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Thursday, 28 October 2010

Egypt Race for the Cure 23rd October 2010

This event organized by the Breast Cancer Foundation of Egypt was held on 23rd October 2010.

Yours truly, along with thousands of others, was a participant. It was a brilliant time, so glad we went! The atmosphere was fantastic.

5 of us met at Meridian Hotel and walked up to the Pyramids. When we got into the pyramids area, we were herded into buses and transported to the start line which was behind the pyramids in the area where you get to see the publicity shots of pyramids standing majestically isolated in a desert as opposed to plonk in the middle of a busy area of the city.

Some 'typically Egyptian' bits - they were waiting for the road between the pyramids and the start up on the plateau to clear of traffic - didn't seem to dawn on anyone that you actually have to stop all the coaches from coming along the road!

Thousands of people stretching from well behind me right round to the finish line.

Also, the route fell apart a bit near the end - it wasn't clear which way to go! But kudos to the organisers overall, we all had our t-shirts (white for most, pink for survivors, blue for workers), and at the end, you handed over your food voucher and got handed a bag containing water, 'juice', a small bag of chipsies and a small individual pizza.

The tourists on the coaches seemed a little bemused but a lot of them started waving and smiling when they clicked what was going on.

There were thousands of Egyptian women there, and we were also very pleasantly surprised at the number of Egyptian men who turned out to run the event - no reason why we should be given that Egyptian men have wives, mothers, sisters all subject to breast cancer (and of course men can get it too - I did see one guy in a 'survivors' pink t shirt.

Anyway, we did our mile in about 30 minutes walking like most of the rest of the people. One of our group did in fact run and it took her about 10 minutes being buffetted by crowds and buses!

It was a great day out and was good for me because I was ill and confined to barracks for nearly 2 months.  This was my first decent bit of exercise since August!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Coming to live in Cairo for a year - Summary

Having just made this huge post on another place in answer to someone's questions, I have copied it over here!

The original question related to some of the practicalities of actually being here for a year including the cost of living. Please note I have excluded accommodation discussions because my situation is a little different. The best advice is usually to get here and then look, not try to fix up from abroad.

What visa can I get?

The only visa you can get yourself in your own right - without being married to an Egyptian or without having a job with work permit - is 'touristic'. If you come into the country and get the usual 30 day effort at the Airport, then before 30 days is up, make your way to one of the places you can get a touristic visa - there may be one nearer where you end up living than Mogamma. You can ask for a one year visa but don't be surprised if they offer you a 3 month or 6 month instead.

What if I want to be able to leave Egypt and come back?

If you plan on leaving the country and coming back you MUST get a reentry visa before leaving Egypt otherwise your residency visa is cancelled when you leave. As far as I know, the only place you can get a reentry visa is Mogamma.

Can I get a work visa?

There is no such thing as a work visa. To work legally you need to get a job from an employer who offers a work permit. Or get married to an Egyptian, get the 5 year permanent residency, then have him go to Mogamma with you and sign papers saying that he assumes full responsibility for your work.

The position of 'freelancers' who are not confined to one employer is vague to say the least.

While many people are working here illegally, that choice is between you and your Maker! Just imagine if they had the equivalent of the Daily Mail here [Wink]

What about tax (in Egypt)

If you have a job with a work permit, then the employer should be paying your taxes. As we all know, there are companies which deduct the tax from your pay but don't in fact hand it over to the authorities.

What do I do about healthcare?

Healthcare - again, some companies will include it as part of a package, otherwise you're on your own. Having said that, paying private here is probably cheaper than getting health insurance if you are relatively fit. My view is, keep at least one of your UK credit cards with a big balance clear (well use it once a year so they don't close it!) just in case. A friend's husband had quadruple heart bypass and it cost something like 130000LE I seem to recall, just to give you some idea of an upper cap.

I did look into private health insurance and it would have cost about £40 per month when I looked (holiday insurance won't do btw!) - about 20% of my typical monthly expenditure. Total health care costs for me todate 'paying as I go' (including seeing cardiologist, neurologist, ECG, electrocardiogram, blood tests) in over 2 years = £35.

A trustworthy Egyptian friend has access to an account with some money set aside in it in case I ever get in a situation where medical care needs to be paid for quickly and when I am not in a position to be able to get to the ATM myself. I carry the friend's contact details on me just in case. (I think it's best if the emergency contact is an Arabic speaker!)

UK Tax

The UK has a double-taxation treaty with Egypt so if you are working here, money earned here is not subject to tax in the UK and vice versa (caveat - I am not a financial adviser, this is not advice and legislation may change at any time). (This isn't, say, the case for Canadians who have to pay tax on world wide income even if it is taxed in the other country!!!!!) Depending on your financial position back in the UK (eg are you going to be receiving rental income, savings income?) - you may still have to complete an annual tax return and there is a nice fat fine for not doing so. Call the Inland Revenue begin_of_the_skype_highlighting     end_of_the_skype_highlighting and ask to register as 'non resident for tax purposes'. They are very helpful!

UK National Insurance

You have to pay 30 full years (under current legislation and if you are under, say, 50) to get full pension. You can make voluntary contributions if you want to keep up your record and if there's no danger of you going back - but you have up to 6 years after the relevant year to make voluntary contributions.

It's worth getting a statement from them as to how many years your record is - I was amazed to find I had 29 years in and so it's not worth me paying voluntary until much nearer the retirement age unless the rules change! (Apparently all the time I was at Uni, contributions were made for me by the State!)

(And btw even if you have got 30 years in - if you continue to work, you continue to have to pay NI so keep your eyes on the legislation in case the 30 years changes again and decide whether it's worth you paying voluntary).

Opening a Bank Account in Egypt

You can open one easily with a tourist visa + passport + credit card or similar from the UK. Unless or until you get a job, open a savings account. There are some very nice juicy interest rates here and most transactions are still done in cash.

