For savvy travelers, the Middle East still beckons - CNN.com: Traveling there last fall during the uprisings, she found herself sharing the pyramids with a scattering of Chinese and Egyptian tourists instead of the usual overwhelming crowds. "If you want to check out some serious archaeological, ancient stuff, it's a great opportunity to be in the middle of history," she says.
Though violent protests continue in Egypt, O'Neill says most of Cairo is safe, as long as you don't get near the demonstrations. That means people wanting to travel to Cairo right now need to know the layout of the city more than those flying directly to Luxor to see King Tut's tomb. Or they need to hire a reputable tour operator who knows where to take them.
Even without unrest, independent travel is a constant negotiation. Gone are the days when you could walk the streets of Cairo without concern for your wallet. Pickpockets are out and about, and O'Neill had a hard time avoiding vendors trying to sell her mini-replicas of alabaster pyramids and books about Nefertiti. "People are always wanting to sell you stuff, and that's true no matter when you go," she says.
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