quite a busy day so far.

On our way back we saw some river barges and I asked Beverly if these were the water taxis.  We decided to check, and right as we did, the boat was about to pull out.  We purchased tickets for 1 EGP each and boarded as the boat was leaving.  It was good timing.  We did not know where the river taxi went but we figured it was worth riding.  On board, we noticed that many people had picnic stuff, so we figured it must go to a park of some sort.  We followed the others when we pulled up to the shore on the other side of the Nile and noticed that everyone was going to the Giza Zoo.  We popped in a grocery store and got some fruit, chips, and water and made our way to the zoo.

The zoo is very old and some parts are showing its age.  We saw a wide variety of animals, including birds, lions, tigers, leopard, and some black bears which were pacing in the cage.  We also went into a hyena house which was built in the 1800's.  There was also an elephant and a lot of different monkeys.  One of the monkeys had a very small baby who it would carry around.  Sometimes the baby would try to walk around and climb around the cage. It was adorable.

Somewhere in the zoo was a racoon, which I really wanted to see.  We looked high and low for that thing, but we did not find it.  There were also seals somewhere, but we did not find those either.  At the zoo, many people were trying to sell photos and face painting.  There were also people who would bring you tea or drinks.  We, like many of the families, brought our own food and drinks.  The zoo was pretty busy and the temperature was very hot.

After we visited the zoo we decided to head back to our place to rest.  We did so and later, after a nap, woke up and headed out for dinner.  We decided that we would go to GAD, which is a local restaurant chain which serves a lot of different Egyptian food.  We had gone to one the other day in the market area, but had read that there was one close by where we were staying.  We decided we would head out and find it.

On our way we met with at least three people who wanted us to visit their "factories" to give us their business card.  The funny thing was that they all claimed to be from Minnesota.  In fact, the first guy who we met who actually did bring us into his "factory" had a brother who was in Minnesota, or Minne-snow-ta as he called it.  I am starting to think that Minnesota must either have a huge Egyptian population or be code for something.

Anyway, after finding out that going in a factory to get a business card ends up in a half hour or more sales pitch to buy perfume and papyrus, we kindly said no thanks.  Of course, we generally had to say it a lot: more than just once.  However, eventually they seemed to understand that we are not going into the factory, in truth a shop, and accept that.  A similar tactic was used in Thailand with suit shops and jewelry stores, so we are used to it.  Oftentimes, one is given tea while visiting.  While the hibiscus tea is one of the best things I have ever tasted, I still don't feel that it is worth the hassle.  Besides, the highly refreshing tea is easily purchased on the street for 1 EGP.

After being led in all sorts of directions we finally doubled back and found GAD.  We went upstairs where we got a seat overlooking the street below.  We ordered a pizza and some foul (mashed beans with vegetables mixed in) and some pita bread with Baba Gannoush.  The dinner was very good, but it is very hard to eat here due to not feeling hungry because of the heat.  Therefore, we were not able to finish it and brought the pizza back with us.  After dinner we walked around the shopping area of the city and then through one of the tree lined side streets that is close to our hostel.  There are many seats set up along this street with people smoking Sheesha, or water pipe.

After that, our day was pretty much over.  Tomorrow we will be heading to Alexandria via train.  We look forward to the ride and the chance to see a place that looks to be quite different from Cairo.  We enjoyed our time here in the city and will be back in about a week and a half for at least a day to see some of the sites before heading to the Sinai peninsula.


Metro Market Grocery Store (similar to grocery stores in the US/Europe)
1L 7 UP: 4.96 EGP
1/2 KG Grapes: 7.33 EGP
Small bag of chips: 3.00 EGP
2 apples: 3.33 EGP

Zoo Entry: 20 EGP each for tourists
River Taxi: 1 EGP each, one way
Train - Cairo to Alexandria: Second Class - 35 EGP/ticket

Pizza: 24 EGP
Juice: 5-8 EGP (on the street, it's generally 1-2 EGP)
Foul: 5 EGP
Baba Ganouch: 8 EGP

Day 2: Giza and the Pyramids

Although today would be our second day in Egypt, we decided that we wanted to see the Pyramids early.  We had taken notice of the lack of tourists that are in Egypt.  In fact, we thought that much of that had been over-exaggerated, but the reality is that we had only seen a handful of other tourists when at the market.  In fact, when we traveled by bus around the city we were often the only two tourists on board.

