How to see Coptic Cairo and Islamic Cairo on your own

Lucky and I flew to Cairo on 22 Oct from Jakarta using Garuda/Etihad transiting in Abu Dhabi. Departing Jakarta 17.55, transit in Abu Dhabi 3hr40min and land Cairo 04.35 We were so excited as we never travel together in a long holiday we got to airport very early and had times to eat and tried the massage chair near the waiting area. Both flights are on time and we land in Cairo early morning as per schedule.

Immigration and baggage are super quick, the perk of landing early morning. No competition! As we walked to arrival hall we are soon approached by people offering Taxi. But we need to buy SIM card and exchange money first. There are 3 SIM card booths offering similar price. I bought Orange which currently has promotion

There are 3 ATMs machines, only 2 were working. Lucky can withdraw money using her BCA saving card. My CIMB doesn’t work and I can not transfer money to my BCA card because I just replaced my SIM card with Orange. There is one exchange booth at the end of the hall where the atms are located. I exchanged some Euros there so I have some money until I can sort out my BCA card.

We plan to use Cairo Shuttle Bus Service https://www.cairoshuttlebus.com/ to take us to our Hotel. According to TA they have a desk in the arrival hall. There is a transport counter in arrival hall but it isn’t clear which one is the Cairo Shuttle Bus so I had to ask. The fee quoted is 10% higher than in website but we took it anyway and somewhat trust that it is indeed Cairo Shuttle Bus. If you plan to take Cairo Shuttle Bus please reserve 48 hours before and print the paper so they follow the quoted fee. Our Van is comfortable and driver speak some English. Make sure that you have your Hotel address written down because our driver almost got it wrong. We ended up giving him direction from our google map.

Our Van from Cairo Shuttle Bus

Cairo was cloudy that morning and some area flooded as it rained the day before.

We arrived sound and safe in our Hotel Four Season Nile Plaza and reunited with our other friend (Dian) who was already in Cairo for her meetings. Dian still has meetings until Thursday and will only join us on Friday.

We plan to explore Cairo ourselves using LondonCab https://www.londoncabegypt.com/ It works just like Uber but you need to have local SIM card as drivers will need to be able to call you. it takes around 20-30 minutes for London Cab to arrive so you need to time carefully. One advantage of using London Cab is they are very easy to distinguish because they look like the Cab in London, unlike Uber or Careem which require you to be able to read Arabic numbers so you can identify the car. The driver speaks english, very polite and the car is comfortable and can fit 4 people plus luggage. You can actually book them to pick you up at airport as well.

Our first stop is Coptic Cairo area which housed St George shrine, coptic museum, hanging church and monastery in one large area. There are police in every tourist spots in Egypt and they are writing down our nationality and where we stay. The police presence actually made us feel safe wherever we go.

Stretched for one mile, Coptic Cairo is the oldest place of settlement and religious worship in the region, combining Islamic, Christian and Jewish histories. Taking in the warren of narrow streets, you will find yourself at a cultural and religious crossroads

We spent few hours in the area before calling London Cab to pick us up and go to Citadel. There are no Tax queue in front of Coptic Cairo area so you need to arrange your transportation or use online Taxi.

Sprawling over a limestone spur on the city’s eastern edge, the Citadel, started by Saladin in 1176 as a fortification against the Crusaders, was home to Egypt’s rulers for 700 years. Their legacy is a collection of three very different mosques, several palaces and a couple of terraces with a view over Cairo

We are starving by the time we finish Citadel so we are off to Bazaar Khan Khalili. There is nice restaurant inside which has good review

Our first lunch in Egypt. We had Koshari and some grilled meat which tasted so good

Entering Khan Khalili Bazaar is like stepping into Medieval Islamic Cairo. It felt like an oriental fantasy trip into the land of spices, luxury fabrics and perfume. The area displays several monuments and mosques from the Islamic period, but its gem is undoubtedly the Bazaar itself. Established in the 14th century, it is one the world’s first markets, as well as a maze of winding and narrow alleys.

Our next destination is Al Azhar Park. Which is only 2km away but walking seems difficult because the pedestrian is not so well built. We couldnt find a nice area to wait for London Cab so we just hailed a white taxi. White Taxis in Cairo are not metered so you have to agree on the price first. A short drive take us to Al Azhar park.

Al Azhar Park is like in oasis in Cairo. It is a nice green park where you can sit down and watch the sun slowly sets with Citadel as a backdrop.

We could feel jetlag kicked in as we took London cab back to Hotel. We didn’t even bother with dinner and already in deep sleep at 7pm.

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