Posted on September 14, 2012
Egypt is not for the faint of heart. That being said, to some people it’s the most magical place on earth. It’s especially challenging when you visit Egypt traveling alone as a women.
Lucy Mercer-Mapstone wrote a story for GoNOMAD about her adventures in Cairo and Alexandria and shared some good advice for those interested in cheap holidays to Egypt.
“One of the first things that struck me about the country (quite literally in some cases) was the traffic. Navigating the streets of Cairo was like a big game of Egyptian chicken. Cars swerved in and out at 120kmh using only blaring horns as indicators, paying very little heed to the signs, lights, road rules and directions. Crossing even the quietest of streets was a gamble.”
Then there is the challenge of blending in as a red-haired young woman from Australia. She dressed conservatively, with a long loose shirt and harem pants, but some times that red hair showed and then, well, it got complicated.
“On the days I didn’t don a hijab, my reddish-blonde curls stood out like a vegan in a steakhouse. Similarly, learning a bit of the native language goes a long way with the locals. When meeting new people or just entering a shop I took every opportunity to practice my Arabic. A simple ‘as salaam alekum’ (or ‘peace be with you ‘in English) went down a treat and meant the Egyptians were much more friendly and willing to help.”
There were also some comical moments when Lucy had to deal with Egypt’s famous touts, who are the most determined salesmen on the planet. “My favourite was a gentleman who ran after me on the street yelling aghast: “Hey, you broke it! You broke it!” and gesticulating at the ground. I, of course, looked round worriedly thinking I had dropped my camera.
When I looked back confused he grinned and said with eyes swimming with glee “You broke my heart!” Corny pickup lines aside, the men were (for the most part) very respectful of space and physical harassment was rare.”