June 2010
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Trip to Egypt – Landing in the city of Cairo and traveling through the city – the concept of tips and a stay at the Oasis Hotel in Giza – Part 1




We were searching for a destination where we could have a family destination. It had many months since we met, and we were in different countries with a 8 hour flight gap between us. So, a lot of planning went into a common location, and the concept of traveling to Egypt to see the numerous important monuments over there was an important part of the planning. The trip was planned for around 8-9 days, and the challenge was about making the trip one that covers the major tourist destinations in Egypt, and yet the trip should not be one that attempts to run around the whole country without catching a breath of air (you know those trips, where the attempt is to capture everything that is there to see in the whole region, and where you end up more tired at the end of the trip than when you started the trip). Some of the places that we thought were important to see in the country were:
Cairo (Museums, Pyramid, Sphinx, etc)
Aswan (Enjoy Aswan) (High Dam, Abu Simbel, and unfinished obelisk)
Luxor (many temples, Valley of the Kings, etc)
Many temples between Aswan and Luxor on a cruise on the river Nile
Alexandria (Wikipedia)
Sharm-el-Sheikh
and there were many other locations in the country that were important, but these seemed the most significant from a tourist point of view. We had planned this trip for Feb, since that time worked out in terms of vacations, and hopefully, many of these locations would not be too hot. And of course, I am extremely fond of photography, so this seemed like a place where I could really get to enjoy on that front as well. Out of these, Alexandra proved a bit on the lower end in terms of priorities, and so, we dropped this from the list. Further, even though Sharm-el-Sheikh was fairly far away from Cairo, the planning was in terms of taking a vehicle for this journey. There were going to be young children with us for this journey as well, and we decided that getting a more comfortable trip in terms of guides and vehicles everywhere would be the good thing to do, rather than a backpacker journey (we are now all middle aged, and like our luxuries where possible).
And finally, the time came for the journey, we made sure that everything was in place, handed over the house to a caretaker for the 9-10 days we were going to be away, and off we went. The journey went fairly fine (as fine as long distance economy class journeys can be), and we were soon in Cairo International Airport. And this was where the first level of comfort was there, we were met by the local travel agency, Sakkara Travels, before the immigration, and we were guided from that point onwards.
Soon, we had collected our luggage from the Airport (the airport was fairly fine, the movement did not take too much time), and were bundled in the bus arranged by Sakkara to take us to our hotel. We had been booked into the Oasis Hotel located very close to Giza. This is a 4 star hotel located very close to the Pyramids in Giza, although this makes it atleast an hours distance from the airport. As a result, we ended up passing through the city of Cairo, and there were some areas where there was a good amount of traffic, but finally we made it.

Crowded streets of cairo - traffic can take some time to clear
Crowded streets of cairo – traffic can take some time to clear

Check-in in the hotel was fine, and we had some comfortable rooms, not very large or anything, but comfortable. The hotel has a lot of greenery inside, and seems to spend a lot of time on maintenance of the landscaped gardens.

Oasis Hotel in Giza in Egypt - the security at the entrance to the hotel
Oasis Hotel in Giza in Egypt – the security at the entrance to the hotel

Oasis Hotel in Giza – the rocks arranged in a pattern

Oasis Hotel in Giza - View outside some of the rooms
Oasis Hotel in Giza – View outside some of the rooms

Oasis Hotel in Giza in Egypt - Garden inside the hotel grounds
Oasis Hotel in Giza in Egypt – Garden inside the hotel grounds

Oasis Hotel in Giza in cairo - a corridor in front of the rooms
Oasis Hotel in Giza in cairo – a corridor in front of the rooms

Oasis Hotel in Giza - the swimming pool, very inviting
Oasis Hotel in Giza – the swimming pool, very inviting

And then we encountered the question of tips. This is one of the points that really bothered us. Right at the beginning, when we got our travel itinerary, it was mentioned there that the concept of tips is almost like a compulsion, with the tips providing a comfort to the people employed in the travel industry who otherwise get low salaries. The same was mentioned by our travel managed from Sakkara, and the rate of the tips was supposed to be $6 per person per day for the days when you are on land, and $8 (American dollars) for the days when you are on the Nile cruise (3 days). For a group of 8 of us, on a 9 day trip, the amount of tips that we paid was itself a fairly large amount.
The next day we would do some local travel inside the city of Cairo, see the various places to see such as the Citadel, the mosque within it, and the famous local market known as ‘Khan el Khalili’.




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