You can open in more than one currency so, say, you could move sterling over here into a sterling account and just have it sit there and change it up when you need it or when exchange rates are good.

Your choice whether to go for a European-name bank (eg HSBC or Barclays or Credit Agricole or BNP Paribas or whatever) or an Egyptian bank eg Arab African or United Bank or whatever. Note that there are many banks with slightly different names!

How much does it cost to live here?

Not including accommodation costs: my monthly Opex - living expenses are about 2000LE averaged over the year: (including electricity (100), broadband (150), phone (25), gardener (130), 300LE for catfood, transport - mainly buses, microbuses and metro - I use taxis rarely - food, cleaning materials,toiletries, going out about once a week, mobile top ups etc).

You will find that I am probably at the lower end for an expat.

My vices are drinking gallons of milk (costs me around 200LE per month [Eek!] ) and my inability to go to Hyper1 without spending 40LE in Cilantros on iced white chocolate drinks. Hence I avoid going to Hyper more than once every 6 weeks. It is physically impossible for me to go in Cilantros and just have a coffee for 10). My name is OBC and I am a milkoholic.

The other thing you may want to factor in is a gym or similar. I joined a club way back when I first started coming here - before I moved here - offering a quick prayer - because the cost now would be way out of my reach. I haven't included the 'write down' of that in my monthly expenditures because it came out of 'capital'. (Sorry - too many years of corporate budget models!)

Full gory details of my 2008 costs are here: Gory Details

Finding somewhere to live

Here's a useful link for flats (apartments) and sharing. Obviously, keep your wits about you and don't do anything here you wouldn't do in your home country.

Expatriates.Com - Cairo Housing Classifieds


Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Cairo Metro - a few updates

I haven't posted for a while as I was away for a month and then since I got back, have been busy working on a project (which I hope to reveal soon!)

Anyway, yesterday I was out and about on the metro and thought I should highlight a few changes which have happened over the past 3-4 months for those of you who may not have used the metro for a while.

Women's Cars (carriages)

First thing to remind everyone is that for around 2 years now, the women's cars have been the two in the middle of the train, not the front one.  Some guide books and internet sites which have not been amended give the outdated information.  Also, as a reminder, women can travel in ANY car.  Men are not supposed to ever go in the ladies' car labelled in red, but can use the ladies' car labelled in green in the evenings.  Sometimes men accidentally get on them, and upon realising their error, look all embarrassed until they can get off and move down to the mixed cars.  I have witnessed police 'raids' a couple of times where they turf all the men out of the red-labelled ladies' car.

Since I returned from my trip, signs have been appearing on platforms showing the position of the ladies' cars more prominently.  Some stations have had them before, but written in Arabic and not obvious. Recently, quite a few stations have now got clear blue signs saying 'Ladies' on them - this is not indicating the location of toilets, but where you should stand for the Ladies' cars.

Getting on and off

Generally speaking, getting on and off the train is a bit of a scrum, especially in rush hour or at the most popular stations (Mubarak and Sadat - the two interchange stations).  However, for the past 3-4 months, posters have been going up in metro stations indicating that you should get ON to the train using the middle two sets of doors on each carriage and OFF the train using the end two sets of doors on each carriage.

So far, carriages on the Shubra/Giza line have been labelled accordingly with very clear signs, both inside and outside the carriages indicating whether you should be using that door to get on and off.  I first noticed these about 3 months ago, and I was amazed to note that where the carriages are labelled accordingly most people actual FOLLOW this!  Of course, occasionally if the carriage is very busy and there is no time to push down to the exit doors, people will still get off in the middle, and also if you are rushing for the train on at the ends. But, all in all, people are making an effort.  So far, all the labelling appears to be on the Shubra/Giza line only.  I haven't yet seen any El Marg/Helwan trains labelled up (though the posters are at stations for both lines so this will clearly be brought in eventually).

Travelling in the heat

Most of the trains I have travelled on - both lines - are air conditioned (or blowing cool air into the carriages through vents).  However, one day last week I was on an old Helwan metro and was amused to discover a very Egyptian solution to a problem which has baffled London Underground engineers for years - how to cool the carriages in hot weather ....

Yes, that is a fan stuck up there.  There were a number of them located around the carriage supplying a nice cool breeze.

So actually, using the metro in the hot weather is not as bad as it might be.

Cairo Metro

Metro stations can be found above ground by spotting the big red M on a blue background signs.

There are two lines (with a third under construction).  Shubra-Giza and El Marg - Helwan.  There are just two interchange stations at present, Mubarak - which is right under Ramses Main Train Station, and Sadat - which is the station at Tahrir - for Mogamma, Egyptian Museum, the AUC Downtown campus, and a number of other important places.

One thing to notice is that the names of stations given in many of the tourist maps and guides are NOT CORRECT.  Whether this is because stations may have been renamed at some point in the past 6-7 years or what, I don't know.  Also, new stations at the ends appear occasionally, for example, on the El Marg line, there's a new station appeared north of El Marg which isn't on the maps - it's called something like New El Marg.

Station names are all given in English letters as well as in Arabic so don't worry about that!

The stations are surprisingly clean. Trains are frequent and I haven't personally experienced a breakdown, though apparently there was one 2 years ago which made everyone 20 minutes late one day and was the subject of much comment and threats never to travel by metro again! (One 20 minute delay in how many moons?  20 minute delays were the daily norm on the jolly old Victoria LIne back when I were a working lass in London not so long ago!)

Time from El Giza to Sadat is around 15 minutes and El Giza to Mubarak, around 20 minutes. During the day, from El Giza up to Sadat and down to El Maadi is maybe 30-40 minutes.

The fare is 1LE for a single journey anywhere on the network - from one end to the other - crossing lines, or from one station to the next.  If you are going to be doing a lot of travel - eg study or work, then season tickets are available, though I think you have to be making 10 journeys a week for it to work out as worth it.

