Subject: ATMīs in Egypt
Hi Carrie!

I was in Egypt last September, and I didnīt used any ATM, although I saw quite a few. Upon arrival at Luxor airport we changed some money at a small desk there. We were told by our guide not to change a lot of money, around 50 or 100 Euros. After picking up our suitcases two persons in our group got money from an ATM located right there, without any problem at all.

We saw ATMīs at the banks in the Luxor and Aswan corniche, and also in Cairo.

We had a tour guide and an accompanying person from the egyptian travel agency. If someone wanted to change some more money, they went to the egyptian TA, and he changed it for them (current rates, no commision). Ahmed also changed our bigger bills into smaller ones, and that was handy for small things. Many of the kids selling trinkets accepted Euros (I guess they also accept dollars, but as I wasnīt carrying any, I didnīt ask). They take coins and bills, and we didnīt have any problem with them. Pretty strange, but nobody tried to cheat us :)

We didnīt have to pay any tips, because we had already prepaid 50 Euros for tips, baksheeh and so on in Spain. From that money, Ahmed paid tips to the bus drivers, cruise crew, the Cairo hotel workers ... It was also pretty funny watching him giving money to police or temple guardians. You must give money almost anyplace.

The bill at the cruise had to be settled in hard currency (either cash or credit card). My biggest expenses there were the Internet connection ( I couldnīt resist to send an email home saying I was sailing along the Nile) and the beers at the deck. Some people in other group complained about the price, 3 euro for a big beer, but I thought that it was pretty cheap considering the place and its coldness :) The bill at the Hyatt Cairo had to be paid in egyptian pounds (if you were paying cash) or with credit card. Not a problem at all. I also changed another 50 Euro there, at the Bank of Egypt desk.

Most of the shops accepted Euros and credit cards, and I ended up using Euros because I had withdrawn a lot before leaving Spain, thinking that normal things were going to be more expensive that they turned out to be. Of course we were lucky because we didnīt have to buy water (our bus were also well stocked), and our guides kept buying fruits, peanuts, mints for our sore throats ...

You are in for a treat. I had a great time in Egypt, and I truly enjoyed. If you are going on a tour, ask your guide to take you to the cafe in Khan-el-Khalili where Naguib Mahfouz used to write. On our last day in Cairo we were supposed to have three hours at the bazaar, and we ended up spending most of the time sitting there and talking. Afterwards I only had time to buy peanuts and pistacchio nuts to bring home (another good place to buy all these things, and pepper and cinammon is the Aswan spice market).

Have a great time,

Covadonga Bilbao - Spain