City Rumble – Cairo Versus Prague
Howdy all! The last of the initial second round of City Rumble! The eighth match pits the Egyptian and Czech capitals against each other to see which will join the seven cities already which have passed the second round. From next week we will have a round of extra qualifiers to feature cities hardly done by in the first round (mostly because they were paired against equally strong cities) and a few cities that haven’t featured in City Rumble before but are worthy of being included – for example Washington DC. We then have one or two cities who won first round but there wasn’t room in round two – for example Barcelona. So keep an eye out for that!
But today the cities on the centre stage are Cairo and Prague. As is custom, we look at how these two fine cities ended up drawn against each other. Let’s start with Prague, which came up against Paris in the first round. I know I am not a huge Paris fan, and Prague did come out on top for me. I wonder if you would agree? See what I thought here – City Rumble – Paris Versus Prague.
Cairo faced off against the capital of a neighbouring country, that was Jordan’s Amman. Looking back I thought it would have been a close contest and it was. I think now though I would definitely put Cairo ahead of Amman, it’s such a memorable place and as nice as Amman is it’s hard to match Cairo’s history. Amman certainly has a charm Cairo at times lacks, but Cairo has the Pyramids, the Nile and the Egyptian Museum. Check out my thoughts here – City Rumble – Cairo versus Amman.
But let’s get to the nitty-gritty, because again we have two vastly different cities to consider and explore and only a limited number of words in which to do it! Cairo is a freaking big city, with a population of over 9 million and a metropolitan area of over 20 million. It dwarfs you, makes you feel extremely insignificant in a way – by the way, no hard feelings but you are! We all are! And yet there is something to Cairo despite its hussle, its bustle and the pollution.
It’s the stuff of legend. Built on one of the most famous if not THE most famous rivers in the entire world, the Nile. A mighty long river which flows thousands of kilometres from Kenya and Ethiopia as two rivers which merge in Sudan and flow as one from the south to the north of Egypt finishing up in the Mediterranean Ocean.
But to be honest, Cairo is not the easiest city to visit for the traveller. It’s hot much of the year, it was an April when I visited and it was ramping up in the mid-30s, and with pollution and lack of shade, it’s a struggle. But there are some leafy suburbs worth wandering alongside the Nile. You can take a lift up to an observation deck and get a great view of the dusty city and the river below which is great.
The Pyramids rise out of the desert along with Sphinx and there is no doubt – they one of the Seven Wonders of the World, if not the number one although I’m not sure which of the other six is quite as historic, quite as amazing. Beware hustlers around this area though, and in general in Cairo, there are plenty that will try and scam you and offer camel rides at ridiculous prices. Barter hard and don’t let your belongings out of your sight!
The Egyptian Museum is just a huge building filled with ‘WOW’. Honestly, it’s like a scene from Indiana Jones and you don’t want to miss it. There’s a couple of mosques worth checking out as well. All in all it’s a city with so much, but it’s challenging too. There’s plenty of cheap middle eastern food about too including falafels and shawarma which won’t break the bank. Today Egypt is still regarded as a pretty good value-for-money destination.
Then we have Prague. The capital of the Czech Republic is much loved by visitors. It’s a beautiful gothic city with a palace or two, a famous bridge, some great churches and a clock which is apparently ‘Astronomical’ in some way but certainly brings in the tourists.
I’m not going to lie, Prague is another European city where it’s hard to escape the tourist throngs. When I first visited Prague in 1999 it wasn’t. It was gaining a reputation as a great place to visit, mind you. And it is a very attractive city, on the Vltava River. It’s a nice base and you can head off for a day trip to Kalory Vary for spa treatment, or Kutna Hora to see the ossuary filled with skulls. And it’s worthwhile just for that!
The centre is gorgeous with its Astronomical Clock where people stand to get a selfie, just down from the gothic Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. This area is great, it’s not far from the famous Charles Bridge which is usually packed with selfie-takers and buskers. Prague Castle over the river is great, and it’s interesting to explore the Jewish Quarter.
There are other interesting things to explore that I, as yet, haven’t. Or should I therefore say – interesting sounding? The Sex Machines Museum? Well… Wax Museums of Legends? And more. Prague is not an expensive city, and has some great hostels. It’s still cheaper than most of Western Europe, although Cairo is cheaper. It’s also brilliantly located in the centre of Europe linking north to south and east to west. The air is much cleaner than Cairo, and with a population of 1.3 million and 2.6 for the metro area, it’s much smaller and manageable by foot. It’s also got good public transport including trams. Cairo also has a metro though and public buses which take you most places, albeit not at the speed of sound!
I’m falling towards Cairo as the winner folks. As much as Prague is a beautiful city, if someone said I could take a free plane to Cairo or Prague, I would choose Cairo. Why, in the end? Because it’s an exciting place. It’s an assault on your senses, in both bad and good ways. And the pyramids trump anything that Prague offers. But it wasn’t a landslide victory all in all.
Thanks for visiting – check out next week as we move into the cities that missed out and the second chances! May the Journey Never End!