Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A Trip to Cairo, Egypt ~ Silly or Safe

Seeing the bomb sniffing dog coming out of the Egypt Airlines plane we were about to board in Athens Sunday bound for Cairo, turned my knees to rubber. However, The Scout said he’d found the sight reassuring.

Guess the question of silly or safe is one that each traveler needs to answer on his/her own.

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Tour boats have returned to the Nile in greater numbers than last year
The dog and its handler came out of the plane while we were being held in the bus that had  transported us to the plane from the terminal. (A normal way of getting to aircraft around here). Uniformed officials were setting up a security checkpoint at the top of the stairway at the plane’s door to check all our hand carry bags and everything inside them moments before entering the aircraft. (Not a normal way of boarding a flight.)

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Street scene Cairo 

As I told you last week, our journey back to the United States from Greece is via Cairo – partly because of the great airfare from here to Seattle and partly because this city is simply a fabulous place to visit! Spending a few days here is an exotic – yet, easily managed -  treat unmatched by other gateway cities on this side of the Atlantic. We’ve been here twice and have flown Egypt Air twice as well. . .without problems!

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Street vendor bouquets - Cairo
But, back to Sunday. . .We didn’t realize at the time that we were flying on Mohammed’s birthday – a holiday and time of great celebration here.  It was also the day that a suicide bomber killed 23 and injured 40 more in a Christian church in Cairo. We learned Monday that the Pope of the Coptic church cut his trip to Greece short and returned to Cairo on Sunday –  which leads us to believe he was on our flight, as the airline only has one each day from Athens. All of which probably explains the increased and very heavy security measures. The kind that turn a 'white knuckler's' knees to rubber.

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Home of the Ancient Egyptian Music School

Silly or Safe

I posted a report on Facebook about the prelude to our 1.5 hour flight – which was absolutely uneventful after we got airborne -- and was grateful for the many who wrote messages. What somewhat surprised us is though is how many seem to think we are in some horribly unsafe part of the world (unlike Brussels, Paris, Fort Lauderdale, Istanbul, San Bernadino. . .).

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Street cat in Cairo (there was a food dish on the sidewalk not far from this one)
“They don’t like Americans’' wrote one friend.  Well, there probably are some who don’t like us, but in a city of more than 18 million, we’ve not encountered them. Those who we have met are some very warm and welcoming folks. 

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We are staying in the Zamalek district - an island in the Nile
We used the same company this year as we did last year for the transportation between the airport and our hotel. The same young man who greeted us on our first arrival was back again holding a sign with our names on it Sunday night.  He was the first to extend warm greeting and he remembered us from our previous visit (an advantage of a dip in tourism, I guess).  Yesterday morning the same hotel staff member, Mona, who had wrapped me in a bear hug saying goodbye last year, wrapped me in her arms again to welcome me back. The Scout returned today to a barbershop he’d gone to last year – the barber, who had inquired last year about where we were from and told us he was Coptic Christian, wished us a heartfelt Marry Christmas and greeted us enthusiastically.

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Traffic is the real danger in Cairo
We are staying in the city’s island district, Zamalek, a place so full of history that we wander its streets on our own with no particular destination in mind, shopping in stores housed in marvelous old buildings; simply soaking up everyday scenes.  I can assure you the only danger here is from the uneven sidewalks and crazy drivers.  We don’t feel threatened.

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The Marriott hotel is built around a palace in Cairo
Our Marriott hotel incorporates the island’s historic Gezira Palace, to see more about it, click here. A standard room here is $106US before taxes - less than some Courtyard by Marriott’s we’ve stayed in in the states.  The Egyptian pound recently devalued and one US dollar is equal to 18LE. 

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The Palace entry and one happy traveler
I’ve got more to tell you about Egypt but that will have to wait for another week.  There’s a lot more exploring to be done before we leave . . . and it really would be silly to not see as much as possible! 

Thanks for being with us – we appreciate your time, especially at this busy time of the year.  Enjoy your travels. Be safe.

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

40 comments:

  1. Oh, that Marriott Hotel staircase with the poinsettias is gorgeous and I get the feeling that you two must have felt either like returning rockstars or a little like you were coming home upon your arrival to Cairo! I would have been reassured by the bomb-sniffing dog but it's interesting to think about why many people think of travel in other countries as dangerous - the familiar versus the foreign? I agree with you, Jackie that we've not met one person who expressed an anti-American sentiment. Most countries view America positively and many people talk about how they want to visit someday. I'm not sure, however, that that perception will continue after January...

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    1. Well, to put 'safety' in perspective, I opened my computer this morning back in 'safe ol' USA Kirkland' to see a headline of yet another police officer being shot -- this one in a small town not far from us. I don't know what I find more upsetting, Americans' fear of other countries or their tunnel vision when it comes to what is happening right here, in this case, almost literally in 'our own back yard' . . .sigh. . .day one back in the US. . .89 until Greece. . .

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    2. But who's counting, right? And those daily calls to the Greek Consulate will help with the countdown too. :) Merry Christmas in our new language, Feliz Natal, and yours, καλά Χριστούγεννα!

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  2. Oh, I wish Steve was up for exotics travels.

    Have a Happy Christmas

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    1. Oh and the merriest of Christmases to you as well!!! Enjoying all your decorating since mine is going to be non, existent!

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  3. Oh, the places you've seen...what an exciting life you lead..talk about getting the most out of it...you must write a book someday.
    Merry Christmas, dear one.