What has been over-exaggerated is the threat in Egypt since the revolution.  We are staying close to Tahrir Square, where much of the action has happened in Egypt, and we have noticed that everything is pretty quiet now.  Many businesses, however, are suffering.  The reality is that Egypt is currently a very safe place to visit, and many of the people who have been coming here are saying the same thing.

With that said, let's get to the meat of the post, shall we?  We decided that we wanted to see the pyramids, so we awoke and made our way to the Tahrir square bus station.  The station is spread out under some highway overpasses and is quite difficult to navigate.  There are small restaurants all over the place, and some people sell juice and falafel and the like for the typical prices of 1 to 2 EGP each.  At the time of this writing, one US dollar is worth close to 7 EGP.

Well, we decided that we were going to take the bus, which is only 2 EGP for an air conditioned bus or 1 EGP for a non-AC bus to the pyramids in Giza.  We had no idea how difficult finding these buses would be.  The bus station was packed full of buses, with all the numbers written in Arabic.  I had enough foresight to learn how to read Arabic numbers before heading to Egypt, but it would still be a challenge.  I knew that there were four buses that went to the pyramids from this station, but finding them would be another story.  After asking a bevy of bus drivers we had an idea of the general direction.

We waited in the hot sun as cars zoomed past us and fumes filled our nostrils.  Even though it was around 8:30 AM, it was very hot in the desert sun.  We waited and waited and a bus came by quickly and the driver said something.  After it registered in our minds that he said Giza Pyramids, the bus was long gone.  We would wait another 30 - 45 minutes in the blistering sun before a bus arrived.  It almost left us, but a man was nice enough to get it to stop and we boarded, hot and already somewhat dehydrated.  We were on our way to the pyramids though, and for that we were glad.

The ride was longer than we thought it would be, and we thought it would be long.  This does not tell you much about the actual ride however, so let me fill you in.  We went from the bus station in downtown Cairo, along the Nile and across it to an island where we crossed yet again.  Then we followed a host of traffic down a seemingly endless straightaway with cars, vans, buses, and motorcycles everywhere.  After the long journey we came upon, in the distance, the pyramids rising over the outskirts of the city.  It was quite a site to behold.  Our bus circled around and came to its final stop at Giza, the site of the pyramids!  We disembarked the bus and entered the intense heat.

Upon climbing off of the bus, we made our way along the street up a small hill.  A man came up to us and started talking to us about how to view the pyramids.  It all seemed fishy, so we saw a tourist information office and went in quickly.  While inside the tourist office and talked to one of the ladies who told us to not talk to anyone, but instead go to the entrance at the top of the drive.  We left, thanking her, and made our way in that direction.  We were immediately accosted.

A man came out, brandishing a grin and eyes shining like desert pearls in the moonlight.  His lips moved slowly as he formed dastardly discourse.  "This way," he said, leading us.  Then he made an abrupt left into a stable.  I knew this was not the way.  He was the first of many camel men.  I followed for a moment, perhaps to humor him.  Or perhaps it was out of curiosity.  He told us it was illegal to follow the trail to the pyramids without an animal under us.  We found this hard to believe.  He then pointed at a lone tourist that was sitting in a cart and made an example of him.  "See, there are other tourists here," he said.  The poor kid looked terrified.  The smell of horses and camels in the hot sun mingled with our nostrils to create a scent that made us feel that we had enough stable time.  He continued to follow us, basically begging us to ride one of his animals, remaining adamant that it was illegal to walk up the pathway.  We continued to walk and reached the top.  He watched us and let us be.

Immediately upon reaching the entrance where one pays to enter the pyramids, another man came to help us.  He had his own agenda in mind.  He took us to where we were to pay and we purchased our tickets for the pyramids (30 EGP for entrance as students each) and a pair of tickets to go into the great pyramid, which was 50 EGP each as students.  Otherwise, prices are double.  We went through the turn style, thinking we lost our new friend, but he hoped the wall outside and came upon us, taking our tickets and telling us to follow him.  He insisted he was not a guide and instead worked for the police. We knew this not to be true.  We demanded our tickets back but he continued to walk quickly in front of us.  Beverly immediately stopped in front of some police and said she was not going any further until she got the tickets back.  The man complied.  We then stated we wanted to go on our own.  He let us be.

