When I took to Twitter prior to our trip to Egypt, the reactions were mixed. Some people warned my husband and I against traveling to Cairo; others recommended must-see sights.
On the ground in the city and surrounding areas, I am happy to report that we witnessed relative calm. Yes, there are protests, and yes, probably best for tourists not to enter Tahrir Square with a camera in the middle of a rally.
However, one can easily shop or eat outside the square at any time, and visit the square itself on a weekday when no protest is underway. Having spoken to locals, I was struck by how the quiet, intense but controlled passion came across in everyone.
People DO want change, and they can articulate it. People do want to protest to make their voices heard, but are taking steps to avoid clashes between their group and the opposition. The day we flew home, Saturday the 23rd, a clashes between groups occurred and there were injuries. I read yesterday that activist leaders reached an agreement to maintain peaceful protest at the rally scheduled for tomorrow, which says a lot.
On our one day as tourists, I noticed two things: It wasn’t crowded anywhere, likely due to fears of rioting, which is unfortunate for their economy. Secondly, our fellow tourists were also calm and respectful. There were no characteristically obnoxious loudmouths snapping photos and walking four abreast on the sidewalks. Most people we ran across were well aware of their surroundings, interested and unafraid, yet mindful.
If we had the children with us, we’d have stayed longer. If you were planning a trip to Cairo and had postponed it because of the unrest, then go now! The economy badly needs our tourist dollars, and there are no lines to see any of the amazing sights.