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    1. Sounds like a good idea BJ. . .someday, that is! Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!! xxxx

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  4. Sometimes I think travel to "safe" places is a frame of mind. Not that there aren't places I wouldn't want to be for safety reasons. Like NYC or LA. Looking forward to more of this exotic location. Welcome home.

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    1. Thanks for the welcome back message. I am still grappling with getting used to the idea of being here and not there . . .and I so agree that 'safe' is a state of mind!

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  5. I'm finding your Cairo posts very interesting, can't wait for more.

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    1. Thanks much Jan. Glad you are enjoying them. Merry Christmas to you and yours~

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  6. Such amazing photos!! I would love to see Cairo someday :)

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    1. I have no doubt that one day you will! And you will love every minute of it. I'll watch for your reports...

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  7. Hello, your travel photos are awesome. I am glad feel safe in these exotic places. I would think people need to be aware and safe when traveling anywhere. Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week! Merry Christmas!

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    1. Oh Merry Christmas to you Eileen. It is so nice to have met you in this big ol' blogosphere. I so look forward to your travel posts!

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  8. thank you for taking us to Cairo. We have never visited here, and yes, I am concerned about security in the Middle East, but your post has eased my worries somewhat. Cairo really does seem to be a very interesting place to visit. Wishing you safe travels and a very happy Christmas and great things in 2017. Many thanks for your support of my blog over the past year.

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    1. You know we were back in Seattle for less than 24 hours before a police officer was critically wounded in a small town to the north of us here. It seems shooting police officers has become a sad-but-true regular occurrence here. It has made me aware that 'safe and secure' could be concerns about traveling to America as well. Jill, thanks so much for being a regular here. I've enjoyed getting to know you in this big blogosphere world of travelers.

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  9. I'm guessing that you didn't actually get to meet the Pope, though. I wonder if he and his entourage got the whole First Class or if some total stranger gets to sit next to the Pope. Anyways, I really like your photos of how quiet Cairo is, especially the one of the young man balancing a load on his head while riding the motorcycle.

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    1. Well the plane didn't have a First Class section, but he might have been in Business Class, along with the other folks there. Joel said after seeing the news reports of his return that he remembered a fellow. . .I was so terrified of getting on the plane, I couldn't have told you who was on it with me . . .yes, sad but true: this travel enthusiast/blogger does have moments when I ask myself why I am not content to sit at home and 'be safe'! (And I am always in retrospect, so glad we don't let fears keep us from traveling). Thanks much for your visit and for being a regular here. I appreciate our blogosphere friendship!

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  10. Oddly, it seems like "the familiar" always feels safe - whether it is or not...

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    1. Good observation, Irene. With the headlines of just the past two days though I am wondering if anywhere is going to feel safe much longer. Happy Holidays!

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  12. It's probably safer than some cities back home, don't you think? Enjoy your time there and happy holidays!

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    1. My thoughts exactly; I take the streets of Cairo over the streets of Chicago from the sounds of headlines coming from that city this past year. Makes me wonder what visitors (or those thinking of visiting) think about America these days!

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  13. Congratulations. You have just arrived at the miracle world of the ancient history.

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    1. It is a fabulous city and country. Too bad fear will keep so many from ever seeing or experiencing it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Oh, dear. I have been fighting the urge to return to Egypt for so long (my husband has never been there and thinks it is too dangerous) and now you have reminded me how much I love Cairo and I want to be there again!! Enjoy your time there and the wonderful people I know you will meet. Can't wait to hear more.

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    1. If you loved Cairo once Cindy you will love it even more now. The people - as you so aptly describe them - are simply wonderful!

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  15. You've certainly made Cairo look inviting. I'm looking forward to reading more.

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    1. Cairo is so very inviting. . .but not a city for the timid (and that is based on traffic, human congestion and the big city life - I am not referring to 'safety') I think you'd find it fascinating.

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  16. Yes...'safe' is a very relative concept at the moment, unfortunately. Glad your flight was uneventful.

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    1. So very much in agreement with you on safety being a relative concept. Thanks for stopping by.

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  17. I am following your Egypt posts with great interest. I would love to go back there but I must admit that the safety aspect concerns me a bit.

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    1. I think you'd be amazed at how 'normal' the streets are and how kind and warm the people are. Too bad headlines keep highlighting only the occasional incident these days.

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  18. Thanks for a very interesting article about your experience with Egypt Air and Cairo. I am hopeful that tourism travel to Egypt will recover soon!

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    1. So are we. It is absolutely such a treasure trove for travelers and such a shame to miss it.

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  19. Hi,Jackie. Security wise I don't think Ciaro is much different than when I was there in 2004. I agree with you about tha traffic. Getting across the streets in Ciaro is not for the faint of heart! Thanks for linking up this week. #TPThursday

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    1. Security is tight, that is for sure. But somehow I found it more comfortable to travel about in Cairo than I did in Israel this fall, where security is equally as tight.

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  20. This was really interesting to read because of the things going on in Cairo. I'm sure your connections with hotel staff, barber and driver made the visit a little more comfortable (familiar faces) but I am somewhat surprised by your friend's comment, "We don't like Americans". Glad to hear you're having safe travels!

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    1. Thanks for the visit Janice. That comment was "They don't like Americans" and it was made by an American friend who has never traveled to the area. A sad example of the misconceptions one can have when one doesn't travel. And those folks I mentioned have now become Facebook and email friends who we look forward to seeing on our return next spring! Happy Holidays~

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