To buy a ticket, go down into the metro station and you will see ticket booths. You may be lucky and there may be no queue. Otherwise, you will have to push and shove your way to the front and deposit 1LE per ticket under the glass hatch and grab a ticket back again. If you are new to this, I suggest you try to pay the exact fare and not have to wait for change as people will just be pushing over you. Do NOT try and be polite and stand in a queue, otherwise you will be waiting for ever. Not a time to be shy.

To get access to the platforms, you have to push your ticket into a machine - like the ones on London Underground and on Paris Metro (I think - haven't travelled there for many years) - and it pops up on the other side - don't forget to take it and keep it! - and you can push through the turnstile bar.  To get back out of the station, you have to reenter your ticket - and this time the machine will keep it - so make sure you keep hold of your ticket while travelling!

At all the stations I have been to, there are attendants around to help you on the rare occasions tickets get stuck in the system or if the turnstile bar doesn't open for you.  I've seen a few people jumping over the turnstiles, but very few compared to what I used to see all the time in London.

They don't have Oyster cards yet though ;)

I was very surprised when I asked the question on a forum about 3 years ago how few of the foreigners on that forum had ridden the metro, which is quite a pleasure most of the time. One of my friends did get spat at by a hawker on the metro when she didn't buy anything from him (he was walking through the ladies' car) but that is a pretty rare event.

Cairo Metro official link

Monday, 10 May 2010

El Korba Festival 2010



there is 2 things now about the carnival
1. it may be held next friday 14/5/2010 from 10 am to 10 pm
2. that there is no carnival and they replace it with soe sord of music festival its gonne be on 25/5/2010
we r not sure yet we r gonne send u msg 2 confirm if there is gonne be a carnival or not and if they really replace it with that music festival or not
sorry but we all r confused
we r really sorry
thx very much
wait for the next msg and isa there is gonne be a carnival

This is information received:

el korba carnival 2tla3'a el sana dyh 3alashan el daw3y el 2mnya wa plz ay 7ad ya3raf ay 7ad ray7 yome el goma3a wa howa mash moshtriek mma3na
fe el group plz ya2olo and thnx la ta3wnkom ma3na

Translation :

Elkorba carnival has been cancelled for this year due to security measures, please notify anyone you know who isn't in our group and who might be going on Friday and thanks for your cooperation.

Check out the facebook groups for further information:

Seems it's going to be turned into a music festival on 25th June possibly?

Sorry chaps!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Volcano - link to list of updated European Airport Closures

Frequently updated list of European Airport Closures:

Airline industry list

I think they update it every time there's a change in the situation.

Volcano - British Embassy Cairo - letter to people stranded by volcano

This was sent out this morning by the British Embassy:

20 April 2010

To Whom It May Concern

We know that there are large numbers of British citizens stranded across Egypt from Sharm to Luxor - over 20,000 we estimate. You will all be keen to return home to the UK as soon as is feasible, however pleasant it may be here in Egypt.

The British Government is working hard on a plan to get you home: more information on that plan is set out elsewhere on this web-site. I wanted to let you know that we at the British Embassy here in Egypt are also doing what we can to assist those in need whilst they are stranded. We have been working closely with the Egyptian authorities. We are visiting the airports, speaking regularly to the airline companies, tour operators and travel agents.

The British Government is looking at the option of Spain becoming a Hub very carefully and will make a decision in the next day or so. However, our strong advice is not to travel to Spain but to stay where you are and stay in close contact with your airlines and tour operator.

More advice is set out on this web-site and on the FCO web-site [ and] and the FCO has set up a consular emergency contact phone number + 44 207 008 0000 which can provide advice on specific cases.

Please be assured we will continue to provide assistance as necessary and I will ensure that this web-site is up-dated with new information as it becomes available. You should also register on LOCATE to ensure you receive latest updates. You can register by logging on to our website
Please keep yourself updated by checking our websites: and

Dawn Naughton
HM Consul

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

El Korba Festival 2010


The rest of this post refers to the aborted 2010 festival.

STOP PRESS - Latest news is that it's FRIDAY 14th MAY 2010 - will do my best to keep you updated

See the Facebook Group now showing FRIDAY 14TH MAY ONLY

The 2010 El Korba Festival Baghdad Street, Heliopolis, Cairo will be held on 15th May.

This is a great fun street festival and here's a blog I wrote about the 2008 one El Korba Festival 2008 blogpost

I have been 2 years in a row now. Unfortunately I will not be able to go to this year's festival as I have other plans.


Oh, and by the way, they have a Facebook Group this year you can join!

El Korba 2010 Facebook Group

El Korba Festival 2010
El Korba Carnival 2010
Baghdad Street

Getting there - you can take the tram from Ramses Train Station (central Cairo) to Roxy (about 20 minutes and 50 pst) and it's around 10 minutes walk.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

PETS: Bringing pets to Cairo.

One Fleeting Glimpse has just made an excellent detailed post on bringing her dog in from the US.

Please note that experiences differ from country to country and it seems that the originating airport is the crucial difference, not the Cairo end.

Bringing in from the US seems a relatively painless challenge:

OFG - Moving your dog to Egypt from US

Bringing in from the UK:

OBC - Bringing cats to Cairo from UK Heathrow

Bringing in from Ireland via Germany:

Expat Focus forum post

If you want an Egyptian 'fixer' at this end "just in case", then several people have used the following for getting pets from the air cargo place (I have NOT personally.)

Quick Cargo
5 Tehran St. Dokki
P.O. Box 415 Dokki
Tel: 35390262/3/4/5
Fax: 35390383

Comments about Quick Cargo from someone who was glad she used them (it might not seem the most glowing review but she wouldn't have her dog without them).

