I’d love to tell you that our journey from Cairo airport into the city was as a result of meticulous research and a carefully executed plan but in reality it was mostly two sweaty lesbians muddling through and hoping we didn’t get scammed. Surprisingly we weren’t descended on by taxi drivers when we left Terminal 3. A bloke approached us but when we said we’d take the free airport shuttle he cheerfully told us where to catch it. Spoiler alert: It’s not by the sign saying “Aiport Shuttle”.
Research had told me that we needed to get to the bus station at Terminal 1 and catch the 381 or the 111, both of which stopped at Ramses Train Station which is a nice, easy landmark to ask for and isn’t too far from where we were staying. Turns out there’s a bus station before Terminal 1. The shuttle driver must have seen our bewildered expressions and asked where we were going. I told him we needed a bus into Cairo. “Yes. Here.” He told us, “That one.” He gestured widely at the whole bus station.
Okay. Cool. Buuuut which bus? Another chap saw us and asked us where we needed to go so I told him Ramses Train Station and he led us to a bus with the number 1185 written clearly in familiar letters. Was… was this the right bus? The destinations were in Arabic so we’d no chance of deciphering them. A well dressed chap jumped off the bus, asked us where we were going and confirmed that yes, this was it.
So we were on the lookout for all the scams we’d read about which does make you very distrustful. It turned out the well dressed guy owned a tour company. He not only made sure we got off at the right place, he helped us navigate the insane Cairo traffic, walking down the middle of the road, weaving between slow moving traffic amidst a cacophony of car horns. He took us into the Metro to use it as a safe way to cross the big road, shook our hands, wished us luck and told us to call him if we needed a driver or a tour. He was genuinely lovely.
No one was outside our hotel waiting to tell us our booking had been cancelled or the hotel was full or closed or burnt down which would have been handy as we had a bugger of a time finding it. It wasn’t quite accurate on Google so we employed the “walking up and down looking very lost” technique until another tour company owner rescued us and took us there. I’d read that tipping is very much expected for any help offered but he refused and instead gave me his number in case we needed, y’know, a driver or a tour.
So here we are then. We’re in Cairo. All we need to do now is try and break all our big ATM notes into smaller bank notes so we have a stash for baksheesh, and work out what all the food is so we can ask for it and don’t have to live off crisps.
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Egypt
القاهرة ، محافظة القاهرة ، مصر
Stayed at: New Palace Hotel
Useful shit to know…
- We bought Vodafone SIM cards at Terminal 3 by baggage carousel 4.
- They have different tariffs but we just went for the Tourist Line as 30 international minutes might come in handy, and 30GB is a massive amount of data. It cost LE505 each. I’m assuming that’s for 30 days? They take cash or card.
- It’s worth noting that WhatsApp calling doesn’t work in Egypt so if you were relying on that to call home then it might do to get the international minutes instead.
- To catch the airport shuttle turn left out of the terminal and find the little Starbucks. Opposite that on the other side of the taxis is where we picked it up.
- You’ll know the bus station when you see it. I guess just ask whoever is around for the bus to the destination you want. A tip will be expected for any help given.
- If you do go to Ramses Train Station then Downtown is only a 20 minute walk away. The closest Metro is Al-Shohadaa. You can use it to cross the road or, y’know, take a Metro to another part of the city.
- I’ve heard that the worst thing you can do is catch a taxi from the airport. Uber operates in Cairo and is an affordable, scam-free way to get around.