Judy in Egypt, Day 12: End of the road

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Crossroads senior web editor Judy Koutsky arrived in Cairo Jan. 29 to begin a two-week adventure in Egypt, sponsored by Wild Women Adventures. Armed with a laptop and digital camera, she is sending on-site reports and photographs back to Crossroads' New Jersey headquarters on a daily basis (or whenever she can get an Internet connection). Agents who have questions or advice for Judy during her trip can send email to [email protected]

CAIRO, Egypt -- I spent my last day in Egypt simply walking around Cairo and checking out different shops, restaurants and hotels. I've highlighted some places to consider when sending clients here. My last report, to be posted later this week, will be an overview of my trip that will address what is probably the most important issue concerning visitors to Egypt: safety.
When in Cairo, I stayed in the Sheraton Heliopolis and the Semiramis Inter-Continental Hotel, but two other hotels that I toured and are worth recommending are the Mena House Oberoi and the Cairo Marriott.

The Mena House Oberoi, located just outside the Giza Pyramids, offers a stunning view of the pyramids from the outer rooms and the hotel bar. The El Sultan LoungeRooms are decorated in an arabesque style, with handcrafted mosaic tiles, carved brass-and-wood doors and original pieces of art, making this hotel a favorite among international travelers. Some say this is the leisure counterpart to the Cairo Marriott. Having a drink at the El Sultan Lounge, watching the sun set over the pyramids, is a must. This hotel is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World.

The Cairo Marriott, located on an island on the Nile, was renovated in 1996 Cairo Marriottand is the largest hotel in Cairo. The main building is the Gezira Palace, built to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Today, there is a 24-hour casino, various restaurants, a business center and nine meeting rooms, accommodating up to 1,000 people. The Garden Promenade is a good place to relax over a drink after a day of touring Cairo.

There are a number of restaurants worth mentioning. The Khan al-Khalili cafe lies in the heart of the bazaar and offers a quiet reprieve from the chaos outside. Egyptian and European food is served here along with tasty desserts and a variety of teas and coffees. It's good for a snack and notable for having the cleanest toilets in the area.

Pub 28 is a favorite watering hole for locals and tourists. Because Egypt is a Muslim country, alcohol is not served in many restaurants, so this is a good place for those clients who want to relax with a beer after touring Cairo's sites. It's a pub atmosphere in dark decor, and the menu features steaks and mezze (small dishes of dips and pita bread). It closes at 2 a.m.

The NomadOne of my favorite shops in Cairo was Nomad. Set in an apartment building off the main street, this shop offers beautiful handmade scarves, clothing, jewelry, housewares and rugs. All the objects are done in traditional Egyptian style. This shop, unlike most in Cairo, has a very relaxed feel. The owner allows visitors to shop in peace without trying to push merchandise on clients.

The Mena House Oberoi: Pryamids' Road, Giza, Cairo, Egypt. 520 rooms. Phone: (011) 20-2 383-3222, or in New York, (800) 6-OBEROI. Fax: (011) 20-2 383-7777. Commission: 10%. Rates: $145 to $210, single, $175 to $250, double.

Cairo Marriott Hotel and Casino: P.O. Box 33, Saraya El Gezira Street, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt. 1,250 rooms. Phone: (011) 20-2 340-8888, or in the U.S., (800) 228-9290. Fax: (011) 20-2 340-6667/1108. Commission: 10%. Prices: $100 to $185, single, $130 to $245, double. Web: www.marriott.com.

Khan al-Khalili: 5 Sikkat el-Badistan, Cairo, Egypt. Phone: (011) 20-2 903-7888.

Pub 28: 28 Sharia Shagaret ad-Dor, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.

Nomad: 14 Saraya Al Gezira, 1st Floor, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt. Phone: (011) 20-2 302-6577. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Sundays.

Wild Women Adventures: 107 N. Main Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472. Phone: (800) 992-1322. Web: www.wildwomenadv.com. Email: [email protected]

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