"Friendly, chaotic, polluted, fascinating..." Cairo by colin_bramso

Cairo Travel Guide: 3,988 reviews and 9,544 photos

Impressions of Cairo are mixed - everyone was friendly & hospitable, in fact the word used most often was "welcome", and service everywhere was excellent, almost 'old world' in style. I kept being reminded of Agatha Christie's Poirot and 'Murder on The Nile' which was set back in the 1920s.

The historic things - the pyramids for example - are mind-boggling, even though you've seen them a million times in photos and films.

But everywhere is dirty, polluted, uncared for and crumbling, there's garbage lying around everywhere, the traffic is horrendous. Everyone expects a tip - Geina was guided across a dangerous road by a traffic cop and he had to be tipped, for example.

And around the tourist sites and the hotels the security is oppressive and, to me, disconcerting rather than reassuring.

The artifacts

The ancient artifacts, conveniently so close to the city, are a true wonder. There's the classic Three Pyramids of Giza & the Sphinx, but also the less spectacular and, I thought, more interesting first pyramid.

That one was stepped, rather than the later sheer-side shape, because presumably the engineers hadn't worked out how to do it. The inside of the tomb with the hieroglyphics is just mind boggling - the minute detail on them, the depiction of daily life is astonishing. I could spend many days in there just reading the stories depicted by the hieroglyphics.

The Egyptian Museum has an astonishing collection of treasures, from the gold mask of Tutankhamun to mundane every-day items.

Modern Cairo

Contrasted with the ancient civilisation is the modern city - and it's a step backwards! Like all cities it's swamped by traffic, but unlike many others there are no emission controls - or if there are no-one obeys them. I've never seen so many old cars driving around - typical are the the taxis, which are all 1970's Fiats. The pollution is truly awful. Crossing the road means risking your life because no-one obeys any traffic laws.

There is decay all around, buildings, footpaths, walls, roads all crumbling and uncared for. Added to that is the problem of litter everywhere, papers, bags, fast-food cartons, drinks cans & bottles are on every street, along the banks of the Nile and even all around the pyramids. I know that at least some of it is left by tourists, but there seems to be no attempt to clean it up.

  • Last visit to Cairo: Apr 2007
  • Intro Updated Dec 2, 2011
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  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Aug 12, 2009 at 12:26 AM

    A good, honest page! I hate the filth and pollution, and the constant hassles in some countries. I guess Cairo hasn't changed much in 2years since you were there.

colin_bramso

“Life`s too short to drink bad coffee”

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