At that moment, a man on the back of a camel arrived and told us to trust nobody.  He said to not take anything from anyone who was offering items as gifts.  We nodded, and he followed us for the next half an hour on his camel, which was named Pepsi, suggesting that there were some good views out in the desert if one takes a camel out.  We said we were not interested but he said "think about it."  We nodded and told him that if we decided to take a camel, which we probably would not, it would be through him.

As we walked, people tried to hand us stuff.  One man put a small stone scarab on my arm and said "gift."  I gave it back.  Another man tried to give us a picture of the pyramids.  We told these people we were not interested.  We made our way up a long road that had a great view of the pyramids.  I think the camel guy that was following us was surprised that we walked the whole thing without a camel.  There were no other tourists walking up that way, but instead mostly buses and people on camels or horse buggies.  When we reached the area where everyone was standing we took some pictures.

It was in this area that the camel man started to really want us to ride his camel out into the desert where we could see the pyramids in a straight line.  He said it made a great picture.  We said thanks, but no thanks.  We had heard stories about people who rent camels and are left in the desert to either pay more or to walk back.  We also had heard stories about camels not letting one down unless one paid a lot of money (such as 50 EU).  I was not in the mood to go for that kind of ride, and I figured that if we do feel the need to ride a camel (which we do not), we will ride them somewhere less touristy.  Furthermore, I heard that some of the camel riders here were used in the "battle of the camel" at Tahrir square and felt that it was perhaps wrong to support that.

After talking for a while and being made to feel bad about the lack of tourists visiting the pyramid, we began to head back.  (The camels have no food, etc.) He slowly followed behind us and seemed to give up.  We decided that we would now go into the great pyramid.  We made our way to the pyramid, where we met a couple of new friends wanting to take pictures of us and sell us stuff.  We said no and made our way into the pyramid.  After climbing some stairs on the outside and giving up our camera, we were finally in the inside of the pyramid.  At first, it was cool in the shade, but as we made our way deeper in, the passageways became cramped, where I had to basically crawl through, and it was stifling hot.  The further we went in, the hotter it was.  We finally reached the middle where there was a huge ramp going up about 100 meters or so.  When we reached the top, we found ourselves in the room where the sarcophagus of Cheops was.  In the room there were air shafts and a guy who explained to us about the workings of the room.  He asked for some baksheesh, so we gave him a 1 EGP coin.  He seemed amused at how cheap we were.  After a while soaking it in, we returned to the outside.  As we climbed down the ramp, it looked like we were at an incredible height.

After being in the humid pyramid, it was nice to be outside.  At least until the camel man and a friend showed up, asking for us to ride their camel again.  He continued to say, "do you know how much it is to ride?" and we said 40 or 50 EGP and he said, yes, 40 EGP, but I will give it to you both for 35 EGP.  I still was wary of it and said I was not interested.  They both seemed impressed that Beverly was dressed in the Muslim fashion, with an abaya and headcovering.  They asked her if she was Muslim and she said no.  They smiled and said I was lucky and then let us be.

We decided that we wanted to go see the Sphinx before leaving.  We were not exactly sure where to find it, so we began to walk alongside the cliff that overlooked Cairo and made our way to the back of the pyramid.  As we got to the other side, a man approached us on his camel and told us about some of the tombs and where the Pharaoh's boat was found buried.  He mentioned a few of the tombs that we could go into but we said we had seen the inside of the pyramid already and were just walking.  He followed us, pointing out random areas, such as old tombs where workers were buried.  Some of them were open up and we looked inside as we walked.  As we made our way, he began to ask us about riding his camel and we said no.  He really wanted us to ride and he said he would follow us in case we changed our mind.  We continued to walk, looking for the Sphinx, but could not seem to find it.  After a while, the man on the camel said the Sphinx was just ahead and as we walked we began to see it peeking over the hill.  He asked again if we wanted to ride on his camel, and we said we were not interested.  Overall, he was pretty nice about the whole thing.

