My Inner Peace

Traveling to Egypt in time of pandemic

Egypt, a country full of contradictions and fight for money, received us on April 14th of 2021, a period still under the shadow of the SARS-Covid19 pandemic. The funny thing is that here, the story of this disease we are talking about for more than a year now, seems to be nothing more than a strange shadow bringing official safety rules, but not affecting the day-to-day life of usual people. Yes, you have to wear a mask especially inside official places, in Uber or in closed areas. In reality, only the first two categories are respecting these rules. There are a lot of closed areas, even inside the common areas of the hotels, where you can get rid of the mask and nobody will notice. However, in certain hotels the staff is using masks, but for the guests the masks are not mandatory. Today, after a week since this adventure began, I feel like living in another dimension. Our suitcase is full of unused masks that are only bothering me when I move them from a place to another.

But let’s start from the beginning of this DIY trip.

We landed in Cairo at 2:30 am on April 14th after a 2 hours and 45 minutes flight. The flight was comfortable, the new process of the safety measures was much easier than expected, just the airport was so empty that gave me a strange feeling of a deserted area.

I must say that this was my first flight after one year and 5 months since I was in Jordan. Soon after, the restriction of SARS-Covid19 pandemic started to be implemented, and that changed completely my plans.

After landing in Cairo, in the airport we paid $25 for getting the visa that is bought from the Egyptian Bank office where one can usually go for exchanging the money, which we did at first without knowing that at the same office we should have paid for the visa as well. The visa in Cairo is a nice sticky paper, that the airport policeman is applying on your passport. Looks nice and clean and colorful. But before arriving at passport control, we had to introduce our personal data in the emigration form, this time received in English. In the airplane we had received one in Arabic, impossible to read, hence to fill in. Once we arrived at the passport control office, we had to give them the sticky visa paper, the negative RT-PCR test, the passport and the emigration form. Everything there was super-fast, so we went to get our luggage and then to buy a local SIM card to have internet access everywhere. That was a smart move, as we travelled a lot and it was really useful especially when we had to bargain for certain services. 

Cairo Airport

The best deal for the SIM cards is sold by Orange at $10 and includes 18GB of data and 2000 minutes for national calls, which proved to be helpful as we travelled a lot and we had to hire different cars with different drivers and calling them was the best way of communication since not everyone has mobile data active on their phone.

Cairo Airport

Speaking about technology, you should know that WhatsApp video and audio calls are banned, Zoom and Skype are not working at all in Egypt, only Facebook and Google meet allows you to make or join video calls.

So, once the tech part was done, we headed outside the airport where the driver from our hotel was waiting for us. We booked a hotel in Cairo downtown that had the airport pick-up offered as a free service. Not all the hotels in Cairo are offering this free service, so I guess we’ve just been lucky. We arrived at the hotel at 4:30 am. You should know that all the above processes in the airport will take you one hour more or less. That’s what it took us in the middle of the night when only our flight was scheduled. So, I guess when the airport is crowded, you should take more time into account.

Once we checked in, our contact guy from the hotel started to explain to us some options we could have for our journey, and some services he could offer. We took none, and we went further with our plan. We already had an agreement with a local lady we knew via a close friend traveling in Egypt a month before us, so we went to sleep for a couple of hours to be ready to meet her in the morning and start our adventure with Saqqara Pyramids. But this is the story for the next article.

To be continued…

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