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Cairo. Capital of Egypt.
Though firmly attached to the past, Cairo is also home to a vibrant modern society. The Midan Tahrir area situated in downtown Cairo area, built in the 19th century under the rule of Khedive Ismail, has strived to be a "Paris on the Nile". There also are a number of more modern suburbs including Ma'adi and Heliopolis, while Zamalek is a quiet area on Gezira Island, with upmarket shopping. Cairo is best in the fall or spring, when the weather isn't so hot. A felucca ride on the Nile is a good way to escape from the busy city, as is a visit to Al-Azhar Park.
The Tunisian Fatimid dynasty captured the city in 969 A.D and founded a new city, Al-Qahira ("The Victorious") just north of Al-Fustat. Al-Qahira gave the city its English name, Cairo, but the locals still call it Maşr, the Egyptian dialectal version of Amr's Mişr. Confusingly, this also the Arabic name of the entire country of Egypt.
The brief spring from March to May can be pleasant, but summer temperatures, on the other hand, can reach a searing 38°C, which is compounded by the city's terrible pollution which is at its worst in the fall before the rains.
Outside the core on the eastern bank, you'll find the modern, more affluent suburbs of Heliopolis and Nasr City near the airport, and Ma'adi to the south. In the middle of the Nile is the island of Gezira and Zamalek, more Western and tranquil than the rest of the city. On the western bank is lots of modern concrete and business, but also the great Giza pyramids and, further to the south, Memphis and Saqqara. The city might seem like a lot to handle, but give it a try, and you will find that it has a lot to offer for any traveller.
Smiling: Most people appreciate a smile, and most Egyptians smile when they speak to someone for the first time. People who don't smile while they speak are considered arrogant, rude, aggressive, unfriendly, etc.
However, be careful not to be too friendly or too smiley, especially if you're a female speaking to an Egyptian male, as they might mistake you for trying to befriend them or asking for them to flirt or hit on you. Even in a male-to-male conversation, being too friendly might give the other person the chance to try to take advantage of you some way or another. Always use common sense.
Handshakes are the more customary greeting among acquaintances. When a more close relationship is formed, it is more common to kiss on one cheek then the other while shaking hands. (mostly men)
Expressing your opinion
Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, so say nothing that might be perceived as an insult to Islam or the Egyptian culture. The same applies to any mention of the Middle East as a whole.
People do generally tend to dress more liberally at beach resorts, nightclubs, social outings, weddings, or when engaging in any sport, but there are no places to practice nudism or naturism as being nude in public.
Cairo International Airport. It's well served by Egyptair the national carrier and its Star Alliance partners (Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, , Sky Team (Air France, KLM , Alitalia), Oneworld (British Airways), Gulf Carriers (Emirates, Etihad) as well as budget carriers TUI-fly and Jet-Air-Fly.
Average trip between Cairo Airport and downtown should not cost more than 50-60 EGP (6-8 USD or about 5 EUR). Trip from Cairo Airport to Giza, or the Pyramids area goes for about 100-110 EGP(10-13 USD or about 10 EUR)
Trains in Egypt rarely run on schedule and are almost always at least 15 min late, if not later. Train service is available from Ramses Station to Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan. Service to Luxor and Aswan is also available at the Giza Railway Station.
In Egypt, vehicles travel on the right side of the road. Instead of making a left turn, you will often need to make a U-turn and backtrack, or you can make three right turns.
Parking houses or official parking spots are rare. Cars may be parked two or three deep on the side of the road, and will often be left unlocked, and out-of-gear, so they can be moved. In many places, people work to look after parked cars. A small tip is expected for this service. You can also use valet parking.
Note that there are two cars of each train reserved for women, which are located in the middle section of the train. The metro stops running at approximately midnight and starts up again around 6AM. There are no timetables, but departures are very frequent. The metro is better to use if you wish to avoid traffic jam. It is secure, costs one pound per trip and has a clear European navigation system.
Pay after your ride, or you may get much less than you bargained for. Public boats with loud Arabic music and a giggling crowd are also available for LE 2 for 1/2 hour.
Genenet El Asmak, another park located in Zamalek. It is a nice park, which also includes several large caves containing water aquariums, where you can see different species of fish and underwater life through glass windows. Like other parks, a very cheap ticket enables you to enter and enjoy the day there. Genene El Asmak means Garden of the Fish in English.
Merryland, in Arabic (Genenet El Merryland), located in Heliopolis district near Roxy Cinema. Again, another park with trees and gardens and nice scenery, but in the last 5 years ago, a number of restaurants and cafes have also opened up inside the park, which means it is now a place where people can eat, drink, and enjoy the park all together.
El Hadiqa El Dawliya, in English this means (The International Garden), located in Nasr City district. It is one of the more recently opened parks, built when Nasr City district was built. Again, it is another park, with sections containing different copies of famous buildings from around the world. (The copies are much smaller of course and are like small statues that you can view (ie. The Eiffel Tower of Paris, The Great Wall of China, The Windmills of Holland, etc.) Interesting to see.
Al-Azhar Park near Heliopolis, is probably the newest and most recent park to open in Cairo, also with restaurants and entertainment available. It has a good vantage point of Islamic Cairo and the city skyline.
You can also take a stroll along the Corniche el-Nil, and there is a river promenade on Gezira Island.