Tag: Egypt TravelView All Tags
We occasionally do posts where we overview whether travel to hotspots of global unrest is worth it or not. Today's destination under scrutiny? Egypt where months of discontent and a week of protests have culminated with the country's president being ousted by its military.
Official US language still refers to what's happening in Egypt as "political and social unrest" and not a coup. (It's a tricky political situation because the US has laws about cutting off aid after coups and the US isn't really eager to cut off aid so lots of people are treading very carefully right now on rhetorical eggshells.)
The US issued an updated travel advisory today. The UK updated theirs yesterday. There is a bit of nuance in the US statement (though still urging "“U.S. citizens living in Egypt to depart at this time") while the British statement "advise[s] against all travel to parts of the country." Travelers have also been warned about violence against tourists and an ongoing rape epidemic.
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It's an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel. It's an even more unfortunate fact of life that sometimes politics impacts travel so much that we have to write about it on a Friday afternoon instead of easing you into the weekend with baby animal pictures. And yet here we are, with flights being emptied or cancelled across three continents because of a variety of geopolitical flare-ups.
The most dramatic bit of travel politics comes out of Japan, where no less than 40,000 seat reservations to China have been canceled. China has been on a bit of a tear recently, claiming a bunch of islands that by and large aren't straightforwardly quite theirs. The campaign has put them on a collision course with various other countries in the region (obviously) and one of those countries is Japan. There have been anti-Japan protests in China and, apparently, lots of Japanese people are sufficiently pissed off to cancel vacations to China.
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It's Veterans Day today, and it's also 11.11.11 as the date goes. Naturally tourist sites have been preparing for both, but with the major difference that Veterans Day takes place in the US and focuses on looking at history and remembering while 11.11.11 happens around the world, with a focus on the future.
For some however, it's actually a lack thereof (the future) with the belief that the world will end today. Well it hasn't yet, and Egypt's Great Pyramid can attest to this. Fearing negative attention and spiritual ceremonies, the Great Pyramid was closed to tourists. The AP notes that only the pyramid was on lock-down:
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Cairo's Tahrir Square is clear of the makeshift dwellings of the protestors who were in it for the long-haul before Mubarak stepped down, and now, as the site of another event in the country's history, Cairo is looking to capitalize on the Square's popularity...and fast. So fast indeed, that they've invited lovely little Oprah Winfrey (and other famous faces) to come and do shows in the Square.
The brainstormer behind this is Egypt's freshly appointed Minister of Tourism, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, and he's got designs on more than just the queen of media. Nour is anxious to dip into social media as well, as Egyptian paper Al-Masry Al-Youm reports:
Woowho wants to go to Egypt now that the revolution's most violent days are behind us? No one? Yea, we didn't think the traveling public would be so eager to jump back into Cairo when they've barely cleared the makeshift protestor shacks from Tahrir Square. Still, the portion of the country that earns their income from tourism still needs to eat, and thus the pyramids have reopened to visitors.
This Voice of America article that interviewed some of the locals who work at the pyramids is quite eye-opening, especially with excerpts like this:
Obviously, the episode was filmed long before the recent turmoil in Egypt, not that it would have mattered much to the show's producer Ricky Gervais, who purposely tries to make each journey as uncomfortable as possible for his sidekick Pilkington.
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This may be a long shot, but for those whom it touches, it could be a lifesaver:
The maker of one of our favorite favorite iPhone Travel Apps (Tokyo Teleport), is offering their newest app, Cairo Taxi Guide, for FREE right now in order to aid any foreigners in Egypt who are perhaps not so well-versed in Arabic.
The premise is simple; search a glossary of landmarks, museums, and really everything else in Cairo in order to discover how to say that you'd like to go there, in Arabic. The app provides clear taxi cards to show to your driver, so that you aren't literally just taken for a ride. They've also released similar Taxi Guide apps, priced between $5.99 and $9.99 each, for Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
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It's located right at the Sadat metro station in the center
Conflicting reports from major news outlets today tell us that anywhere from 200,000 to 2 million protesters have converged upon Tahrir Square in Cairo, where the anti-Mubarak chanting and demonstrating has reached a fever pitch on this, the ninth day of protests in Cairo. And, in the news, it's all Tahrir Square, Tahrir Square, Tahrir Square...but what is the significance of this spot, where exactly is it, in relation to the rest of Cairo, and why are the protesters coming here?
The answer is simple: protesters are gathering at Tahrir Square because, in a bustling and crowded city like Cairo, Tahrir is one of the biggest open expanses in the city. Plus, it's located at a major traffic nexus, for subway and other transportation. But most importantly, Tahrir is the historical site of past protests, including that against the War in Iraq. If you want to know even more, Tahrir is very important to the modern Cairo, as within the vicinity of it are many western 4- and 5-star hotels (like the Hilton, Intercontinental, Kempinski and Four Seasons), the Egyptian Museum, the American University, and essentially, the heart of tourism.
If you, like us, are curious about exactly how many people are in Tahrir Square today, check out WIRED's great article that works out approximating it.
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Where are you right now? Since it's Monday, you're likely back to work and daydreaming of somewhere else. Well, take a moment today to be thankful for the fact that you are not one of the desperate thousands trapped in the humanity of Cairo International Airport as the place has broken down into chaos. MSNBC noted one particularly crazed moment at the airport: "By midday, an announcement filtered through the crowd instructing groups of Danish, German, Chinese, British and Canadian passengers that their governments had sent planes to evacuate them, prompting a nervous stampede toward the gates."
With many airlines temporarily cutting off their Cairo routes "until further notice" and a large percentage of both airport and airline employees unable to even make it to the airport to carry out their jobs of getting people out, CAI more than qualifies as a complete sh*tshow. Let it also be known that with the internet down, for those travelers still in Egypt rearranging travel plans is no small feat.
The couple was in Egypt to attend the End Human Trafficking Now International Forum on behalf of their own foundation, DNA. The conference was held in the southern city of Luxor last weekend but, as soon as it ended, Demi and Ashton headed north to Cairo for some R & R.
He may be in Dresden today addressing issues of Holocaust denial, before he rounds out this week with a visit to the D-Day beaches of Normandy, Obama made sure to drop by Cairo University to deliver a hotly debated speech. Thankfully he brought his khakis and set aside enough time to day trip out to the Pyramids of Giza and the 600-year-old Sultan Hassan mosque. During a private visit to the Spyhnx, Obama even joked that were he a typical visitor, he'd get on a camel.
This week, we're mapping some of the world's greatest train trips.
Desk jockeys may find the route traveled by the Pride of Africa to be prohibitively long, not to mention impractical: The classic Cape to Cairo track may have been an innovation back in the days of "Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"
But on a continent known for being unknowable, the Pride of Africa, making tracks through Zimbabwe and Tanzania aboard the self-described "World's Most Luxurious Train," this route attracts because, even with its airplane attachments, it's the kind of journey no one takes any more.
Between the classic train cars (some dating from the 19-teens) to the built-in balconies, there's only one word for it: audacious. We can't help picturing some kind of adventure along the lines of "Strangers on a Train" meets "The Constant Gardener," or a dry "African Queen," that envelops everyone on board.
· Cape to Cairo [Rovos Rail]
· Cape to Cairo, Mostly by Train [Bootsnall.com]
· A Bunch of South Africans Who Took the Trip in 2007 [Our Cape to Cairo]
· Transsiberian Is An Ice-Cold Thriller [Jaunted]
[Photo: Old Fogey 1942]