Egypt:Jewels of the Nile - October 6th tour play by play



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    Oo my, sounds expensive!

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    Speaking of the gift shop, my wife just purchased a silver cartouche necklace.

    Smiling Sam...I had a gold cartouche necklace made at the Old Cataract Hotel. It is beautiful. I get many compliments when I wear it. I was recently in Greece and a gentleman noticed it. He stepped a bit in my personal space to take a closer look and then proceeded to tell me my name.He was staying in the same posh hotel as I was, so he was ok in my book :D

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    edited October 2022

    Smiling Sam HI

    I just read about your Felucca adventure...That's a disappointment. Ours was at sunset, our group was 12 so no issues with space
    and we got about same, some Hors d'oeuvres also crackers and a big tray of different cheeses and charcutiers, also had wine red/black, soft drinks and finally Champagne.

    We got super lucky because The Old Cataract Hotel took care of our catering on the boat as a Thanks you for all the trouble the owner's-daughter, wedding cause... None whatsoever... but we got pamper!

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    Mil - You had way more space in the deck area on your felucca. It looks like you had everything set up on two parallel tables in the middle, which left room for people to stand up around the outside. Perhaps even move around the deck a bit.

    Our arrangement was three tables, in the form of a triangle, with the base of the triangle table being used as the attendants serving table. This of course left the space inside the triangle as unusable space and pushed the other two tables up against the seating benches, with 10/11 of the pre-made cheese/cracker dishes set up on each table. This left no space for the guests to do anything but sit in your assigned seat within the sardine can.

    Whoever set up our felucca gets a 0/10 from a guest comfort perspective and a 10/10 for packing a sardine can. 😀

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    Sam, our setup was like mil's.

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    Smiling Sam hi.
    Yes, we did have more space.. I cannot believe They packed all of you in 1 Felucca, insane.
    Sadly, it did damper your experience.

    I have also noticed and confirmed by some comments here in the Forum that Tauck has change a little from the Tauck prior to Pandemic- which it's understandable- a lot of countries are struggling with lack of staff etc...

    But also, the quality of the people and their behaviors, it's a little concerning. As my source mentioned there has been unusual events happening among the clients on tour , that even Tauck it's amazed by it. :)
    Not surprise....
    It's the reality, frustration at all levels and little patience from everyone. I hope as travel is back.. tempers mellow down and we become more human and caring of others..
    Hope the rest of your trip was as dream... and you come back with great memories and a big smile. :)

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    Mil - Can you give some examples of the "unusual behavior"?

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    edited October 2022

    Activities, except farewell dinner are complete.

    Mosques, churches, bazaar, and markets today. Here’s a photo from the markets - notice the ducks on the ground and the rabbit in the scale as two items being sold.

    Head to the airport for flights home in 6.5 hours!

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    That's where the expression, getting all your ducks in a row, came from.

    Have a smooth trip home, and thanks for the report.

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    Have a safe trip.

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    Here’s an unusual behavior in my opinion that happens more often these days: people feel they have to shove e a picture to show you from “their cell phone” for you to see mostly while dining. It’s rude and ill mannered. I didn’t ask to see pics of your pets, grandchildren, etc. I haven’t had my coffee yet either. Sorry for venting.

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    Sam - Have a safe trip and as you are flying with Qatar you will have a wonderful trip home.

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    Here’s a photo from the markets - notice the ducks on the ground and the rabbit in the scale as two items being sold.

    Smiling Sam...thankfully I didn't experience such a sight at the market...ugh.

    Safe Travels Home

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    Wow your pictures are wonderful. Thank you for sharing! We are going in January 2023.

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    edited October 2022

    I just arrived in Cairo. Unfortunately, my suitcase didn't. The Tauck greeter at the airport was very helpful in expediting the Visa, getting thru immigration, etc. He also assisted me in filing the baggage claim. So far, no updates on Air Cana's link for the claim.

    It's fairly smoky/smoggy here. Traffic wasn't bad from the airport, but it's crazy how they drive. Lane lines mean nothing. Pedestrians walking across highways without regard to traffic approaching, etc.

    As Sam did such a nice job with his report, I'll only post if I have something different. Hopefully the felucca experience.

