Featured Writer: Devon Watkins
Don’t know much about Egypt? Not sure what to do/see in Cairo? Well keep reading!
Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East and is the 15th most populated country in the world. As of 2012 the population is over 82 million, which wouldn’t be a problem if people were scattered all over the country, but over half of Egypt’s residents live in the urban areas, such as Alexandria, Cairo – the capital of Egypt- and other major cities in the Nile Delta. A quarter of the population lives in Cairo alone, making it the most crowded metropolitan city in the world. As a result of this over population most Egyptians live in poverty.
“Poverty doesn’t mean sadness”
Despite the difficult economic situation, Egyptians are extremely friendly and will go out of their way to help you. One example of how genuinely friendly they can be was when I needed to cross a busy street in Cairo. It can be very dangerous because of the chaotic traffic and I was a little nervous. A young man spotted me from the other side, ran over, gave me his arm, and helped me cross safely.
Not only are Egyptians pure at heart but they are gorgeous. The majority have Caucasian features, although dark-skinned compared to Europeans. Caucasian features are characterized by wavy to curly hair, thin lips, round, deep-set eyes and narrow, prominent noses. Beautiful.
Now here is a list of my favorite must see/do’s in Cairo.
The first places on my list to visit are pretty obvious: the Pyramids and the Sphinx. They are astonishing to say the least, and the Great Pyramid is the only surviving wonder from the 7 wonders of the ancient world. In my experience the down side to the Pyramids is how the majority of Egyptians that congregate around this amazing site behave. They view visitors purely as dollar signs and can be overwhelmingly aggressive when selling you their knick-knacks. Don’t let that discourage you, the Pyramids are definitely worth the trip.
Another great thing to do is explore Islamic Cairo. Don’t let the name fool you, Islamic Cairo is no more or less Islamic than the rest of the city, but it’s the area of the city which holds the most, the greatest and the most famous Islamic monuments. A huge, bustling center of worship, trade, shopping and commuting- Khan el-Khalili– Cairo’s most famous market- is also located in Islamic Cairo, which can be a fun place to try out your negotiating skills.
A Felucca ride on the Nile River is amazing. Feluccas are the traditional wooden sailboats of Egypt’s Nile. Egyptians and foreigners alike enjoy a relaxing felucca ride, as it is the perfect way to enjoy the more peaceful side of Cairo. They are very affordable for those on a budget and a great way to sight see while staying cool during the hot, humid days.
Even if you don’t smoke, try smoking shisha at least once. Shisha is very popular in Egypt and most cafe’s have it on the menu. The tobacco comes in numerous flavors. The most common is apple. It is pressed into a detachable pipe top which is wrapped in foil. The foil is pierced with tiny holes and fixed in place at the top of the pipe. Hot coals are then placed on the foil. For hygiene purposes you should be provided with your own plastic nozzle that you attach to the pipe’s mouthpiece. Smoking a full pipe takes around an hour and is the equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes, so not very healthy but fun to try.
Last but not least, learn a few Arabic words and use them during the day. I’ve noticed that Egyptians are tickled when they encounter a foreigner who takes the time to learn their own language. Don’t worry about saying it wrong or looking silly, the person you are talking to understands Arabic is not your first language and will help you.
In my opinion the Land of Eternity is one of the most amazing, mysterious, mind blowing countries on our beloved planet, and you know what they say, “Egypt is not a country you live in, it is a country that lives within you”. I wholeheartedly agree.