The desert heat, the noisy streets and the sheer size of Cairo will leave even the most adaptable traveler with a serious case of culture shock. The constant bombardment of street vendors, the inescapable aroma of livestock and the seemingly chaotic way of life will joggle the senses. But be patient. Take some time to relax over a cup of tea, to wander the ancient streets and to watch the sun lower over the mighty Nile River. It won't take long for the city's treasures to reveal themselves.
Most visitors flock to Egypt's capital to explore the wonders of the ancient world, following the footsteps of the pharaohs. But there are two sides to Cairo; the city's residents embrace their history and rejoice in their progress. The ancient pyramids of Giza, Dahshur and Saqqara fight with the trendy bars of the Zamalek and Heliopolis neighborhoods for spotlight. Honking taxi cabs vie for space with braying donkeys in the narrow streets. And the traditional Islamic call to prayer, lounge music and boisterous banter can be heard simultaneously. The only way to get a true sense of Cairo is to take the old with the new.