Amr Haggag

Since I was a young boy looking at National Geographic magazines and World Book Encyclopedias I have been intrigued with Egypt and its ancient history. Fifty years later I found myself landing at the Cairo airport. A bus met the plane on the tarmac and shuttled all of the passengers to the airport terminal. I had to smile when the first thing I saw through the windows of the airport terminal was the golden arches of McDonald’s. Not exactly the McStart to the trip I expected. The next thing I saw was far more refreshing.

We had barely set foot inside the terminal when I saw Amr Haggag holding a sign with my name on it. He grabbed our carry-on bags, our passports, whisked us through immigrations & customs, and within minutes we were in a minivan headed for Giza.


Sis and I never had any doubts about our safely but several of our family and friends expressed concern with us traveling in this part of the world. As I write this blog we are back home and the only thing we ever felt in Egypt was warmth and friendship. The world would be a better place without any news media and politicians.

I got lucky early in the planning stages of this trip when I happened to come across Joyce Carta of Egypt Magic while doing a series of internet searches. With Joyce’s help we put together a custom trip that included a private car, driver, and guide. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was about the same price as signing on with a large tour group and being herded around like bunch of cattle.

Joyce arranged our booking through Fly Well Travel in Egypt and Petra Moon Travel in Jordan. Amr was our main contact in Egypt. He is a wizard, he made sure everything flowed smoothly while in Egypt. We were fortunate to get two really REALLY good guides (Egyptologists) in Egypt. Abeer Elsaied (everyone calls her Abby) was our guide in the Cairo area and Hassen (last name?) (add email link) was our guide in Upper Egypt (Aswan and Luxor). Both are such good guides and nice people that I will make it a point of contacting them ahead of any future travel to check on their availability.

Abby Maro

If you travel to Cairo insist on Abby as your guide.

It was very dark when we arrived at the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel and so the next morning we had a big surprise. As we walked out of the hotel, BOOM, the pyramids were right there! It was very exciting … and the “real” adventure hadn’t even started yet.

Cairo is sorta like semi-controlled chaos. I have driven in over 15 countries but I wouldn’t want to attempt that task in Egypt. Why do they even bother to paint white lines on the streets to identify lanes? No one bothers to use them. If the road is 2 lanes wide they make 3. If the road is 3 lanes they’ll make 4 or even 5 lanes. Cars going one way and camels and donkey carts on the shoulder going the opposite direction. Drivers flashing lights, honking horns, making arm and hand gestures, zooming in and out but yet the traffic just seems to some how flow rather smoothly (for the most part). Since road signs are almost exclusively in Arabic it is another good reason to hire a driver.

While in the Cairo area we visited Egyptian Museum, Citadel of Saladin, the Alabaster Mosque of Mohammed Ali, Khan Al Khalili bazaar, Coptic Cairo (Hanging Church, Saint Sergius Church, and Ben Ezra Synagogue) the mosques of Sultan Hassan and Ria'fa, Memphis, Saqqara, the Great Pyramids, and the Sphinx.

The treasures in the Egyptian Museum are mind boggling. We both just kept saying “How did they do that (make that) way back when?” Tutankhamun’s exhibit was the most spectacular. I had seen many of these items in photographs or on TV documentaries but I had to see them first had to truly realize how magnificent they are.

If you are planning a trip to Egypt here are a few tips for planning a fun, affordable trip.

If you live in the USA contact
Egypt Magic 1-88-575-6941

If you live outside the USA contact
Fly Well Travel

All of the guides (Egyptologist) work independently and are contracted by the tour companies on a job-by-job basis. To ensure you have a likeable, knowledgeable guide who is punctual, and speaks clear easy to understand English ask for Abeer (Abby) Elsaied and/or Hassen. Better yet email them directly to make sure they are available.
Abeer (Abby) Elsaied (She only guides in the Cairo area)
Hassen (last name?) (He sp
ecializes in Upper Egypt)

Do a private tour rather than signing on with a large group tour. The price is about the same and you will have a much better time.

When traveling between Aswan and Luxor drive rather than taking a Nile Cruise (6 hours vs 4 days). Egypt no longer requires that you drive in a convoy between the two cities. You can travel at your own pace, see the sights at your leisure, save 3 days, and some money.

Fly between Cairo and Upper Egypt rather than taking the sleeper train. It costs a little more but I have never heard a kind word about the sleeper train.

ATMs are everywhere and as easy to use as buying a cup of coffee.

Bring LOTS of US $1 dollar bills to use for tips. Bring a whole wad!

A cartouche makes a nice souvenir or gift. A custom made (with your name in Egyptian hieroglyphics) silver cartouche costs around $20 and you can buy a silver chain to go with it for an additional $20. It is easy to pack, light weight, and affordable.


Egypt, Jordan, and Paris 2009
Egypt Home | Cairo Area | Abu Simbel & Aswan | Luxor | Northwest Jordan | Wadi Rum | Petra | Paris

Other portions of my web site
Home | Travel | Genealogy

Revised April 10, 2009