After looking at the Sphinx, we headed out through a gauntlet of shops selling all sorts of goods.  We met a little girl there who wanted us to buy her papyrus style bookmarks for 10 EGP.  I felt bad for her right away, but did not feel like supporting child labor.  I have heard stories of adults exploiting children for money and did not want a part of that, so I said thanks but we were not interested.  She did not want to take no for an answer, and she continued to follow us, begging us to buy.  I looked at Beverly, but she agreed with me.  She said no, and we walked our way through the town area outside.  The entire time the girl followed us, growing angrier at us for not buying.  At one point she began to yell at us and throw the item at us, telling us to take it.  Although I felt very bad for her, I still did not want to support whoever she was working for.  Eventually after perhaps twenty minutes of her following us and trying to block us from moving, the girl left.  We grabbed some lunch, some juice and went to find a bus.  At this point, three or so taxi drivers were following us telling us to ride with them.  Another camel guy came up to us and wanted us to go back to the pyramids and ride his camel.  We obviously said no way.  We spent about an hour waiting for a bus in the heat where some boys were training horses and preparing to take over the position of camel/horse touts at the pyramids one day.

After a very long wait, we finally got on a bus and waited another half an hour for it to leave. We made our way back to Cairo, but a different route, and missed our stop due to the bus passing through a very unfamiliar area where we were supposed to get off.  So, we ended up riding to a completely different part of the city and waiting another half an hour to head back.  When we got back to Tahrir square, we were hot, exhausted and thirsty.  We were let off at the side of a highway ramp and had to dodge cars and traffic while hanging from a wall before we could slide under the overpass and dodge traffic to safety.  One thing about Egypt is that there are very few crosswalks and lights.  Therefore, one has to run through 4-5 lanes of traffic, dodging moving cars that are honking at you, in order to cross.  It seems very dangerous, but it is how things are done here.  Drivers expect people to do it though and they usually just stop and lay on the horn while you run like a banshee.

We made our way to the Koshery restaurant for some lunch and back to our hostel afterwards.  Later that night I went out for some more Koshery for take away and brought it back.  We also had some rice pudding.  Then we went to bed.  The whole day cost 250 EGP total (around $37), which is not bad at all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Egypt Travel Diary. Day 1: Arrival in Cairo and the market of Khan al Khalili

View from the rooftop at Dahab Hostel in Cairo.
It was 1:30 AM when the plane touched down in Cairo, Egypt.  We had spent the last few months planning for this trip and, after an eight hour long layover in which we explored Amsterdam, The Netherlands, we were finally in Egypt.  Upon arrival we made our way off the plane and onto a bus that was waiting for us below.  The city was lit up in the distance, the air was hot and dry, and we were exhausted.

How do you get a travel visa once in Egypt?

Upon arrival in Egypt most visitors must get a visa at the airport before going through security.  This was rather simple, as the arrival area at the airport that we were taken to was not that big.  There are a couple of money changers near the rear of the room on the side opposite of the passport checkpoint area.  There, for $15, you can get a month long visa.  If you need to extend your Egyptian visa later on you can do so in Cairo    (more on this in a future post).

We had reserved a cheap room at Dahab Hostel that is in downtown Cairo near Tahrir Square. We finally got to bed around 3:00 AM after checking into our room. We were brought from the airport via taxi for 65 Egyptian pounds and taken up a rather old and creaky elevator to the 7th floor of the building which houses other businesses and another hostel. The room itself is about $9 a night and it's pretty simple. There's two single beds, a table in the corner, a small window above one of the beds that faces the street and overlooks some very old buildings that have tons of satellite dishes on them. About seven floors down is the street, full of honking traffic. As I write this at 10:00 PM on our first day, cars are honking themselves silly.

We felt rather nasty upon arrival, so we took a shower before going to bed. On our way into the city by taxi we passed the market and the downtown area of the city. The downtown was pretty much closed up for the night, yet there were many people still out and about. Being from New York, I am used to that, but if I was coming from a place like, say, Spokane, it might come as a surprise.

