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We did this as a fivesome Christmas 2007. I'll look out a long piece I wrote about our great day out.....Wilba.
HERE GOES IF YOU'VE A SENSE OF ADVENTURE: The Ships Tours from Alexandria to Cairo for the Pyramids are done in convoy by coach with armed guards following on in theirs army trucks. We did the trip by Blue Private Hire Car. We started with the intention of doing taxi to the train station & then turbo train & taxi into Giza. This had been researched & planned prior to leaving the U.K. but on reaching the exit of Alexandria Port we were accosted by a taxi man who spoke good English & given the spiel that a car for the day would be quicker & more convenient than our original plan & we would see & do far more by risking life & limb with him. The ‘taxi’ was a Peugeot 7 seater Estate of an unknown vintage & looked like it had entered a Demolition Derby on the previous day. We negotiated a price which appealed to all concerned, but was still twice the resale value of the ‘taxi’. Off we go into the streets of the town where no traffic rules apply & 5 minutes into ride we hit traffic, literally, as a Yellow & Black Cab had not left enough room for our man to get into the next lane, he ‘booted’ him up the rear to make sufficient space to drive through. The drivers never even looked at each other as we drove past.
Onto the desert toll road for 140 miles to Cairo with 4 lanes each side, but with a squeeze 5 & 6 cars can often be overtaking each other, any speed, any lane. We passed the tour bus convoy with their armed guards following in trucks. After an hour or so we stopped at a service area with typical facilities & the added bonus of waiter service, a small zoo park with deer, llamas, flamingo’s etc. Eventually we reached Cairo where the traffic is even worse & the local ‘centre’ busses had to be seen to be believed. We stopped at the Papyrus Museum & local Bazaar for 30 mins & then onto Memphis (Giza) to the Pyramids. 50 £Egp pp to enter (5 Quid in English) & this is where the taxi came into its own, as we could drive to the top of the hill (about a mile) for photo’s of all 3 pyramids, back into the taxi down to get close up & touchy with the 2 smaller pyramids & then taxi again down to the Sphinx. If you are on a coach this means a lot of walking or camel/horse/donkey riding at your expense & their delight. By now our bravery is reaching heroic proportions, so we tell our man to take us for a local meal. He took us to a small restaurant in the streets of Giza where the owner spoke good English. We had salad, brown rice, sheesh kebabs, lamb & chicken, cooked on a charcoal grill plus bottled water, cokes & fanta. You would think we had never eaten for a week as we devoured the overladen plates & left nothing.
Back onto the desert toll road, flat out in the taxi, 120 kms an hour in lane 4, Two tuk tuks come the other way side by side, head on to traffic, in lanes 1 & 2 taking a ‘short cut’. Our drivers only comment…….. ‘Crazy People’ :
On reaching Alexandria we went to a large out of town shopping mall for about 30 mins. & then a final tour of the city before going back to the ship. We were out 10 hours in total. The whole day including all our food & drink, taxi fare, tip came to £35 GBP per person for five of us. The Cruise tour fare (last Christmas) 118 Euro pp. (£85 p.p) (now even more)
The Egyptians are a most welcoming race of people & everyone we had contact with, including police, security & shopkeepers all ‘welcomed’ us to their country & none of us felt the slightest bit threatened at any point during the day. It will certainly go down in our memory as one of the highlights of our cruising background. So if your adventurous, streetwise & travel savvy, give it a go, it’s more fun than tour bus, that’s for sure.
Great one ..... I was there with you all the way ...... Neil
If you want to risk missing your sailing time then fine, save a few quid and go in a demolition derby style taxi. What you have to do is gauge the cost of transferring independently to your next port with what you have saved. i am a great supporter of doing things independantly from the ship, but would have more than second thoughts on undertaking such a trip for that distance, you're only likely to do it once so bite the bullet and do it properlly on this one. For other cities all over Europe there are great open top tours and we utilise this everywhere.
To some of us it's more than a money saving exercise, it's the freedom plus the sense of adventure & the thought of joining a coach party fills me with horror. As for this particular trip, those who took the tour bus had to wait seven hours to be fed with little or no opportunity to purchase food or water along the way. Yes the taxi was a 'risk' but if it broke down there's plenty more to choose from & as for the few quid saved, in 60 cruises & probably 200 independent tours, the 'few quid' I've saved would more than cover the cost of a flight to the next port....Wilba.....PS I do my own flights & transfers for similar reasons.
Tanks for your comment/concrerns points noted.-see above. i'm with wilba but I think the wife will be with you.
Without wishing to prolong this debate, interesting as it is, whatever you decide to do, the important thing is to have a memorable day for the right reasons. If you travel independantly, make sure that you have not only sufficient money and identification for onward travel to the next port which will probably be a different country, but you should also take your cruise news and mobile phone as well. I must admit when we were in Egypt two years ago, the immigration officials would not even allow us to sail from Sharmel Sheik to Alexandria until all passengers and passports had been accounted for and I can't imagine how we would have got into Lybia, our next port, independentantly. You and your wife have a good cruise Mr Kelly and if it's your first time on a Thomson ship, you will find the freindliness, good food, excellent service and entertainment make up for the obvious shortcomings of a ship that is over 25 years old. happy cruising to all.
Just got in from work- thanks very much for the info above. I can see I will save over £250 ( the 5 of us). I'm going to have to sweet talk the other half.
-6 lanes of traffic in for 4 lanes sonds a bit scarey!
I'm not worried about the 'miss the ship' comment below (edge nottingham) if a car broke down i'm sure I could get a taxi back may have to miss some /all of the sites but it's a risk. i bet if the coach broke down they would cut the intinary while a spare coach was sent for.
It's a bl**dy long walk and the natives are out to get you. My advice - play safe on the bus.