I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to head to Cairo during a pandemic. Cairo is a monstrous city, with over 19 million inhabitants. The roads are not clearly marked and, as our taxi driver explained, they honk their horn to say hello to fellow cars. With 19 million inhabitants, there are a lot of cars on the road so you can imagine how much honking accompanies that.
We stayed in the center of Cairo, at the Intercontinental with a view of the Nile. On day 2, we explored around us and visited The Egyptian Museum. It houses over 120,000 ancient Egyptian antiquities. We unfortunately arrived a bit late and had to rush through the exhibits before they closed. There are hidden rooms with jewelry and incredible antiquities that were found in tombs. It’s definitely worth it to take your time at the museum.
We ate delicious ful medames and mashed fava beans (unfortunately we avoided street food since we weren’t sure how our stomachs would react.
Cairo is intense and overwhelming. Don’t miss it.
There’s not much that will top my visit to the Pyramids. In the midst of the COVID pandemic, a place that normally has 14.7 million visitors every year had about 10 visitors on the day I went. The security guards opened special tombs (like the one of the engineer’s son) that are normally closed.
There is a lot of security (naturally) around the Pyramids but you can still have some moments of peace around the pyramids. We decided against going inside and visiting them, the outside view was monumental enough.
Next to the Pyramids, there is a fun breakfast and lunch joint where you can get some food and fresh juices (just be careful with the water if your body isn’t used to it).
There are many people that will try to convince you to take a camel ride to the place where the “typical” picture of the Pyramids is taken but I found that you can have just as good of a time wandering through on your own and taking the path least traveled.
After being in the bustling city of Cairo for a few days, we were excited to hit the coast and the (technical) Asian part of Egypt. We spent a few nights in Sharm El-Sheikh, taking long walks and runs on the beaches and relaxing.
It’s a very easy flight from Cairo to Sharm El-Sheikh (we missed our plane, but that was our fault entirely). You find yourself between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. The beaches are classically sandy, the water is clear, and there are incredible coral reefs. It’s pretty close to paradise. During COVID, it was relatively quiet and Naama Bay (the palm tree-lined promenade with bars and restaurants) was definitely silent compared to what it normally is.
There are many companies offering coral reef tours and scuba diving lessons. There are even volleyball games every night that you can participate in. It’s a very “resort-y” feel but you can also rent a car and explore the mountains in the surrounding area for some hikes.