Welcome to Cairo! Upon arrival at Cairo Airport, I immediately realized the contrast with Israel. Firstly, the airport uses the old bus system to move you from plane to terminal. Second, the arrivals hall is very small and the lines are incredibly slow (they use two officers to review visas and enter information into their systems for tracking). After getting my bags, I was asked by nearly two dozen drivers if I'd need a ride to Cairo. The time was roughly 3:15am. I grabbed one, and for 85 EGP (roughly $15) we took the 30-45 minute ride to my hotel, the Hilton Ramses, on the Nile River. Along the way, the driver stopped for gas and filled up. His entire gas tank required ~50 EGP or $9 (check out the picture below). Yes, gas is cheap here:

At the Ramses, I was given a room on the Executive Floor, with a beautiful view of the Nile River. It's a pretty big room, with a couch and chair. In the closet, there were two safes (one large safe with multiple sections, like those private safes that people put in their homes, and a standard hotel safe). Check it out:



Here's a pic of the amazing view:

After unpacking, I went to bed, at nearly 5am. This morning, I woke up at 11:30 or so, and decided to go the Egyptian Museum, only a few blocks away. Cairo is very warm, but not humid, which makes it easier to tolerate than the Tel Aviv weather. I tried walking to the Egyptian Museum, and immediately realized that Cairo would be a bit more tricky to navigate than elsewhere. Here, there is minimal traffic laws, and people literally run across the street, trying to avoid the cars and oncoming traffic. It's basically the most extreme kind of jaywalking. The guidebooks suggest that you use a local person as a "human shield", and that you keep very close to them as you scurry across the street. I certainly learned the ways of native Egyptians pretty quickly in that manner. Here's a few photos of the jaywalkers:


Here's a photo of the highway from the bus station. Note the car next to the bus has nearly a dozen young men sitting on it in the midst of traffic. This is pretty common here in Cairo. Additionally, I have seen buses not fully stop at their designated stops, instead, making people jump on and off while it rolls. Not sure why that is... :

The Cairo museum was amazing, with tons and tons of exhibits from several pharoatic dynasties. There are fully restored chariots, mummies, jewelry, and other objects that are exquisite and incredibly interesting. The only problem with the museum is that you cannot take photos and that there is no air conditioning. After walking around the museum for over 2 hours, I began to feel light headed and decided to drink some more water and go back to the hotel. On the way back, I walked through a few local streets and attempted to take a photo. A local woman came by and respectfully asked me not to do that (the locals are not here for photographs). She's right. I ended up going back to the hotel, gambling for a little bit in the casino by the pool and resting. Here's some photos from outside the Museum, and downtown Cairo:






This evening, I ventured out to the Nile River, walking up and down the side of the river, until I finally decided to "felucca cruise". There are tons of these small boats leaving the side of the Nile every few minutes. Everyone on my boat was local, with few English speakers, but I still enjoyed talking with one guy. During the "cruise" arabic music played in the background and the women danced around, mostly belly dancing style. It was kind of interesting seeing young Cairoians hanging out and just enjoying life on a Monday evening. The cruise was roughly 45 minutes and cost me 30 EGP (~$5) and included a drink of Pepsi. Here's a few photos from shore (Le Pacha 1901 is apparently an Italian restaurant ship):


After the cruise, the young Arab guy who I had been talking to on the cruise invited me to drink at a local bar where they were watching the end of a football match (to be exact, the Egyptian Cup). I decided to go along, drank a few beers, ate a felafel (called Tamia here, and served as 2 pitas, each with a single patty rather than individual balls), smoked a sheesha (apple flavored) and ordered a large bottle of water at the end. The total cost for the time at the bar was 33 EGP (<$6) including tip. Oh and Ahli won the cup, beating Zamalek on an amazing goal from Osama Husni during extra time...

Time for bed... Tomorrow, I will travel to the pyramids in the morning and the Khan El Khalil markets in the afternoon.