From the very first moment they set foot in Cairo, visitors to the magical nation of Egypt, a country steeped in history and positively overflowing with ancient monuments, cannot help but feel elated.
Yet visitors must also keep their wits about them as in Cairo, one of the world's most densely populated and bustling cities, even everyday situations such as crossing the road must be approached with extreme care.
Drivers' somewhat unorthodox take on the highway code is one of the reasons for this, while the failure of many local motorists to switch on their lights at night means no attempted road crossing can be taken lightly - particularly during the hours of darkness.
On a lighter note, almost everywhere we went we found that people greeted us with a cheery and open smile, with even language barriers not hindering the locals' determination to be as hospitable as possible. Indeed, rare was the occasion on meeting new people that we were not invited to share a hot meal or something to drink.
Our first taxi ride around the city was another adventure, with our driver as enthusiastic about beeping his horn as he was about giving us his opinions on the beautiful game. Nor did he wish to accept the money we offered for our fare, simply because he insisted it was his duty as an Egyptian citizen to make everybody involved with the FIFA U-20 World Cup finals as comfortable as possible.
Visiting the pyramids, the Citadel, the Egyptian Museum, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Khan El-Khalili shopping district and Old Cairo are all essential when in this city. With this in mind, we decided to take a quick jaunt to the pyramids to take in the sights and perhaps get some photos to show the folks back home.
Accompanying us on our visit was Stephanie, a member of the local volunteer force. Despite the role of tour guide not being part of her official remit, she provided us with a wealth of information on Egyptian culture throughout the trip. This underlined the sheer enthusiasm of those working as volunteers as well as their passion for their homeland.
Another unmissable feature of the city is the call to prayer, which is repeated five times a day and can be heard wherever you may be. This distinctive sound emanates from tall towers known as minarets which are part of the numerous mosques spread around Cairo, thus earning the nickname of the City of a Thousand Minarets.
Yet the city also has another nickname, the Hollywood of the East. And indeed, the people flocking to the bars and nightclubs in the up-market Corniche El-Nil district near our hotel exhibited all the glamour and star style you would expect from its Los Angeles' counterpart.
Of course, Egyptian football fans are incredibly passionate when it comes to supporting their club teams and the national side, with stadiums often full a couple of hours before kick-off and chants beginning as soon as the players arrive at the venue well before the first whistle.
Meanwhile, in a certain section of the stands you will invariably find a group of fans wearing different brightly coloured outfits which up close are not dissimilar to pyjamas. From a distance, however, this multi-coloured contingent, who we later discovered were soldiers on leave, stands out in lively fashion against the backdrop of their more conservatively dressed fellow supporters.
All in all, our visit to Cairo has been unique experience, nor can we wait to return in order to continue unearthing the secrets of this vast and vibrant city. Next time too, we would hope to visit more of Egypt's diverse tourist destinations, such as Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada or Luxor.