When I said I was going to Egypt for training, people asked if there are tracks in Egypt. Clearly there are tracks. But why should you go there?
To me, Egypt is the most interesting country in the world with the best food, beaches and things to do/see.
Olympic Center Maadi
The sports center in Maadi, on south side of Cairo, is very convenient as there is a track, two gyms, a hotel and restaurants, all at the same place. The area is closed and there is a security with a metal detector on both the gates and the entrance to the hotel so it is very safe place to be.
The track is empty all day, until the clubs come train there in the evenings. The access costs normally 50LE so just over 2 euros. You can definitely feel like you’re in Egypt as there is a small mosque right behind the 100m start line and you hear the prayer call five times a day.
The Tolip Inn Maadi hotel is also very decently priced, and if you are invited by a federation, you can get it with the price of Egyptians and sports federations, which is half of the price. The cheap price includes breakfast and WiFi. The hotel has all day room service and a bottle of water costs 18 cents, a pasta 50 cents and a big plate of chicken and rice 2 euros for example. I was ordering drinks and food all week and final price was 220LE, which is 11 euros.
Flights to Cairo are quite cheap from all around Europe and hotels are cheap also. When you arrive to the airport, you just have to pay 25 euros or dollars with cash for a visa. The airport is a great place to exchange money also as the rate is much better than anywhere in Europe. You can buy almost anything while in Cairo and feel like you’re not spending anything as even expensive meals are max 4-5 euros. Even when shopping on the markets, the prices are really cheap for Europeans. Also, if you know any Egyptians, you will not spend anything at all. Egyptians will offer you everything everywhere and not let you pay for anything. I paid my camel tour guy a nice tip and that was it the whole week.
The tracks in Cairo are in decent condition and mostly have everything you might need like hurdles etc. There are many tracks and also it’s possible to use private gyms, which are really nice. I went to try BeFit 360 gym and it was one of the nicest I’ve ever been to. They also had a restaurant with healthy breakfasts, smoothies, salads etc, and even a lot of gluten free options. Honestly I’m not a salad person but the salad I ate there was the best salad I have ever had.
Things to do in Egypt
If you go to normal training camps to Spain or Portugal, your activities are limited to going to the beach, shopping and going out. In Cairo there is more history and culture to see than almost anywhere in the world, and plenty of other things to do. You can visit the pyramids, the museums, take a boat trip on the Nile, go see other attractions, and even the beaches are just couple hours drive away. The beaches in Egypt are in my opinion the best in the world, so that should be included in the trip. You can also go out to nice clubs and do your shopping and other normal things. There is everything you can imagine to do and more.
Egyptian or Arabic food is my favorite food. Everything you try is so delicious and for an athlete’s diet it’s also healthy. There are soups with herbs, a lot of fruits, hummus and other protein filled appetizers, and a lot of well seasoned chicken and meat. The portions are huge and normally Egyptians order food for about ten people even if it would just be two people eating, so you’ll never be hungry. Egyptian lemonade is amazing and doesn’t taste like anything I’ve tried elsewhere and their other drink, sobia, is my favorite drink ever. It’s like coconut milk but better. I really thought I was gonna gain weight on this one week long training camp as I was eating so much, but really the food is so healthy you can eat a lot and be ok.
Egyptians are amazing. They take care of you and make sure you always have everything. They’re outgoing and friendly and want to show the best things about their country. When I needed to use blocks for example, two girls came to pick me up in the morning to go to a track where I could do some starts with them. As soon as you walk into someone’s house they ask what do you want to drink and eat and you can’t really say no to eating. Only problems I have with Egyptians are that they’re always late and 99.99% of them smoke. I hate smoke and really know only one Egyptian person who doesn’t smoke. The lateness is something that I can deal with since it’s always expected. The crazy traffic in Cairo makes it rather impossible to be on time anywhere and it’s normal to be late all the time. But the good things about Egyptians make you to be able to overlook the smoking and lateness 😀
Is it safe?
I have never felt like I wasn’t safe in Egypt. The US feels much more unsafe than Egypt. Actually the US the is only place on earth where I don’t feel safe all the time. Of course I couldn’t go anywhere alone, but there’s no need to. Someone is always willing to take you anywhere. The traffic might seem crazy and people have no idea what lanes are, but after a while you get used to it and even the driving seems rather safe. There are police and security everywhere and you always go through security and metal detectors to hotels and any attractions.
Let me know if you want to know more details about where to go, or how to do a good vacation or training camp in Egypt!