We slept in until about 8 AM the next day. I would have probably slept in later if Beverly had not woke me when she did. I felt exhausted and wanted to go right back to sleep. Yet, on the other-hand I was thrilled at the prospect of to be soon exploring the city. So, we showered, shaved, brushed our teeth and got ready to head out. Before leaving we went to the roof top patio and took a video of the skyline. The weather was already getting quite hot. (videos will be available in the future at
View from our room at Dahab Hostel.
We took the stairs down, vowing not to get back into that old rickety elevator. The thing must be at least a century old. When we got downstairs we walked north east and met a person with a small restaurant. He asked us if we wanted breakfast and we figured “why not?” We went inside and had a pita sandwich with foul (beans) and vegetables inside of it. The meal was very good and it came to 2 EGP total, which is about 15 cents. Not bad for two sandwiches. We left the restaurant and walked north. We passed by Abou Tarek, which is a famous Koshery restaurant. We continued walking some, but went back after a while and got some Koshery to go. Two medium, but very large, containers of it was 14 EGP, or 2 dollars with the exchange rate as 1 dollar being worth seven EGP. We took the Koshery back to our hostel and I ate mine on the rooftop deck. We then went into the room to nap.

When we awoke, Beverly ate her Koshery and shared it with me. We decided that we would be going to Khan Al Khalili that night. It's a huge market in Cairo, and it's a LOT bigger than I thought it would be. In fact, it's insanely massive. However, before leaving to the market we were taken in by a man who gave us cold hibiscus tea and wanted to show us his perfume and papyrus. We told him that we were not ready to buy things yet, as we have another 37 or so days left in Egypt. He was pretty nice about it. We then took a taxi to the market from our hotel, which was 8 EGP (we paid 10 after tip).

When we got to the market we were immediately greeted by a man who wanted to show us the market. He took us through the market quickly to a mosque and told us that we should tour it for a certain amount of money. We figured that we would do that later and he really wanted us to go to his factory where they make jewelry boxes with real mother of pearl. We said thanks but no thanks and after a bit of discourse, he let us on our way. We spent the rest of the night wandering through the market, drinking amazing juices and eyeing interesting goods. The south part of the market is the area where many of the locals do their shopping. Beverly bought an Abaya there. She had to haggle a bit to get it down to 160 EGP from 200 and then she had to get it hemmed for 10 EGP. The person tried to charge us 15 for the hemming, but we stood firm on the price that was quoted. 10 means 10.

Before purchasing the Abaya, we went to Gad for a dinner of falafel and an Egyptian pancake. We also got some juice there. The whole meal came to about 50 EGP, or just a few dollars. The pancake thing was so huge that we had to take half back with us to the hostel. I am kind of eating on that as I write this. After Beverly bought her Abaya, the same man who took us around the market found us again and really wanted to show us his factory. We said no a few more times and after a bit of conversation he let us go. However, as we were making our way in his direction, he kept looking back, so we doubled back and high tailed it to another part of the market. We made our way to a part of the market where books and sweets are sold and met a man who wanted to take us to his mother of pearl box factory. We said no and he was quite pushy. He said there was nothing in the direction of interest we were heading. However, Beverly said it best when she said “nothing except delicious cake.” She was right, we were surrounded by cakes and sweets. Sadly, our hunger was gone after dinner at Gad. However, that did not stop me from getting some delicious sugar cane juice at a stall in the market. The juice people just pour you a glass and you drink from it while standing near the person. They then rinse it and pass it to the next person with juice inside. The juices are all quite cheap and they are delicious.  Sugar cane, Hibiscus and Grape are some of the ones we have tried so far, and they are generally 1 EGP each.

We eventually crossed to the other, more touristy, side of the market. In that part of the market we were greeted by many people wanting us to go into their stores. We just wandered a while and made our way to a courtyard by a Mosque where there are many restaurants. One man grabbed me with some force and tried to haul me into his restaurant. After telling him a few times that I was not hungry, I was able to pull myself away. Later, another man grabbed me and tried to carry me off into his shop. I was able to escape as well.

The market was loud, with motorcycles and trucks in places where they should probably not tread. However, that is how it is there and one has to learn how to deal with the noise. The dust is also something to get used to. However, even with that said, we enjoyed our night. We took a taxi back to our hostel and, after a long ride through the traffic infested city, we made it. We climbed the stairs back to our room on the 7th floor and retired for the night. Not bad for our first day in Cairo.