"Quick Cargo was chaotic and very very time consuming. For a start no one seemed to know exactly where to find Quick Cargo and it took a couple of hours asking people and driving round in the taxi before someone caught on to the idea of calling them on the number I kept waving.

There were 2 Quick Cargo-ites Fady and Nagy. Fady rode a motorbike and zoomed off with papers here and there and Nagy rode with us leaping out at different buildings. When they found out the dog was at Heathrow it had already been about 4 or 5 hours since we landed.

Next day we set off again at 4.30pm and got the dog at 8.45pm finally. There were some nasty rows between "helpers" and the Quick Cargo men, as the helpers thought they were over charging me. 280$ plus 1,500 EGL import charge. After a huge to do the import duty was suddenly reduced to 300EGL. I could NOT have managed to get the dog without Quick Cargo so to some extent they had me over a barrel, the import thing is so complicated and my nerves were like strings. I thought (Rover) would be dead, suffocated, starved etc etc but she is fine.

I am so grateful to you for suggesting Quick Cargo whatever the cost. I think I would still be looking for the dog now without their help."


Blog post I made with names and addresses:

OBC - Vets in Cairo

I have personally used Dr Rania Kashif ("Vets in Practice" - 6th October City and Maadi)

Friday, 19 February 2010




 And I quote:

"The Cost
If you apply for a British passport overseas you can expect to pay:
·          For your passport (the fee is the same worldwide).
·          The cost of sending your application to us (as you would in the UK)
·          For the secure return of your passport and documents.
In the next 6 weeks we will publish instructions on how to submit your application and advice on using local courier services."

This seems to confirm that the INDIVIDUAL will be responsible for dealing with the postal side of things.

I have just been informed tonight (and have been sent a copy of a letter from the British Embassy in Cairo to prove it!) that from 15th APRIL 2010 it will NO LONGER BE POSSIBLE TO RENEW YOUR (FULL VALIDITY) PASSPORT AT THE BRITISH EMBASSY HERE.


Update from a source:

"Applications direct to Paris and returned to your overseas address via courier (to be paid for by you of course) if you don't trust the post. Embassy only to get involved in emergencies. This will make it really secure........ go figure.......This was from embassy employee last night."

The sooner this is clarified by the Embassy on their Website the better!

Passport renewals are being consolidated in several countries and apparently ours is to be in Paris.

You can still get it by post but (a) consider how utterly inefficient the postal service here is and (b) how impossibly fussy the new regulations for passports regarding photographs are, this is actually going to be pretty well impossible.

Here are print-screens of the letter.

I have also uploaded the print screens here:
British Embassy passport letter page 1 of 2
British Embassy passport letter page 2 of 2

British Embassy in Cairo Website (Not showing changes as of date of post).


Friday, 5 February 2010

Souk El Fustat - Where to go to get quality Egyptian gifts

If you want to get some good quality gifts here in Cairo, then I can highly recommend Souk El Fustat (Souq El-Fustat) which I visited for the first time last Saturday.

Within around 10 minutes walk of Coptic Cairo (Mar Girgiz metro), it has space for about 40-50 small shops selling handicrafts, toiletries, lamps, glassware etc.. There is also a cafe there - we didn't try it this time round, maybe next time!

Another miracle is that there is almost no 'tourist hassle' and shopping here is a very calm experience.  (The quid pro quo is that there is little room for bargaining though a couple of my companions did manage to squeeze a little with the help of an Egyptian friend!)

To get there, come out of Mar Girgiz metro station (on the Coptic Museum) side.  Turn left and keep walking in a straight line! It's on the right hand side of the road, before the recently refurbished Amr Ibn El-A’as mosque.

One of the shops there provides items made by the Zabbuleen (Garbage Collectors) women (read more about the Hay El Zabbuleen in the second half of my post here: St Simon Tanner.  I checked with the shop keeper and he told me that the paper goods are made from recycled paper, but that the cloth goods are made from fabric offcuts from the various factories in Cairo.

Here is a  good article on the aims behind the Souk El Fustat.

Link to my google map showing the walking route (give it time to load! There will be a thick blue line on it when it's finished!) -  click HERE and get it directly via Google Maps so you can play with it!

View Souq El Fustat and Coptic Cairo in a larger map

Monday, 25 January 2010

Cairo Railway Museum

STOP PRESS 29th MARCH 2011 - THE RAILWAY MUSEUM IS CURRENTLY CLOSED as Ramses Station is undergoing a lot of building work.  We were informed that it will probably reopen in a couple of months. I hope so, because it would be a shame to lose this treasure.

I have been dying to visit this museum for many moons, and finally, at the start of an extended day out on Saturday, myself and two friends (also female - surprise :D ) decided to visit the Railways Museum situated at Ramses Station (Cairo's main station).

This is one of Cairo's more quirky museums (as is the Agricultural Museum which I must revisit one day, it being almost 5 years since my last visit.) a little off the usual tourist track. If you like trains and other mechanical things, then allow around an hour for a visit - it can be done in less, we actually thought we would be in there for around 20 minutes but were pleasantly surprised!

The entrance to the Museum is halfway down Platform 1 from the main station concourse. Admission is currently 10LE Saturday through Thursday (closed Monday I believe) and 20LE on Fridays.

The opening hours are currently 0800 - 1400. However, this appears to vary sometimes, so maybe aim for 0900 at the earliest.  (Some sources say it is open in the afternoon as well but I was certainly not given this impression at any time!)

A catalogue is available, I think it cost me 8LE but I wasn't really paying attention. Visitors are allowed to take a maximum of 3 photographs. I am wishing I had taken the trouble to read the catalogue while there, but actually our time was limited. I shall certainly be making another visit at some point.

The railways in Egypt have an interesting history, George Stephenson himself having been involved in the initial construction in the 1850s. Heavy British influence is evident in the exhibits from the number of items stamped with the names of British manufacturers from the Golden Age of manufacturing.