    Only thing to report so far is I checked into the Mena House and my room did not have a pyramid view. So I went back to the front desk and they corrected that. Quite the view!

    Tomorrow, I'm doing a day trip to Alexandria. If there's no update on my bag by the morning, I'll buy some clothes somewhere. Welcome dinner is the following day.

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    In addition to the no rules rule of driving, I couldn’t believe that someone started a bonfire in the median! No one seemed to concerned, least of all my driver when I asked him about it. It was midnight when I was on the freeway going to the Mena HOuse, so I couldn’t see where I was and it seemed the driver made a lot of U-turns. It was crazy! Then from Chaos to calm, I arrived at the beautiful gates of The Mena House.
    Have a great trip, I hope your luggage arrives today.🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

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    BKMD - hope your bag turns up. What were your travel arrangements? Did you have a short connection somewhere?

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    BKMD. Can’t recall whether you are an air tags user or not?

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    No airtags here. I don't own any Apple products.

    My route was DEN to ORD on United, then Air Canada ORD to YUL (Montreal) and Air Canada YUL to CAI. Originally, It was nonstop from DEN to YUL, but AC changed the flight time so it didn't work and a second stop became necessary. Each layover was about 1h45m, though the DEN to ORD flight left about 30 mins late.

    Forgot to mention re roads and driving that on the final stretch of highway, there were several spped bumps that weren't marked at all.
    However, the driver knew where to slow down.

    I tried the ATM in the Mena House and got an invalid transaction error, So went to the bank on property. Interestingly, they paid me higher than official exchange rate. I got 2200+ EGP for a Benjamin. The ATM would have given about 1900 if it worked.

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    Thank, BKMD. Those short layovers make me very anxious.
    Enjoy your trip! I loved the Mena House.

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    edited October 2022

    BKMD - Sorry to hear about your bags, especially since we had just PM'd each other within the last week talking about luggage issues. Glad you got your room switched to the pyramid view.

    Does the United App allow you to track your bags? On the American app and others like the Qatar app for my Egypt trip I could track my bags. It indicated if they had been loaded, off-loaded, loaded onto the next plane, etc. If you had that and used it on the United or Air Canada apps you might at least be able to tell where the bags got left behind.
    The ATM at the Mena House was spotty when I was there as well. It seemed to be a function of the credit/debit card that was being used. Some went through no problem and others didn't. I had no problems. In addition, a person behind the front desk seemed to know all of the magic/correct buttons to push in order to get it to work for those that had issues.

    If you have to buy some clothes you might consider the following look for your time in Egypt. I think you could pull it off, no problem.

    I looked forward to hearing about what a 'good' felucca cruise is like (eg. - one that doesn't have 23 people crammed into one felucca).

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    edited October 2022

    . . . . 7:51AM edited 7:54AM Tomorrow, I'm doing a day trip to Alexandria. If there's no update on my bag by the morning, I'll buy some clothes somewhere. Welcome dinner is the following day.

    I am interested to hear your report on Alexandria- both getting there and what you saw.

    Also, everyone headed to Egypt, please see my recent post about photography fees and restrictions at this link: www.forums.tauck.com/discussion/comment/83572/#Comment_83572

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    edited October 2022

    FYI - I just completed this tour. Here is the scoop on photography fees from my tour.

    1) There were no fees required at any location visited on the tour
    2) Flash photography was prohibited at several locations, but without flash it was allowed
    3) The only place photography wasn't allowed was within the King Tut's Treasure room within the Old Egyptian Museum. They policed this policy because I saw a guard ask someone to put their iPhone into their pocket as opposed to carrying it in their hand. I had my Sony RX-10 camera draped around my neck and they didn't ask that I put it into my camera case. I guess the thought being it is so easy to secretly be snapping pictures with the iPhone that they don't even want them out.

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    Sam - Yes, you can track bags on United's app, however it appears not to cross over to partner airlines. The app shows my bag was off-loaded by United iatORD, so it's AC's responsibility to get it to me.

