Getting Around in Al Qahera - Cairo
The Nile flows through Egypt from south to north. Lower Egypt is thus the north and Upper Egypt is the south. That's because the country slopes downhill toward the Mediterranean. Going upriver means heading south to Luxor and Aswan and going down the Nile means heading north towards Cairo and Alexandria.
There are a few good maps of Egypt. The best general maps are:
Egypt by Freytag and Berndt. Distributed in Egypt by Al Ahram, this road map includes all of the Nile Valley and Sinai, but only a portion of the Western Desert.
The Nile by Lehnert and Landrock. A full-color illustrated map of the river identifying antiquities and important sites along its route.
Oases and Western Desert of Egypt by Trade Routes Enterprises.
Cairo Tourist Map by Lehnert and Landrock. A street map including central Cairo, Zamalek, Dokki, and the historic zone is accompanied by smaller maps of the Giza plateau.
Chicago House Mini Guide and Map (with text) of Luxor is prepared by the Oriental Institute of Chicago and published by Trade Routes Enterprises.
Cairo and Luxor by Lehnert and Landrock. A handy map with Cairo on one side and Luxor on the other.
From the Airport
All airports in Egypt have a taxi service to city centers, operated on a flat fee basis (ask your airlines). In Cairo transport includes limousine, taxi, and bus. Curbside limousine service is offered by Misr Limousine (tel: 2259-9381).
Official Cairo taxis are predominantly white (Previously Black and White) and Alexandria taxis are black and orange. There are also Peugeot taxis in a variety of colors and sizes, but they all have an emblem and number painted on the driver's door. Fees are the same as the limousine service.
The Airport Bus Service operates from Terminal 1. The bus leaves when full and stops at Midan Tahrir in downtown Cairo, in Mohandeseen, and along Pyramids Road in Giza. There are also regular city buses but they are not recommended for they are often too crowded for foreigners.
The Egyptian State Railway is a government-owned system founded in 1851 which services the entire Nile Valley down to Aswan, the Red Sea cities of Suez and Port Said, the Delta and Northern Coast cities of Alexandria (two stops) and Mersa Matruh. There are at least half a dozen through trains a day on major routes. Fares are inexpensive, but unless one is traveling with a tour, tickets must be purchased at the main railway stations ( in Cairo at the Ramses Station at Midan Ramses).
There is one privately-owned train operating in Egypt, the Wagon Lits sleeper with first, second and third class compartments. The train travels overnight from Cairo to Aswan and back again, leaving Cairo at around 7 in the evenings and arriving in Aswan at 9 the following morning. Bookings are one week in advance through a travel agent or from Compagnie Internationale des Wagons Lits Egypte, 9 Sh Menes, Heliopolis, Tel: 290-8802/4; 48 Sh Giza, Giza, Tel: 348-7354, 349-2365.
Air- conditioned buses link most parts of Egypt to Cairo and Alexandria. Seats may be reserved up to two days in advance. There is also a fleet of cheaper non-air-conditioned buses. Although bus times may change without notice, departures are so frequent that schedule changes are not a problem.
The principle carrier to Aswan and Luxor is the Upper Egyptian Bus Company, 4 Yussef Abbas, MN. Tel: 260-9304, 260-9297/8. Departures are from 45 al Azhar and the terminal at Midan Ahmed Helmi. Two buses a day complete the run to Aswan, departing early morning and arriving in the evening. To Alexandria the main carriers are the West Delta Bus Company, Super Jet, and the Federal Arab Land Transport Company, which leave from behind the Hilton.
By Bus Around Cairo
The large red-and-white and blue-and-white buses are usually so overcrowded they assault one's sense of private space. But here are a few interesting routes for the adventurous tourist
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