The museum is on two levels and we went upstairs first. The museum manager and guide are both female. The guide accompanied us on and off for our visit.

The photo shows a shot across the whole first (second for US) floor. There are a variety of exhibits, mainly to do with the railways but also some other transportation-related exhibits. We spent a good half an hour up there peering at everything. There is a scale model of the former Royal train which the guide informs us parts are still used by the President and most of it is in the railway workshops.

Downstairs, there are larger exhibits including the Khedivial engine built in 1862 for Saied Basha and a cut-away diesel engine.

This photograph shows the view across the ground (first US) floor of the museum from the Khedivial engine.

I asked permission from the Manager to take the guide's photo next to the engine and explained I would be posting it on the internet.

Our guide, Madam Nahed El Katteb, has been working at the museum for 20 years. She graduated with a philosophy degree from Zagazig University. Her father was a railway worker and she inherited his love of trains and so chose to join the railways for her career. The day we went was her 18th wedding anniversary!

After inspecting everything and looking at the model layout (awaiting repair), we were taken to the Annex.

This small side building contains one main exhibit,  a six-wheeled coupled goods engine supplied by Stephensons between 1865 and 1868.  There are a number of other smaller exhibits, signal lanterns and so on in there as well.

This is a fascinating little museum dating back to 1933 and definitely worth a visit.

Egyptian National Railways Museum Page

Egyptian National Railways Wiki page

Other search terms:

railway museum Cairo
Ramses Station museum
Rameses railway museum
Cairo train museum
Egypt railway museum
Egypt train museum
Railway museum Egypt
Train museum Egypt
train museum Cairo

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Collecting an Item Delivered Airfreight to Cairo Airport

This dates back to retrieving my piano in December 2007 so may have altered since - I doubt it however!

I was contacted on the Tuesday afternoon following my arrival to say the goods had arrived.

I asked a couple of friends if they could come to the Airport with me so we went there on Thursday by car (you need to travel round the airport so a car makes it easier).

You will need your passport, you will need lots of money - take loads of 5LE notes for the tips, overestimate how much you need, I was caught VERY short at the end and couldn't pay any tip to the truck men unfortunately. If the customs manager had valued my piano more, then I would have been well and truly stuck.

The place you need to go to is near the Airmall building (NB this no longer exists - it was near Terminal 1 I think) - we had to go first to a cargo offices building which was blue and had eg British Airways World Cargo, Rock It (company which imported mine) etc etc to finish paperwork (220LE for this). Once you have got the papers you need to collect the goods and you will need Mr Fixit (these guys hang around outside and will approach you as soon as you get out of the car at the blue offices).

Things to note:

(1) You can hire pick up trucks at the airport to take your stuff home. The truck I hired was 120LE from Airport to 6th October with 2 men driving it. We didn't need a very big one for the piano.

(2) You can NOT be accompanied by a friend into the cargo area. You could try to do it on your own, but I paid a Mr Fixit - agreed price was 250LE and I ended up paying 350LE (there were two of them). I will put up the names and phone numbers of Mohamed and Ahmed the Mr Fixits I used later when I get them.

(3) You will need to buy:

permits for you and Mr Fixit - 7LE each.

tips for in the warehouse - going rate is 5LE - but for the two men who helped crate it all back up after customs had finished, 10LE each.

Warehousing fees, I had to pay 110LE because it was in the warehouse an extra day.

(3) WOOD IS A PROBLEM. You need to make sure that if you are sending wooden stuff, the box is marked with the IPCC mark - I have taken a photo and will upload another day. I still had to wait for the Agricultural Ministry person to OK my crate (20LE) even with that stamp. Some poor chap was standing in the warehouse looking like his time had come because he was bringing in a load of pictures in wooden frames.

(4) Your crate will be opened and stuff scattered everywhere by customs. If you have any vital screws, bolts etc (like I have with the piano) I advise you to take them separately (which I did! I bought them in my handluggage!) - you will never see them again otherwise!

(5) My piano was x-rayed which involved another truck, it nearly falling off, etc.

(6) There are about 100 signatures and stamps to be sought - this is why you need Mr Fixit.

(7) MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL the tax you pay is 40% of the value of the goods. Now, this is an art not a science. MAKE SURE that any paperwork you have giving the insurance value of your object is NOT available - it only serves to confuse. The manager of customs decided the value of my piano was about 2800LE so I had to pay 40% of that as the tax/customs fee. Mr Fixits will probably go through your box and make sure this is the case.

(8) The whole process from arrival at the airport to leaving took around 3 hours. I saw many people in the building in a bad state because their goods were packed in cardboard, the boxes were broken, the goods were damaged, etc etc. Get a decent freight company.

I used Allfreight -

(9) Your friends waiting for you - there is a cafe outside, exactly opposite the customs gate but it is apparently very smokey and lots of workmen. Its probably better to go to the cafe in the Airmall which is more comfortable (except it no longer exists!).

About the wood.

Freight companies use either wood crates or cardboard boxes to ship your items and the wood that these crates are built with have to be approved too. I heard that one crate was not even opened as it did not have the correct stamp on it from the country of origin stating it was free from termites etc. Apparently from a source certain European countries refused Egyptian wooden crates at theEeuropean destination so Egypt followed suit and now need an agriculture seal of approval to ensure entry to Egypt.

Then once they are happy you have the crate seal of approval they can then open the crate to examine contents. If the crate does not have the seal it is immediately returned to point of origin.

If you have wooden items IN the box then you have to have these separately checked and X rayed and tested by agriculture experts, like wooden frames, ornaments, wooden boxes, pencils etc..

Opposite the customs security gate there is a cafeteria, very smoky and dirty, and on either side 2 car parks. You should be able to find a space. The top car park is where the lorries and pick ups sit waiting on customers. It is just a 1 minute walk from the customs gate and opposite. Approach any of the drivers and negotiate a price. They have trucks and pick ups of all sizes available.

