Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Book Review : Cairo - The Family Guide

In a previous article, "Bookshops in Cairo" I heavily recommended this book, but I never mentioned why.

The current issue of the Cairo Family Guide is the 4th edition (the first edition was in 2001). It has been revised each time to update the data and make it more current & relevant.

Its written by Lesley Lababidi in collaboration with Dr Lisa Sabbahy and printed by the AUC Press

Its one book any person planning to check out the sights of Cairo on their own, or living here for more than a week should most certainly pick up.

The book is categorised location wise and then each place worth a visit in that area is listed out with complete details.

For eg. there are 3 different itineraries for the Egyptian museum depending on a person's interest. It also helps split the museum into manageable trips so as to be able to absorb maximum information.

Special attention has been given to understanding and recommending activities based on a child's age and interests. So the book is especially handy for those visiting with kids.

Maps to the areas, the closest Metro stop, the timings (including changed timings for Ramadan), Entrance fees (for foreigners, residents, students & Egyptians - yes there are multiple rates), Photography and video fees if any, (or whether they are allowed at all), the telephone numbers to that location, facilities available (bathrooms, gift shops, cafeterias) the best place to park (this is a major issue in Cairo), relevant websites if any, activities organised at that location if any, how much to tip and whom. These are just some of the gems of information that she shares about each and every location.

This is a goldmine of information especially given the monumental difficulty of gathering such data in Cairo. This is one of our few books where the book has completely lost its crispness (I don't even like the spine cracking in my books)

The only drawback is that since this is a 2006 edition some of the data has become obsolete especially with the recent adding of a digit to all land-line numbers at some of the telephone exchanges. Some sites have revised their charges (upwards of course) But the changes would hardly be in 5% of the data in this book.

So go ahead and pick up your own copy today. At 70LE it's a steal! Make sure it is a blue coloured bind with the picture of children sitting in a donkey cart. This is the latest edition. Many smaller bookshops still stock the older versions with the green colour binding. The information in those would be about 25-30% irrelevant and/or obsolete.

Be sure to pick up this one : not this one

I'll review the practical guide (the second one) in a day or so.

You can buy it at any major bookstore in Egypt. Its one of the most popular books. Or even buy it off Amazon.

I plan to write a lot about the sights in Egypt in the coming week, I will be heavily referencing this book.

1 comment:

vagabondblogger said...

We ordered the Cairo, Practical Guide, before we moved here and it has been extremely helpful. They also have a map book, which was one of the only maps that included Maadi. Unless you live in Maadi, and get a map free, or through work, you're out of luck.

The map is actually better than the free ones, as it has ALL the pedestrian crossovers for the metro, from Road 9 to Road 7. We use it all the time - we're always getting lost here (in parts of Maadi.)

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