By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Q. My 30-year-old daughter and a woman friend are traveling to Cairo in July. Any safety concerns they should be aware of? Also, any suggestions on places to stay? She says she can get a room for $15 -- how safe is that?
Sharon Henderson, Martinsburg, W.Va.
A. Generally speaking, Cairo is a safe city, especially in heavily touristed areas. Women should take the same precautions they would when visiting any urban area: Don't walk alone at night, leave flashy jewelry at home, don't go off with strangers, have the hotel summon taxis, etc.
That said, women should also brace themselves for unwanted attention from men, according to the U.S. State Department and several Cairo experts. This can range from lewd comments to groping in taxis and in public places.
As hard as it may be to resist responding to comments or gestures, it's better not to react, says Robert Reid, an editor with the guidebook company Lonely Planet. "Even a light rebuke could be mistaken for flirtation." On a bus, he advises, stand by other women and, if lost, ask a woman for directions. Dressing conservatively also helps. Tim Post of Kensington Tours, which runs a lot of trips to Cairo, says there's no need to cover up from head to toe, but at the very least avoid short shorts and tank tops, and carry a wrap to blend in and to wear when visiting mosques.
Your daughter's right about the cheap lodging, Post says, particularly downtown, where there are a lot of pensions, guesthouses and hostels with private rooms. He thinks $15 is a bit low to get something clean, but $20 to $30 will get you a basic two-star room with private bath. But remember, Cairo in July is beastly hot, and the cheaper hotel rooms don't have air conditioning.
For more info on Cairo and to read comments and reviews by fellow travelers, check the forums and message boards at sites such as BootsnAll Travel (http://boards.bootsnall.com) and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree). For State Department info: http://www.travel.state.gov.
My friend and I have reservations for two weekends in Rehoboth Beach, Del., this summer. Since neither of us drives, we're looking for a way to get there via public transportation. Your advice, please.
Jane Saari, Washington
In the good old days (last year), you could travel from Washington to Rehoboth via Greyhound or on the late, lamented Rehobus, a charter service with a party vibe. But Greyhound has canceled its Rehoboth route, and Rehobus went bust, so getting to the beach on public transportation is now a lot more complicated.
First, ride the dog to Ocean City. The fare for the 155-mile, five-hour trip ranges from $41.50 (21-day advance purchase) to $110 (completely refundable and eligible for a half-price companion ticket) round-trip.
From O.C., there are two ways to cover the 28 miles to Rehoboth: taxi and bus. An agent from White's Taxi (410-250-8294) in Ocean City estimated that the one-way fare would be about $40.
The bus is cheaper by about 38 bucks, but it's a multi-step process.
From the Greyhound station, take a Park and Ride bus ($1) to the South Division Street station. Then transfer to an Ocean City public bus (another $1) and get off at 144th Street, on the Maryland-Delaware line. Still using your O.C. transfer, catch a DART (Delaware) Route 208 bus, which will take you into Rehoboth at no additional charge.
For Greyhound schedules: 800-231-2222, http://www.greyhound.com. For the Ocean City Greyhound station, which can help with scheduling and transfer info: 410-289-9307. For DART schedules: http://www.dartfirststate.com.Your Turn
Several readers had suggestions for the two soldiers stationed in Iraq who wanted to visit London (Travel Q&A, June 14). Dan Wuchenich and Tony Mastrostefano recommend the Victory Service Club (http://www.vsc.co.uk), which operates a hotel in the city's West End for members of the British armed forces as well as allied military personnel. And Debbie Crooks of Springfield says the Union Jack Club (http://www.ujclub.co.uk) on the South Bank of the Thames also welcomes members of the American military. "It is highly affordable," she said, but "it does require reservations, as it is very popular."
For the reader who asked about the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands (June 7), Sue Marcus of Fairfax recommends the U.S. summer months. "We saw lots of babies -- sea lions, boobies, albatross -- and the frigate birds were in full chest display," she said. "There [was] very little rain."
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