I would advise not to hire a truck from outside the airport until you are sure you have customs clearance.

The 'Mr Fixits' are vital. Dont think you can do it alone , you can't even if you speak arabic. They know exactly the routine and exactly which desks to go to.
They will approach you as you draw up outside the 'blue freight offices'.
They are worth every penny.

Number of the fix it guys Ahmed and Ahmed


Yes, the wood stamp was for the crates too, not just the contents. The certificate was 20LE. There wasn't any baksheesh for that bit, a very official looking woman in uniform from the Agricultural ministry came and prodded and poked everything before issuing the certificate.
I think my crate was actually opened and contents inspected before the crate was approved - its a bit of a blur - all I remember is tons of paper (packing materials etc) all over the warehouse!

Cargo agents in Cairo

If you want to contact an agent here in Cairo before you move, especially if you have no Egyptian person able or willing to assist you, it may be worth contacting these guys:

Quick Cargo
5 Tehran St. Dokki
P.O. Box 415 Dokki
Tel: 35390262/3/4/5
Fax: 35390383

I have NOT used them, and the only people I know who HAVE used them have used them for collecting pets at the airport which are normally shipped cargo. Those that have used them say they are worth the money because of the hassle they save you.

Process of Moving to Cairo (November 2007!)

This post draws together lots of posts I made during the last month before actually moving myself from London to Cairo in November 2007.

Companies I used:

(a) to arrange for my cats: all you have to do is sort out the various injections and microchipping for the cats in advance. They handle ALL paperwork. They get the cats in 7 days before the flight, make sure they are well enough to fly, take them to the plane. (My only caveat is they didn't really have any idea about what would be involved at the Cairo end. Because animals MUST fly 'unaccompanied cargo' from Heathrow (even though you may well be on the same plane as I was), they are delivered to the mysterious depths of Cairo International Airport cargo area. You seriously MUST have Egyptian contacts this end. See my blog posts specifically about the cats for more information.

(b) to ship my piano:
- great service - I entered my request on their website - I said 'piano box' - and within a couple of minutes of pressing SEND, they called me to ascertain exactly what I wanted and said they would make a special crate for me. Couldn't have asked for better service. (Separate blog post about collecting the piano this end!)

(c) to store my belongings for a few months: - I used one of the Bristol storage facilities. They were very helpful and when I finally removed my stuff from storage, they knew the service I used for that so I did not have to be present.

(d) to move my stuff from storage and also do a run from London for me for another purpose:
- again, great service and reliable.

(e) to give stuff away (without charge)

I joined relevant Yahoo Groups local freecycle groups in London and South Wales to give away things - very successfully!

Plus lots of belongings went straight to local charity shops.


2nd November 2007

I have spent 5 hours this morning just filling in paperwork, scanning, emailing, faxing and all to do with cats, things at home, baggage, shipping ....

Who knew emigrating could be so hard and I've still got to deal with banks, letting agents, mortgage company, freeholder, phone company, electric company, blah blah blah..... as well as developing my business.................................

I am cream-crackered as we say in these parts and I need CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

comment: good luck [Smile] and enjoy the chocolate!!

3rd November 2007

Yum Yum I did and again today [Big Grin]

One of the things I am transporting is a 65kg, full size digital piano. I got quotes from 3 companies to transport it to Cairo by air freight. The quotes ranged from £279 - £303 (excluding insurance).

I have accepted the most expensive quote, from Allfreight International, because Donna from the company phoned me within minutes of me pressing the 'send' button for the online quote, to find out exactly what my requirements were, spoke to her colleagues and came back to me, and their quote INCLUDES making up a special box to transport the piano! (Which I have partially dismantled so its reasonably flat). The other 2 companies could have done that but didn't and I would have then had to pay out for some kind of packaging material.

Anyway, thought I'd let other peeps know for future reference, and I will let you know how they actually perform!

Btw you still have to pay tax and customs for the piano.

Response to comment by me: Yes, I am trying to find out how much [Frown]

5th November 2007

This is the trash heap which my flat is at the moment - things pulled out all over the place for decorating, packing, deciding... 3 weeks to sort this pig sty out [Frown]

(Warning - occasional adult language!)

Wasn't too bad yesterday and the day before, got loads done - friend came round to help Saturday so we managed to keep it quite tidy while we were working, and got a handywoman in yesterday to do various handyperson jobs involving wood, saws, drills and other bits, but doing it on my own is SO depressing coz I don't have the energy to keep it tidy while I'm working.

Still - out of chaos shall emerge order or some such [Big Grin]

7th November 2007

I'm knackered. I just finished packing up my piano after several hours of hauling it about. It weighs 65kg - its at times like this I can see the value of a physics degree [Big Grin] the amount of levers and 'frictionless slopes' I've had to construct tonight out of a random selection of bits of wood and old metal shelves is amazing.

I had to wrap it in sheets, newspaper and bubble wrap because the freight co are going to construct the shipping box for me. I hope their driver doesn't have a blue fit tomorrow!

LOL I thought you were going to say you could see the value of having a man [Big Grin] [Big Grin] I think the story of this piano is going to be a great saga. Good luck with the rest of your packing.

My response:
Na, a physics degree is more exciting [Cool]

Comment re ealier post:
Muhahahaa I did it all 2 years ago so I know your's a lot isn't it!!?? The most difficult thing is doing everything to stop or end at the same time....I was selling my car like mad at the last minute, it was all a headache. Once you get on the plane you will breathe a sigh of relief! [Razz]

7th November continued...

Yeah - just sold my entire record collection for £200 - including what he called my 'pile of shame' (which he said was 'remarkably small'. Tubular Bells came back out of the pile when I told him side 1 was TB (V2001), but side 2 was pressed with Gong - Flying Teapot (V2002) - second ever Virgin Records pressing! He said it was the tastiest collection he'd seen for ages [Big Grin]

and again.....