    I'll try to report on Alexandria, Alan. Some of my free time tomorrow and/or Sunday may be taken up by a clothes shopping trip. The hotel concierge recommend Mall of Egypt, which is about a 20 min drive (they have Uber here) and is on the way to Alexandria. Sooo, if there's no good news on the bag by tomorrow morning, I'm going to try to entice my tour guide to hang out at the Mall on the way home while I shop. What I signed up for is called a private tour, which I don't know if that means just me. If so, I suspect some extra EGP will suffice as enticement. If not, he can drop me off there and I can catch an Uber back to the hotel.

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    BKMD - I think I recall you saying that Air Canada doesn't fly to Cairo everyday of the week. If so, that could delay you bags arriving. Could you get, if you didn't already try, to see if you could track bags via the Air Canada app?

    Taking an Uber in Cairo. You're a lot braver man than I. Good luck. I hope to see further posts from you. :D

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    Sam, while they may not fly nonstop every day, they have plenty of flights to CAI thru European gateway cities.

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    Sorry to hear of your misplaced luggage. Hopefully it will be found and delivered to your hotel room before the welcome reception and dinner. Good luck.

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    Just catching up here--we were traveling :-) -- and love these photos and reports. SO helpful. Our waitlist spot opened and we will be going in January. These reports are such a nice heads up about little things, like the crazy night drivers.
    Wondering, like Alan, if there's any word on the GEM? THANKS!

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    BKMD I was without luggage for 4 days in Singapore, just enjoy the place, buy clothes if you need to and have a wonderful time with or without it.

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    Tour day -1 (like a Euro elevator).

    Today I did a private tour to Alexandria, booked on Travelocity with Viator. Was cheap, about $50, IIRC. This included entry tix and a decent lunch at a local restaurant. The guide ordered for me and I got a whole fish, skin and head included :-) I'm not used to eating fish this way, but hey, when you're overlooking the Mediterranean, why not? It came with salad, which I didn't eat as I'm not comfortable eating washed raw vegetables in countries where you drink bottled water. It also came with baba ghanoush and hummus, along with freshly baked pita bread. It was very good.

    I cannot post pics while I travel, as I don't have the app to transfer photos from my phone to my travel laptop, so this will be just a bit of a verbal description.

    It's a long drive of roughly 2.5 hours, each way, on mostly lightly traveled roads. Driver picked me up at the Mena House and away we went. When we got to Alexandria, we met the tour guide there. Both were very pleasant the the guide was very knowledgeable. First stop was the Catacombs; per the guide, the only catacombs on the African continent. There were some sarcophagi on display, and the guide pointed out the artwork on them were a combination of both Egyptian and Roman elements, Next stop was Pompey's Pillar and surrounding grounds. Then the Citadel of Qaitbay, which stands at the site of the famous Lighthouse. Next was a Roman ancient theater complex. It was reminiscent of Jerash, but about 1/10 the size. Of course there was that magic spot at the base of the theatre where a whisper is echoed back. We stopped at the modern library, which, per the guide, is the second largest library in the world, after the Library of Congress, It's closed on Fri/Sat, so we only saw the exterior. AlanS, you would enjoy it, given your strong interest in all things Egyptian. For everyone else, it's a long day and a lot of time in the car, though still worthwhile.

    On the way back to the hotel, the driver was kind enough to take me to a couple of "local" stores, and I stress local, to pick up some clothing needs, since I still don't have my bag. He knew the owner and lingered after I paid, so I suspect he got a kickback. I really don't care, as I'll be submitting these receipts to Air Canada. And for Smiling Sam, the driving around the local streets in Cairo was more frenetic, being a Saturday night. At the second store, the driver pointed across the street. I said, "there?" He laughed and said yes. It was across 6 lanes of endless traffic. What he did was offer his arm, and I pretended to have a limp as we crossed. He got a kick out of that, but it worked. I came out unscathed, just walking in front of cars jockeying for position in the free-for-all.

    On the missing bag, I was hoping to find it in my room when I got back, nut no. The web site still says, "bad located, pending." I called AC baggage service and the guy said it means Cairo airport hasn't acted on the bag yet. It's been this way for 24 hours, so I asked him to call the airport. He did and said it just rang and rang. Sure hope I get it before we leave Cairo, as it's going to be hard to track us down once on the Nile cruise.

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