16 Hours in Cairo

In the end, I’m glad we had such a long layover in Cairo.

When we finally landed at Cairo airport we were 3.5 hours behind our original schedule.  We were told to go to the Transfer desk to see about a free hotel.  I don’t think either of us believed we would actually end up with a hotel, but sure enough we were given a room at the Novotel Cairo Airport.

The airport transfer desk was also arranging tours into the City – convenient!  Some friends had previously suggested to us that we go into Cairo on our layover, but we were both unsure if we wanted to deal with the sure to be chaotic traffic in our tired states.  However, the idea of an arranged tour now seemed like a good option.  I’m not normally one to go on arranged tours, but this one was reasonably priced and fit our timeline with enough time to still get some sleep at our free hotel.

So, off we went on a 5 hour tour of Cairo – more specifically, the pyramids, the sphinx, and then being given the hard sell to buy stuff at a perfume store and a papyrus store.  I’ll explain, but first the good stuff: a few pics.

We get to see one of the world’s great waterways – the Nile, as it flows through Cairo.  After the sea of brown desert driving into the city, it was a relief to see some green and blue.  Neither of us had been in a desert before, so the amount of brown was really jarring to see.

We were lucky in 2016 to experience the Amazon River, and now we can say we also saw one of the world’s other great rivers –  the Nile.  We were driving over the river on a highway and our driver saw that I was trying to take a picture of the river. So he does what any decent tourist driver would do – stops on the side of the highway, and insists we hop out and take better pictures.  The pictures turned out great, despite the cars flying by right beside us.

Notice that we are wearing long sleeves and pants! Emily even has a fleece on. It turns out Cairo in January is pretty cold.  We were really surprised at how cold it was.

The pyramids are massive, dusty, and have a sleepy feeling – perhaps its the 4800 years of history weighing on the area.  I wish we had more time to spend here, but all in all I’m glad we saw them.  Our tour guide was really rushing us through this area, and after seeing the Sphinx we found out why….

So Emily’s dad had warned us that any tour in Cairo would involve being taken to a store of some sort and being subjected to various sales pitches.  And it turns out he was exactly right!  After being fairly rushed through the good stuff (the history!) we ended up first at an “essence and oils” emporium,  followed by a papyrus store.  At both locations we were advised that these were “government approved stores” and there was “no obligation to buy”.  This was followed by an unending sales pitch.  We stayed strong and didn’t buy anything, though our arms and hands ended up smelling like every Egyptian scent under the sun.  Another in our group, a guy from Mississauga who works in Ghana, ended up caving and buying both oils and a papyrus wall hanging.  I think the “hard sell” is just part of the Egyptian culture, and as tourists we have to put up with it.

Pizza Hut, located directly across from the Sphinx and Pyramids. Stuffed crust, and 4800 years of history at your finger tips.

Having finally finished our tour, we gratefully went to our hotel which was located back at the airport. I think we both fell asleep in the car. Well, I know Emily did for sure.  That she could sleep in the insane Cairo traffic is a testament to how tired she was.We got 4 fantastic hours of sleep, before heading to the airport for the second leg of our trip – finally to Bangkok!

Santa loves the duty free deals!

Emily thinks the Santa looks creepy. I think he is just having a good time.


We were happy to have the chance to go into Cairo and see a little of the city.  Its a massive place that deserves more than 16 hours.  But we were really happy to move on to our true destination – Bangkok, Thailand.  We have been in Bangkok for only a few hours, and we love it.  But that’s for another post.

  • Doug / January 5 @ 6:30pm / Green House Hostel, Bangkok, Thailand



6 thoughts on “16 Hours in Cairo

  1. Kinda jealous that you guys got to stop by and see pyramids! Love ancient Egyptian stuff – so fascinating. Great to see your faces and happy to know you finally made it to Bangkok 🙂
    Keep up the blog, I’m checking on the daily.


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