Yeah cheers the piano has left the building - the piano has left the building.....................
[Big Grin] [Big Grin]

8th November

LOL ty for this... InshaAllah I'm soon to follow so its nice to get an idea for what im up against. Biggest problem I forsee.... hmmm I really dunno. I dont expect to be taking much, three bags at most... im not really planning to ship much just what I can carry with me, and my kiddo. I guess that will be the hardest part, lol the four year old.

comment re video of mess:
OMG I thought my daughters bedroom was bad enough LOL - by the way you have great taste - same fridge/freezer as me LOL. Hope you have done more packing and you are able to put the hoover on without the entire contents of your flat disappearing up it. Good Luck

8th November continued...

LOL its looking a lot better today - losing the piano and the record collection (which you can't actually see in the vid because they are hidden in the junk) freed up a load of space so we could actual start manouevring stuff around to finish the decorating.. nearly done [Smile]

9th November 2007

Was just informed by the freight co that the piano including packing is 108kg [Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!]
No wonder it was so tough to move about!!!

So anyway, the freight cost is somewhat higher than they initially quoted (which was for 68kg - I allowed 3kg for packing - bit dim I know [Roll Eyes] ) so further charges to be deducted from the plastic fantastic - I've given up counting now!

12th November 2007

Right, I made a decision today about storage. I just can't sort all this crap out in the time remaining (17 days from now I shall probably be over Alexandria on the plane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) so I have got a quote for storage at a place in Bristol - its quite reasonable actually - for a 20 sq.ft x 8ft high room (about 4.5 cu. m.) its about £340 + insurance (for 6 months). So that's probably what I'm gonna do.

Now I've just got to put thumbscrews on - I mean ask nicely - my sister and her hubby to do 'man with van' duty!

There's actually half a chance that I could sell the stuff for the amount its going to cost to store - but I just can't sell it in the time available to me. (Anyone want a trumpet for £175? LOL!)

I can only pray that my husband will be able to find employment in Egypt so the organization/company will take care of the shipping of our household! What a headache it must be for you right now to organize everything, Oldbag!!! [Confused] [Confused]

12th Nov continued...

Too right - mind u, I have known I'm moving for many many moons now so its my own stupid fault for being 'deadline-orientated' as we procrastinators like to say [Big Grin]

All I'm saying is thank God for Flylady ( - if I hadn't spent the past 5 or 6 years gradually decluttering (over 1000 books for example in the past 2 years!) it would all be A LOT WORSE!!!!

15th November 2007

Ok guys, I need some help. I have before me a small collection of bottles of perfume and oils bought from 'My uncles/aunties/sisters papyrus gallery and purveyors of fine oils' emporium in downtown Cairo over 2 years ago (yes, I was that tourist...)

Cost a load and I am NOT bringing them back - the risk of spills etc etc, for a load of old oil. Please give me a kick up the ass to BIN THEM NOW..

All ass-kicks welcome!!!! [Cool] [Roll Eyes] [Big Grin]

Any thing you have not used in the last 6 months ....get rid of it.....that means every thing, perfume, clothes, oils, shoes etc.... [Eek!]

15th Nov cont.......

Not the shoes - on account of my ginormous feet (size 10 UK, 12 US and 44 Eur!!!!) and the impossibility of buying shoes in my size that not only fit, but also don't look like a couple of coalbarges, they stay - as I have a lifetime supply.

And what about the 4 million useful computer cables? - geek heaven - guess I'll freecycle those to some deserving geek somewhere!

16th November 2007

Ok oils and perfumes now lined up next to toilet so can make nice smells when it flushes [Big Grin]

You are very funny! You made me laugh.

16th Nov continued ....

Right - just booked and paid for the van for next Thursday.

Luton van with tail-lift - 2 days hire for £110.75 including VAT and insurance. Will also have to donate cash to the sister/hubby combo and pay for diesel.

OOOHHH it's all coming together now!! [Razz]

sell on Ebay, then you can get money as well as declutter

response to above comment by me:
Nice idea, but I just haven't got the time or patience for Ebay - I have a hard job just posting letters let alone parcels [Big Grin]

19th November 2007

Are you all ready Oldbag? What have you got left? And how long til you go, a week? You must be so excited!!! [Smile]

19th Nov cont ......

11 days from now, I should be wending my way through customs at Cairo inshallah!

I've got 3 packing days [Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!] left to decide what's coming, what's storing, what's staying in the flat for tenants and what's getting charity/freecycle/bin ned AARRGGHHHHHHHHHHH

Naturally enough, given that I was away this weekend at a conference and am so tight to time, I decided that Friday morning really was the best time to set up a new internet forum for a group I am a member of - nothing like a deadline to get the creative juices flowing I always find [Big Grin]

My purrbabies are leaving for Heathrow Pet place on Thursday, my stuff is leaving for storage on Friday and I shall be accompanying it to get a last couple of days in with the parentals before I leave!

Then I will have 3 days next week I have to clean and paint 9 doors in my flat, gloss my skirting boards, paint the hall ceiling with special cover up now-dry damp spots from the flat upstairs, paint the windowsills, finish painting the kitchen, get an inventory done of all the stuff staying in the flat done, clean all the furniture, shampoo all the carpets, go and visit kitties in the Heathrow place so they know I haven't abandoned them, get rid of all remaining items, pack up my computer stuff to come to Egypt (laptop, sound card (ext) and a few bits), find a home for the tv and printer until I come back in Feb for a couple of weeks and can get them down to the store!

