Olympic Airways flew me from Washington to New York to Athens and back for $539, a nonaffinity flight requiring payment at least 15 days in advance of the scheduled departure. From Athens, EgyptAir and KLM fly directly to Cairo for $120 each way. It seems that space on a plane flying into Cairo can always be found but space going out requires advance planning, especially during the peak season from mid-October to mid-April.

At the airport, I was required to change $150 into Egyptian currency, although some who got visas in Athens slipped around that requirement. Nevertheless, I spent it all quickly in the bazaar. Visas cost less than $2 and are easily obtained at the airport. Taxis are cheap in Egypt. From the airport to Liberation Square by taxi costs about $1.25. (One Egyptian pound equals 100 piastres; 68 piastres equals $1.)

Liberation Square or Medin al Tahrir (no one ever understood my pronunciation) is Cairo's center, your stop for the Bile Hilton and other hotels of all classes, the Egyptian Museum, airline and travel offices. My favorite hotel for younger travelers is the Golden Hotel, 13 Talaat Harb, just off Liberation Square. A superb restaurant nearby is the Estoril, where residents and travelers alike dine for about $2 (expensive for Egypt!). Breakfast at the Hilton is a welcome change from fool (beans in oil) and a bargain for any budget: American and $3 for all you can eat.

From Tahrir, a first-class bus (No. 900) will take you to the Pyramids for 10 cents. Taxis are "negotiable." Six to eight dollars will hire a taxi all day anywhere.

Twice daily, Egypt Air flies between Cairo and Luxor for $41.20. The night train to Luxor leaves at 7 p.m., arriving at 6 a.m., costing $24 with a sleeper. The reservation for a sleeper should be made at least five days in advance, and is purchased separately from the ticket. Students may get large discounts from the stationmaster if they have the time and an international ID card.

Advance hotel reservatio ns are certainly advisable in Luxor and may be made at the Hilton in Cairo. Reservatio ns to all the first-class hotels in Luxor go through the New Winter Palace. In almost every case, however, a pound or two under the table will uncover a room in a "fully booked" hotel.

Old Schwinn bicycles rent for 50 piastres a day in Luxor. For $30, a van will take up to nine people to Denderah and Abydos and back. Arrange the excursion through your hotel. Tour and trip take eight to nine hours.