Comparison Test: Around the Mediterranean

Egypt- Cairo

Must visit:
The Giza pyramids (and you don’t need a horse/camel to go around – it’s easy to walk)

Transport:
Flat 2EP fare for trains around town

English spoken:
75%

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Can I drink the water?
Maybe – the locals filter it, but it tastes very chlorinated

Touts/scams/annoyances:
Everywhere.  A taxi from the airport should only cost about 60-70EP.
Unaccompanied women cannot do ANYTHING without attracting negative attention

Pro:
The pyramids are worth it

Con:
Touts everywhere
Women not wearing burqas have rocks thrown at you

Driving:
Drive in the middle of the road with one hand on the horn

Fitness:
Very difficult.  I was chased out of a park for making too much noise while doing exercises (breathing too loudly?!)

Costs:
Meal EP3
Hostel EP30-45/night
Laundry EP25/kg

Comment:
Only spend 2 days in Cairo then move on

Rating: They throw rocks at you/10

Turkey

Must visit:
Istanbul spice market
Archaeology museum, Istanbul
Pergamom
Gallipoli (for Brits/French/ANZACs)

Transport:
Buses are extremely luxurious, cheap and frequent
Istanbul trams are slow but do the job

English spoken:
80%

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Can I drink the water?
Probably, but I sterilised it just to be safe

Touts/scams/annoyances:
Hardly any!
People trying to shove prams on the tram
Taxi drivers at Pergamum bus station manning the info kiosk and not revealing any info about the buses to town

Pro:
Civilised
Some nifty sites

Con:
Starting to get expensive

Driving:
Follow the road rules, occasionally use horn

Fitness:
Istanbul has a nice footpath around the harbour.
Some of the parks have fitness equipment but it’s quite ineffective.  There are no chin-up bars

Costs:
Meal TL3-5
Hostel TL30-40/night
Tram fare TL2
Laundry TL7/kg

Comment:
Tours are expensive (€75 to tour Troy from Istanbul) but it’s easy to do it yourself on public transport

Rating: Civilised/10

Greece

Must visit:
At least one island
The Acropolis
Archaeological museum or new Acropolis museum (one is sufficient)
Delphi
Monastiraki flea market

Transport:
Metro is slow and unpredictable due to undermanning and recent cuts

English spoken:
95%

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Can I drink the water?
Yes!

Touts/scams/annoyances:
Not much

Pro:
Acropolis combination ticket is excellent value
The islands really are as they look in the travel brochures

Con:
Expensive – especially things you would buy at the chemist

Driving:
Drive very fast and park badly

Fitness:
Quite a few parks around, and a lot of basketball courts

Costs:
Meal €2+
Hostel €9 at a cheap place (Athens House) or €16-18 somewhere not in the drug-dealer neighbourhood.  But Athens House was ok if you came back before 8pm
Subway fare €1.50
Laundry €3.50, self service wash only

Rating: Better to do a tour around in a car/10

Italy-Rome

Must visit:
The Palatine Hill
The Colosseum
Villa Borghese
Baths of Caracalla

Transport:
Ok metro system

English spoken:
95%

Did anyone try to pick my pocket?
No

Can I drink the water?
Yes

Touts/scams/annoyances:
The campgrounds are full of drunk teenagers

Pro:
See what everyone talks about

Con:
Expensive
Not that many convenience stores or supermarkets unless you are in the right area

Driving:
Drive fast

Fitness:
Very good.  A lot of people run and cycle.

Costs:
Meal €3+
Hostel in town €17+
Campground dorm €11
Subway fare for 80min €1.50
Laundry €3, self service wash

Rating: Stylish but didn’t live up to the hype/10

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