Oh dear, I've come over all faint, I better go for a lie down. I have a feeling chocolate is going to find its way into the shopping bag again before the week is out [Big Grin]

purrbabies! I love it!

oh you poor thing, so much still to do and so little time, but I am sure you will do it....well you HAVE to!!! I wish you all the luck in the world making your deadlines and eat lots of chocolate to motivate you!! x

comment: Holy moly woman, that three days of fixing up the flat better be fueled by lots of caffeine and chocolate. Not sure how else you'll make it!!! [Eek!] Wish you the best with it though.[Smile]

21st November 2007

Photos dudes - how many of your precious photo albums did you bring????
Do I keep them here and scan photos in and bring gradually or what?
I'm scared stiff of losing them en route but they weigh to much to bring hand. And no, I don't have the negatives!

How about emailing them to yourself and printing them off when you get there?

response to comment by me:
Coz these are actual photos from the land that time forgot before digital so I would have to scan them all in - many many hours of work [Frown]

Could you take the pictures somewhere and pay to have them scanned and then put onto cd's? I guess it might cost a bunch for all the work, but you don't have the time and they're too heavy to take. Alternately, just take small bunches at a time, leaving the balance in storage until you can get to them.

Oldbag, this is your last day with your precious pussy cats, I hope parting with them tomorrow wont hurt too much, you will see them again soon [Frown]

darling OldBag if you are reading this, then you are being a bad baaaaddd girl, and not working on packing up your get back to it, woman !! only a week away !!! [Big Grin] [Eek!]

22nd November 2007

I didn't read it til today! I was a VERY good girl yesterday and did not put my computer on AT ALL even for 1 'just a peak at my email'.

(The cats left today and it was traumatic. The guy with the cage didn't understand when I said hold it opening up so I could drop my girl cat in, and kept holding it sideways. She escaped and fled in terror to the top-most cupboard in the kitchen. It took me nearly half an hour to get her down and in the end I had to resort to something really bad to get her down - shan't tell you because I'm ashamed of it but there was no other way. She left me with very bad scratches and in a rage. My boy cat was much more subdued. He loves his mummy and noone else. I am very upset too - if anything happens to my beloved cats en route and our last time together was this - doesn't bear thinking about.)

25th November 2007

Hello each - well had a VERY stressful 2 days - piling all my crap into a van, my sister and her hubbie and me all driving from London to Bristol, getting stuck in a horrific traffic jam, moving my crap up to the 7th floor of a warehouse building - moving beds around the countryside, moving big beds up narrow staircases in my parents home, blah blah blah.
I woke up in the middle of the night having a panic attack about the amount of stuff still to do before Wednesday night (travelling Thursday!), gave myself a good talking to - no point panicking, better sleeping [Big Grin]

The absurdity of paying out for storage for stuff that I could buy new if I needed it ----- but the problem is, you can't think straight when you're surrounded by the crap. The other problem is how could I get rid of it by Thursday if I didn't do this - no guarantee of any sales by then, and what would i do with it if it didn't sell? My family have no space to hold my stuff and all live miles away.

Anyone here contemplating a major move - start getting rid of your stuff NOW!

Sister reclaimed the oils that had yet to be flushed away - I think I know what people are gonna be getting for Xmas!

26th November 2007

Well people, the enormity of it all finally hit me this afternoon. I was in Asdas (Walmart) about 20 mins ago, peacefully doing my shopping and it all suddenly came home to me. Before, I haven't spent more than 2.5 weeks in Cairo in one go - so I know during my time I've done my shopping locally, in Carrefour, Hyperone, Metro, Khaer Zaman, but from the end of this week I will be doing all my shopping there, for more than 2 weeks.

Having spent several hours today making phone calls, writing letters to various places with a change of address, and visiting banks to change my address, I think I've now got 'pre-wedding nerves' is about the nearest description I can put on it - sort of excited, anticipation, its too late to go back now kind of feelings all mixed up.

I am so grateful to the people that I know in Cairo waiting to welcome me.

I decided to leave all my photoalbums at my parents house for the time being, together with my entire CD collection and do exactly what you say there - take in small bunches.

good luck old bag, have a safe trip and i wish you a wonderful life here

3 more days to go, Oldbag, ARE YOU READY???? [Smile]

26th Nov continued....

No AARGH its all getting too real!

Tonight though, I put an email on a group local to me asking if anyone could take my stuff that I need til the last minute on Thursday morning but which couldn't stay in the flat (tv, radio thingie, subwoofer & speakers, two printers, various duvet, pillows etc) and I got contacted by someone connected to an adults with learning difficulties group who will take it all on Thursday morning so I'm quite pleased with that - it will be going to a good cause.

28th November

comment: Tomorrow is THE DAY for Oldbag! Good luck with the travel and have an easy start in your new home!!! [Smile]

22.5 hours til I leave the house and I'M IN ABJECT PANIC gotta go and buy new clothes - can't bring these old dishrags to wear, gotta get everything in to 3 suitcases including my computer - Ahh Ahhh

Bought cheap gloss paint and it still isn't dry 24 hours later - Ahh Ahh

PANIC PANIC PANIC.....................

Oh yes I can imagine! [Big Grin] But make sure you keep your passport and airplane ticket nearby; these are the two things which really matter right now! [Smile]

28th Nov cont...

Why on why do clothes look nice in shop windows and rubbish close up?
I've bought stuff but not happy.

I have just spent (and am still holding!) 1.5 hours on the phone to numerous customer service departments closing utilities, changing addresses and so on. Give me strength - 22.5 hours I should be in the air - my flights an hour earlier than I thought - good job I checked the ticket eh! I forgot about the hour change so it still arrives in Cairo at 2305 but sets off an hour earlier UK time.

I think I'm gonna sign off the 'puter now for the last time in Blighty and so I can pack the computer items away. So next time I write, ISA I will be there!

Bye byeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

30th November 2007 (post arrival!)

Oldbag, congratulations on your move and I hope you enjoy your new home!
I'm sure you'll be happy to be with your kitties again. Have fun settling in. [Smile]

I will blog some follow up posts later.

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