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How to Enjoy an Egyptian Vacation

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    • 1). Take the Metro in Cairo whenever you can, because the traffic is horrible any time, day or night. Fares are reasonable and they are paid at the beginning of the ride. Keep your ticket handy because you probably will be asked for it upon departure. Remember that only women are allowed on the first two cars of the train to accommodate those traveling alone.

    • 2). Always negotiate the fare before you take a cab. There are many taxis in the country, and none have meters. Rather, most drivers--many of whom speak English--would rather bargain with you to get the best fare. Also, it is very common for tourists to engage a taxi for the day, especially if shopping is on the agenda. Once again, you should agree on the fare before you begin the trip. Later in the day, if the driver tries to renegotiate the fare, do not let him. If he persists, ask him to pull over, pay your fare and find another taxi.

    • 3). Recognize that haggling over the price of things is the way business is conducted in Egypt. If you are new to this, stop by a shop or two and plan not to buy anything. Simply listen to the shop owner to see how low he will go on his own. Then when you begin shopping in earnest, enjoy the process. When you negotiate the best price you can, follow through with your purchase. It is bad form to agree to a price and then not buy it. Please remember that this is no game for the shopkeeper; his livelihood depends on it.

    • 4). Take to the streets on foot but always keep an eye on the sidewalk. They can be dangerous because most are not well maintained. You can do like the natives and walk in the street, but be careful of things like donkey carts, bikes and cars that proliferate the streets. There is no pedestrian right-of-way in Egypt, so act accordingly.

    • 5). Use your common sense when you eat Egyptian food because food poisoning can be a problem. The quality of an Egyptian restaurant is a function of the person who is in charge of the food. Get a copy of "Cairo Today" magazine for a lineup of restaurants worthy of a try. Most of them use native ingredients, and menus are in both English and Arabic, except in Alexandria where English is replaced by French. Finally, most large restaurants have maitre d's who speak many languages, including English.

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