Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


February 21, 2013


Our last part of the journey on our Overland Tour was crossing the border from Libya into Egypt and oh my goodness the difference between the two countries is quite startling.   While Libya was really calm, crossing the border into Egypt was just plain chaos.

This was not my first visit to Egypt as I had done a two week trip around the country however I had never visited El Alamein or Alexandria on my previous journey.

Needless to say the chaos of Egypt when crossing the border didn’t shock me and Cairo was one of my favourite places in Egypt so I was looking forward to seeing the capital city again.

El Alamein

Our first stop once we crossed the border was to the visit the Commonwealth war memorial at El Alamein where there are more than 1,100 New Zealanders buried within the cemetery; the largest number of New Zealanders buried in one cemetery outside of New Zealand. 

During the North Africa campaign almost 10,000 New Zealander’s were either killed or wounded which is scary number considering the population in New Zealand in 1940 was approximately 1,600,000. New Zealand’s ratio of killed soldiers during WW2 was the highest in the Commonwealth.

After visiting Tobruk in Libya and seeing all the New Zealand graves you come to realise how many men lost their lives while fighting in a foreign country and never made it home to their loved ones. 



Our last stop before Cairo was Alexandria where we spent one night and to be honest we didn’t do much sight seeing – naughty I know!  We did have a few drinks in the Monty Bar at the Sofitel Cecil Hotel Alexandria as it seemed a fitting end after spending the previous two days visiting the War Memorials for our fallen soldiers. 


 We left our tour early to make our own way back to Cairo as we had some sights we wanted to visit before our flight back to London.  G wanted to visit the Egyptian Museum and I wanted to do some shopping in the Souq.

G has worked out in the Middle East and Cairo is not his favourite city due to the craziness however I am at the opposite end of the spectrum; I find the hustle and bustle to be totally crazy and I just love it. 

I had made a booking using my Priority Club points to stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Cairo and after almost three weeks of camping or very basic hotels this was extremely plush and a lovely way to end our holiday.

The hotel is wonderfully located on the edge of the Nile and just a short walk to the Egyptian Museum.  I didn’t have fond memories of visiting the Museum on my previous visit, it was hot and there were so many people that I felt extremely faint however on this occasion it was rather pleasant.  G didn’t find the Mummy he was looking for, we should have possibly done a google search on this prior to visiting – doh! 

One of the regrets on my first visit to Egypt was that I didn’t get a photo of myself on a camel in front of the Pyramids – yes I know its probably a bit tacky however I wanted the photo.  The Intercontinental arranged a driver to take us out to Giza and the driver would then stay until we were ready to return back to the hotel for a fee.  This took all the effort out of having to find a taxi to take us there and back again and having to negotiate with the drivers – there was no fuss or hassle and we were in air conditioned bliss for the journey.  I would highly recommend you taking the hotel taxi service as it makes the trip so much more enjoyable.

At the time of our visit to Egypt the Pyramids weren’t very busy however I have heard that at the moment its completely empty – a great time to visit!

I did get my photo taken on a camel in front of the Pyramids by a lovely man called Abdul who didn’t rip me off and was so pleasant.  This is a photo of him – if you go to Giza try and find him as he was so lovely and a pleasure to deal with.

Our last port of call before we headed to sit by the pool was the Souq.  I love bartering and I do get carried away, surprise surprise!  G hates bartering and all the talk that goes with it – especially when they hassle him and he then informs them that I have all the money which is normally true.  Why you ask – G is renowned for losing cash or misplacing it in all his pockets only to find it when we have boarded the plane or when we are home.

This is how our shopping trip went, G gets a nervous tick in his neck and he trys to motion to me that he has found something that he likes and wants to buy.  I don’t understand what he’s trying to tell me with his eyes and neck movement.  Finally I understand and we both roll our eyes at each other and then I have to go and negotiate.  The shop owner trys to get G to do the bartering at which point G walks off explaining he has no money and the shop keeper has to deal with me.  I get a good price and G carries all the bags while he huffs and puffs that he doesn’t like Cairo.  Trust me, its hard work taking G shopping!

Once we had got all our sight seeing out of the way we decided to spend the time sitting by the pool.  I decided what I wanted to do was read Death on the Nile by the pool in a hotel situated on the Nile – the Intercontinental ticked all the boxes especially since the book shop in the hotel sold copies of the Agatha Christie classic!  We had such a pleasant afternoon tea by the pool where our drinks were constantly topped up and our umbrella adjusted for the moving sun so I didn’t get burnt.  The pool area is beautiful and there is meal service so you don’t have to leave your chair.

The breakfast at the hotel was out of this world – G was so impressed about the Honey which was dripping out of the Honeycomb, he was in food heaven.  The selection was amazing.

The hotel has an incredible selection of restaurants and bars that you can choose a different place to eat for each meal.

This was our first experience at staying at the Intercontinental Hotel chain and to be honest it hasn’t being our last.  We always try and stay at the chain now as the locations are great, the service brilliant and we know what we are going to get when we stay.

If you want a brilliant hotel to stay in while visiting Cairo then the Intercontinental Citystars Cairo is a sure bet.  I would love to go back and visit, even if it’s just for a long weekend.  This has to be one of the best hotels we have ever stayed at – the location overlooking the Nile is breath taking especially when you are having cocktails in the evening in the bar looking out over the Nile.

Egypt is an incredible country to visit and the history just blows me away every time I visit.

G and I have seen photos of Giza lately which show the Pyramids completely empty due to a number of tourists staying away due to the political struggles in the region.  From all accounts, Egypt is still a safe place to visit and there is a lot of security in place to make sure that the tourists are protected, even the hotel had security scanners.


Thank you to the Intercontinental Group for allowing me to use their photos of the Hotel

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