Africa

Visit to Cairo

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It was our first whole day in Cairo and we had to make some important steps. As we were going to spend our last week at Sinai resting on the beach, while we planned the trip we saw that Petra It was very close and maybe we could get away there. The problem came when I read on the Internet that if you leave the country, the visa you get when you enter is obviously canceled and, if you enter again by road or by sea through Sinai, you are given a visa only for the Sinai Peninsula that does not It allows you to travel to the rest of the country. This is due to the peace treaty reached between Israel and Egypt after the Yom Kippur war (October 6, 1973) in which Egypt launched a surprise attack and recovered the Sinai that had been invaded by Israel years before. In this peace treaty, basically everyone has the right to access Sinai, especially the Israelites, since there are several Jewish religious enclaves on the Sinai Peninsula (I am sorry I cannot explain the conflict any more but I would need millions of tickets for it and also I only know the version of the Egyptian part).

Overview of Cairo from the Citadel

In short, if you left the country you lost the "full-entry visa" and upon re-entry nobody guaranteed me if they would give it to me again (which would not be a problem if I returned to Spain from Sharm el Sheikh or if I went to Petra for airway). During the previous two weeks we called the Egyptian embassy in Madrid and they kindly hung up the phone several times in mid-conversation. The only clear thing that I took out after talking with several traveling Internet users was that it was safest to ask for a re-entry visa in Cairo and thus avoid problems.

The Mogamma, where the Egyptian bureaucracy is concentrated.

How to get a re-entry visa in Egypt?

Re-entry visas and visa extensions must be processed at Mogamma, which is a twelve-story communist-style reinforced concrete mass that presides over Midan Tahrir Square. There, all or part of the bureaucracy of the country is concentrated and to any bankruptcy that you tell him that you have to go to do, there is a step just thinking about the lines. Mohammed told us to go soon because there were many queues, so we went at 8 which is when they open (visa application hours are from 8 to 13.30h).

Upon entering, the first thing to do is to climb the stairs on the right to the first floor. Once you have passed the metal detector, you must follow a long corridor that is on the right hand side until almost the end. The entire hall is full of windows on both sides with officials who do all their work by hand (computers shine by their absence). On the right hand side there is a window that says "Reentry visas", there they give you a free form that you have to fill in with your information, on what date you plan to leave the country and where you want to go. Once filled out, you have to go back to the 43rd window: “Fee stamps” and buy the stamps to pay for the management. The «visa» of a re-entry costs 51 L.E. and that of two 61 L.E. Once you sell the stamps you return to the “Re-entry visas” window, give the form, the stamps and the passport and, without giving you any type of receipt, they tell you to come back the next day after 14 hours to pick up the passport. And so we did, without even considering that we might not see the passports again (!). At least it was fast and in 30 minutes we were already on the street.

Clarification: the next day we went to look for the passport and they gave it to us with the re-entry visa already in place and this worked like a charm when we left the country and re-entered. So I advise everyone to do better in Cairo than at the border when they leave.

Entrance to the Egyptian Museum

Upon leaving Mogamma we decided to go to the Egyptian Museum that is at the other end of Midan Tahrir. As we walked out the door, a couple of Filipinos who were a little lost asked us where the museum was and we showed them the way. Once we bought the entrance to the museum, we had to leave the camera at the entrance because they don't let you in with it, and there a lot of guides offer their services to show you the museum. Everyone offered you a visit of 1.30 hours for 200 L.E. per couple There we met again with the Filipinos, Nancy and Clifford, university professors of statistics and anthropology respectively, and we told them that they wanted to share the guide (in English). In the end the guided tour cost us 140 L.E. per couple. It is quite advisable to hire a guide because the museum lacks explanations. At most a paper written with typewriter with brief information. The guide took us through the Tut-ankh-amón room, the royal mummy room and the animal mummy room. At the hour and five minutes, the guide ended the visit, but we were touring the Amarna period room and soon we decided to leave because there was no air conditioning and above did not stop entering groups of tourists and the museum looked like a oven.As it was 11 and until 12 we had not stayed with Mohamed, we went to a bank to try to get change in small bills and coins to make small payments. That's when we first had to cross the avenue alone (see the video of the previous entry). Luckily, some local pedestrians also wanted to cross the street and we used them as human shields.

Hanging Church

At twelve Mohamed came and we went by subway to the Coptic District (four stops from Midan Tahrir, Mar Girgis stop). In the Cairo subway there are wagons only for women like in Tokyo. The Coptic Quarter is the oldest area of ​​Cairo and is the heart of the native Christian community of Egypt. We visit the Hanging Church, which is called that because it is built on top of the door of a Roman fortress called "Babylon", and is about 60 meters from the ground. Then we went to visit the Church of San Jorge and we went down an alley to visit the synagogue and the Churches of San Sergio and Santa Bárbara. The truth is that I was a little disappointed in the Coptic neighborhood, but I suppose it is no longer a novelty to see churches.

Getting familiar with the numbers.

They manage to sell.

Then we took a taxi to go to the northern cemetery or also called the city of the dead, well known because the tombs or mausoleums are inhabited. It is a very poor area and obviously it is difficult to visit if you do not have any contact. Mohamed took us to visit the tomb of which he had been the wife of Mohamed Ali's son (Egyptian ruler, not the boxer). The guard who lived there showed us the grave and Mohamed explained that all the graves in the area were inhabited. After giving a tip to the watchman, we left and returned to take the taxi that was waiting for us to go to the Citadel. When I get there, Mohamed tells me to give him 40 pounds (which I thought was expensive) and when I give them to him, the taxi driver complains and after arguing with Mohamed he tells me to give him 50. I give him 50 and he gets like a rage and I do not understand why until I realize that I give 50 piastras (0.50 LE) by mistake. Anyway, that showed me a little because we could have negotiated the price before going up and I found the race very expensive.

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