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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
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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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