Comuting to work or school by bicycle is quite common in Europe, e.g. according to offical website, 63% of Amsterdammers use their bike on a daily basis. [1] it is safe to say, the infrastructure in west-european region is very bike-friendly. However, I come from central Europe [2] and here we usually think about cycling as one of many leisure time activities. So I have rarely ridden my bike just to get from the point A to the point B, even though it would be possible. Therefore, I have been very impressed when a friend of mine in Cairo bought a mountainbike (and of course a helmet as well!) to commute to school. From that moment on, I have been very enthusiastic to join them next time, when I get to visit Cairo.

Participating in a Spring school Siwa in 2013, I have travelled to Egypt for third time and have already had some friends there, who have made my trip very interesting. Thank you. I have also been brave ehough to travel on my own this time and wanted to try new things. As I have found out, some Fridays architecture and urban planing students of Cairo University organise cycling tours. Unfortunatelly, there was no sceduled ride for the time I was staying in Cairo, so I have got a private ride! My friends have organised bike-rentals [3] and we were good to go. As it tends to get hot in Egypt, we had to start early. The route was not so special, my wish was quite simple –  move around in that heavy traffic on dusty streets, ride along the Nile, and get to my favourite drink store at some point. They make the most delicious juices – either fresh fruit juice or milkshakes, definitelly worth visiting! [4]

I would say, it was a unique experience. At the beginning, I was frightened and overwhelmed by the traffic. We have started on a wide road (it looked like a highway to me:) around 8am and we hit the morning traffic really soon. And that was the point, when I loosen up and started to enjoy this whole adventure. Suddenly, we have been faster than cars and to top it off, my friends also showed me few shortcuts. (I would highly recommend you to plan a route in advance and take a GPS with you.) We have ridden on dusty, narrow, streets – avoiding the stopping cars and deep potholes in the road. It was just like mountainbiking – very exciting and adrenaline started to fill my veins. There were no rules, and I have started to appreciate the whole chaos of this city jungle. Moving forward on the overcrowded streets at a good pace gave me a felling of freedom. Surrounded by people, yet alone. It was a nice escape, especially if you find big cities to be imprisoning and you are in need of open space from time to time.

If I were to chose my least favourite sightseeing activity from Cairo, it would be visiting pyramids. Not that they were not appealing, they were impressive. I just did not like the atmosphere around – there were only tourists and invasive vendors. On the contrary, discovering Cairo´s downtown by bike was definitely an unexpected highlight of my trip. I have enjoyed the casualness of the whole situation. I did not feel attacked all the times and have got to see everyday´s Cairo and not to mention the delicious Oreo-Milkshake! If you get bored sightseeing on your next trip, I would recommend trying it out. However, I would not advise you renting bikes for communing – that can become your worst nightmare really fast, e.g. trying to get some specific place, nto to mention locking up the bike, etc.


GALLERY


LINKS

[1] http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/media-centre/city-hall/dossier-cycling/cycling-facts-and-figures

[2] For your information, the midpoint of Europe is acctually located in Slovakia, so I refuse to think about my country as being a part of eastern block.

[3] you should try out the rental Pdal team. You can contact them via facebook https://m.facebook.com/pdal.team or by phone +201 004 233 134. I am sure, they will be happy to help you out as well!

[4] Cairo City Drinks on El Tahrir St. in Giza, https://goo.gl/maps/no896p6usWK2 or coordinates 30.039162 N,  31.214980 E.

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