Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Updates!!

I know it has been way too long since i've updated this blog! Sorry about that guys! 

My second semester of graduate school just ended and life is busy as always. The highlights of this semester have been: moving from Zamalek to Downtown Cairo, running a half-marathon in Palestine, and visiting Ethiopia. I can't believe how quick my first year of graduate school flew by and now I'm beginning to think about my trip to India in 4 days and what the rest of the summer has in store for me. I hope to update the blog a little before leaving for India! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas in Cairo

There's no denying the feeling of Christmas in the states with festive music in the stores and lights on peoples homes, the feeling of Christmas is something that is apparent every year in the US. Here in Cairo it's been a little different. Muslims do not celebrate Christmas, and Coptic Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7th. A couple of people had nice little Christmas parties and dinners in order to celebrate the holidays in a familiar way.

Photobucket


Photobucket

There were some places where Christmas decorations could be found, like the City Stars Mall, but overall I think I saw Christmas decorations only a handful of times.

Photobucket
Photobucket

So the Christmas season came and went in Cairo, but it never really hit me here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nearing the End of the Semester

I can't believe I am almost finished with my first semester of graduate school. The semester ends in less than a week and I have some pretty serious final papers due before I can relax on my winter break. There will be a month in between the semester, so between getting an apartment, hopefully a tutor for Egyptian Colloquial Arabic, and can manage a trip somewhere. I hope to continue updating the blog with a new post soon.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Amsterdam- Part 3

Like I said in the first post about Amsterdam, the Netherlands is known for specific things and one of them is pancakes. They are so good. The Dutch do not think of pancakes with the traditional breakfast mindset. They make them with savory options that can be ordered at any time throughout the day.

Photobucket
Photobucket

Another food I seemed to see in stores all around Amsterdam was cheese. We went to this cafe that had dedicated the entire front of the store to selling these cheese wheels.

Photobucket

I have no idea why this post is so focused on food, but it seems to be the theme. We were in Amsterdam for the Thanksgiving break, so we went to this awesome diner and had their Thanksgiving dinner.

Photobucket
Photobucket

I honestly have no idea if this picture does this meal any justice, but trust me you can't get a meal like this in Cairo.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Overall the trip was amazing. We had a great time and experienced everything Amsterdam has to offer.  I was afraid to check my bank account when I came back. I didn't touch my homework while I was there, but I live with no regrets. I may take it easy for a while on the international travel and stick to some Egyptian spots for the winter break.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Amsterdam- Part 2

There is nothing better than going to another country and getting to experience the history that another place has to offer. One of the first things we did was go to the house where Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution with her family and four other people in hidden rooms. The house was built in 1635 and was turned into a museum in 1960. The museum costs €9.50 (or $12.00) and there is usually a pretty long line outside (see picture below).

Photobucket

Another must see historic site in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum Museum. It's the official Dutch museum that houses a lot of famous paintings such as Rembrandt's Night Watch. The cost to get into the museum is  €14.00 (or $18.00) and I would definitely recommend paying the extra €5.00 (or $6.50) for the audio tour.

Photobucket
Photobucket

Amsterdam is also home to the Vincent van Gogh museum, which has the largest collection of his paintings and drawings in the world. Unfortunately, the actual museum will be closed until April 2013. Part of the permanent collection is being shown at the Hermitage. The cost to get inside the museum is €17.50 (or $22.00) You're not supposed to take any pictures inside, but I snuck two (see below).

Photobucket
Photobucket

The last stop I'll advise you to see before you leave Amsterdam (or run out of money from the costs of visiting all these places) is the Heineken Experience. It's the first brewery built by the company in 1867 and remained the companies main brewery until 1988. You get to learn about the company and their beer. The cost to get into the factory is €15.00 (or $19.00). They even have horses inside the brewery. Why, I don't know, but they were beautiful.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

And yes you get free beer at the end of the tour.

Photobucket






Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Amsterdam- Part 1

So after spending an ungodly amount of Euros in Amsterdam, I'm back in Cairo. Holland was beautiful. I went with two other AUC study abroad students (Selam from California and Kayin from Philadelphia). I'm not going to lie, I did deal with a little culture shock coming from Egypt to the Netherlands. I went from one country in the middle of protests because of the Muslim Brotherhood to another country with an infamous red light district and lax drug laws.

Amsterdam had all of the typical signs of autumn in Holland: leaves falling, cold weather, and rain. Holland is known for many different things like its wooden clog shoes, windmills, tulips,  and pancakes. 

Photobucket

Photobucket

 I was really surprised how many people rode bikes in Amsterdam. They're everywhere, and you can rent them throughout the city. You constantly have to watch out you don't get hit by people riding their bikes.

Photobucket


Thanks to Selam, we were able to rent an apartment for the majority of our stay. Finding a place to stay in Amsterdam is notorious for being expensive. Your options are hotels, hostels, couch surfing, or using a website to book a apartment (we used https://www.airbnb.com/).


I'll update you guys more about the trip in another post. For now, I'll leave you guys with some pictures of Amsterdam.


Photobucket
 
Photobucket
 
Photobucket



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Taxis in Cairo

So here is the guide to taking a taxi in Cairo. There are basically two options for a taxi: white or black. For the regular tourist, take the white taxis. The white taxis have air conditioning and meters to track your total cost(usually). Black taxis don't have either of the above. Either way, taxi drivers will try to quote you a price for where you want to go. You have the option of haggling them down or asking for the meter (if they have one/or it's working). Unless you know the estimated fare, don't trust the amount they quote you. They WILL rip you off. I've been quoted 30 EGP for a ride I knew only cost 7.50 EGP. Taxis from the airport are the worst. They will quote you 100 EGP or a ride that only costs 25-30 EGP.

Photobucket
Photobucket


If you get into a metered taxi, the meter will run even if you're stuck in traffic (at a reduced rate).  Unfortunately, if you don't know the way to your location, you could get a taxi driver who takes you a longer route. The most important thing to remember when dealing with a taxi driver, or anyone for that matter, is be tough. Call them out if you think there going the wrong way or ripping you off.

Just remember, you can always wait until the next taxi. They're everywhere in Cairo, and you will find some really amazing, honest taxi drivers.